Spoonful of honey helps children's coughs
Families slept better after hacking kids took honey compared to placebo
Honey helps coughing children to hack less and sleep more, Israeli researchers have found.
Coughs from upper respiratory infections lead to discomfort for children, sleepless nights for parents and kids, and missed school and work days.
Parents may turn to over-the-counter medications despite advice from regulators including Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the medications lack proof of effectiveness and have been linked to inadvertent overdose deaths in young children.
A World Health Organization publication recommends honey as a cough medication, noting it's cheap, popular and safe for non-infants.
Israeli researchers put honey to the test against a sticky, sweet and brown placebo for 300 children one to five years old. The kids had upper respiratory infections with coughing at night and an illness that lasted seven days at most.
"Honey may be a preferable treatment of cough and sleep difficulties associated with childhood upper respiratory infection," Dr. Herman Avner Cohen of Tel Aviv University and his authors concluded in Monday's issue of the journal Pediatrics.
"In light of this study, honey can be considered an effective and safe treatment of children over one year of age."
Health authorities say honey should not be given to children under one year old because of the risk of infant botulism.
For the Israeli study, children were randomly assigned to take 10 grams of eucalyptus honey, citrus honey, labiatae honey or silan date extract as a placebo. The kids took the products 30 minutes before bedtime.
Parents rated the products based on:
- Change in frequency of cough between the two nights.
- Cough severity.
- Bothersome nature of the cough.
- Effect of cough on sleep for both child and parent.
All types of honey were better than placebo in alleviating cough, the researchers found.
Adverse events, such as stomach ache, nausea and vomiting, were about the same between groups.
The survey was subjective and only one dose was given, the researchers said in describing the limitations of the study.