What to Know About Zarbee's Naturals Cough and Cold Products (2022)

Zarbee's Naturals produces a line of non-drug cough and cold relievers that rely on natural ingredients. These products may be appealing when you want symptom relief but wish to avoid the side effects (and dangers to young children) of typical over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medications. In addition, Zarbee's Naturals has a variety of other health-supporting products.

Zarbee's Naturals products do not contain drugs, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, or dyes. Understanding their purpose and how they may work can help you make a good choice for yourself or your child.

What to Know About Zarbee's Naturals Cough and Cold Products (1)

Varieties of Zarbee's Cough and Cold Products

Zarbee's Naturals has cough and cold products for adults, children, and infants. These categories as based on product dosages, ingredients, and formulations appropriate for each age group.

Zarbee's Cold/Cough FormulationBabies
(up to 12 mos.)
Children
(1 to 12 years)
Adults
(12 years and up)
Cough Syrup(2 months+)
Saline Nasal Spray
Chest Rub (2 months+)(2 years+)
Lozenges(5 years+)
Chewables
Drink Mix

The Zarbee's products were developed by pediatrician Zak Zarbock, M.D., in response to findings by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2007 that over-the-counter cough and cold medications marketed for children were neither effective nor safe. Because parents still wanted to treat their children's symptoms, he developed non-drug products that were based on honey and other natural ingredients.

In addition to their cough and cold "throat relief" products, Zarbee's Naturals also has lines of immune support products, sinus and respiratory support products, vitamins, and other supplements.

How These Products Work

Typical cough and cold medications use dextromethorphan or diphenhydramine to relieve coughs, and guaifenesin to thin mucus and act as an expectorant.

Zarbee's does not use these ingredients. Instead, their products use honey to relieve cough; other ingredients in certain formulations may help thin mucus or relieve cough as well.

Honey

The use of honey for cough relief is supported by some research. A 2018 review of studies concluded that 2 teaspoons of honey at bedtime works as well asdextromethorphan, is superior to placebo, diphenhydramine, or no treatment, and probably reduces cough duration. A further positive point is that honey produced no side effects in the included studies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults and children over 1 year of age use honey for cough relief.

While honey forms the basis Zarbee's of cough and cold medications for adults and children, this ingredient is dangerous for infants. Bacterial spores found in honey can result in infant botulism.

Can a Spoonful of Honey Cure Your Cough?

(Video) Zarbee's Naturals - Cough Syrup

Agave

Because of the risk of honey for very young children, Zarbee's uses agave as the cough soother in its infant products. As a thick, natural sweetener, it coats the throat as honey does.

The research into using agave as a cough reliever in infants and toddlers shows it is only as effective as a placebo. As such, researchers say that parents should consider the expense of products that contain it versus their possible benefits.

Ivy Leaf

Ivy leaf extract is found in several Zarbee's Naturals products, particularly those labeled "+ Mucus." Ivy leaf is believed to thin mucus (as is done by guaifenesin in many cough and cold products).

There have been a few studies of ivy leaf that show it to be effective. However, a 2011 systematic review found that the studies were poorly designed and controlled, and, therefore, the results could not be confirmed. Ivy leaf paired with thyme might be more effective, according to this review.

Thyme

Extracts of the herb thyme are used in several Zarbee's products. Thyme extracts contain thymol, which has some research evidence of being an anti-spasmodic, which may help with cough.

Elderberry

Several Zarbee's products contain elderberry extract. This provides flavor and color and is high in antioxidants. Zarbee's is careful not to make health claims about elderberry, but it is a popular natural ingredient for relieving cold symptoms.

A 2019 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found it showed evidence of relieving upper respiratory symptoms.

Can Elderberry Prevent or Reduce Cold Symptoms?

Melatonin

Zarbee's Naturals has a line of sleep formulas that include melatonin, the hormone your body produces that promotes sleep. One of their cough and throat relief drinks for adults includes melatonin.

Many traditional nighttime cold formulas contain doxylamine, an antihistamine that also is used for insomnia. There are some research findings that melatonin, too, can reduce the amount of time it takes to get to sleep and increase the total sleep time.

Saline

While they can also be used to address nasal dryness and allergies, Zarbee's saline nasal mist formulas can also be useful in easing congestion due to colds. (The CDC recommends saline nasal spray or nasal drops for relief of cold symptoms.)

Zarbee's saline mists also contain aloe (as a moisturizer) or vitamin C (as an antioxidant).

The Health Benefits of Melatonin

Warnings and Precautions

Zarbee's Naturals products are marketed as supplements, not medications. Even though honey and herbal ingredients have some minor research evidence behind them, they are not considered to be effective treatments and manufacturers cannot make health claims about them.

