A Honey of a Safe and Effective Cough Medicine for Children

HoneyBearsFirst things first: cough is good.

If you didn’t cough, you couldn’t keep your lungs clean and tidy. Your lungs are lined with cells that secrete mucus to trap the things that float in the air like viruses, bacteria, and pollution. When you get sick, the self-cleaning function of your lungs is compromised. Until you are well again, your lung cleaning goes on manual: you cough.

Doctors don’t believe that cough medicines are very helpful—or very effective. Cough medications tell your brain to stop coughing. There are better sensors in your lungs that make you cough when there is mucus or irritation. The only way to shut these off is through medications that cause sedation. Sedating children and infants isn’t safe: they can stop breathing.

What then to do about cough?

Honey may be one sweet answer. It forms a soothing, protective layer over mucus membranes. It also has antioxidant properties. Researchers gave honey to children with a nighttime cough and found it superior to a placebo made from an extract of dates.

The children who were given 2 tsp (10 milliliters) of honey 30 minutes before bedtime slept better. Their parents slept better too and reported that their children’s coughs were less severe with the honey.

This is one safe option for children over 1 year of age. Never give honey to a baby before their first birthday. Honey can be contaminated with botulism spores and cause life-threatening paralysis of the breathing muscles.

Another source of effective home remedies for your sick child can be found in The Holistic Pediatrician by Kathi J. Kemper, MD.

About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at WebMD.com, Rx.com, and MyLifePath.com. She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. BabyCenter.com currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit www.LMAsta.com
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1 Response to A Honey of a Safe and Effective Cough Medicine for Children

  1. Pingback: Why Doesn’t Cough Medicine Work? | Casa Verde Pediatrics, Inc. Blog

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