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What studies say about the treatment of Coughs in Upper Respiratory Infections

Honey Is More Effective than Dextromethorphan(cough syrup).

A study with 139 children aged between 24-60 months who had coughing for 5 days from an upper respiratory infection were found to better improve with honey than traditional cough medicines. This study had 4 groups comparing 2.5mL of honey to diphenhydramine, dextromethorphan, and no treatment (supportive treatment only). The average cough frequency score was 4.09 ± 0.72 before the intervention and 1.93 ± 0.65 after the intervention. The frequency score in the control group was 4.11 ± 0.78 before the intervention and 3.11 ± 0.57 after the intervention. Although all interventions had a relieving effect on the cough, the honey group saw the most benefit. The honey group improved more than the dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine groups in cough frequency, cough severity, cough impact on child and parent sleep (1).

Another study also showed similar benefit for honey over dextromethorphan for nighttime cough and sleep difficulty due to an upper respiratory tract infection. The authors of this study concluded “honey may be a preferable treatment for the cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infection.”(2)

1. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Jul;16(7):787-93. A comparison of the effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and diphenhydramine on nightly cough and sleep quality in children and their parents.

2. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Dec;161(12):1140-6.