When you or your child has a cough and a cold, your automatic inclination may be to reach for the over the counter (OTC) cough medicine, but a growing number of doctors are finding that this may not be the best step. Not only can cough syrup be hazardous for young children, but according to an article in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, there is an alternative that is even more effective. That alternative is buckwheat honey.
Coughing is a very unpleasant symptom of a cold. Not only is it uncomfortable and intrusive, but it can make it very difficult to rest and to sleep. That can extend the length of the illness considerably.
The most common ingredient found in OTC cough medication – particularly those designed for children – is dextromethorphan. Treatment using this ingredient is neither supported by the American College of Chest Physicians nor the American Academy of Pediatrics. On the other hand, honey has been used for a long time in many cultures for upper respiratory tract infection treatments, including for cough.
A recent study performed by a team of researchers from Penn State College of Medicine which involved the participation of 105 children aged from 2 to 18 years and who were suffering from upper respiratory tract infections including cough. They were ill for up to a week and had symptoms during the night. Among them, 33 were given dextromethorphan, 35 were given buckwheat honey, and 37 were not given anything. Those who were receiving treatment of some form received their dosage a half hour before bedtime. At two points, the parents had to complete a survey that assessed the child’s cough and difficulty sleeping – one the night before the treatment and one the night of the treatment.
The outcome was that the honey provided the children with far greater benefit. However, dextromethorphan was still an improvement over no treatment at all.
This is because buckwheat honey showed that it helped to reduce the severity of the cough, as well as the frequency of the cough. The children in the study slept better after having had the honey treatment (as did the parents).
This study gave just that much more support to the use of honey instead of dextromorphan, not only because it is safer, but also because it is more effective as a cough treatment. Keep in mind that it is still important to speak with your doctor before beginning any treatment.