Why Honey And Not Cough Syrup Is Best Remedy For Your Child

Research doctors say it is the most effective in treating coughs related to common cold

Local medical doctors now say they have evidence showing cough medicine for children are useless and if anything, honey preparations are much better. A team of research doctors at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi say they have diligently assessed children put on medicine, placebo or honey preparations, with the first two showing no benefit at all.


Honey preparations, they say were found to be the most effective in relieving cough symptoms associated with common cold while medicines and placebo had no benefit. Placebo is a substance containing no medicinal value used either for research or to reassure patients they are being treated.

The team followed 145 children aged between one and 12 years attending the Aga Khan University Hospital pediatric Casualty. Led by Dr Waris, the team of four says 45 of the children had been put on placebo, 57 on honey and 43 on cough medicines based on the chemical compound called salbutamol.

“Available evidence suggests that cough medicines may be no more effective than honey-based cough remedies. Now we have confirmed this in the current study,” writes the team in the current issue of the East African Medical Journal. The study was first presented at the Annual Scientific Conference of the Kenya Pediatrics Association held in Mombasa last year and now appears in a peer-reviewed journal for the first time.

The same university and a group of doctors from Nairobi Hospital raised a storm in 2009 when they called for a change of policy discouraging the use of cough medicines for children because they are of no benefit, apart from maybe assuring parents that something is being done. Clarifying the issue, then the Pharmacy and Poisons Board had thorough paid-up advertisements defended the use of medicines with proper instructions from a doctor.

Proper Instructions

“We have clearly explained and issued guidelines which tell which ages should be exposed to these medicines,” says Government Chief Pharmacist Dr Kipkerich Koskei. According to the guidelines available on the board’s website, over- the counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines are for ages six to 12 and only supposed to be sold in pharmacies with clear advice on packaging.

“OTC cough and cold medicines are not recommended for children under two years unless with a specific prescription from your doctor,” say the guidelines. The board further warns that serious and potentially life threatening side effects can occur if some of these medicines are taken against appropriate instructions.”These include death, convulsions, fast heart rates and reduced levels of consciousness.”

The latest study raises new questions, especially for children aged between six and 12, where the researchers say some of the medicines offer no benefit. They, however, do not indicate whether they could represent a health risk. The study Randomized Double Blind Study to Compare Effectiveness of Honey, Salbutamol and Placebo in Treatment of Cough in Children with Common colds is however, categorical that these medicines are useless.

The team says honey consistently scored the highest levels of reducing cough symptoms.

By Austine on 08 April 2015