HealthDay News — Giving pediatric patients agave nectar or a placebo treatment of flavored, colored water both appear to help reduce cough symptoms at night compared with not giving any treatment, results of a study published in JAMA Pediatrics indicate.

To compare the effect of a novel formulation of pasteurized agave nectar versus placebo and no treatment on nocturnal cough and the sleep difficult associated with nonspecific acute cough in infants and toddlers, Ian Paul, MD, of the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, and colleagues conducted a clinical trial involving 120 patients aged two to 47 months who visited an affiliated outpatient, general pediatrics office for nighttime cough.

The patients were randomly divided into one of three groups: 40 received no treatment, 40 were assigned placebo, and 40 were assigned pasteurized agave nectar. Parents reported the children’s’ symptoms the night before and the night after treatment.

Continue Reading

Children who took agave nectar and the placebo coughed less often and less severely compared with children who received no treatment, the patients’ parents reported. Agave nectar demonstrated no additional benefit over the placebo.

“Health-care professionals should consider the potential benefits and costs when recommending a treatment with only a placebo effect for infants and toddlers with nonspecific acute cough,” concluded the researchers.


  1. Paul I et al. Pediatrics. 2014; doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.1609

Disclosure: Zarbees Inc., manufacturer of the pasteurized agave nectar used by the researchers, provided funding for the study.