Dump OTC cough syrups, honey more effective for cough in children
October 10, 2008
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), an association that represents most of the makers of nonprescription over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines in children, recently announced that its members are voluntarily modifying the product labels for consumers of OTC cough and cold medicines to state “do not use” in children under 4 years of age. The announcement comes a week after federal authorities said they had little data on the benefits of such medicines for very young children.
In January 2008, after the FDA warned of the serious risk such medicines pose for children younger than two, pharmaceutical firms stopped marketing them for that age group. American pediatricians welcomed the move, although they would like to see it extended for children up to the age of five.
Studies have shown that despite the billions of dollars spent every year in this country on over-the-counter cough syrups, most such medicines do little if anything to relieve coughs, and they can cause serious side effects.
Over-the-counter cough syrups generally contain drugs in too low a dose to be effective, or contain combinations of drugs that have never been proven to treat coughs, said Dr. Richard Irwin, chairman of a cough guidelines committee for the American College of Chest Physicians.
However a small amount of honey may just do the trick.
A study by researchers from Penn State College of Medicine involved over 100 children with coughs between the ages of 2 and 18. Before bed, the children were given honey-flavored cough syrup, honey or nothing at all.
Parents of children who received the honey rated their children’s sleep and symptoms as better, and noted improvements in their own sleep as well.
The researchers noted that the type of honey may be important. The children in the study were given dark-colored buckwheat honey, and it’s known that darker honeys have more antioxidants than lighter honeys.
Note: Pediatricians do not recommend giving honey to children under 1 year of age because of the risk of botulism spores.