Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

Why Kids Younger Than 12 Don’t Need OTC Cough And Cold Remedies

The common cold season is here, and if you have children, you will likely feel their suffering from these annoying upper respiratory tract viral infections. Children experience more colds, about six to 10 annually, than adults. With each cold producing symptoms of nasal congestion, runny nose, cough and mild fever lasting up to seven to 10 days, it may seem that children are nearly continuously sick.

Parents certainly want their ill children to feel better, and they, naturally, want to help. A frequent solution is over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, which are heavily advertised to treat many maladies, including colds. A stroll down your local pharmacy OTC drug aisle will highlight the numerous OTC drug products available for adults and children.

It is tempting to buy one or more of these products to help your child. However, for children younger than 12 years of age, it is best not to use commonly advertised OTC cough and cold drug products. These products lack supportive clinical study efficacy and safety data, an issue I’ve studied as a professor of pharmacy practice.

Children are not just small adults

When treating children with OTC or prescription drugs, it is important to understand that young children differ significantly from the adult population with respect to drug efficacy and adverse effects.

Over the past 30 years, we have learned much more about pediatric pharmacology and drug action and behavior, known as pharmacokinetics, and differences compared to adults. Prior to this, and even today to some extent, health care professionals assumed that drugs functioned and behaved similarly in children as in adults.

Based on this assumption, health practitioners often only reduced the amount of a drug to a child based on a proportion of the child’s body weight to an adult. For example, a provider would prescribe 50 percent of an adult drug dose for a child with 50 percent body weight of an adult. The efficacy of OTC cough and cold product active ingredient, as demonstrated in adult studies, was assumed to be similar in children.

However, we have learned, and are continuing to learn, that this strategy is not accurate and can be dangerous. Most drugs are not specifically studied and evaluated in children prior to their labeling by the FDA and availability to the public.

A safe and effective drug dose and dose schedule (how often a drug dose is given) is derived from these formal studies and evaluations. But without these formal studies, pediatric-specific drug pharmacology is not accurately evaluated and determined. In addition, a physician can legally prescribe any drug for a child, even if there aren’t data supporting its efficacy and safety in children.

OTC drugs regulated differently than Rx drugs

FDA regulation of OTC drug products differs from prescription drug regulation. Active ingredients in OTC drug products are evaluated and approved by therapeutic category, such as the cough and cold therapeutic category. In a major undertaking begun in 1972, the FDA has been reviewing OTC drug product categories for safety and efficacy, and it continues to do so.

Pediatric OTC cough and cold products have seen significant regulatory changes in recent years. In 2007, several health care experts petitioned the FDA to carefully review pediatric efficacy and safety data of OTC cough and cold products, requesting that these products be specifically labeled not for use in children younger than six years of age.

sick_kid

In 2008, the FDA recommended that OTC cough and cold products not be given to children younger than two years old. The trade group representing OTC drug product manufacturers, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, additionally announced that these products would be labeled “not for use” in children younger than four years old. The FDA agreed, and this remains the current status of pediatric age labeling for OTC cough and cold products.

In addition, reviews of the medical literature indicates that OTC drug ingredients are actually ineffective in reducing cold symptoms in children. OTC cough and cold products can be dangerous to use as well, with more than 100 deaths of infants and young children described in published reports where these products were the sole cause or important contributive causes.

Although several doses of pediatric OTC cough/cold products are unlikely to be toxic, these reports have described scenarios where the products were used inappropriately, by administration of doses too large, doses given too frequently, measurement of liquid doses inaccurately (too much) or administration of similar active ingredient drugs given from numerous OTC products resulting in accumulative large doses.

These mistakes were easily made by parents, considering the difficulty in accurately measuring out small liquid doses and a desire for the drugs to help (more is better).

A word of caution regarding codeine

Recent studies and recommendations have significantly altered our use of another drug historically used to treat cough in children – codeine. It is an opioid, and it is still available over the counter in some cough medicines in some states. It is available in all states as prescription products.

We have learned in recent years that codeine is metabolized differently from subject to subject. Codeine alone has very little useful pharmacologic activity, but the liver chemically alters it into its active form, morphine, and another chemical. Morphine is dangerous, as it suppresses breathing. It must be used cautiously even in adults.

For many years, codeine has been used for treating pain and cough in children and adults. Recent evaluations, however, have determined that its clinical efficacy for these uses is inferior to other available drugs. We have learned that the amount of morphine produced from codeine liver metabolism can vary widely from person to person, a result of genetic differences.

Some individuals may convert codeine to a lot of morphine, while others may convert codeine to much less morphine. Evidence has accumulated over the past 10 years demonstrating that codeine can produce a significant decrease in breathing in some infants and children.

