Honey: Effective for Treatment of Cough?

Cold and flu season is here.  In fact, a bit of a cold has been running through my family this month leading them to text me for treatment advice.  Can I take Sudafed and Mucinex together?  Do you have any codeine-based cough syrup laying around?  We all suffer from an occasional upper respiratory infection.  The annoying runny nose and nagging cough, the knowledge that there is no quick fix accompanied by your decongestant induced haze are enough to drive you up the wall.  Is there a more natural remedy for relief of these pesky symptoms?

A case of the coughs, especially at night, is dreaded by adults and children alike.  It prevents that much needed sleep during times of illness leaving you achy and exhausted.  Adults are able to take over-the-counter cough suppressants which are occasionally effective, but what about kids?  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against use of the commonly prescribed dextromethorphan and codeine-based cough suppressants in children.  OTC cough medications such as Children's Dimetapp and Children's Robitussin were banned by the FDA in 2007.  So what do you give the little ones to ease cough and allow children (and parents) a peaceful night's sleep?  Some experts now recommend honey.

What Does Research Show About Honey and Coughs?

Studies preformed by The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine indicate that honey produces better results in treating cough than dextromethorphan.  Children and adolescents treated for cough with honey had reduced cough frequency and severity as well as better sleep quality during upper respiratory illness.  Few side effects were experienced by children treated with honey.  Mild hyperactivity was reported in a few children.  How does honey work in treatment of cough and upper respiratory symptoms?  Researchers believe that honey helps soothe the back of the throat as well as thin and break up mucus in the airways.  Honey has also long been recognized to have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. 

What Precautions Should You Take in Recommending Honey to Your Patients?

Children under one year of age should never be given honey due to the risk of infant botulism, a rare but serious form of food poisoning. 

Should You Recommend Honey for Treatment of Cough in Your Patients?

Honey sounds like a winner!  With virtually no side effects, taking honey for treatment of cough is worth a try, especially in children for whom there are almost no OTC cough medications available.  Adults who wish to avoid the groggy feeling casued by many OTC cold and flu preparations may also benefit from the natural effects honey provides.  Try it and let us know if you have any success!