Homeopathic Medicines for Cough in Children

Written by Sudhir D'Souza on October 8, 2013

The other day a mother with a well 6-month old child came in to the clinic and reported that she was using a ‘natural’ medication to treat a cough. She left unhappy when I tried to dissuade her from using any medication, and suggested simple methods of support. Since, I have been wondering how to get the message across in a clearer fashion, and have decided to write this article.

As most parents know, the use of any cough suppressants in children under 6 years of age is a concern. The US Food and Drug Administration, with the support of most pediatricians and pediatric associations has stated that these medications should be avoided in children in general and absolutely in those less than 6 years of age.

Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in the number of parents who are using homeopathic medicines for cough in children. Among the more popular is KIDS 0-9 Cough and Cold Syrup. This syrup is very well marketed as a ‘natural product’. However, most folks do not recognize that on the list of the ingredients for this ‘natural medication’ is BELLADONNA or ‘beautiful lady’. Belladona is poisonous and is riskier than any of the over the counter medications prohibited in children < 6 years of age. Indeed, drugs derived from belladonna are rarely used in children and even then in a controlled fashion.

Natural Does Not Mean Good!

Marketing medications as ‘natural’ is troubling. My explanation that ‘natural is not necessarily better’ often falls on deaf ears. Belladonna is just one of the active ingredients folks will find in a number of the concoctions in the ‘natural products’ section. The entire area is poorly regulated. Most consumers do not realize that the majority of the drugs physicians use (aspirin, morphine, digoxin) is derived from plants. Thus, they too are ‘natural’.

My biggest concern is that many of the ‘natural’ syrups available have so many ingredients, that it is really hard to understand what you are taking. Please appreciate I have the same concerns with Tylenol or Advil or Motrin Cold and Sinus etc. Using many different medicines together is not good. If anything, it is worrying.

I always encourage parents to stay within the FDA guidelines, and to use non-medicinal support for the children with coughs and seek help when they are concerned. Natural products and their use are becoming more and more a ‘belief centered’ therapy. Please appreciate regardless of your beliefs, there is enough evidence for just time and patience in treating our children with coughs and colds.

So what should a parent do for a child with a cough?

Before considering the question of what to do, lets ask whether you need to treat. Many parents are concerned with coughs in their children, especially in the very young. Many children, especially in their first year in daycare, school or in any new environment will have frequent coughs and colds. The younger the child, the more likely the cough will ‘sound like it is in the chest’. The mucus form the nose drains down the child’s throat triggering a cough, which often sounds like it starts from the chest. Consequently, people often come in concerned about the child’s chest.

There is also a misconception that a child with a persistent cough has or will develop pneumonia if the cough is not suppressed or ‘treated’. With the advent of improved immunizations, the incidence of bacterial pneumonias is small. Most coughs in immunized children are caused by viral respiratory tract infections. They may be associated with fever, chills, aches and pains just like a pneumonia.

However, in children who have received at least 3 rounds of the pneumococcus vaccine, the chances of having a bacterial infection, even with x-rays consistent with pneumonia is less than 1%. The need for chest x-rays in children under 5 years of age is increasingly debatable.Practitioners will not consider an x-ray or treat for pneumonia in the absence of fever for 5 days.

I realize that many parents want to fix a cough. However, time is often the only thing available. Frustrating as it may seem, it is likely a better option than giving your child a medication that not only is unlikely to work, but has dangerous side effects.

References

  1. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-531-BELLADONNA.aspx?activeIngredientId=531&activeIngredientName=BELLADONNA
  2. http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/n/nighde05.html
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atropa_belladonna
  4. Image referenced from oxfordcounty.ca

Posted Under: Childhood Illnesses, Viral Infections

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3 replies to “Homeopathic Medicines for Cough in Children

  1. Andrea Ward

    I understand as a mom how worrying a nasty cough can be. It is hard when your little one is coughing & you feel helpless.
    I thank you for writing this article to explain a bit about “natural medicines” as I have always been curious (although never tried any).
    I have been to the clinic a few times over the yrs. with a child with the nasty “worrisome” cough & I know how frustrating it feels to hear “there is nothing you can do medication wise…just let it run it’s course….” it is hard but with things like vicks, a vapourizer, saline drops you are able to make your child comfortable & get them through the coughing and back to feeling better.

    Reply

  2. Julie

    At 3 months of age I brough my sick little baby to see Dr D’Souza and as a first time mom I was extremely concerned. He had a deep cough, wheezy sounding chest, his little body produced a deep sounding snore and his nose was filled with snot. I was concerned, everyone around me was concerned so I bundled him up after 4 days of him having this cold.
    I was amazed to hear this cold would just run its course. He was only 3 months old. How could his little body manage. D’Souza reassured me and was very kind.
    And to my surprise after many mommy sleepless nights his little body defeated the cold.
    It just amazes me how God designs even an infants body.
    The one thing I have learned is to trust the experience and knowledge of those who are passionate about their professions.
    And in all I do I do with Kindness, Patience, and with my ears listening working with and not against. Remember the medical profession is here to help our Children thrive.

    Reply

  3. Amy Williams

    If you have a concern with your child and are unsure weather to go bundel them up and freak all the way to the doctor? No need go on this website and email Dr. D’Souza. He will be back to you within a few he’s and he will tell you what to do. I have never seen anybody work harder for children then this man. Simply amazing I would recommend him to anyone. Someone give this man a lifetime award so well deserved. Thank you for being so great I look forward to many more healthy years of visits with you.

    Reply

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