A couple years ago, I ducked into the doctor to complain about a number of symptoms, including an annoying cough that was keeping me up at night. My physician, who I still trust to this day, suggested some over-the-counter cough medicine. “Doesn’t that stuff pretty much do nothing?” I asked. To paraphrase, his reply: “Yeah, kind of.”
That extremely fun and enlightening personal anecdote just goes to show how even people in the medical field feel about cough medicine. The general consensus seems to be that cough syrups are surprisingly unsatisfactory at fighting coughs.
Don’t believe me? Reactions, the YouTube channel for the American Chemical Society, recently published a video entitled “Does Cough Medicine Really Work?” covering the results of a number of systematic reviews of studies about the cough products being hawked as part of the billion dollar cough relief industry. Reaction’s take: “There’s very little evidence that cough syrup is effective at treating coughs.”