Children coughing in the night

A landmark study from turn-of-the-century England documented that a teaspoon dose of sucrose could improve medication administration and palatability (Poppins M,, 1910, referenced at But what if the sucrose itself was the medicine?

A recent study from Tel Aviv University looked at the efficacy of three different preparations of honey compared to a placebo of date extract in children with URIs and nocturnal coughing. Based on parents’ ratings, the researchers found that all three yielded an improvement in all areas (total symptom score, cough severity, and sleep quality) compared to placebo. This study complements previous research (1, 2) that also supports the efficacy of honey as a cough suppressant in children.

In addition, there are almost no studies showing efficacy of OTC cold and cough medications in children and many studies showing the dangers of these same medications, especially in children under two years of age. This has led the FDA to remove all cold products for children under two years of age from the market and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending no use of cold medications for children under six years of age!

For anyone who has ever tasted cold medicines (e.g. my own horrifying experience with Ther-A-Flu), this is a great alternative – a good-tasting cough “medicine” that actually works! I have been recommending this for my patients for some time and haven’t had any parent complain they couldn’t get their child to take their “medicine.” Of course, for children under one year of age, honey is still not recommended due to the potential risk of botulism.

Jeff Ribordy, MD

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