Effect of multiple honey doses on non-specific acute cough in children. An open randomised study and literature review

Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2015 Sep-Oct;43(5):449-55. doi: 10.1016/j.aller.2014.06.002. Epub 2014 Sep 6.


Background: Honey is recommended for non-specific acute paediatric cough by the Australian guidelines. Current available randomised clinical trials evaluated the effects of a single evening dose of honey, but multiple doses outcomes have never been studied.

Objectives: To evaluate the effects of wildflower honey, given for three subsequent evenings, on non-specific acute paediatric cough, compared to dextromethorphan (DM) and levodropropizine (LDP), which are the most prescribed over-the-counter (OTC) antitussives in Italy.

Methods: 134 children suffering from non-specific acute cough were randomised to receive for three subsequent evenings a mixture of milk (90ml) and wildflower honey (10ml) or a dose of DM or LDP adjusted for the specific age. The effectiveness was evaluated by a cough questionnaire answered by parents. Primary end-point efficacy was therapeutic success. The latter was defined as a decrease in cough questionnaire score greater than 50% after treatment compared with baseline values.

Results: Three children were excluded from the study, as their parents did not complete the questionnaire. Therapeutic success was achieved by 80% in the honey and milk group and 87% in OTC medication group (p=0.25).

Conclusions: Milk and honey mixture seems to be at least as effective as DM or LDP in non-specific acute cough in children. These results are in line with previous studies, which reported the health effects of honey on paediatric cough, even if placebo effect cannot be totally excluded.

Keywords: Acute cough; Children; Dextromethorphane; Honey; Levodropropizine.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Antitussive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cough / diet therapy*
  • Cough / drug therapy
  • Dextromethorphan / therapeutic use
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Honey*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Milk
  • Propylene Glycols / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antitussive Agents
  • Propylene Glycols
  • Dextromethorphan
  • dipropizine