My recent bout with this season's cold and my little girl's similar nagging cough, led me to research alternative therapies to kick that cough! I had heard here and there that honey can help. Obviously, all of our grandmothers recommended honey tea when we got sick as kids. But, as a doctor, I'm always looking for the research to back it up. Well - I found it! Honey does help.
In a study of 300 children (1-5 years old) with colds and nagging nighttime coughs, half got 2 teaspoons of honey and half got a similar looking placebo before bedtime. Moms and dads evaluated their children's coughing the days before and after the intervention. Children who received honey had greater improvement in cough frequency, severity and bothersomeness (bothersomeness!) than those who received placebo. Two other similar studies showed the same - honey really does help improve cough!
Given the relative safety and low cost of honey, the WHO and AAP suggest it as an option for colds in children who are older than one year. It's always important to remember honey should be avoided in children younger than one year because of the risk of botulism.
Although there is no big study in adults, honey is commonly recommended for hospice patients as a means to reduce cough and get this - a study showed that honey healed burn wounds BETTER than fancy pharmaceutical dressings did!
So, I thought, let's try this! I started taking two teaspoons of honey before bed and I couldn't believe the improvement. I'm a believer and you better believe honey is stocked in my kitchen and my medicine cabinet from now on!
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.