Q. My daughter has a cold and cough that is keeping us all awake at night. She hates the taste of cough syrup. We’ve tried cherry, grape and honey flavors but she can’t stand any of them. Are there any decent-tasting natural cough remedies that might work?
A. Dextromethorphan (DM) is the primary ingredient in most liquid cough medicines. Some people object to its bitter taste, even masked with fruit flavoring.
Years ago, a research review of cough remedies in the British Medical Journal (Feb. 9, 2002) concluded: “Over the counter cough medicines for acute cough cannot be recommended because there is no good evidence for their effectiveness.”
In a more recent study, pediatricians found that parents rated honey higher than dextromethorphan in effectiveness for their children’s nighttime cough (Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Dec., 2007)
There is not a lot of research on herbal cough remedies either, but ginger tea has a long tradition for easing coughs and congestion. Other herbs that might be used in tea or syrup to treat cough include horehound, sage and thyme.