Recent research compared honey to dextromethorphan (a common cough suppressant), diphenhydramine (an antihistamine) and normal parental care only for the treatment of nocturnal coughing. Honey consistently scored the best for reducing cough frequency and cough severity. It also scored best for improving sleep. In this study, 139 children ages 24 months to 60 months with an upper respiratory infection were randomly assigned to one of the four treatments before bed. Both before the intervention and 24 hours after, mothers of the children filled out a questionnaire with questions about the child’s cough frequency and severity, and the sleep quality of both kids and parents. Results showed:
- Half a teaspoon (2.5 ml) of honey before bedtime was superior in relieving kids’ nighttime cough symptoms and improving sleep quality for both kids and parents compared with the two medication groups or supportive-care-only group.
Honey naturally cause reflex salivation and increased airway secretions. These secretions lubricate the airway and remove the trigger (or tickle) that causes a dry, nonproductive cough.