Mom with sick childAs the song from "The Sound of Music" says, "A spoonful full of sugar helps the medicine go down." In reality a spoonful full of honey is really good medicine – for coughs, rough and irritated throats – especially for kids at least one year of age and older.

It is an excellent and natural alternative to over-the-counter (OTC) cough suppressants. A recent FDA advisory board recommendation that OTC cough and cold medicines not be given to children less than 6 years old because of their potential for side effects and lack of effectiveness reduces your healthy choices for treating a child's cough. Honey gives you an effective and natural option. However, it is important to remember not to give honey to children under the age of one because of the risk of infant botulism.

A 2007 study by a Penn State College of Medicine research team found that that "a small dose of buckwheat honey given before bedtime provided better relief of nighttime cough and sleep difficulty in children than no treatment or dextromethorphan (DM), a cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cold medications."

Be sure to look for raw, unheated honey for best results. It is chock full of antioxidants, trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids that soothe the throat and support good health. Honey also has known antimicrobial properties.

I picked up some raw, unheated, buckwheat honey at my local farmers' market recently and I put it to the test when my two-year-old daughter developed a cough that woke her (and me!) up in the middle of the night. It worked. The honey eased her cough and she fell back to sleep. And so did I.

Honey has been used for thousands of years across many cultures. I am happy to continue and encourage that tradition.

Please be mindful that while honey has nutritional benefits it is a simple sugar and should be used in moderation.