If your child is coughing through the night because of a common cold, Israeli experts recommend that you use honey instead of medications and syrup.
Having one to two teaspoons of honey before bedtime can facilitate the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.
“A viral infection cough is usually a self-limited disease,” says author of the study, chairman of the Pediatric Care Clinic Dr. Herman Avner Cohen, in Petah-Tikva, Israel.
“However, parents usually try to get some medication, which is potentially dangerous because of the possibility of accidental overdose.”
For this reason, “honey is way better solution against cough and sleep difficulties, at least in children older than one year of age,” says Cohen.
Some researchers suggest that the proximity of the nerve fibers that control coughing with the nerve fibers that control sweetness can enhance a natural ability of sweet substances to make the cough stop.
Others believe that the syrupy thickness of honey and its ability to cause increased salivation (and thereby throat lubrication) are the main characteristics that might explain the power of this food in stopping the cough.
Cohen and his colleagues focused on 300 children between 1 and 5 years of age, who suffered from upper respiratory infections, including coughing and runny nose, at that time. None had asthma or pneumonia symptoms.
Some children were given honey, some were given an extract that just tasted like honey. Those that consumed honey were in far better condition than those who consumed the extract, although all of them showed the improvement in both sleep quality and coughing frequency.
“My research in 2007 showed similar results,” says Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health Sciences at the Medical University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Ian Paul. “Honey, as a completely natural remedy, is always better option than syrup because syrups may have unwanted side effects.”