Hidden Dangers of Treating Your Child’s Whooping Cough With Over-The-Counter Medicines

There are some hidden dangers in using over-the-counter cough medicines in treating whooping cough.The FDA issued a public health advisory warning parents to avoid giving over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to children under age 2, saying that the side effects are serious and potentially life threatening. Some of these medicines can even interfere with the bodies own immune system and counteract the natural healing effects.

It is not commonly known that cough and cold remedies have been banned in the United Kingdom. As of March 2008, 100 remedies were taken off the shelves of stores and a similar warning was issued in the United States back in January of the same year. In October 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration met with the public to help answer an even more important question: “Should kid’s cold medicines remain “over-the-counter” at all? Most doctors would agree that there are too many risks and complications involved to advocate supporting small children under the age of 2 years old to use over the counter cough and cold medicines at all.

Infant Tylenol is misleading, because it is actually only for children over the age of two. If you do not read the label carefully, you will miss the truth. During the years 2004 and 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Association of Medical Examiners investigated infant deaths. They discovered over 1,500 infants under the age of two brought into the emergency rooms because of complications caused by the cold and cough medications. All the infants had a high level of the nasal decongestant, pseudoephedrine. If the level is too high, it can cause your baby to die. If you insist of giving your young child cough medicine, you need to read all label directions, ingredients and precautions carefully.

If the product has pseudoephedrine in it, put it back on the shelf. According to doctors, the same is true if the product has an expectorant, decongestant, antihistamine or cough suppressant. You need to make sure that you do not give your baby two medications with the same active ingredients. If you do, you will, unknowingly, be giving your child an overdose of that drug.

Some medication can cause young children to stop breathing, or even lose consciousness. The Food and drug Administration recommends that you do not give your child cold medicines. Not only are they putting your baby at risk, they do not work. Over-the-counter cough medicines may lead to major health risks for your child. They may have seizures, heart problems or even hallucinations. Your child could even die because of these over-the-counter medications. An overdose on this medication can cause your child to feel dizzy, feel drowsy or confused, or increase his heart rate. He may have lack of coordination, slurred speech, nausea, abdominal pain, and feel numb in his fingers and toes.

These preparations can do more harm than good. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that some 7,000 American children under the age of 11 are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms because of problems with cough and cold medicines.

The main problem is that few drugs have actually been tested on children… therefore, it becomes increasingly apparent that we must exercise caution to keep our children safe!

There are safe, effective alternatives.

CLICK HERE to learn more about natural herbal alternatives to prescription and over the counter medicines.

How to Make Delicious, Soothing Mullein Cough Medicine

This article describes the plant Mullein and its medicinal uses and provides instructions on how to make your own Mullein cough medicine.

Mullein puts on a spectacular floral display, about chest height (girly chest) with downy large leaves with spikes of beautiful yellow flowers from about late June. It contains volatile oils (antibacterial), saponins and rutin.

Laboratory tests have shown that it ís anti-inflammatory, with antibiotic activity, and that it inhibits the tuberculosis bacillus. The American Indians smoked dried mullein and coltsfoot cigarettes for asthma and bronchitis.

Mullein tea is also an astringent and demulcent. It’s good for diarrhea, and it’s been used in compresses for hemorrhoids since it was recommended by Dioscorides centuries ago. It is also supposed to help other herbs get absorbed through the skin. Pliny the Elder of ancient Rome, Gerard in sixteenth century England and country folk around the world, have used the heated leaves in poultices for arthritis.

Mullein is also great for making Cough Syrup, particularly for dry coughs. It possesses a soothing demulcent for the respiratory system. ‘Demulcent’ means a herb rich in mucilage that is soothing and in this case is also delicious!

When you feel the leaves of Mullein they feel wonderfully soft and silky which is a sure sign that the leaves contain mucilage. Mucilage, although it sounds disgusting, is great stuff as it coats and protects mucous membranes lining the gut and respiratory system.

These are the instructions to make Mullein cough medicine:

Wash, dry and sterilise a jam jar. The best way to do this is to put the clean jam jar into a cold oven and turn the oven on to 200C and leave it in there for about 15 minutes until the oven is hot. Turn the oven off and leave the jar in there until it is cold. (Don’t try and take it out and burn your fingers and don’t pour cold liquid in there otherwise it will crack).

