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Can Honey Clear Up Sinus Problems?

author image Amy Long Carrera
Amy Long Carrera is a registered dietitian in Los Angeles who has been writing since 2007 for such publications as The Insider, On the Other Side and Arthritis Today. She is a certified nutrition support clinician and her writing employs current research to provide evidence-based nutrition information. Carrera holds a master of science degree in nutrition from California State University, Northridge.
Can Honey Clear Up Sinus Problems?
Honey is drizzled onto a wooden spoon. Photo Credit: grafvision/iStock/Getty Images

Nasal congestion, facial pain and post-nasal drip are common symptoms of sinusitis, or sinus infection. Thirty million adults were diagnosed with sinusitis in 2011, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Antibiotics are a common treatment for sinusitis, but long-term use of these drugs for chronic sinus problems is not supported by clinical research. Honey has been studied as an alternative therapy for this condition.

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Honey Fights Bacteria

Honey has long been touted for its antibacterial properties. According to a 2011 article in “Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine,” honey’s ability to fight bacteria may be related to its acidic pH, high sugar content and enzymes in some honeys that produce hydrogen peroxide. The sticky sweet stuff has been used to treat conditions ranging from infected wounds to peptic ulcers and urinary tract infections.

Contrary Cultures

Conflicting research exists for the use of honey as an effective sinus infection treatment. In a study published in 2009 in the “Journal of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery,” researchers colonized two strains of bacteria that commonly cause sinus infections. The rate at which honey killed the bacteria was significantly higher than that of antibiotics typically prescribed for sinusitis, according to the authors. In a human study in the “Journal of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery” published in 2011, participants used a honey-saline spray daily for 30 days. Nine of the 34 treatment subjects experienced symptom relief, but the honey spray had no effect on the amount of bacteria present in their sinuses when scientists tested this.

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