Your grandmother – like grandmothers the world over from California to Vienna to Seoul and back – told you to drink hot lemon with honey when you had a cold or chest infection. There’s no denying that the combination soothes your throat and makes you feel better.
But, is there more to the old home remedy than that? Science set out to find the answer.
Lemon Juice & Honey
Both lemon juice and honey are nutritional powerhouses in their own right. Honey, like lemons, is rich in flavonoids, which are natural antioxidants and help the body’s systems in many ways, including boosting the immune system. Put them together, and their combined properties really do make you feel better.
• One study looked specifically at antibacterial activity against strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae and
• Streptococcus pyogenes – bacteria which are typically found in upper respiratory tract infections (UTI).
• The antibiotic action of lemon juice and honey was compared with standard antibiotic formulas used for UTIs.
• The “inhibition zones” refers to the levels of antibacterial activity – the study found inhibition zones (mm) ranging from 10-22 (100% Honey), 14-29 (100% Lemon) and 20-29 (Honey/Lemon juice mixture)
• The honey/lemon juice mixture, Lemon juice, Levofloxacin, Ceftriaxone and Gentamicin had higher antibacterial activity
• Azithromycin, Amoxicillin-Clavulanic acid and Honey had lower antibacterial activity.
As the researchers noted, “The findings in this research therefore provides scientific basis to the use of honey and lemon juice as an alternative medicine by the populace in the treatment of respiratory tract infections.”
More proof of the power of lemon juice
Other studies have researched the capacity of lemon juice alone against various types of bacteria.
• Lemon juice can help the body fight against V. cholerae (which causes cholera) in water – but that the effect was reduced if the water was very alkaline.
• Citric acid works to fight against Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli, and Salmonella typhimurium if the lemon juice was heated to 55◦ C.
• Another study found lemon juice effective against K.pneumonia (21mm) and lemon extract and honey on Candida albicans.
Researchers of one study noted, “The results of our study showed that raw lemon extract and honey had broad spectrum of antibacterial and antifungal activity, and it could be used as alternative of antibiotics…” with a recommendation for further study.
In other words, grandma was right all along.