Bio-First: Why ‘Clean’ Cough Syrups are Better for Your Kids

Why ‘Clean’ Cough Syrups are Better for Your Kids

Posted by Bio-First Team on

How Bad are Common Pharmacy Cough Syrup brands for Your Kids?

Let’s get straight to the point!

Most common brands of cough syrup contain one or more of the following:

  • Dextromethorphan

○ this narcotic analogue used to suppress coughing can cause nausea, dizziness and agitation

  • Pseudoephedrine/Phenylephrine

○ these stimulant drugs used to reduce congestion can cause restlessness, insomnia and anxiety

  • Diphenhydramine

○ an old style antihistamine used to reduce bronchial secretions but barely better than placebo and can affect heart rate

  • Bromhexine

○ a drug used to loosen and thin mucous but may also cause nausea and dizziness

  • Ammonium Chloride

○ this chemical used as an expectorant can cause dizziness and drowsiness

Apart from these active ingredients most children’s cough syrups also contain alcohol, artificial sweeteners, colours, flavours, and sometimes polyethylene or propylene glycol.

Large scale medical studies have been unable to confirm efficacy and safety of common pharmacy cough syrups for children, especially those aged under 12.

Overall there’s high potential to do more harm than good.

What about the natural alternatives?

  • Widely used echinacea shows no benefit over placebo for cough treatment according to medical studies
  • Most elderberry syrups are made from ethanol extracts or juice dried at high temperature and made into a powder with maltodextrin. Not exactly as nature intended!
  • Honey has been shown to reduce cough frequency just as well as Dextromethorphan but without the negative side effects…
  • While Thyme herb and Aniseed are both approved by the European Medicines Agency as traditional cough remedies
  • Research confirms the soothing effect of vapour rubs – especially natural salves.

Coughs actually have a purpose

Coughs in childhood have a purpose and that purpose is usually to aid in removal of infection from the respiratory tract.

Suppressing or drying up the cough may offer a short-term fix but actually prolong the natural processes. We believe that supporting throat health is more beneficial longer term.

The bottom line is each carer knows their child best and understands their health needs better than anyone.

What to do if your child has a cough?

Offer them:

  • Lots of water and fresh juices
  • Warm lemon and honey drinks
  • Nourishing soups
  • Soothing natural syrups & sprays
  • Herbal salves for chest rub
  • Plenty of fresh air and rest

In the event of fever, breathing difficulty, discoloured phlegm or worsening of symptoms be sure to see your doctor right away without delay.


Written by Dr Jude Lenart, PhD in Natural Medicine and Co-Founder of Bio-First.


*Please note this is not medical advice and you should always seek such advice from medical professionals. Dr Jude Lenart has a Ph.D. in Natural Medicine, she is not a medical practitioner.



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