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Umesh Modi is a chartered accountant, and Pamini Jatheeskumar is a chartered certified accountant at Silver Levene...
  Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead...
Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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a girl taking medicine imageApril 16 2018

Honey appears likely to help children’s cough more than diphenhydramine, a Cochrane review has concluded. It may make little or no difference compared to dextromethorphan, though.

The researchers said: “Honey probably relieves cough symptoms to a greater extent than no treatment, diphenhydramine, and placebo.” However, the quality of the evidence base was found by the researchers to be “low to moderate.”

Having searched databases for trials involving honey used to treat acute cough in children aged over 12 months, the Cochrane researchers found six trials involving 899 children conducted in Iran, Israel, the USA, Brazil, and Kenya. The researchers compared honey to over-the-counter cough preparations, bromelin mixed with honey, placebo and no treatment.

“Honey probably reduces cough symptoms more than placebo and salbutamol (a drug that opens lung airways) when given for up to three days. Honey is probably more effective at providing cough relief and reducing the impact of cough on children's sleep at night than no treatment,” they concluded.

“There may be little or no difference between the effects of honey and dextromethorphan (an ingredient in over-the-counter cough remedies) or honey and bromelin with honey on all cough symptoms. Honey may be better than diphenhydramine (an antihistamine) at relieving and reducing children's cough.”

The researchers said there was no evidence for or against the use of honey in children’s cough, but noted that most data indicated that the child had been given honey for just one night.

A second Cochrane review has looked at “whether oral homeopathic medicinal products are effective and safe to prevent or treat acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs) in children compared with an inactive (placebo) treatment or other medicines.”

Unsurprisingly, based on the generally moderate or low quality evidence, the researchers “found no evidence to support the efficacy of homeopathic medicinal products for ARTIs in children.” In addition: “Adverse events were poorly reported, so conclusions about safety could not be drawn.”

Links:
O Oduwole et al. ‘Honey for acute cough in children’. Cochrane. Published online April 10 2018.
K Hawke et al. ‘Are oral homeopathic medicinal products effective and safe to prevent and treat acute respiratory tract infections in children?’. Cochrane. Published online April 9 2018.  

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