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Honey May Be an Effective Home Cough Remedy

Honey may be an effective home remedy for cough, especially for children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the use of dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant found in over-the-counter cough and cold formulations such as Robitussen DM and Children’s Dimetapp DM. But when a child is up all night coughing, what’s a parent to do?

Following Pooh-Bear’s lead might not be a bad idea: Reach for the honey jar. Honey may be one of the best natural remedies for a cough. One randomized controlled trial involving 108 children and teens two years and older suggest that honey may be as effective than dextromethorphan.  Children in the study who were given two teaspoons of honey at bedtime coughed less and slept better than children who were given nothing or a dose of honey-flavored medication containing dexamethasone.

Doctors really aren’t sure why honey might work to soothe coughs, but some suggest that any sort of sweet substance might help to coat and soothe the back of the throat and break down mucus in the airways. As a bonus, honey also has antimicrobial properties.

When your child has a cough, honey is a low-cost, generally safe home cough remedy to try. However, there’s one exception: Never give honey to an infant less than one year of age, as it may cause infant botulism. Infant botulism is a rare but potentially life-threatening disease that occurs when a type of bacteria called Clostridium botulinum grows in an infant’s gastrointestinal tract.