Is Zarbee’s cough syrup all natural?

Zarbee’s cough syrup has gained popularity in recent years as an alternative to traditional over-the-counter cough medicines. The company markets their syrup as containing all natural ingredients and being free of drugs, dyes, and chemicals. But is Zarbee’s cough syrup truly all natural? We’ll take a look at the ingredients, effectiveness, and company reputation to help answer this question.

Zarbee’s Cough Syrup Ingredients

According to the Zarbee’s website, their cough syrup contains the following active ingredients:

  • Honey – Honey has natural antibacterial and cough suppressing properties. It coats and soothes the throat.
  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an essential nutrient with antioxidant properties. It helps support immunity.
  • Zinc – Zinc is a mineral that plays a role in immune health and cell growth and division.

Other listed ingredients include purified water, organic agave nectar, and natural flavors. The full ingredient list contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Based on the ingredient list, Zarbee’s cough syrup does appear to live up to its all natural claims. The active ingredients are naturally-occurring substances rather than synthetic chemicals. The additional ingredients are also natural or organic.

Zarbee’s Cough Syrup Effectiveness

While the natural ingredients may sound appealing, the more important question is – does Zarbee’s cough syrup actually work?

There is some scientific evidence supporting the use of honey and vitamin C for coughs. Honey has antimicrobial properties and coats the throat, which can reduce coughing. Some studies suggest honey is as effective as dextromethorphan, a common over-the-counter cough suppressant, in relieving nighttime cough in children.

Research also shows vitamin C supplements can shorten the duration of colds with coughs and reduce severity of cold symptoms. Zinc supplements may help shorten colds by a day or two, but the effects are modest according to scientific reviews.

Overall, the ingredients in Zarbee’s cough syrup have demonstrated mild benefits for cough relief in studies. However, the evidence is not as strong as for conventional medicine ingredients like dextromethorphan or guaifenesin. More research is still needed on the syrup as a whole.

Zarbee’s Company Reputation

Zarbee’s is a company founded by a father looking for safer medication for his daughter. They emphasize natural ingredients tailored for children. Their products avoid dyes, flavors, and preservatives some parents wish to avoid.

The Zarbee’s brand focuses heavily on natural and organic products. In addition to the cough syrup, they sell a variety of vitamins, natural sleep aids, elderberry gummies, and other supplements. Their products are generally well-reviewed online by parents seeking more natural over-the-counter options.

However, in 2018 the Environmental Research Center filed a lawsuit against Zarbee’s alleging their vitamins contained lead levels exceeding California standards. The company denied wrongdoing and said they batch test ingredients to ensure safety. Still, this raised some concerns over their quality control and testing processes.

The Verdict on Zarbee’s Cough Syrup

Based on the ingredient list, Zarbee’s cough syrup is all natural as advertised. The active ingredients – honey, vitamin C, and zinc – are naturally-occurring substances shown to provide some relief for coughs associated with colds. The additional syrup ingredients are also organic and natural.

However, “all natural” does not always mean scientifically proven. While the ingredients may come from nature, the syrup itself has limited clinical evidence for its effectiveness compared to conventional over-the-counter cough medicine options. The ingredients seem to provide mild symptom relief, but likely not as much or as quickly as drug-based suppressants and expectorants.

Additionally, while Zarbee’s markets heavily towards children, most studies have looked at these ingredients in adults. More research is needed on the optimal doses and effects in pediatric populations. Safety also remains a concern following the lawsuit alleging presence of lead in Zarbee’s vitamin products.

In conclusion, Zarbee’s cough syrup takes an all natural approach using ingredients like honey, vitamin C, and zinc. This aligns with their company reputation for natural kids’ healthcare products. However, claims of being all natural should not be equated with claims of being scientifically proven to work as well as or better than conventional medications. Parents should weigh the evidence and consult their pediatrician when considering natural cough syrup alternatives like Zarbee’s. More research on effectiveness and optimal dosing is still needed, especially in children.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Zarbee’s cough syrup FDA approved?

No, Zarbee’s cough syrup is not approved by the FDA. Since the product is marketed as a dietary supplement rather than a drug, it does not undergo FDA review and approval. The claims and safety have not been evaluated by the FDA.