(Video) Zarbee's Naturals - Cough Syrups

As supplements, Zarbee's Naturals products are not tested in the same way as medications and cannot claim to treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease. The company received a warning letter from the FDA in 2014 cautioning that its labeling and advertising tread too close to making health claims. Such materials have since been revised.

Use in Children

The CDC recommends that children younger than age 4 not be given OTC cough and cold medications as they can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

Zarbee's Naturals products do not contain the medications (brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine, dextromethorphan, diphenhydramine, doxylamine, guaifenesin, phenylephrine, and pseudoephedrine) targeted in these restrictions, but it is recommended that you check with your child's pediatrician before giving your child any remedy. That's true even for kids over age 4, as severe reactions have been seen in older children as well.

Before you give a little one any type of medication (natural or not), make sure it isn't labeled "for adults." Even if labeled for children, read carefully to ensure it is appropriate for the age of the infant or child. For example, honey must not be given to babies under 1 year old.

Children under age 4 should not be given lozenges due to the risk of choking. Zarbee's only markets lozenges for adults and children age 5 and up.

A Word From Verywell

Cough and cold symptoms will typically resolve within a few days, but it is natural to want to find relief. When using any Zarbee's product or any over-the-counter cough or cold remedy read labels carefully, never give something formulated for adults or children to a baby, and stick to age-based dosage recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does melatonin expire?

    Yes, melatonin does expire after some time. The date of expiration will appear on the product label. It's unlikely that using expired melatonin can be harmful, but its effects will certainly be less potent. It may be best to replace expired melatonin with a new bottle.

  • Is it safe to use cough medicine during pregnancy?

    For some people, it may be safe to use cough medicine during pregnancy. However, medicine can affect everyone differently, so it may be wise to contact a healthcare provider before using any type of over-the-counter medication.

    (Video) The Truth about Zarbees Cold Medicine

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14 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common Cold.

  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Use Caution When Giving Cough and Cold Products to Kids.

  3. Albrecht HH, Dicpinigaitis PV, Guenin EP. Role of guaifenesin in the management of chronic bronchitis and upper respiratory tract infections.Multidiscip Respir Med. 2017;12:31. doi:10.1186/s40248-017-0113-4

  4. Oduwole O, Udoh EE, Oyo-Ita A, Meremikwu MM. Honey for acute cough in children.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;4(4):CD007094. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007094.pub5

  5. Abdulla CO, Ayubi A, Zulfiquer F, Santhanam G, Ahmed MA, Deeb J. Infant botulism following honey ingestion. BMJ Case Rep. 2012;bcr1120115153. doi:10.1136/bcr.11.2011.5153

  6. Paul IM, Beiler JS, Vallati JR, Duda LM, King TS. Placebo effect in the treatment of acute cough in infants and toddlers: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(12):1107-13. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.1609

  7. Holzinger F, Chenot JF. Systematic review of clinical trials assessing the effectiveness of ivy leaf (hedera helix) for acute upper respiratory tract infections.Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;382789. doi:10.1155/2011/382789

  8. Schönknecht K, Krauss H, Jambor J, Fal AM. Treatment of cough in respiratory tract infections - the effect of combining the natural active compounds with thymol. Wiad Lek. 2016;69(6):791-798.

  9. Hawkins J, Baker C, Cherry L, Dunne E.Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials.Complement Ther Med. 2019;42:361–365. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2018.12.004

  10. Wei S, Smits MG, Tang X, et al. Efficacy and safety of melatonin for sleep onset insomnia in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Sleep Med. 2020;68:1-8. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2019.02.017

  11. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Warning Letter, Zarbee's Inc.

  12. Green JL, Wang GS, Reynolds KM.Safety profile of cough and cold medication use in pediatrics.Pediatrics. 2017;139(6). doi:10.1542/peds.2016-3070

  13. Sleep Foundation. Does Melatonin Expire?

  14. American Pregnancy Association. Cough and Cold During Pregnancy.

    (Video) Zarbees cough and mucus review!

(Video) Best Cough and Cold Medicine | Zarbees Cough Syrup and Mucus | Medicine for infants and Toddlers

FAQs

Why is zarbee's not FDA approved? ›

As supplements, Zarbee's Naturals products are not tested in the same way as medications and cannot claim to treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease. The company received a warning letter from the FDA in 2014 cautioning that its labeling and advertising tread too close to making health claims.

How long does it take for zarbee's cough syrup to work? ›

The cough is gone by 2 days if you really remember to give it every 8 hours. I give this before the afternoon nap and in the night before bed.

Do pediatricians recommend Zarbees? ›

Not only was Zarbee's developed by a father and pediatrician, it's also the cough syrup brand recommended most by pediatricians for kids 10 and under.

What are the side effects of Zarbee's cough syrup? ›

Zarbee's products are all natural and gluten free, contain no drugs, alcohol and dyes, have no side effects and carry no risk of overdose.

