Over the years, moms and dads have chosen to give their children honey to relieve their cough and improve sleep quality. Some kids will not complain about this traditional treatment because of the sweet taste, but the question is: does this really work?

The Experts Agree

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization (WHO) both approve on honey for cough relief. There are a few studies that support the use of honey to calm a cough. According to WHO, honey has always been a cough treatment, especially in countries where medication is not easy to access.

There is one study that confirms how honey can improve both coughing at night and sleep quality. This is in comparison to not taking medicine as well as taking one that has dextromethorphan, which is a common ingredient in cough suppressants. This ingredient actually gives most medicines the flavor that resembles honey.

The study focused on children who are at least two years of age. They also had upper respiratory tract infections during the course of the research. Each child was given up to two teaspoons of honey or equivalent to 10 milliliters (mL) before they went to sleep. The second night, some children did not receive any medication, while others were given a cough syrup that tasted like honey. By the end of the study, it was observed that those who received the treatment had reduced nighttime coughing and saw an improvement in their sleep. Meanwhile, those who took over-the-counter medicine and those with none did not have the same positive experience as those who had honey.

The Healing Powers of Honey

There's a ton of different kinds of honey, all of them can be used to stop cough / PicHelp
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There’s a ton of different kinds of honey, all of them can be used to stop cough / PicHelp

There is no specific reason/s as to why honey can help people with cough. According to the authors of the study above, it may be due to honey containing over 180 active ingredients, along with the fact that it boosts the immune system with its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Some experts believe that the type of honey can affect the outcome of the cough treatment. Darker honeys for instance contain more antioxidants than those that are lighter in color. This does not mean that lighter honeys are not effective. In fact, it is easy to get them at local supermarkets.

While they did the study on children, adults shouldn’t be worried in taking honey as a cough treatment. It is not only inexpensive, but also safe – even safer than over-the-counter drugs. Honey does not have the side effects you can experience with medications, such as sleepiness and dizziness.