Honey -- the "new" cough medicine

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Sara PA, Dec 4, 2007.

  1. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I wanted to post his where the most people would see it so I chose here.

    Honey Treats Coughs Better Than Drugs
    That Spoonful of Honey May Beat Over-the-Counter Remedies

    ABC News Medical Unit

    Dec. 3, 2007—

    There may be hope for parents looking for alternatives to drug-laden cough syrup to calm their children's coughs -- and help might be as close as that golden nectar in the kitchen. Honey can soothe throats and calm coughs, according to a new study.

    The study, published Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found that children who received a small dose of buckwheat honey before bedtime slept better and coughed less than those who received either a common over-the-counter cough suppressant (dextromethorphan) or nothing at all.

    "This is the first time honey has been actually proven as a treatment," says lead study author Dr. Ian Paul, a researcher at Penn State College of Medicine. He adds that honey has been recommended for ages by grandparents in certain cultures.

    The researchers enrolled 105 children, between ages 2 and 18, in their randomized, partially double-blind study. On the first night of the study, the children received no treatment. Parents then answered questions about their children's sleep and cough, as well as the quality of their own sleep. The second night, the children were given either honey-flavored cough syrup or honey -- or nothing at all. Parents then reanswered the questions in the survey.

    Parents whose children received the honey rated their kids' sleep and symptoms as better -- and their own sleep as improved as well.

    Healing Powers of Honey

    Paul says that the type of honey plays a role in the treatment.

    "Darker honeys have more antioxidants than lighter honeys, and we wanted the best chance to see improvements," he says, noting that lighter honeys would probably also benefit kids. "At least locally [buckwheat honey] is available. I can get it here at the local supermarket."

    Honey is also generally less expensive than over-the-counter medications, he says, and bring none of the side effects like dizziness or sleepiness.

    The current study was inspired by an earlier investigation by Paul and his group. In 2004, they showed that the two most common active ingredients in cough syrup, dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine, had the same effectiveness in treating cough symptoms as a placebo ingredient.

    Some of the kids who took honey did experience side effects, according to the study. The parents reported slightly more hyperactivity when their kids took honey, compared with when they took cough syrup.

    But it's also interesting to note that this is not the first time the sweet stuff has been looked to as a remedy. Honey has been used since the time of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians to treat everything from wounds to insect bites. This usefulness can perhaps be attributed to the idea that an enzyme that bees add to the nectar produces hydrogen peroxide, an antibacterial agent.

    A Conclusion That's Easy to Swallow

    For coughs and sore throats, it may be the stickiness and viscosity of honey that makes it work well.

    "It has long been known that demulcents [like honey] can soothe irritated mucous membranes and thereby remove the irritation that is fueling the cough reflex," says Paul Doering, co-director of the Drug Information and Pharmacy Resource Center at the University of Florida.

    "This explains the popularity of the so-called 'cough drops' that we all were given as children," he says, adding that the cough syrups serve a similar purpose: they lubricate the throat, thus reducing irritation. "The immediate relief that one experiences when swallowing that dose of cough syrup is attributable to the viscous vehicle and not the medicine itself."

    Other pediatricians warn that there is a minimum age when honey is appropriate. Only children 2 and older participated in the study.

    "Pediatricians do not recommend using honey in any situation -- whether it be to eat or to relieve a cough in children younger than 1 because of the risk of botulism," says Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in private practice in Austin, Texas, explaining that botulism spores in honey can harm infants.

    Brown says that even if honey is eventually shown to have little effectiveness, it certainly will not hurt -- and it can make parents feel as if they're doing something.

    "It's benign, and as opposed to standard cough medicine, it tastes good," she says. "But the authors admit that the improvement in symptoms may simply be attributable to the length of time a child has symptoms of cough and that the common cold will improve over time anyway."

    Doering says that since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recent recommendation that cough and cold medicines not be given to children under 6 years old, this new research may calm the nerves of parents who wonder what to give their children.

    "I believe that recommending honey as a cough medicine has merits. It provides a safe option to using chemical based options," he says, adding that honey is part of a trend of recommending more commonplace traditional remedies for ailments.

    "We are in an age of newfound caution when it comes to dosing our kids for minor illnesses," says Doering. "Personally, as a pharmacist, I always feel uncomfortable recommending a chemical solution to every ill that comes along."

    Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I hate the way cough syrup makes me feel and have used honey for years. It is nice to see the medical community supporting research into what natural remedies really work.
  3. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    My daughter and I recently both had an oddball virus which consisted mostly of a nasty cough. Absolutely nothing I tried settled down her cough: antihistamine/decongestant, cough medication with codeine, nebulizing, steam. Finally after desperation one night I made her a cup of peppermint tea with plenty of honey 30 minutes after giving her Benadryl (which I know knocks her out). That combination did the trick when nothing else had.
  4. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Ditto - we only took honey when we were sick growing up and it works. It's very soothing on your throat,helps calm the cough, helpe build your immune system and it's tasty too!
  5. saman

    saman New Member

    Honey is a natural antiseptic! I use it all the time in tea for my kids if they have a tickle in their throat..typically knocks it right out before it gets really bad.

    Glad to see this! :smile:
  6. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Hot tea and honey...have done it for as long as I can remember... in a pinch, hot water with lemon and honey.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Honey in herbal tea works GREAT. Sara, thanks for letting parents know. Our kids don't need extra drugs!!!
  8. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Well-Known Member

    Just one note of caution:
    Honey could potentially cause botulism in young babies. You want to wait to introduce honey until baby is a year old.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    My mother used to mix lemon juice with honey and warm it. When we had a cold we had to sip a spoonful to ease a sore throat.
    But easy child 2/difficult child 2 doesn't like it with lemon, husband can't take too much lemon and so we've begun just using honey. Singers need to avoid using too much, because too much sugar is metabolised into more carbon dioxide than fat, and an overload of sugar will increase breathing rate enough to affect a performance (speaking from experience! I later found the physiology behind it).

    In Australia we have ti-tree honey and yellowbox honey. The New Zealanders have a tree similar to ti-tree, the manuka, which makes perhaps one of the best honeys in the world for healing. They've been using these three honeys for treating leg ulcers. We've been able to buy tubes of "medihoney" which is pasteurised honey designed for medical use. Sold in pharmacies. TGA listed. From what I can find out, I think it's manuka honey.

    Another interesting use - when you're working in the garden and trying to strike plant cuttings, you can use honey instead of hormone rooting powder. We've stopped buying the expensive products and just dip the cutting ends in honey. It works!

    Amazing stuff, honey.

  10. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    We make tea out of Thyme. It works very well. You'd have to honey it up a bit for a kid, but I like it.

  11. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member


    You have me very confused. In the States, honey comes from bees. Down under, you have honey trees????