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Honey and child health

Every parent wants the best for their child, and that includes keeping them healthy. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible; an immature immune system leaves children susceptible to a range of common illnesses, and every child will experience an illness accompanied by a cough at some point as they’re growing up.

Modern medicinal options

Hopefully, a chat with your GP will confirm that it’s an illness that can be managed at home. At that point, you might be tempted to run to your local pharmacy or supermarket and pick up one of the numerous over the counter treatments marketed as cough relief, but before you do, check your cupboards since you might already have a safe and effective alternative available.

You guessed it – honey! In fact, a quick read of the ingredients list of some over the counter treatments for cough relief will have honey listed as an active ingredient. Other common active ingredients for cough relief are dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine, but clinical trials have repeatedly found that they are not superior to a placebo (or honey for that matter).

Honey for coughs

A 2012 study of 300 children aged 1 to 5 years old compared the effects of a single night-time dose of honey to a placebo, and they found honey produced a significant improvement in symptoms caused by upper respiratory tract infections when compared to using a placebo. In simple terms, this means that honey reduced coughing at night which is great news for children and their parents.

Furthermore, honey was also found to have an excellent safety profile (although it is not recommended for use in children under the age of 1). These findings, along with results from other similar studies have led to NHS doctors publicly recommending honey for cough treatment in children over the age of 1.

Not just for children

Whilst there are more medicinal options available to adults (although their effectiveness is also strongly disputed), honey remains a convenient, effective, and safe treatment for cough in adults too. So, before you dash to the pharmacy, consider whether you’d be better off enjoying some honey and lemon at home for a tickly cough.

Of course, if you have persistent or additional symptoms or are concerned for your child’s welfare, always seek medical advice.