Honey may be better than conventional treatments for coughs, blocked noses and sore throats, researchers have said. The substance is cheap, readily available, and has virtually no side-effects.
Doctors can recommend it as a suitable alternative to antibiotics, which are often prescribed for such infections, even though they are not effective, scientists from the University of Oxford said.
Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) affect the nose, throat, voice box and the large air passages (bronchi) that lead from the windpipe to the lungs.
Is Honey Safe For My Baby?
There is evidence for honey being used in children – although the NHS warns against giving it to the under-ones because of the danger of botulism – and it has long been used as a home remedy to treat coughs and colds. But the evidence for its effectiveness for a range of upper respiratory tract symptoms in adults has not been systematically reviewed.
To address this, the scientists looked at research databases for relevant studies comparing honey and preparations that included it as an ingredient with usual care – mostly antihistamines, expectorants, cough suppressants and painkillers. They found 14 suitable clinical trials, involving 1,761 participants of varying ages.
Data analysis of the studies indicated that honey was more effective than usual care for improving symptoms, especially the frequency and severity of coughing. Two of the studies showed that symptoms lasted one to two days less among those treated with honey.
“Honey is more effective and less harmful than usual care alternatives and avoids causing harm through antimicrobial resistance.”
Due to its good, antiseptic properties as well as a likable taste, honey is given to babies, without realizing how much potential harm a spoonful of honey can do to them. The Clostridium Botulinium bacteria can be found in soil, dust and few food items such as honey. So care should be taken so that your baby does not comes in direct contact with any of these.
Pediatricians around the world clearly advises against feeding any form of honey, raw or pasteurized, diluted or direct to the infant below 12 months of age. Never give your baby deserts and cakes; biscuits and ice-creams that contain honey. Never add honey to your baby’s cereal, water or milk, no matter what until the baby crosses her first birthday.
If your baby is less than one year old never add honey to your baby’s food, water, or formula milk. Never dip your baby’s pacifier in honey. Honey, though full of medicinal properties, must not be fed to infants as a medicine.
Can My Baby Eat Foods Made With Honey?
The Clostridium Botulinium spores can be killed by heat. But still chances should not be taken to feed foods such as honey dissolved in hot milk or pudding since the amount of heat may not be sufficient to get rid of this bacteria. Botulism spores cannot be destroyed under household methods of cooking and temperatures. On the other hand, good quality ready made cereals containing honey may be safe- but the same should be double checked with the pediatrician. The argument favoring the consumption is that as these are exposed to high temperatures, the chances of survival of Clostridium Botulinium spores are nil. Considering other foods made with honey, especially at home the heat to which they are subject cannot guarantee the removal of Clostridium Botulinium bacteria.
Some products are made of corn syrup, maple syrup and molasses which may not have been sterilized and hence contain Clostridium Botulinium spore. So it’s safe to steer clear of honey or products containing honey till your baby is at least a year and has celebrated his first birthday.
Honey has also been recommended by some to comfort the infant during teething but consuming honey and foods containing honey are excessively sweet and harm the teeth. Moreover, babies should not be exposed to the sweet taste earlier as they may gain preference to sweet foods, which can be a cause of many diseases later in life.
As the digestive system of a baby develops, it gets better equipped to handle the bacteria. Doctors around the world stress on the fact that honey may be given to babies post the age of 1 year. The digestive system of the baby is more mature after 1 year and will absorb all the good qualities of honey without posing any threat to him.
Infant botulism is relatively rare but can be serious, therefore vouch for early signs and remember ‘Prevention is better than Cure’!