John Libonati

Honey May Be Best for Cough, Study Finds

by John Libonati on July 9th, 2010


Dec. 5, 2007. Courtesy JAMA and Archives Journals and World Science staff

 

Honey. Photo: Andreas Praefcke

A bit of buck­wheat hon­ey beat the lead­ing over-the-coun­ter chil­dren’s cough rem­edy in re­liev­ing kids’ cough and as­so­ci­at­ed sleep trou­bles, a study has found.

  But the re­search—though pub­lished in a re­spected med­i­cal jour­nal—was funded by the U.S. hon­ey in­dus­try. Its au­thors rec­om­mend­ed fur­ther stud­ies to con­firm the re­sults, while not­ing that safe­ty and ef­fi­cacy ques­tions have aris­en around over-the-coun­ter kids’ cough med­i­cines. “Cough is the rea­son for nearly three per­cent of all out­pa­tient vis­its in the Un­ited States, more than any oth­er symp­tom,” they wrote in the re­port. “It most com­monly oc­curs in con­junc­tion with an up­per res­pi­ra­to­ry tract in­fec­tion,” and of­ten dis­rupts sleep.

  The study ap­pears in this mon­th’s is­sue of the Ar­chives of Pe­di­at­rics & Ad­o­les­cent Med­i­cine, pub­lished by the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­socia­t­ion. The Na­t­ional Hon­ey Board­—an in­dus­try-funded agen­cy of the U.S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture—paid for the re­search. The most com­monly used over-the-coun­ter chil­dren’s cough rem­e­dy is dex­tro­meth­or­phan, though it’s un­sup­ported by the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Pe­di­at­rics or the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Chest Physi­cians, the stu­dy’s au­thors not­ed. “In many cul­tures, al­ter­na­tive reme­dies such as hon­ey are used,” they added in the re­port. The re­search­ers, Ian M. Paul and col­leagues at Penn State Col­lege of Med­i­cine, stud­ied 105 chil­dren aged two to 18 with up­per res­pi­ra­to­ry tract in­fec­tions who were sick for a week or less and suf­fered symp­toms at night. They were ran­domly as­signed to re­ceive an age-appropriate dose of hon­ey, dex­tro­meth­or­phan or no treat­ment for one night with­in half an hour of bed­time. The par­ents were asked to fill out a sur­vey as­sess­ing their child’s cough and sleep the night be­fore and the night af­ter treat­ment.

The sur­vey an­a­lyzed cough fre­quen­cy, cough sev­er­ity and its both­er­some­ness to the child, the child’s sleep and to par­en­ts’ sleep. “Hon­ey was sig­nif­i­cantly su­pe­ri­or to no treat­ment for cough fre­quen­cy and the com­bined score, but dex­tro­meth­or­phan was not bet­ter than no treat­ment for any out­come,” Paul and col­leagues wrote.

“While our find­ings and the ab­sence of con­tem­po­rary stud­ies sup­port­ing the use of dex­tro­meth­or­phan con­tin­ue to ques­tion its ef­fec­tive­ness for the treat­ment of cough as­so­ci­at­ed with up­per res­pi­ra­to­ry tract in­fec­tions, we have now pro­vid­ed ev­i­dence sup­port­ing hon­ey, which is gen­er­ally re­garded as safe for chil­dren old­er than one year, as an al­ter­na­tive,” the au­thors con­clud­ed. 

“While ad­di­tion­al stud­ies to con­firm our find­ings should be en­cour­aged, each cli­ni­cian should con­sid­er the find­ings for hon­ey, the ab­sence of such pub­lished find­ings for dex­tro­meth­or­phan and the po­ten­tial for ad­verse ef­fects and cu­mu­la­tive costs as­so­ci­at­ed with the use of dex­tro­meth­or­phan.”

 

In a 2004 stu­dy, Paul and col­leagues found that nei­ther dex­tromethor­phan nor di­phen­hy­dra­, anoth­er com­mon com­po­nent of cold med­ica­t­ions, per­formed bet­ter than a pla­ce­bo at re­duc­ing night­time cough or im­prov­ing sleep qual­ity. Some cul­tures have used hon­ey for cen­turies to treat up­per res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tion symp­toms like cough, and it’s con­sid­ered safe for chil­dren over a year old, the re­search­ers said. Hon­ey soothes on con­tact, they added, and con­tri­butes to wound heal­ing, pos­sibly through its well-es­tab­lished an­ti­mi­cro­bi­al and an­ti­ox­i­dant ef­fects.

Reprinted from http://www.world-science.net

----------------------------- Author Information: John Libonati, Philadelphia, PA Publisher, Glutenfreeworks.com. Editor & Publisher, Recognizing Celiac Disease. John can be reached by e-mail here.


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