A teaspoon of honey before bed seems to calm children's coughs and help them sleep better, according to a new study that relied on parents' reports of their children's symptoms.
The folk remedy did better than cough medicine or no treatment in a three-way comparison. Honey may work by coating and soothing an irritated throat, the study authors said.
"Many families are going to relate to these findings and say that grandma was right," said lead author Dr. Ian Paul of Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine.
The research appears in December's Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Federal health advisers have recently warned that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines shouldn't be used in children younger than 6, and manufacturers are taking some products for babies off the market.
Three pediatricians who read the study said they would tell parents seeking alternative remedies to try honey. They noted that honey should not be given to children under age 1 because of a rare but serious risk of botulism.
Full report: Try Honey for Children's Coughs