Honey vs Cough Medicines
Recently, the safety and effectiveness of children’s cough medicines have been questioned. What can parents do to help their children deal with a troublesome cough? Raw Honey has been used as a home remedy for centuries to help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with a common cold. Time is the most important healer of sore throats caused by viruses, but for relief of the irritating symptoms, try a spoonful of raw honey to soothe and coat your throat. Take a spoonful straight, as often as you need, to relieve the irritation. In between, keep up your liquids with a steaming cup of tea and sweetened with raw honey. For added vitamin C, try mixing in orange, grapefruit or lemon juice.
Raw honey is nature’s cough medicine. That’s correct. Put that Robitussin down and eat some raw honey. A new study by a Penn State College of Medicine research team found that honey may offer parents an effective and safe alternative. The study found that a small dose of buckwheat honey given before bedtime provided better relief of nighttime cough and sleep difficulty in children than no treatment or dextromethorphan (DM), a cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cold medications. Honey did a better job of reducing the severity and frequency of night-time coughs. It also improved sleep quality for children and their parents. Honey did a better job reducing the severity, frequency and bothersome nature of nighttime cough from upper respiratory infection than DM or no treatment. Honey also showed a positive effect on the sleep quality of both the coughing child and the child’s parents. DM was not significantly better at alleviating symptoms than no treatment.
These findings are especially notable since an FDA advisory board recently recommended that over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines not be given to children less than 6 years old because of their lack of effectiveness and potential for side effects. In a previous study published in 2004, they showed that neither DM nor diphenhydramine, another common component of cold medications, performed better than a placebo at reducing nighttime cough or improving sleep quality. However, raw honey has been used for centuries in some cultures to treat upper respiratory infection symptoms like cough, and is considered to be safe for children over 12 months old. Honey has well-established antioxidant and antimicrobial effects, which could explain its contributions to wound healing. Raw honey also soothes on contact, which may help explain its effect on cough as suggested by the World Health Organization. Additional studies should certainly be considered, but we hope that medical professionals will consider the positive potential of honey as a treatment given the lack of proven efficacy, expense, and potential for adverse effects associated with the use of DM. Coughing is the reason for nearly three percent of all outpatient visits in the United States, more than any other symptom. It is particularly bothersome at night because it disrupts sleep. Consumers spend billions of dollars each year on OTC cough and cold medications despite little evidence that these drugs provide significant relief.
Across the board, parents rated honey as significantly better than DM or no treatment for symptomatic relief of their child’s nighttime cough and sleep difficulty. In a few cases, parents did report mild side effects with the honey treatment, such as hyperactivity. “Our study adds to the growing literature questioning the use of DM in children, but it also offers a legitimate and safe alternative for physicians and parents,” said Paul, a pediatrician, researcher and associate professor of pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Children’s Hospital. “Additional studies should certainly be considered, but we hope that medical professionals will consider the positive potential of honey as a treatment given the lack of proven efficacy, expense, and potential for adverse effects associated with the use of DM.”
Round 1: When stored properly, Honey will last forever in your medicine cabinet. All OTC cough medicines have an expiration date. Winner: Honey
Round 2: Honey is more effective in relieving coughs and sleeplessness. The benefits of cough medicines are questionable at best. Winner: Honey
Round 3: Honey has no side effects. The potentially dangerous effects of DM in young children include dystonic reactions, severe involuntary muscle contractions and spasms. Further, DM is a commonly used as a drug of abuse by adolescents. Winner: Honey
Round 4: Honey tastes better than cough syrup. Honey can be mixed with foods and drinks. Cough medicine can not be mixed into our food or drinks. Winner: Honey