Inside: Mamas don’t like to see their little ones feeling bad. We instinctively want to do something to comfort them and help them feel better fast. But, what are you to do when your kid comes down with a cough and you want to avoid questionable over-the-counter cough medications? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a natural option that could quickly soothe your child’s cough?
Being a mama to four young boys, coughs are frequent visitors in our home, especially as cold weather settles into the Tennessee hills. And, if one kiddo comes down with a cough, the other three are sure to follow.
During these times, the sound of coughing can be randomly heard throughout the day in our home—interrupting nap, work, and school time. At night, it always seems to get worse and a sound sleep is something I can only dream of for a time.
In fact, the combination of a constant cough and a lack of sleep is a recipe for disaster… for mom and kid both.
First, your kid doesn’t feel good. Their throat is sore and swollen. They can’t stop coughing. The more they cough, the more their throat stings. Now they have a pounding headache from coughing so much. And, to top all that off, they’re grumpy because they haven’t had a good night’s sleep!
Now you, mom. You’re tired because you haven’t slept well, and the constant sound of your kid’s cough is driving you CRAZY! Plus, you’re exhausted from brainstorming ways to soothe your child’s cough without using risky over-the-counter cough medicines. All you want is to comfort your little one—and get some sleep!
Speaking Of Things That Comfort
Being a nurse and an herbalist, I know that a cough is most often a symptom of a simple cold—a viral infection that will come and go in 7-10 days (Gilbert, 2015). And, more often than not, they’re nothing to worry about.
Seeing how coughs are normally not a big deal, the goal would be to approach the situation using effective natural remedies, such as an herbal honey cough syrup, in order to soothe your child’s cough, provide some comfort, and support their body at the same time.
Herbs + Honey = Cough Support
Anytime your kid is sick, it’s always good to make sure they:
- Get extra rest
- Eat nourishing foods
- Stay hydrated
It can also be very beneficial to incorporate herbs into the mix as well. In my home, I give my kids an herbal honey cough syrup when they have a cough.
Not only do I incorporate herbs that support my child’s immune system, but also moistening herbs that are known to decrease the irritation caused from so much coughing and expectorant herbs that are used to thin mucus so it can be coughed up easier when needed.
I’ve shared several herbal honey cough syrup recipes in the past here on Growing Up Herbal. Each have different purposes or are used for different kinds of coughs, but they all have one thing in common that is VERY effective when it comes to soothing coughs.
4 Ways Honey Can Soothe Your Child’s Cough
What’s not to love about honey?
Not only does it taste sweet and delicious, but it offers support to the immune system and has been used for years to calm coughs.
Below, I’m going to quickly tell you four reasons why honey is a great way to soothe your child’s cough, but first, a word of caution.
Raw honey should not be given to children under 1 year of age as botulism is a serious risk to their health (Botulism – Topic Overview, n.d.). Other options can be used instead of honey for little ones.
Okay, on to the good stuff!
As Mary Poppins Sings,
“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way!”
I think it’s safe to say that we all, adults and children alike, prefer sweet flavors over most others, and I’ve found that this can be incredibly helpful when it comes getting my kids to take herbal preparations I’ve made for them.
Herbal remedies don’t always have the best track record when it comes to taste, but as most natural mamas who use herbs with their children regularly can attest—you sometimes have to sweeten things up a bit.
You can do this a few different ways.
- Try adding some extra sweet, flavorful herbs to your formula.
- Mix your herbs in sweet tasting foods.
- Or, simply add some honey to your preparations.
Granny Was Right!
Using honey to calm a cough is an age-old remedy that has been passed down from family to family for generations.
In fact, a 2007 study by Penn State College of Medicine suggested that honey reduced nighttime coughing and improved sleep quality in children with upper respiratory infection better than the cough medicine dextromethorphan (an ingredient found in many OTC cough syrups) or no treatment at all (Paul et al., 2007).
I just love it when modern science confirms what we’ve always known! Don’t you?
And, did they just say “improved sleep quality?”
“Here, Junior. Drink all of this honey cough syrup—like, right now. Mama needs her sleep.”
Oh, they meant, improved sleep quality for the child! I see. Well, improved sleep quality for the child means improved sleep quality for the mom as well, so count me in!
When Was The Last Time You Heard, “Mama, My Throat Hurts!”
The repeated action of coughing often irritates the delicate mucosal lining of the airways leading to reddened tissue, a sore throat, and the feeling that the throat is constantly dry.
Not only is honey an effective remedy at reducing coughs, but it’s known to coat the throat in order to help soothe irritation caused by coughing and moisten dry tissues thanks to its humectant properties as well (Humectant, n.d.).
All of these actions work together to soothe your child’s cough quickly and naturally!
Does Honey Support Or Suppress The Immune System?
Now, let’s get to the question that’s been in the back of your mind the whole time I’ve been singing the praises of using honey to soothe your child’s cough, shall we?
“Doesn’t honey suppress the immune system? It’s sugar right?”
Well, yes. Honey is a form of sugar, and sugar can suppress the immune system. However, immune system depression from sugar ultimately depends on how much you ingest during a given period of time.
You see, the amount of sugar in herbal honey cough syrups is not enough to cause immune system depression, even when taken hourly and in standard dosages for acute situations. Now, if you let your kid drink the whole jar of syrup (like I jokingly mentioned above) then you may have some cause for concern. Chances are, however, you won’t let that happen.
You can learn more about this myth in my post – Myths & Truths About Sugar In Herbal Preparations Causing Immune System Depression.
The good news is that honey’s on your immune system’s side. It’s high in antioxidants (Schramm et al., 2013), and when it’s used raw, it provides the body with beneficial probiotics as well (Adams, 2015). Both of these things are supportive to the immune system.
What About Over-The-Counter Cough Syrups?
So what’s the big deal with the occasional use of children’s over-the-counter cough syrups?
Over-the-counter cough syrups often contain a variety of drugs (and other unfortunate ingredients such as flavoring—is that code for sugar?—food coloring, and preservatives) intended to minimize your child’s cold symptoms and help them feel better.
They do this by suppressing your child’s cough, minimizing inflammation, thinning mucous, and sometimes, relieving pain. Many of these drugs can cause serious side effects when taking in large doses, and dosing can be a tricky thing. Not only that, but children often overdose on these types of medications because they taste good (Kid’s Cold Medicines: New Guidelines, n.d.).
Another downside to children’s over-the-counter cough medicines is that many of these medications don’t work well for young children.
In this article on cold and flu care for children, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated, “Several studies show that cold and cough products don’t work in children younger than 6 years and can have potentially serious side effects” (Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu, n.d., para. 9).
During times of sickness, I first look to foods and herbs that are known to be safe, effective, and healthy. In fact, many studies show that specific herbs are just as effective as many of these medications when taken in the right form and at the right dose.
When natural options, like herbal honey cough syrups, are available to me, I choose to stay away from medications that can lead to potential serious side effects.
Mama To The Rescue
So the next time your kid comes down with a nagging cough, look no further than your natural medicine cabinet for an herbal honey cough syrup to soothe your child’s cough (not to mention, help you and your kid sleep better).
If you’re not ready to make your own homemade cough syrups, no problem. You can easily purchase an all-natural, USDA Certified organic, non-GMO, drug-free herbal honey cough syrup like this one from Maty’s Healthy Products.
Then, when you hear your child coughing—interrupting the baby’s nap or big bro’s schoolwork—grab your herbal honey cough syrup, and give that kid some sweet relief.
- Give it to him by the teaspoonful.
- Put it in a cup of warm water.
- Mix it in some nut butter and spread it on a banana.
Maty’s Organic Cough Syrup is made with whole-food ingredients, so it doesn’t matter how he takes it as long as you don’t heat it too much, and he takes it regularly.
Remember, most coughs are the result of a cold virus, and there are no medications or cures for the common cold. But, that doesn’t mean you’re helpless and there’s nothing you can do to help your little one feel better.
You have natural options.
Besides, there’s nothing better than mama’s kisses and some soothing herbal honey cough syrup to go with them!
- Adams, C. (2015, July 7). Raw Honey Contains Probiotic That Boosts Immunity. Retrieved November 11, 2016, from http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/raw-honey-contains-probiotic-boosts-immunity
- Botulism – Topic Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/food-poisoning/tc/botulism-credits
- Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2016, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/medication-safety/Pages/How-to-Manage-Colds-and-Flu.aspx
- Gilbert, B. (2015). Your Day-by-Day Guide to the Common Cold. Retrieved November 11, 2016, from http://www.everydayhealth.com/cold-flu-pictures/your-day-to-day-guide-to-the-common-cold.aspx
- Humectant. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humectant
- Kid’s Cold Medicines: New Guidelines. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/kids-cold-medicines-new-guidelines#1
- Paul, I. M., Beiler, J., McMonagle, A., Shaffer, M. L., Duda, L., & Berlin, C. M. (2007). Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine, 161(12), 1140-1146.
- Schramm, D. D., Karim, M., Schrader, H. R., Holt, R. R., Cardetti, M., & Keen, C. L. (2003). Honey with high levels of antioxidants can provide protection to healthy human subjects. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 51(6), 1732-1735.
This post was underwritten by Maty’s Healthy Products. All opinions are mine. Maty’s Healthy Products offers all natural products are made with whole-food ingredients that come from Mother Nature. With no harmful side effects or drug interactions, why use anything else? They offer products for babies, children, and the whole family. Check out Maty’s Healthy Products on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.