A cough is usually a good thing; it means your body is trying to get rid of mucus that may be collecting in your lungs. However, a persistent cough may be unwelcome if it keeps you up at night or interferes with your activities. Whereas over-the-counter cough medicines contain ingredients that can cause serious side effects, particularly in children, a home remedy using honey may be just as effective. A 2007 study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that honey relieves a child’s cough as well as cough syrup.
Select darker varieties of honey when shopping, such as buckwheat-flavored honey. The 2007 study indicated darker honeys may be more effective as a remedy than lighter ones, since they contain more antioxidants.
Measure 1 to 2 tsp. of the honey and administer right before bedtime. If treating a child, use ½ to 1 tsp. of honey.
Swallow the honey undiluted; it must remain viscous to properly coat the throat.
Do not give honey to children under 1 year old; honey contains botulism spores an infant's digestive system cannot handle.
- ABC News; Honey Treats Coughs Better Than Drugs; Katharine Stoel Gammon; December 2007
- "Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine"; Effect of Honey, Dextromethorphan, and No Treatment on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality for Coughing Children and Their Parents; Ian M. Paul, M.D., et al.; December 2007
- MayoClinic.com; Honey: An Effective Cough Remedy?; James M. Steckelberg, M.D.; March 2010
- "My Child Is Sick!: Expert Advice for Managing Common Illnesses and Injuries"; Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.; 2011