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Let's Take some honey, Honey- Study Shows Honey More Effective in Treating Kid’s Colds Than Cough Medicine.

Posted Aug 26 2008 1:46pm

This just in: Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine found:

… 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 .

This is particularly good news since an FDA advisory board recently recommended that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines not be given to children under 6 years old due to of their lack of effectiveness and the potential for side effects. Some of these medicines have since been voluntarily recalled.

I wrote about this issue here and here a month or so ago. In those posts I included some links to lists of alternative methods of relieving coughs. Some, but not all of the sources I quoted included a tiny little mention of honey as a cough reliever.

I guess someone noticed the…um…”tinyness”…the study I quote above was sponsored by….

…an unrestricted research grant from the National Honey Board, an industry-funded agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hmmm…. What exactly does that mean? Well, let’s take a look.

The Honey Board began over fifteen years ago when a group of honey producers and other industry representatives got together to discuss a powerful new idea: What would happen if they pooled their resources to work to spread the word about honey? By working together, they theorized, the industry could advertise, conduct research and promote honey in ways that were simply too costly and time-consuming without a cooperative effort

The National Honey Board …conducts research, advertising and promotion programs to help maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets for honey.

The Board consists of 12 members, including producers, packers and importer/exporters (of Honey), nominated by the industry appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture.

OK- so the group that sponsored this study is an industry group of honey producers whose job is promote honey. That doesn’t necessarily mean the report is suspect. Almost all research studies are sponsored by one of several entities: industry groups, the government, private investors with an interest in proving one thing or another.

Did you think scientists went into their own pockets to fund research? Oh, you thought that studies were funded by schools or by the government. Actually, I did too and that is often correct…however, most research is funded by grants. That is, a scientist comes up with a study idea and then apply to a variety of different “money pots” to fund it. These money pots can be private or industry supported boards, government agencies or private individuals with gobs of money. In any and all cases…everyone has a vested interest in seeing a certain outcome.

Now, generally, the scientists are not in the business of tweaking the results to please their sponsors. But, once the study is complete how does the word get out to consumers? Well…through the publicity efforts of any organization that benefits from the study results.

Ergo, Honey Board pays for study to be conducted. Results say, “honey is great for coughs”. The Honey Board sends out press releases to every news outlet they can touting the results of the study.

And so, one must take this new information with a grain of salt. Actually, I like to take all information I receive with a grain of salt.

Did you know that a salt water gargle is also great for relieving a sore throat? (I wonder if I know that because of a study sponsored by the Salt Board.)

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