Is zarbee’s cough syrup just honey?

Zarbee’s is a popular brand of natural cough syrup that contains honey as its primary ingredient. The syrup is marketed as an alternative to conventional cough medicines that often contain chemicals and artificial flavors.

With honey being the main component, some people wonder if Zarbee’s cough syrup is essentially just honey in a bottle. Or does the syrup contain other active ingredients that make it more effective than plain honey for cough suppression?

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the ingredients and formulation of Zarbee’s cough syrup to understand what’s really inside and how it compares to pure honey.

Zarbee’s Cough Syrup Ingredients

Here is the list of key ingredients contained in Zarbee’s Natural Cough Syrup according to the product label:

– Honey
– Vitamin C
– Zinc
– Propolis
– Natural flavors

So while honey is the primary component, Zarbee’s syrup does contain other supplemental ingredients. Let’s examine each one in more detail:


Honey is the main ingredient in Zarbee’s cough syrup, making up 96% of the formula. The honey used is sourced from clover blossoms.

Honey has been used as a natural cough remedy for centuries due to its thick, viscous consistency and sweet taste. The thickness of honey is believed to coat and soothe an irritated throat. The sweetness may also help suppress cough reflexes.

Some research suggests that honey may have antimicrobial properties to help fight infections that cause coughs. However, the evidence is still considered preliminary.

Vitamin C

Zarbee’s contains 50 mg of vitamin C per serving. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient with antioxidant properties.

Some studies indicate that vitamin C may help reduce the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections that often cause coughs. Vitamin C is also involved in immune system function.

However, the 50 mg in Zarbee’s is a relatively low amount compared to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 65-90 mg per day for children and 75-90 mg for adults.


Each serving of Zarbee’s has 3 mg of zinc. Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a role in immune system function.

Like vitamin C, zinc may help combat upper respiratory infections. Some research shows zinc lozenges may reduce cough severity and duration.

But the zinc content in Zarbee’s is quite low compared to zinc lozenges studied for coughs which contain up to 80 mg of zinc.


Propolis is a resinous compound produced by bees from botanical sources. It’s used as a sealant in beehives.

Some early research suggests propolis may have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties to help fight infections. But studies are limited and mainly on isolated propolis extracts.

The amount of propolis in Zarbee’s syrup is unclear as it’s listed under “natural flavors.” Likely a small amount.

Natural Flavors

For the natural flavors, Zarbee’s uses honey, cinnamon, lemon verbena, peppermint, and anise oils. These ingredients enhance the flavor.

While these natural oils may provide subtle aromatherapeutic effects, there’s no evidence that the small amounts in Zarbee’s specifically help suppress coughs.

Does Zarbee’s Work Better Than Honey Alone?

Based on the additional ingredients beyond honey, Zarbee’s is formulated to be more than just honey. But is it any more effective for coughs than pure honey?

Unfortunately, there is limited scientific research comparing Zarbee’s syrup to honey alone for cough suppression.

Some doctors speculate that the vitamin C and zinc may provide some additional benefit. But the amounts are quite low.

One ingredient that may make a difference is propolis, pending further research on its anti-inflammatory effects for coughs.

Here’s a quick summary on how Zarbee’s stacks up to pure honey:

Zarbee’s Potential Advantages

– Propolis may provide anti-inflammatory effects
– Vitamin C and zinc support immune function
– Natural flavors improve taste for kids

Honey’s Potential Advantages

– Higher purity and content of raw honey
– Less processed overall
– Lower cost for same amount of honey

So while Zarbee’s provides a convenient cough syrup with research-backed ingredients, the benefits over plain honey are still unclear based on current evidence. More studies directly comparing the two would shed light on any differences.

Is Zarbee’s Safe for Children?

Zarbee’s markets their cough syrup as a gentle, safer alternative to conventional children’s cough medicines. According to their website, it can be given to babies as young as 12 months old.

The ingredients in Zarbee’s are natural and considered minimally processed. None of the additional ingredients beyond honey raise any specific safety concerns for children.

Here are some of the advantages of Zarbee’s for kids:

– No artificial flavors/dyes that may cause adverse reactions
– No drugs that could produce side effects
– Low sugar content compared to many commercial cough syrups

The main potential downside is the cost, given that comparable honey products are available for less. But many parents feel the extra cost provides peace of mind of a more natural, safer product for their child.

As with any supplement, it’s a good idea to discuss use of Zarbee’s with your pediatrician to determine if appropriate for your child’s age and condition.


To summarize, Zarbee’s cough syrup contains honey as the primary ingredient along with small supplemental amounts of vitamin C, zinc, propolis, and natural flavors.

While the extra ingredients may provide some additional support, existing evidence is limited on whether Zarbee’s works any better than pure honey for cough suppression. More research directly comparing the two could clarify if the additional ingredients make a significant difference.

Zarbee’s avoidance of artificial ingredients and drugs make it a potentially safer choice for children relative to conventional cough medicines. However, comparable honey products are available for less cost.

In the end, Zarbee’s offers a convenient, natural-ingredient cough syrup alternative to traditional children’s cough medicine. But there isn’t definitive proof it’s superior to plain honey for calming coughs. Talk to your doctor to decide if Zarbee’s is appropriate for your child.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Zarbee’s cough syrup FDA approved?

No, Zarbee’s is not approved by the FDA. As a nutritional supplement containing natural ingredients like honey, it does not undergo FDA review and approval like over-the-counter drugs. Zarbee’s adheres to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) but is not tested and approved by the FDA.

Does Zarbee’s interact with any medications?

There are no known negative interactions between Zarbee’s ingredients and medications. However, consult your doctor before use if taking prescribed medication as a precaution and to screen for allergies.

Can Zarbee’s be given to babies under 1 year old?

Zarbee’s does not recommend their cough syrup for babies under 12 months. Younger infants have immature immune systems and metabolisms that may react differently to supplements. Check with your pediatrician before giving any cough product to babies under 1 year old.

Is Zarbee’s cough syrup vegan/vegetarian friendly?

Yes, Zarbee’s syrup is vegan and vegetarian friendly. It contains no animal-derived ingredients. The honey is sourced from bees, but commercial honey production does not typically harm bees. The propolis, also from bees, is a waste product in hive building.

Is Zarbee’s cough syrup gluten free?

Yes, Zarbee’s is certified gluten free by the Celiac Spruce Association. It contains no gluten ingredients like wheat, barley, rye or derivatives that could trigger reactions in those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Where can I buy Zarbee’s cough syrup?

Zarbee’s can be purchased online from Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and Bed Bath & Beyond. It’s also available at many major retail chains like Target, Kroger, Safeway, Whole Foods, and more. Check your local pharmacy or grocery stores.

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