In children with nighttime cough, honey appears to offer symptom relief and improve sleep quality, according to a study in Pediatrics. (The study was funded, in part, by the Honey Board of Israel.)
Nearly 300 children aged 1 to 5 years who presented to Israeli pediatric clinics with upper respiratory infections were randomized to a single, 10-g dose of honey or placebo within 30 minutes of bedtime. Their parents completed questionnaires before randomization and then the day after treatment.
Compared with baseline, cough symptoms and sleep quality improved significantly with honey and with placebo. However, improvements were greater in the honey groups than in the placebo group. Adverse events did not differ across the groups.
The researchers speculate that an interaction between fibers that control cough and those that taste sweetness may produce an antitussive effect. They conclude: “In light of this study, honey can be considered an effective and safe treatment [for nocturnal cough] of children >1 year of age.”