Three weeks ago, one of my patients told me that she had experienced an annoying cough, after a few days of cold symptoms. To help her cough, she began consuming 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey.
This treatment helped and her cough improved. She told me she was close to trying over the counter medications, but the honey treatment was so effective that she ended up not needing any medications.
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 also 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 systematic 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. The toxin from these bacteria could cause muscle weakness.
The most susceptible population for this infection are children younger than 12 months. That’s why you shouldn’t give your babies honey.
You probably know of “Botox”.
Botox is a clostridium toxin causing controlled muscle paralysis and now increasingly used in many other areas of clinical medicine, including cosmetic treatment of headaches and muscle spasm therapy.
Cough is a symptom, not the cause
It’s important to understand that a cough is usually a symptom of an underlying problem. You won’t be able to eliminate the cough, without treating its main cause. The causes of cough are multifactorial.
I’ve discussed several causes of cough in my previous articles. For instance, one of the frequently overlooked reasons for coughs is medications. You should read this article and review the list of the drugs shown to cause cough.
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
We can often manage many conditions with simple and straightforward steps. However, sometimes we make things too complicated and rely too often on chemicals and technology.
I believe it’s easier to put every human being in a box and treat everybody the same way. However, it’s difficult to understand each person’s needs and capabilities and tailor an effective treatment plan for every individual.
Some people’s medical conditions might improve with conservative and less aggressive treatment and some might require more intrusive treatments. The art of practicing medicine is to know when to do what, to which patient and nothing more than necessary.
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 have a clear idea about 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.
This is exactly the point. Every treatment should be tailored specifically for each person and this can only happen together with your physician.
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.
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. 🙂