Beware Children’s Cough Medicines Containing Dextromethorphan
January 18, 2023
By Dr. Zak Zarbock, Pediatrician and the founder of Zarbee’s Effective & Natural remedies
As a pediatrician and a dad, my home and office are both occupied by coughs, colds and sniffles on a daily basis. There’s nothing more frustrating to a parent than a lingering sickness that is making both you and your child miserable. However, what if the medicine you were giving to your child to treat the condition was not only ineffective, but also potentially extremely dangerous?
If you have treated your child with over the counter cough medicines, there is a very high chance that you have given them a product that contains the controversial drug DXM, or Dextromethorphan. Unfortunately, this dangerous drug is present in almost all over the counter cough medicines. You may have heard this word before, but how much do you really know about DXM?
DXM has been used as the active ingredient in cough medicines for years, but has only recently begun making waves around the world. Teens have begun ingesting it in extremely high doses for recreational use, and slowly but surely, the drug is climbing the ranks as one of the leading causes of emergency room visits and drug-related death in young adults.
Unfortunately, DXM is not only fatal when used for recreational purposes. The number of accidental deaths in children due to DXM poisoning is also rising. What most parents don’t realize when administering cough medication containing DXM is that approximately 10% of children do not possess the proper enzymes needed to effectively metabolize the drug. With no way to know whether your child falls into that 10%, the treatment of a mild cough suddenly becomes a dangerous game of Russian Roulette. And with 61% of parents still using these dangerous remedies, it is imperative to get the word out about the risks when giving children products that contain DXM.
I first came across this alarming information back in 2008, when the FDA deemed it unsafe for children to ingest any of the cough syrups that were currently available on the market. As a father of four young children myself, I became discouraged that there were no longer any safe options to safely offer relief to my young patients. I made it my mission to find a way to alleviate these stressful, painful coughs and began researching and developing what would become the first all-natural cough syrup for children.
During my research, I stumbled upon a compelling clinical trial involving the use of dark honey as an alternative remedy for soothing coughs and sore throats. The trial indicated that honey was actually more effective in treating coughs in children than the “traditional” cough syrups containing DXM. The results of this trial were eye-opening and optimistic; discovering that dark honey was effective at relieving coughs meant I could prescribe something to my patients without worrying about the dangers of DXM.
The next time your child develops a cough, make sure you think twice before reaching for drug-based products. Be sure to check labels for the presence of DXM, and instead choose a natural cough syrup that is rich in antioxidant-rich honeys and vitamins that provide a boost to the immune system when it needs it most. In the end, not only will your child feel better, but you’ll feel better too.
Other tips for choosing a safe cough medicine:
- Leave no product unturned. Drug-based OTC cough medications list their questionable ingredients in small fonts and in terms that are difficult to recognize. Make sure to thoroughly examine the packaging before using.
- Thoroughly read ingredient labels. Look for Dextromethorphan either on the front of the box, or in the “Drug Facts” section under the heading “Active Ingredients.” Dextromethorphan may also be abbreviated as DM or DXM.
- Ask your doctor for advice. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not support the use of Dextromethorphan in children, and now with the introduction of a bill to potentially prohibit the purchase of DXM by individuals under the age of 18, general practitioners may be wary of prescribing it as well. Check with your doctor who may very well be able to provide a safe alternative to drug-based products.
Dr. Zak Zarbock is one of the country’s top practicing pediatricians and the Founder of Zarbee’s Effective & Natural remedies, the fastest-growing cough remedy in the country. As a father himself, Dr. Zarbock was frustrated when he was not able to offer any relief to his young patients with coughs and sore throats. After extensive research, Zarbee’s Cough Syrup, the first natural, safe and effective cough syrup for children 12 months and older, was born.