Honey – Nature’s Prescription

Many parents are concerned about the recent FDA recommendation that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines not be given to children under 6 years of age because of a lack of effectiveness and potential for side effects.

With this recent news in mind, a team of researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine decided to put nature to the test. They tested the effectiveness of three different approaches for children who were having trouble sleeping due to a cough.

The children in the study were given either no treatment at all, a little bit of buckwheat honey or dextromethorphan (DM), the chemical cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cold medicines. The children receiving the honey or DM took it about 30 minutes before bedtime.

The research team found that honey was more effective in reducing the severity and frequency of nighttime cough compared with DM or no treatment at all. Honey also allowed the children to sleep better. The findings are published in the December, 2007, issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

According to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Ian Paul, Penn State’s director of pediatric clinical research: "Honey provided the greatest relief of symptoms compared with the other treatments. With honey, parents now have a safe and effective alternative to use for children over age 1 that have cough and cold symptoms”. Some of the children were hyperactive for a short time after being given the honey, Dr. Paul said. However, children who received honey slept better and so did their parents, he noted.

Paul cautioned that honey should never be given to children younger than 1, because of the rare risk of infantile botulism. In addition, he noted, cough medicines that mention "honey" on the label actually contain artificial honey flavor not real honey.

Honey has been used for centuries to treat upper respiratory infection symptoms such as cough. In addition, honey has antioxidant and antimicrobial effects, and also soothes the back of the throat.
Once again, science has proven that food really can be your medicine.