Medicine for the Outdoors
Medicine for the Outdoors

Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.

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Honey for Nocturnal Cough

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Honey is a useful substance in a pinch for putting into an open wound to prevent or limit bacterial growth, and is touted by some to have anti-seasonal allergy properties. Now there is a study that appears to confirm its usefulness as a remedy to treat nocturnal cough in children. 

In a paper entitled “Effect of Honey on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study,” Herman Cohen and colleagues compared the effects of a single nocturnal dose of three honey products (eucalyptus honey, citrus honey, or labiatae honey) to a placebo (silian date extract) on nighttime cough and difficulty sleeping associated with upper respiratory tract infections in children ages 1 to 5 years. The outcome measures tabulated included cough frequency, cough severity, bothersome nature of the cough, and child and parent sleep quality (admittedly somewhat subjective).

The dose of honey or placebo administered was 10 grams. The investigators found that all substances administered improved the situation from the night before they were administered to the night of treatment, but the improvement was greater in the honey groups.

I would like to see this study repeated with other types of honey, to see if it applies to essentially any type of honey.  Based on the actual mechanism of how honey suppresses cough, differences might be seen. It would also be interesting to see it repeated in other age groups. It is important to note that honey should NOT be given to children under one year of age because of the risk for infant botulism. The authors also mention that feeding honey to children for a period longer that the short duration of a respiratory illness might increase the risk of dental caries due to the sugar content.

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Tags: General Interest , Just for Kids

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Dr. Paul S. Auerbach is the world’s leading authority on wilderness medicine.

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