Is it true that honey calms coughs better than cough medicine does?
Answer From Pritish K. Tosh, M.D.
Drinking tea or warm lemon water mixed with honey is a time-honored way to soothe a sore throat. But honey alone may be an effective cough suppressant, too.
In one study, children ages 1 to 5 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.
Pritish K. Tosh, M.D.
Aug. 06, 2020
- Oduwole O, et al. Honey for acute cough in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2018;12: doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007094.pub5.
- Pappas DE. The common cold in children: Management and prevention. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed July 23, 2020.
- Honey. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed July 23, 2020.