Could there be such a simple solution to a child’s cough as honey!?! The idea has been tossed around for years but a recent study published in Pediatrics this month reports that this is probably not just a kooky home remedy idea from great grandma. They found that honey is more effective than placebo in controlling nighttime cough in children between 1 and 5 yo suffering from a URI – and this conclusion was based on the results from a randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. Studies have been done in the past on honey’s affect of URI symptoms but these studies tested only a single type of honey or they were not blinded studies.
In this study children with URIs and nocturnal cough were given 1 of 3 different honey products (eucalyptus, citrus, and labiatae) or a placebo 30 minutes before bedtime. They enrolled 300 children aged 1-5yo with URIs and an associated nocturnal cough, who were seen at 1 of 6 general pediatric community clinics over the course of a year. Children were excluded if they had used any medications or honey 24 hours prior to the start of the study or if they had symptoms of asthma, pneumonia, laryngotracheobronchitis, sinusitis or allergic rhinitis.
Parental surveys were used to evaluate the primary outcome which was a subjective change in cough frequency, and a secondary outcome which included a change in cough severity, the effect of the cough on sleep for both the child and the parent.
The results… patients in all 3 honey groups demonstrated significant improvement for all outcomes measured (cough frequency, cough severity, bothersome nature of cough, child and parent sleep quality) and this improvement was greater in the honey groups compared with placebo.
So now at least when those parents come in to the ER or clinic for their child’s annoying cough – you have one more option.
Cohen, HA et al. Effect of Honey on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pediatrics, August 6 2012