The antiviral activity of honey, zinc, and vitamin C

March 03, 2021

The antiviral activity of honey, zinc, and vitamin C

By Hamad Shafaqat

Your immune system plays an essential role in protecting you from foreign invaders (bacteria and viruses) and destroying them. Pathogens can affect us in different ways, either by infecting open cuts or wounds or compromising the immune system. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made all of us follow a healthy lifestyle and strict diet that boosts our immune system. What if any virus enters the body and weakens the immunity? A viral infection drains all of your physical and mental energy. Therefore, adhering to a good diet, which has antiviral properties, helps boost your immunity against viruses and infectious diseases. 

Antiviral Activity Of Honey

Honey has been used for thousands of years for its antimicrobial properties. With its diverse sugar composition and rich supply of tissue healing and anti-oxidant nutrients, honey prevents the cell attachment and growth of microorganisms (1)

Let’s take a look at the antiviral properties of honey against different viruses. 

  • Varicella-zoster virus: This virus causes a childhood disease called chickenpox, which causes systemic rashes on the skin. In countries where antiviral drugs are hard to access and relatively expensive, honey can be a good alternative. 
  • In one study, two types of honey, including Red Clover honey, were found to have antiviral activity against the varicella-zoster virus (2)
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): One study found that the methylglyoxal part of the honey promoted the inhibition of replication of the respiratory syncytial virus, which causes viral infections in adults with compromised immunity (3)
  • Influenza virus: Honey has been proved to have a medicinal value in treating infections caused by influenza viruses by potent inhibitory activity. Honey acts as a supercharged immunity booster against viruses by promoting the production of natural killer cells, B cells, and T cells (4)

Antiviral Activity Of Zinc

Your body’s natural defense is highly reliant on zinc because it protects the skin barrier and maintains immune cell activity. The antiviral role of zinc involves suppression of viral replication and multiplication of different viruses. 

  • Many studies have reported protection against severe RSV diseases by zinc supplementation. According to research, children with increased zinc supplementation showed a significant reduction in the incidence of pneumonia caused by RSV (5)
  • Zinc recognizes and fights viruses and other foreign invaders, thereby improving the immune system and protecting against pathogens. 
  • Zinc supplementation has also proved to be effective against herpes simplex virus, poliovirus, and rhinovirus by altering the ability of cells that carry out replication (6)

Good zinc sources include meat, poultry, dairy products, nuts, fortified breakfast, cereals, seafood, and the BHealthy Immune Support

Antiviral Activity Of Vitamin C

Ascorbic acid or vitamin C is well known for its immune-boosting function and protection against different viruses. 

  • Vitamin C has been described as ‘virucide’ against different viruses. One study found that high amounts of vitamin C prevent the proliferation of viral cells in the presence of iron or free copper. It destroys the virus by producing radical species and hydrogen peroxide (7).
  • One study found out that the viral load of cells infected with the Ebstein-Barr virus (EBV) decreased in the presence of high doses of vitamin C (8).
  • According to a study, Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection was significantly reduced when CMV-infected human endothelial cells and foreskin fibroblasts were pretreated with vitamin C. It reduced the cellular viral load and expression of viral antigens (9)

Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, brussel sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, pepper, kiwifruit, potatoes, tomatoes, and BHealthy Immune Support


BHealthy Immune Support

If you are looking for a great supplement that includes honey, zinc, vitamin C, along with immune supporting herbs, try our Bhealthy Immune Support. This great supplement utilizes a combination of raw honey, zinc, vitamin C and herbs to help the body fight off viral infections.


  1. Cruz BCF da, Ronqui L, Scharnoski P, Scharnoski P, Peruzzolo M, Santos P da R, et al. Health Benefits of Honey. Honey Anal - New Adv Chall [Internet]. 2019 Jul 23 [cited 2021 Feb 20]; Available from:
  2. Shahzad A, Cohrs RJ. In vitro antiviral activity of honey against varicella zoster virus (VZV): A translational medicine study for potential remedy for shingles. Transl Biomed [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2021 Feb 20];3(2). Available from:
  3. Zareie PP. Honey as an antiviral agent against respiratory syncytial virus [Internet] [Thesis]. University of Waikato; 2011 [cited 2021 Feb 20]. Available from:
  4. Watanabe K, Rahmasari R, Matsunaga A, Haruyama T, Kobayashi N. Anti-influenza Viral Effects of Honey In Vitro: Potent High Activity of Manuka Honey. Arch Med Res. 2014 Jul 1;45(5):359–65.
  5. Suara RO, Crowe JE. Effect of Zinc Salts on Respiratory Syncytial Virus Replication. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2004 Mar 1;48(3):783–90.
  6. Korant BD, Kauer JC, Butterworth BE. Zinc ions inhibit replication of rhinoviruses. Nature. 1974 Apr 12;248(449):588–90.
  7. Biancatelli RMLC, Berrill M, Marik PE. The antiviral properties of vitamin C. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2020 Feb 1;18(2):99–101.
  8. Uesato S, Kitagawa Y, Kaijima T, Tokuda H, Okuda M, Mou XY, et al. Inhibitory effects of 6-O-acylated L-ascorbic acids possessing a straight- or branched-acyl chain on Epstein-Barr virus activation. Cancer Lett. 2001 May 26;166(2):143–6.
  9. Cinatl J, Cinatl J, Weber B, Rabenau H, Gümbel HO, Chenot JF, et al. In vitro inhibition of human cytomegalovirus replication in human foreskin fibroblasts and endothelial cells by ascorbic acid 2-phosphate. Antiviral Res. 1995 Aug;27(4):405–18.

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