Honey- Sweet Option for Treating Cough in Children

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Honey is more effective than a placebo in controlling night time cough in children with upper respiratory infections (URI), according to the results from a new randomised placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. The results were published online August 6 in Pediatrics.[1]

This supported a paper published back in 2007, that also found honey to be superior to medicines in the management of night time coughs and sleep quality.[2]

Herman Avner Cohen, MD, from the Paediatric Ambulatory Community Clinic, Petach Tikva, Israel, and colleagues compared symptom scores for each treatment group before and after the intervention and found that patients in all 3 honey groups demonstrated significant improvement compared with patients treated with placebo. There were no significant differences among the different types of honey.

A survey was administered to parents on 2 consecutive days, first on the day of presentation, when no medication had been given the previous evening, and the following day, when the study preparation was given before bedtime, based on a double-blind randomisation plan.

Participants included 300 children aged 1 to 5 years with URIs, nocturnal cough, and illness duration of ≤7 days from 6 general paediatric community clinics. Eligible children received a single dose of 10 g of eucalyptus honey, citrus honey, labiatae honey, or placebo administered 30 minutes before bedtime.

Main outcome measures were cough frequency, cough severity, bothersome nature of cough, and child and parent sleep quality.

Parents rated the honey products higher than the silan date extract for symptomatic relief of their children’s nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty due to URI. Honey may be a preferable treatment for cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood URI.


[1] Cohen HA, Rozen J, Kristal H, Laks Y, Berkovitch M, Uziel Y, Kozer E, Pomeranz A, Efrat H. Effect of Honey on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pediatrics. 2012 Aug 6. View Full Paper

[2] Paul IM, Beiler J, McMonagle A, Shaffer ML, Duda L, Berlin CM Jr. Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Dec;161(12):1140-6. View Abstract

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