Honey May Soothe Kids' Coughs
Study: Honey May Be an Alternative to Over-the-Counter Cough Medicines
WebMD News Archive
Dec. 3, 2007 -- A little bit of honey, taken before bedtime, may ease
coughing in children.
Pennsylvania State University
researchers reported that news today, based on 130 children with coughs.
On average, the kids were 5 years
old (age range: 2 to 18) and had had a cough from colds for about four
When the kids saw a doctor about
their cough, the parents rated the severity of the kids' cough symptoms, including frequency of coughing and effects on
Ian Paul, MD, and colleagues sent
the parents home with one of three treatments:
- A dose of dextromethorphan, a
drug used in many over-the-counter cough suppressants
- A dose of buckwheat
- No treatment
The parents gave the children
their assigned treatment half an hour before bedtime. The next morning, the
parents again rated their children's symptoms.
Honey ranked highest, followed by
dextromethorphan, and the placebo was in last place in terms of cough
A closer look at the data shows
that honey trumped no treatment. But honey's slim lead over dextromethorphan
may have been due to chance.
Honey's benefits may be due to its
antioxidants and microbe-fighting effects, Paul's team notes. They add that
dark honeys, such as buckwheat honey, tend to be rich in antioixdants and that
further studies are needed to check their findings.
Few kids had side effects from the
treatments, though mild hyperactivity, nervousness, and insomnia were reported in five kids in the honey group,
two children in the over-the-counter medicine group, and none in the placebo
Children less than 12
months old should not be fed honey since it can cause botulism in infants.
The study, funded by the National Honey Board, appears in the Archives of
Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.