Cough is a major cause of doctor visits among children and adults. It can impact quality of life, cause anxiety, and affect sleep for parents and their children.

Here’s a Cochrane review of the evidence supporting the use of honey to treat acute cough in children.

First, the details.

  • Studies of honey in children and teenagers to treat for acute cough were included.
  • 1 study of 108 children with upper respiratory tract infections was found.
    • It compared honey, dextromethorphan (cough suppressant), and no treatment.

And, the results.

  • Honey was more effective than no treatment in reducing frequency of cough, bothersome cough, and improving sleep quality of children.
  • There was no difference between the honey and no treatment in resolving severity of cough, and sleep quality of parents.
  • Dextromethorphan and honey didn’t differ on cough frequency, cough severity, bothersome cough, and sleep quality of the children or their parents.

The bottom line?

Yes, yes, more research is needed. But when confronted with a child suffering from acute cough, I think that on balance, honey seems to be better than doing nothing.

On the other hand, the researchers are more constrained by the lack of data. They concluded, “We found insufficient evidence to advise for or against the use of honey for acute cough in children.”

Of course, don’t feed honey to babies, as discussed here.

5/10/10 21:17 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.