One simple folk remedy that seems to actually work better than over-the-counter medicines is honey for coughs. In January 2008, the Food and Drug Administration said that over-the-counter cough medications posed unacceptable risks to children under the age of two, so the news about honey is welcome news indeed. Three years before, the American College of Chest physicians declared that over-the-counter cough remedies were largely ineffective for people of any age.
In a 2007 study published by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 105 children ages two to 18 who suffered from upper-respiratory infections received no treatment, honey, or a honey-flavored OTC cough suppressant. Parents then rated their children’s cough symptoms and quality of sleep. Those treated with honey did best. The researchers said that honey might soothe irritated membranes in the back of the throat, and has well-established antioxidant and antiviral effects.
The dosage given by the researchers was ½ teaspoon for children two to five years old, 1 teaspoon to children six to 11, and 2 teaspoons to those ages 12 to 18. The higher amount is a reasonable dose for adults as well. A smaller dose might be appropriate for babies between one and two years of age, but absolutely DO NOT give honey to infants under one year of age. It can cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially fatal ailment.
While skeptics have long maintained that the benefits of drinking cranberry juice have more to do with the bladder-flushing effects of water in the juice or the inhospitably acidic urine created by juices such as cranberry juice, than with the actual components of the berry itself, research has shown otherwise.
In a series of lab tests, an Israeli team found that it kept infectious bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. Juice from blueberries, which are closely related to cranberries, also worked. But several other fruit juices, such as grapefruit, mango, orange, and pineapple had no such effect. A 2008 analysis of 10 such studies comparing cranberry products with a placebo, other juices, or water found that a daily dose of cranberry juice or capsules significantly reduced bladder infections, especially in women who suffer from them frequently.
It’s still not clear whether the juice, tablets, or capsules are the most effective or what the optimal dose might be, but drinking cranberry juice as soon as symptoms appear — burning sensation on urination, difficulty urinating, a sense of bladder fullness, ongoing discomfort — may clear up an early infection. If symptoms worsen, however, or last for more than a day or two, see your doctor.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this weblog is not to dispense medical advice nor in any way is meant to be construed as diagnostic or prescriptive. Always check with your physician before beginning any new program or trying any of the items discussed in the posts that appear on this site.