Calm That Cough
Are you or your child kept awake coughing at night or do you have embarrassing coughing fits at work? Turns out one of the oldest cough remedies may be just what the doctor ordered. A 2007 study conducted by pediatricians at the Pennsylvania State University medical school, found that honey reduced nocturnal coughing frequency more effectively than honey-flavored dextromethorphan (DM). This is the first time that honey was proven as a treatment. It confirmed at 2004 study showing dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine, two of the most common ingredients in cough syrup, were no more effective in treating a cough than a placebo ingredient in 100 two to eighteen years olds. The Food and Drug administration now recommends that over the counter cold and cough medicines NOT be given to children under age 6.
Why does honey work?
Honey is viscous and sticky. It is a demulcent substance and can sooth irritated mucus membranes. This helps calm the cough reflex. It is also antioxidant and antimicrobial, which also might explain it efficacy. It is certainly a time tested remedy as there is evidence it was used as far back as ancient Egypt and Greece.
The Journal of Family Practice recommends for “children older than one year with a viral URI, we can now recommend 1.5 tsp. honey to be given prior to bedtime as a cough remedy. This may reduce the use of potentially harmful and often ineffective OTC cough and cold remedies.”
For older children and adults use 1 tablespoon raw honey 1-3x day. Do not dissolve in tea or water if you’re trying to obtain the cough suppressant effect. Eat it right from the spoon!
Remember: Never give honey to children under 1 year of age as it can carry botulism spores, a serious health concern for babies.
Other things you can do:
Be persistent in adding moisture to the air using pots of water on the stove, radiator, wood stove or use a humidifier. Dry indoor air increases our chances of contracting colds and flus because it dries out the nasal passages and makes them susceptible to invading bacteria and viruses.
Try doing an herbal steam. Fill a medium size pot with water and bring to a boil. Then turn off the stove and let water cool slightly for 30-60 seconds. You can also transfer it to another heatproof bowl instead. Add 3 drops tea tree essential oil and 2 drops eucalyptus essential oil. Stir quickly. Lean over the bowl as close as is comfortable. Use a bath town to cover your head like a tent trapping the steam and breath deeply. 5-10 minutes 2x day is ideal. Remember steam can burn. Take special precautions with children, always transfer water from pot into another bowl and keep hands away from the water.
Get acupuncture. Acupuncture can address both dry and productive coughs. It can also boost your immunity to prevent future upper respiratory infections. With special modified techniques acupuncture is also safe for babies and children.