Friday, December 7, 2007

A Spoonful of Honey...

It's not like I'm a complete zealot about alternative medicine or anything. Like, I think antibiotics are pretty great when you really need them. And I gave Tylenol to my babies when they were howling from teething pain. And I ... I... Hmm. Well, I guess that's about it, actually. I don't use cold medicine or allergy medicine or really any medicine at all, if I can help it. I just feel like most common illnesses are best served by rest, fluids and a watchful eye.

Given my anti-pharmaceutical tendencies, I love reading about studies that show that natural remedies are more effective than things that come in a little brightly-colored capsule with a billion dollar marketing budget and lots of side effects. Like good old exercise -- nobody's designing a campaign for it, but it just keeps plugging away, doing its magic, curing depression, preventing heart disease, and improving almost every other function of the body.

And now honey. A study's come out (funded by the National Honey Boards, it must be said) that shows that a spoonful of honey, given 30 minutes before bedtime, is more effective at soothing a child's nighttime cough and leading to restful sleep, than cough medicines that contain dextromethorphan. Dextromethorphan, a drug used in many over-the-counter cough suppressants, was only slightly better than doing nothing.

They're not sure if it's the soothing quality of the honey, the antioxidants, or the anti-microbial properties in honey that calm the cough and help kids sleep better.

Sounds great, and you don't even need the spoonful of sugar to get this medicine down! (My son's response to the news: "Cool! Can I have some now?")

(But no honey for babies under one, right? Botulism risk. And no cough medicine for kids under six, even if you think this study is wrongn and dextromethorphan is the deal; federal health advisors have advised against it because of, um, lack of effectiveness combined with potential for side effects.)

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