Pick as many mullein flowers as you can. Sprinkle onto a tray and leave for a few hours to allow any insects to leave. They seem to sense what is happening and will fly away leaving the clean flowers behind. Layer these in the by now, COLD jam jar with granulated sugar, about 3 cms at a time. Store it with the lid on, on a sunny window ledge.

As this compresses down over the next few days you can keep topping up the jar, but pick fresh flowers every time.

When the jar is full just leave it in sunlight for at least three weeks. At the end of this time you will have some very sorry looking flowers but a beautiful deep yellow/brown syrup. Strain the syrup through a piece of clean cloth into another clean jam jar and keep it somewhere dark (cupboard) and cool until you need it in the winter for a cough.

One teaspoon three or four times a day will soothe the cough.

Don’t forget if the cough is persistent, to go and see your doctor.

If you are on any other medications or suffer from allergies please do not self medicate, but go and see a qualified herbal practitioner or your doctor.

Alternatives to Cough Syrup

Even though there are billions of dollars spent every year in the US on over-the-counter cough syrups, most such medicines do little if anything to relieve coughs say the ACCP (American College of Chest Physicians). According to the nation’s chest physicians, cough syrups generally contain drugs in too low a dose to be effective, or contain combinations of drugs that have never been proven to treat coughs. Some over-the-counter cough syrups do contain two drugs that have been shown to help relieve coughs caused by colds – codeine and dextromethorphan – but again the doses are too small to be effective. For adults fighting a cough and runny nose, the best option is probably an antihistamine with a decongestant, such as Dimetapp Cold and Allergy Elixir, Robitussin Allergy and Cough Liquid, or Vicks NyQuil. For children between 2 and 14, here are two alternatives to using over-the-counter cough medicines.


Researchers at the National Heart and Lung Institute have found that a component in chocolate called theobromine, may be more effective in treating coughs than traditional treatments. The chemical was found to work directly on the vagus nerve, which is responsible for triggering coughing. In the study, 10 healthy, non-smokers received theobromine, followed by capsaicin, a cough stimulant. The effect of theobromine was compared to a placebo – and also to codeine, which is used in traditional cough remedies. It was found to be more effective than both in treating the cough. As a cough medicine, codeine (mostly known as a painkiller) had nominal success compared to the placebo, but theobromine was 33 percent more effective than codeine to stop coughing.

Theobromine has diuretic, stimulant and relaxing effects similar to caffeine, but about 10 times weaker. Unlike caffeine, it does not affect the central nervous system. Theobromine can lower blood pressure because it can dilate blood vessels and also relax bronchi muscles in the lungs. Dark chocolate contains 450 mg of theobromine per ounce which is four times more found in milk chocolate. The quantity of dark chocolate that should be eaten to stop coughing–about two ounces for an adult and about half as much for a child–is not enough to get children wound up, or for the minimal amount to cause sleep disturbances. Remember, chocolate is an anti-depressant and also contains flavonoids and other anti-oxidants, which help maintain a healthy heart, keep your blood circulation working well, and reduce the blood clotting which can cause heart attacks and strokes.


A teaspoon of honey before bed seems to calm children’s coughs and help them sleep better, according to a new study that relied on parents’ reports of their children’s symptoms. The folk remedy did better than cough medicine or no treatment in a three-way comparison. For the research, researchers recruited 105 children with upper respiratory infections from a clinic in Pennsylvania. The study found that honey was more effective than dextromathorphan for treating nighttime coughs in kids ages 2-11. The dosages used in the test were equivalent to the cough syrup: half a teaspoon for kids 2-5, a full teaspoon for kids 6-11. It is noted that honey should not be given to children under age 1 because it might cause a type of food poisoning known as botulism.

For coughs and sore throats, it may be the stickiness and viscosity of honey that makes it work well. Honey is also generally less expensive than over-the-counter medications and brings none of the side effects like dizziness or sleepiness. Honey also has antimicrobial effects with darker honeys having more antioxidants than lighter honeys.

So the next time you find yourself having to treat your cough or your child’s cough, think about using one or even both of these alternatives. These remedies are suggested in moderation since they also contain higher amounts of sugar compared to over-the-counter medicines.