More than 20 cases of fatal respiratory depression have been documented in infants and children. In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a warning on the dangers of administering codeine to infants and children, recommending that its use for all purposes in children, including cough and pain, be limited or stopped.

Try these remedies instead

When your child next suffers from a cold, instead of reaching for an OTC cough and cold product, use an OTC nasal saline drop or spray product to help with nasal congestion. You can also run a cold air humidifier in his or her room at night to additionally help loosen nasal congestion. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given as needed for fever.

If your child is coughing enough to be uncomfortable or to prevent nighttime sleep, try giving honey, so long as he or she is one or older. Honey has been recently shown by several clinical studies to be an effective cough suppressant, and is likely to be much safer than codeine and OTC cough and cold products.

These therapies have been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. When using these treatments in infants and young children, it is always wise to speak with your child’s pediatrician first, as several more serious illnesses may initially produce symptoms similar to those of a common cold.

November 23, 2016     Edward Bell       Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Drake University

 

Advertisements


6 Comments

9 Reasons To Eat Honey Daily

 The possible health benefits of honey have been documented in early Greek, Roman, Vedic, and Islamic texts and healing qualities of honey were referred to by philosophers and scientists all the way back to ancient times, such as Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Aristoxenus (320 BC). – Joseph Nordqvist, Medical News Daily
For something that tastes so good, honey isn’t consumed all that often. Besides being delicious, honey is also densely packed with valuable nutrition, such as nutrients. Honey is also quite healthy: a tablespoon of raw, unadulterated honey contains 64 calories, and is free from cholesterol, fat, and sodium.
The ideal nutritional composition of honey almost assuredly helps give the natural sweeter its health-promoting properties. Here, we’re going to discuss nine such health benefits of this sweet nectar.

HERE ARE NINE AMAZING HEALTH BENEFITS OF HONEY:

1. RELIEVES ALLERGIES
Honey has anti-inflammatory properties that many believe can help with reducing allergic reactions. Honey itself contains traces of pollen that can initiate an immune response when exposed to it. Over time, the body will produce enough antibodies to the pollen, which effectively causes the body to release less histamine. Consequently, the body will exhibit a more limited immune response.
2. SUPPRESSES COUGH
The viscus texture of honey causes it to accumulate a sort-of coat around the throat area. This coating can help with throat irritation often experienced during a coughing episode. Honey also stimulates the nerve endings of the throat, which serves as a protection mechanism while coughing.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a comprehensive study pertaining to the cough suppression properties of honey. Using three different honey varieties – citrus, eucalyptus, and labiatae – researchers administered a 10-gram dose to 300 children aged 1 to 5 years. According to the study, “there was significant improvement from the night before treatment to the night of treatment.”
3. NATURALLY PROMOTES SLEEP
Honey can be a beneficial for a sleepless night. Consuming honey causes an increase in serotonin and insulin levels, while the body systematically converts them into melatonin – a compound that both promotes and regulates sleep. Consequently, consuming honey improves both the desired duration and quality of one’s sleep.
4. TREATS BURNS AND WOUNDS
It surprises many to learn that honey is a natural antibiotic. Medically, the antibiotic uses for honey span a multitude of both internal and external uses. It is a natural disinfectant against many bacteria, making it a powerful agent against wounds and sores.
Honey

In a study published by the British Journal of Medicine, honey was applied to 59 patients that had failed to heal using traditional medicine. Astonishingly, 58 of the 59 patients showed “remarkable improvement” after honey was applied to the wound.

5. IMPROVES MEMORY
Oxidation of the brain can lead to structural damage and cognitive decline. Honey products help in this regard, as the substance contains high levels of antioxidants that may reverse this adverse effect. Honey also helps to absorb calcium – a vital nutrient for brain nourishment. It is believed that these two mechanisms of honey can aid cognition, including memory.
6. PROVIDES ENERGY
Honey can also provide a much-needed energy spike. This all-natural sweetener contains fructose and glucose, which can quickly enter the bloodstream and produce a burst of energy. Even those seeking to gain muscle mass can benefit from the unique energy properties of honey. Honey which can actually help them build bulk via release of insulin-life growthfactor-1 (IGF-1).
7. TREATS DANDRUFF
Kind of an odd-one-out sort of deal here, but as already mentioned, honey is a potent natural healer for the skin. In a study published by the US National Library of Medicine, patients that applied diluted honey to areas of flaking scalp three hours before rinsing “responded markedly with application.” In the same study, scalp itching disappeared within one week; skin lesions in two weeks, and some patients even showed “subjective improvement in hair loss.”
8. HELPS ACID REFLUX
According to RefluxMD, honey supposedly reduces the symptoms of acid reflux. Honey coats the lining of the esophagus, which may lead to soothing of irritation. Consumption of honey is also thought to counteract any internal damage caused by acid reflux. Further, the heavy concentrations of enzymes within honey assists with digestion, which may help to prevent the occurrence of acid reflux. So, forget the Alka-Seltzer…reach for the honey!
9. STRENGTHENS THE GUT
Honey can be used as a prebiotic, which in turn provides sustenance to the healthy bacteria in our gut. Healthy bacteria are required to properly digest food, absorb nutrients, and equalize the immune system. It is also suggested that honey, because of its prebiotic properties, can deter problematic digestive conditions such as Celiac Disease, Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and others.


