Honey can ease cough symptoms6th August 2012
Honey, long in use as a folk remedy for night-time coughs in children, is safe and effective provided the children are over one year old, recent research has shown.
A study to be published in the journal Pediatrics says that honey is a viable alternative to over-the-counter cold and flu medications, which the US drug regulator has warned may be harmful.
Along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has told parents not to bother giving over-the-counter cold remedies to their children, because they do not work and may even be risky for children younger than six.
The researchers studied the effects of two teaspoons of honey on 270 children aged 1 to 5 with night-time cough caused by a cold.
Parents gave their children one of three types of honey or a non-honey liquid of similar taste and consistency 30 minutes before bed-time, before completing questionnaires reporting on the severity of their child's cough and the quality of sleep on the night before the study began, and again after their children received the treatment.
The children were given either citrus honey, labiatae honey, eucalyptus honey or date syrup that tasted similar in two-teaspoon doses 30 minutes before they went to bed.
All of the parents reported an improvement on the night their children were treated, but those who got the honey did not cough as much, or as hard, and lost less sleep.
There was no difference between the reports of parents whose children had received different varieties of honey, however.
According to paediatrician Alan Rosenbloom, honey is useful as part of a care regime for children suffering from colds, but should never be given to a child under one year old, because of the risk of infant botulism.
However, a fever, prolonged cough that gets worse, wheezing or cold symptoms lasting longer than two weeks were all signals that a parent should seek further medical advice.
Saline drops or nasal spray, a humidifier and a propped-up sleeping position can also help children with colds who have trouble sleeping at night, Rosenbloom added.
According to Vic Mali, the new findings have given a sound scientific backing to a popular home remedy for colds.
He said that any type of honey works, so parents should choose the one that the child thinks tastes the best.
He said honey was a much safer choice than over-the-counter cold medications.
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