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Lemon Juice, Honey & Hot Water for a Cough

author image Megan Smith
Megan Smith has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She writes about health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming topics for various print and Internet publications. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from New York University.
Lemon Juice, Honey & Hot Water for a Cough
A jar of honey and lemon slices. Photo Credit OlgaMiltsova/iStock/Getty Images

If your cough is keeping you up at night, your lack of sleep may be making you feel even sicker. Your cough may be caused by the flu, the common cold, bronchitis, asthma, and a variety of other medical conditions. Consult your doctor to determine whether using home remedies, like lemon, honey and hot water, are appropriate for your particular condition.


When you cough, your body is responding to irritants in your airways and throat. The muscles in your diaphragm contract to try to expel the irritation. Coughing is beneficial to the body because it helps clear mucus from the chest, but incessant coughing may make it difficult to sleep and get through the day. Honey has antioxidant and antimicrobial effects. In addition, its sweetness may stimulate salivation and release mucus in the airways, naturally relieving coughing. Lemon may boost your immune system. Drinking a concoction of lemon, honey and hot water may help calm the throat and loosen mucus that may be irritating your airways.


Honey may be more effective than the active ingredient in most over-the-counter cough suppressants and cough syrups that contain dextromethorphan, according to a 2007 study published in the "Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine." When honey, dextromethorphan and no treatment at all were given to 100 children with a cough, parents rated honey as the most effective treatment.


Boil a cup of water, then stir in 2 tbsp. of honey. Squeeze a small amount of lemon juice in the mixture to taste. If you don't have fresh lemon juice, use store-bought lemon juice. Drink the mixture as needed throughout the day to cut mucus and suppress the cough.

Expert Insight

Honey contains Clostridium botulinum, a form of botulism that may cause a rare but possibly fatal type of food poisoning in infants, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Do not give honey to children under 12 months of age. Honey is safe to eat for children and adults over the age of 1.


Consult your doctor if you are coughing up green mucus, your cough is accompanied by a fever of over 100 degrees F, you are wheezing, or you are short of breath. Call 911 if your mucus is tinged with blood or you are coughing up blood, or if you are having trouble swallowing or difficulty breathing. Honey with lemon in hot water may help suppress a cough, but it will not help treat the cause of your illness.

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