What’s in Zarbee’s cough syrup?

The active ingredients in Zarbee’s children’s cough syrup include honey, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and zinc gluconate. Other ingredients are purified water, organic agave nectar, and natural flavors.

Is Zarbee’s cough syrup safe for babies?

Zarbee’s states their cough syrup is safe for children 2 months and older. However, it’s best to consult your pediatrician before giving any cough medication to babies under 1 year old. Proper dosing is also important for safety and effectiveness.

Does Zarbee’s cough syrup make you drowsy?

No, Zarbee’s cough syrup does not contain any antihistamines, decongestants, or other ingredients that typically cause drowsiness as side effects. It should not make your child sleepy.

Is Zarbee’s cough syrup vegan/gluten free?

Yes, Zarbee’s cough syrup contains no animal-derived ingredients and no gluten containing ingredients. Their FAQ states it is both vegan and gluten free.

Studies on Natural Cough Remedies

Here is an overview of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of key ingredients in Zarbee’s cough syrup:

Honey for Coughs

  • A 2007 study found honey was superior to diphenhydramine (an antihistamine) and placebo at improving cough frequency and severity in children with nighttime cough and upper respiratory infection. Honey scored better on parent ratings of symptom relief.
  • A meta-analysis published in 2018 looked at over 1800 children and found honey modestly reduced cough frequency and severity compared to no treatment, diphenhydramine, or placebo. The effects were greater when used together with antibiotics for upper respiratory infection.
  • Research suggests honey may provide demulcent (throat coating), antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antitussive (cough suppressing) benefits. However, more clinical trials are still needed, especially in pediatric populations.

Vitamin C for Colds and Coughs

  • A 2013 review found vitamin C (1-2 grams/day) reduced cold duration in adults by 8% and in children by 14%. It also reduced cold severity.
  • A systematic review found regular vitamin C supplementation (0.2 grams/day) reduced incidence of colds in children by 14% and shortened duration by 18%.
  • Vitamin C is thought to support immune function and have antioxidant properties. Therapeutic doses may reduce duration or severity of coughs associated with the common cold.

Zinc for Colds

  • A 2011 meta-analysis found zinc lozenges or syrup reduced the length of colds by 33% in adults when taken within 24 hours of onset. However, results were mixed with some studies showing no effect.
  • A 2017 review concluded zinc supplements reduce cold duration, but only by approximately 1 day compared to placebo.
  • For children, a review found zinc may shorten colds by up to 2 days. However, optimal dosing is still uncertain.

Table Comparing Natural Cough Remedies to Conventional Medicine

Treatment Main Effects Evidence Quality
Honey Demulcent, antimicrobial & cough suppressant effects. Reduces cough frequency & severity. Moderate quality evidence for mild-moderate benefit in adults and children.
Vitamin C Immune support & antioxidant effects. May shorten colds & reduce cough severity. Moderate quality evidence for mild-moderate benefit in adults and children.
Zinc Immune support. May shorten colds by ~1 day in adults and up to 2 days in children. Low quality evidence for mild benefit.
Dextromethorphan (DM) Antitussive that suppresses cough. High quality evidence for moderate-strong cough suppression.
Guaifenesin Expectorant that thins mucus. Moderate quality evidence for benefit in stable chronic bronchitis.

Key Takeaways

  • Honey, vitamin C, and zinc have demonstrated mild-to-moderate benefits for cough and cold duration/severity.
  • However, natural remedies are generally supported by lower quality clinical evidence compared to conventional medicine ingredients like DM and guaifenesin.
  • More research is needed to determine optimal doses, especially in children.


Based on its ingredients, Zarbee’s cough syrup takes an all natural approach to soothing sore throats and suppressing coughs. However, “all natural” does not automatically equate to scientifically-proven effectiveness, especially when compared to conventional drug-based options widely used in over-the-counter cough medicines. While the ingredients show promise, more rigorous clinical trials are still needed, particularly in children. Overall, Zarbee’s provides an alternative for parents wishing to avoid dyes, flavors, and chemicals, but may not relieve cough symptoms as quickly or effectively as mainstream medicine in some cases. Consulting your pediatrician can help determine if trying natural cough remedies like Zarbee’s is appropriate for your child.

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