True or False?

True or False?

Honey relieves coughing

For decades, parents looking for an over-the-counter medicine to cure a child’s sickness and coughing have turned to syrupy medicines containing dextromethorphan. But in 2007, it was  declared that the product was potentially harmful to small children and the  US government recommended a ban on many of them. As an alternative, many experts suggest something as simple as a spoonful of honey or even a small cup of flavoured water, which have few side effects and seem to be effective.

The thinking is that sweet substances of any kind help soothe the back of the throat and break up mucus in the airways. Honey is also known to have antioxidant and anti-microbial properties.

In one double-blind study published in The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, researchers recruited 105 children and teenagers who had coughs from upper-respiratory infections. The subjects were randomly divided into three groups: one that received no treatment, another that received one or two teaspoons of buckwheat honey, and a third that received a dose of honey-flavoured dextromethorphan. Ultimately, the honey produced the greatest improvements when it came to better sleep and reduced cough frequency and severity.

In a similar study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2004, researchers recruited 100 children with upper respiratory tract infections who had been coughing for an average of over three days. The children were given a cough syrup with dextromethorphan, a cough syrup containing an antihistamine, or a placebo, which was essentially flavoured water. Although children in all three groups experienced a reduction in coughing, those who received the flavoured water fared the best.

The verdict

Honey should never be given to children under a year of age because in rare cases it can cause infantile botulism.

Anahad O’ Connor

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