Cough is a cause for concern for parents and a major cause of outpatient visits in most settings for both children and adults. Cough can impact on quality of life, cause anxiety and affect sleep for parents and children. For this reason an immediate remedy is usually sought by both the care giver and the recipient. Cochrane reviews have assessed the effectiveness of over-the-counter cough medications but none have studied honey as a cough relief. A systematic review evaluating the effectiveness of honey for reducing acute cough symptoms due to upper respiratory tract infections in children would be useful. A review of one small randomised controlled trial showed that honey was significantly better than no treatment for the relief of cough, reducing bothersome cough, improving child's sleep; but no better than 'no treatment' in reducing the severity of cough and parent's sleep. The effects of honey on symptom relief and sleep quality did not differ from those of dextromethorphan, which is a common ingredient in cough medications. Parents of five children assigned to honey and two assigned to dextromethorphan reported their children suffered from insomnia, hyperactivity and nervousness. However, as with other medications, its benefit should be considered alongside the adverse effects. This review has a limitation in that the results were obtained from a single study involving a relatively small number of children.
Oduwole, O.; Meremikwu, M. M.; Oyo-Ita, A.; Udoh, E. E. Honey for acute cough in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2010) (Issue 1) Art. No.: CD007094. [DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007094.pub2]