Three weeks ago, a patient told me that she had experienced an annoying cough, after a few days of cold symptoms. To help her cough, she consumed 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey every day.
This treatment helped and improved her cough. She was close to trying over the counter medications, but later, she changed her mind after consuming honey had relieved her cough.
Hearing this story reminded me of my childhood since my mother gave me a glass of warm milk with one teaspoon of honey every night.
That was a kind of tradition in our family. She believed that drinking milk and honey could improve sleep and prevent cold symptoms.
I was curious and excited about my patient’s experience and I wanted to know more.
What does the research say?
Does eating honey relieve the cough?
I looked at research papers and found that — as I expected– no high-quality studies have examined the usefulness of honey in the treatment of cough.
Most studies were small and examined the effect of eating honey, mostly in children suffering from cough.
A literature review looking at several studies in children concluded that consuming honey might be better in relieving coughs in children, compared to not doing anything at all or taking Benadryl.
Honey isn’t for babies
Honey could contain botulinum (clostridium botulinum) spores. And, the toxin from this bacteria could cause muscle weakness.
The most susceptible population for this infection are children younger than 12 months.
You probably know of “Botox”.
Botox is a clostridium toxin causing controlled muscle paralysis and now increasingly used in other areas of clinical medicine, including cosmetics, treatment of headaches, and muscle spasm therapy.
Cough is a symptom, not the cause
Often a cough is a symptom of an underlying problem. That said, you won’t be able to eliminate the cough, without treating its main cause. Nevertheless, finding the exact reason for cough might be hard because the causes of cough are multifactorial.
For instance, one of the frequently overlooked reasons for coughs is prescription medications. You should read this article and review the list of drugs.
Other causes of cough
Lung tissue changes
I prefer all forms of treatments that rely more on a person’s own healing power combined with natural remedies.
Do I hate medications?
I don’t love or hate medications. I know that medications are sometimes necessary to save lives. However, I also know that we use, prescribe, and rely too much on drugs.
It might be easier to follow an algorithm and treat every person with similar symptoms alike. But, if we follow this pattern then it would be difficult to tailor an effective treatment plan for that specific individual based on that patient’s needs and strengths.
Some medical conditions might improve with less aggressive plan and some might require more intrusive management. The art of practicing medicine is to know when to do what, to whom, and to the degree that the patient would require.
Let’s go back to our honey and cough discussion.
Final thoughts about honey and cough
It looks like, based on the available data, honey might be beneficial in relieving a cough. However, you must know the source of the cough, before trying to manage it on your own.
Any cough that lasts longer than 7-10 days, should be examined by your doctor. If you cough up blood or have a fever, you should see your doctor sooner.
Next time you’ve got a cold and you don’t have any other alarming symptoms, such as weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, fever, or coughing up blood, you might want to try taking one teaspoon of honey until your cough improves.
However, don’t forget to contact your doctor, if the symptoms don’t improve after 5-7 days or sooner if your condition worsens.
Go to the comments below and let me know if you’ve tried honey to treat your cough and whether you liked it.
Nevertheless, I wish you all a sweet healing. 🙂
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