Drinking tea or warm lemon water mixed with honey is a time-honored way to soothe a sore throat. But honey may be an effective cough suppressant, too.
In one study, children age 2 and older with upper respiratory tract infections were given up to 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) of honey at bedtime. The honey seemed to reduce nighttime coughing and improve sleep.
In fact, in the study, honey appeared to be as effective as a common cough suppressant ingredient, dextromethorphan, in typical over-the-counter doses. Since honey is low-cost and widely available, it might be worth a try.
However, due to the risk of infant botulism, a rare but serious form of food poisoning, never give honey to a child younger than age 1.
And remember: Coughing isn't all bad. It helps clear mucus from your airway. If you or your child is otherwise healthy, there's usually no reason to suppress a cough.
Jul. 11, 2012
- Paul IM, et al. Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 2007;161:1140.
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- Honey. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed April 5, 2012.
- Botulism: Epidemiological overview for clinicians. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/Botulism/clinicians/epidemiology.asp. Accessed April 5, 2012.
- Shadkam MN, et al. A comparison of the effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and diphenhydramine on nightly cough and sleep quality in children and their parents. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16:787.
- Common cold. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/commoncold/pages/prevention.aspx. Accessed March 6, 2012.