4 Comments

9 Health Benefits of Thyme

Thyme is more than just a tasty garden herb. This medicinal plant has been shown to help combat inflammation, acne, high blood pressure, and even certain types of cancer. Here’s how thyme can reduce your pain and benefit your health.

1. Antibacterial

Medicinal Chemistry published a study that found essential oil from common garden thyme (Thymus vulgaris) exhibited very strong activity against clinical bacterial strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia and Pseudomonas.

Thyme oil also worked against antibiotic resistant strains that were tested. This is especially promising news considering the current increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The antibacterial action of thyme also makes it useful for oral care. Try mixing one drop of thyme oil in a cup of warm water and using it as a mouthwash.

2. Anti-inflammatory

Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is an enzyme that plays a key role in the body’s inflammatory response. A Nara Women’s University study found that thyme essential oil reduced COX-2 levels by almost 75 percent.

Interestingly, when researchers isolated a pure extract of carvacrol, a compound in thyme oil, this extract reduced COX-2 levels by more than 80 percent.

Thyme’s anti-inflammatory action can also help with localized pain. You can mix a few drops of thyme oil into a basic massage oil and rub it into an area where you’re experiencing pain, such as muscle aches, headaches, or skin inflammation.

3. Supports Brain Health

In one study, rats given a thyme supplement had antioxidant levels in their brains that were equivalent to antioxidant levels of much younger mice. Also, the level of healthy fats, such as omega-3 fats, were significantly higher compared to mice that had not received the thyme supplement.

Studies have indicated that high levels of omega-3 will help protect cognitive function and mental health as we age.

4. Acne Treatment

A Leeds University study found that a thyme tincture was more effective in killing the bacterium that causes acne than common chemical-based creams, such as benzoyl peroxide.

The thyme tincture was made by steeping thyme leaves in alcohol. This extracts the vital compounds from the plant. Naturally Healthy Skin has a good recipe for a thyme acne gel you can make at home.

Health Benefits of Thyme

5. Anticancer

Thyme extracts are shown to cause cell death in both breast and colon cancer cells.

Two studies found that wild thyme (Thymus serphyllum) extract killed breast cancer cells, and mastic thyme (Thymus mastichina) extract was effective against colon cancer cells.

6. Reduces Respiratory Symptoms

A fluid extract of thyme and ivy leaves was shown to significantly reduce coughing and other symptoms of acute bronchitis compared to a placebo.

Drinking thyme tea may help when you have a sore throat or a cough. You can also try adding 2 drops of thyme oil to a container of hot water for steam inhalation.

7. Lowers Blood Pressure

In separate studies, extracts from wild thyme (Thymus serphyllum) and Himalayan thyme (Thymus linearis Benth.) were found to reduce blood pressure in rats. Both studies indicated that thyme extract may protect against hypertension.

8. Fungicide

A 2007 study looked at the effect of thyme essential oil as a disinfectant against household molds. They concluded that thyme oil is an effective fungicide against many different types of fungi and molds.

You can add a few drops of thyme oil to water or your favorite household cleanser to help clean up any fungal problems in your home.

Thyme can also kill fungi within your body. For instance, Candida albicans is the fungus that causes both vaginal and mouth yeast infections in humans. Italian researchers found that thyme essential oil greatly enhanced intracellular killing of Candida albicans.

9. Bug Repellant

Thymol, a compound in thyme, is an ingredient in many different pesticides. It’s been shown to effectively repel mosquitos, which can help prevent mosquito-borne disease.

To use as a repellant, mix 4 drops of thyme oil per teaspoon of olive oil and apply to your skin or clothing. You can also mix 5 drops for every 2 ounces of water and use as a spray.

How to Eat More Thyme

Many of these studies looked at thyme essential oil. Speak to your doctor, naturopath or herbalist before you start to consume thyme oil internally. Essential oils are potent compounds that should be taken under the advice of a professional.

Incorporating more fresh or dried thyme into your diet is a gentler way to get all the benefits from this wonderful herb.

By: Zoe Blarowski      June 22, 2016