Cough and cold season is nearly here, and in addition to its reputation as a nutritive sweetener, research also indicates that honey's unique composition makes it useful as an antimicrobial agent, an antioxidant and a natural cough suppressant.
Honey was shown to be a more effective cough than dextromethorphan in a study involving over 100 children aged 2-18 years with upper respiratory tract infections. A single dose of buckwheat honey proved to be an effective treatment for symptomatic relief of nighttime cough and sleep difficulty, compared to a single dose of dextromethorphan (DM).
Researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine asked parents to give either honey, honey-flavored dextromethorphan (DM), or no treatment to the children (and the first night, the children did not receive any treatment). The following night they received either a single dose of buckwheat honey, honey-flavored DM, or no treatment 30 minutes before bedtime.
Significant symptom improvements were seen in the children who were given honey compared the no-treatment group and DM-treated group. Honey consistently scored the best and no-treatment scored the worst.
This is good news for parents of children two years and older, as the FDA recently recommended that children under six shouldn't be given over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, owing to potentially harmful side effects. It is of note, however, that the study didn't include children under two, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under one year of age avoid honey, out of concern over a possible risk of infantile botulism that might result from the presence of Clostridium botulinum bacteria in the honey.
You can still get honey from Twin Creek Apiaries at the Sugarcreek Farm Market through Oct 26; Chris’Honey will be at the Sugarcreek market every Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. through Nov 22 and then monthly at the winter market after Nov 22.
The following recipe makes a very nice ginger honey – older children and adults might appreciate this honey in a soothing cup of hot tea – just the thing for a cough or sore throat. It is also delicious on toast or as a glaze for sweet potatoes! Store the ginger honey in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Honey stored in this fashion will keep indefinitely, owing to the high sugar content and acidic pH which inhibits microorganism growth.
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2" piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
Put the ginger and the honey in a small saucepan over medium high heat. When the honey just begins to bubble, turn the heat to medium and heat for ten or fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn off the heat and let cool. Pour into a jar and keep in the refrigerator (f you would like a less intense ginger flavor, strain the minced ginger out before pouring into a jar).
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