A Spoonful of Honey Helps Cure Sleepless Nights from Coughing

Growing up, I remember singing Mary Poppins’ song, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” While I didn’t understand the song, I knew that it was catchy. And while I still cringe at the thought of taking cough syrup, especially because of the high fructose corn syrup that can be found in most bottles, it seems sweet relief is on its way. According to a new study, as reported by FoxNews, a spoonful of honey could help kids and parents both cope with nighttime coughs.

The new study, published in Pediatrics, shows researchers from Israel took 300 kids, ages 1 to 5, and had them try 1 of 4 nighttime cough treatments. Parents would give their children 2 teaspoons of honey or one of three placebos 30 minutes before bed. The following week, on a 7-point scale, parents rated how their children slept. The study, led by Dr. Herman Avner Cohen of Tel Aviv University, found children who were given honey slept better and reduced their coughing more than those who took the placebo. Parents also reaped the benefits by sleeping through the night!

Dr. Ian Paul, a pediatrician from Pennsylvania State University, who did not participate in the study, commented on the findings to Reuters Health. “This is the first time honey has been actually proven as a treatment. As opposed to many of the other things we give – medications and medicines that do have side effects – honey over age one is almost completely safe,” Dr. Paul said. The qualification for over the age of one is incredibly important for parents to pay attention to. Infants 12 months and younger are advised not to consume any honey because of the risk for botulinum toxin, caused by a neurotoxin produced from bacteria found in honey that can cause severe illness or death.

Dr. Paul further explained why honey might help kids’ coughs by saying, “Honey is very rich in antioxidants, so that may play some role in fighting whatever infection is causing the cold symptoms.”

This isn’t the first time honey has been linked with medicinal benefits. In 2024, a study from the University of Ottawa found that honey effectively kills the bacteria that can cause sinusitis. “Honey worked significantly better than an antibiotic against two bacteria,” we reported.

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