The Role of Honey in Relieving Acute Cough in Children O Papel do Mel no Alívio da Tosse Aguda em Crianças

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Joana Ferreira de Oliveira - Corresponding Author

Rua do Miradouro, lote 6, 4705-131 Ferreiros, Braga, Portugal

Isabel Peixoto
Elsa Rodrigues
Laura Igreja


INTRODUCTION: Cough is a frequent symptom in General Practice consultations. Honey appears to have both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and has been used empirically in the treatment of cough. This review is intended to evaluate the benefit of honey administration in children with acute cough.
METHODS: In March/2017, randomized clinical trials, meta-analysis, systematic reviews and opinion articles of the last 10 years in Portuguese and English were searched in nine databases. Studies evaluating honey for relief of acute cough from upper respiratory infection in children 2-14 years of age were compared with antitussives, placebo, and no treatment. We used the scale Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy (SORT) to stratify the level of evidence (LoE) and the grade of recommendation (GoR).
RESULTS: We found 10 articles, two systematic reviews and two opinion articles were selected. One systematic review concluded that honey and dextromethorphan appear similar in relieving cough and that honey is more effective than diphenhydramine (LoE 2). Another systematic review favored honey in relieving acute cough (GoR C). An opinion piece mentioned that honey may be a good option (LoE 3). Allan et al article of opinion argued that there is little evidence (LoE 3). DISCUSSION: Honey may be better than the absence of treatment, diphenhydramine and placebo in the treatment of acute cough, although it does not appear to be superior to dextromethorphan. Being available, low in price and low risk, we may consider honey in the treatment of acute cough (SORT B).

Keywords: Antitussive Agents; Apitherapy; Child; Cough/therapy; Honey

Article Details

Oliveira JF de, Peixoto I, Rodrigues E, Igreja L. The Role of Honey in Relieving Acute Cough in Children: O Papel do Mel no Alívio da Tosse Aguda em Crianças. Gaz Med [Internet]. 2019 Mar. 31 [cited 2022 Aug. 10];6(1). Available from: