We know that, despite its high sugar content, honey has many healthful properties.
And now, according to the latest research, the sweet stuff has been found to treat mild nighttime coughs caused by upper respiratory infections among children between ages one and five. In a new study published in Pediatrics, researchers discovered that honey worked better than a placebo made from date syrup to maintain sleep and suppress coughs.
The researchers, led by Dr. Herman Avner Cohen of Tel Aviv University, found that among 300 children whose parents reported trouble sleeping do to infection-related nighttime coughs, those given honey improved their sleep and reduced their coughing by twice as much as those who took the placebo, according to reports submitted by their parents.
This isn't the first study to find that honey helps childhood cough. One previous study found that honey was more successful in suppressing nighttime coughs and improving sleep than popular treatments dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine, reported WebMD.
It's important to note that pediatricians caution against feeding honey to children under one year, because of a small concern that it can contain botulism toxin.
But for those over 12 months, cough and sleep aren't the only benefits to the amber-colored nectar. Here's the buzz on several other ways honey can improve your health:
Skin ailments -- everything from burns and scrapes to surgical incisions and <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3787867.stm" target="_hplink">radiation-associated ulcers</a> -- have been shown to respond to "honey dressings." That's thanks to the hydrogen peroxide <a href="http://bio.waikato.ac.nz/honey/selection.shtml" target="_hplink">that naturally exists</a> in honey, which is produced from an enzyme that bees have.
Mosquito Bite Itch Relief
As <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/20/natural-mosquito-bite-treatment_n_1610186.html#slide=1116646" target="_hplink">we reported earlier this summer</a>, honey's anti-inflammatory properties make it a good option to help reduce the itch and irritation of mosquito bites.
Honey is <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19021816" target="_hplink">chock full of polyphenols</a>, a type of antioxidant that helps to protect cells from free radical damage -- it can also contribute to heart health and protect against cancer.
In a 2006 study published in <em>BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine</em>, <a href="http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/6/6" target="_hplink">researchers found</a> that substituting honey for sugar in processed foods improved the gut microflora of male mice.
<a href="http://muir.massey.ac.nz/handle/10179/2997" target="_hplink">According to preliminary research</a>, Manuka and Kanuka types of honey are effective to treat Acne vulgaris, the skin condition that is caused by inflammation and infection of the pilosebaceous follicle on the face, back and chest.