A new study that just came out this month shows how honey is more effective than cough medicine in treating nighttime cough. In the study, three treatments were compared: honey, honey-flavored cough medicine, and a placebo.
Honey came out on top, significantly reducing cough and improving sleep. The cough medicine actually did nothing. I looked at the full-text of this study and found that other studies also show cough medicine is generally ineffective (thought that doesn't stop companies from selling it).
It appears that honey is a safe, natural option for treating coughs associated with the common cold.