Is zarbee's a reputable company? ›

Overall Take. In our analysis of 28 expert reviews, the Zarbee's Naturals Baby Cough Syrup placed 2nd when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Can zarbee's cause seizures? ›

Zarbee's has until mid-July to respond to the FDA warning letter. "Failure to promptly correct these violations may result in legal action without further notice, including seizure and/or injunction," the agency warned.

How many times can you give zarbee's cough syrup? ›

Administer every 4-5 hours, not to exceed 5 times per day or as directed by a physician. Use product within 90 days of opening.

Does zarbee's help with cough? ›

#1 Pediatrician Recommended

Not only was Zarbee's developed by a father and pediatrician, it's also the cough syrup brand recommended most by pediatricians for kids 10 and under.

What is the best children's cough medicine? ›

Children's Cough and Cold Combinations
MedicationsPercentage of Pharmacists' Votes
#1 Children's Tylenol Cold + Cough + Runny Nose Most Pharmacist Votes24%
#2 Children's Dimetapp20%
#3 Children's Delsym14%
#3 Children's Robitussin14%
7 more rows

Does zarbee's cough syrup make you sleepy? ›

Warnings. Children's Cough Syrup + Mucus Nighttime: May cause drowsiness. Warning: This product contains honey and as s chit should not be used by children under 1 months of age. Please consult your physician immediately for a worsening condition.

What is zarbee's used for? ›

Zarbees Naturals Childrens Cough Syrup with Dark Honey soothes coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat & irritants, Safe for kids 1-12 years of age, this formula features vitamin C & zinc to help support immune systems.

How much melatonin is in zarbee's cough syrup? ›

Cough Syrup + Mucus Nightime

Honey Vitamin C Zinc English Ivy Leaf Grapefruit seed extract Melatonin (0.5 mg/5mL) See above.

What are the ingredients in zarbee's? ›

Ingredients
  • African geranium root (Pelargonium sidoides) ...
  • Agave Syrup (Agave tequilana) ...
  • Dark honey. ...
  • Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) ...
  • English ivy leaf (Hedera helix) ...
  • Melatonin. ...
  • Probiotics. ...
  • Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid)

Is zarbee's discontinued? ›

During the proceeding, Zarbee's permanently discontinued all consumer testimonials that describe the products as “natural,” including the challenged testimonials “I absolutely love that it is natural.

How long does zarbee's cough syrup last? ›

Take only as directed. Use product within 90 days of opening. Cough syrup may naturally darken in color over time. Serving Suggestion: Under 12 months: Not recommended.

Is zarbee's discontinued? ›

During the proceeding, Zarbee's permanently discontinued all consumer testimonials that describe the products as “natural,” including the challenged testimonials “I absolutely love that it is natural.

Can adults take Zarbees? ›

Customer Reviews, including Product Star Ratings help customers to learn more about the product and decide whether it is the right product for them.

What company owns zarbee's? ›

SKILLMAN, N.J., July 30, 2018 -- Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Zarbee's, Inc., a privately held company that is a leader in naturally-based healthcare products.

What are the ingredients in zarbee's? ›

Ingredients
  • African geranium root (Pelargonium sidoides) ...
  • Agave Syrup (Agave tequilana) ...
  • Dark honey. ...
  • Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) ...
  • English ivy leaf (Hedera helix) ...
  • Melatonin. ...
  • Probiotics. ...
  • Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid)

How often can you give zarbee's cough medicine? ›

Administer every 4-5 hours, not to exceed 5 times per day or as directed by a physician. Use product within 90 days of opening.

Does zarbee's help with cough? ›

#1 Pediatrician Recommended

Not only was Zarbee's developed by a father and pediatrician, it's also the cough syrup brand recommended most by pediatricians for kids 10 and under.

What does zarbee's cough and mucus do? ›

A soothing blend of dark honey soothes throats. Plus, English ivy leaf extract to help clear mucus when coughing due to hoarseness, dry throat, and irritants. * Cough Syrup + Mucus 4.2 out of 5 stars.

What does zarbee's cough and mucus contain? ›

ZARBEE'S COUGH SYRUP + MUCUS OTC

C 72mg, Vit. D3 2.5mcg, zinc 3.3mg; per 10mL; contains water, natural flavors, citric acid; natural honey lemon-flavor; alcohol-, dye-, and gluten-free.

Videos

1. Natural baby products: wholesome Zarbee’s Naturals products
(ITNP Industry News USA)
2. Zarbee's All Natural Children's Medicine Review
(TheHealthyVoyager)
3. Zarbee's Naturals - Cough Soothers
(Zarbee's)
4. Zarbee's Naturals - Cough Syrups & Soothers
(Zarbee's)
5. Reviewing OTC Children Solutions for Colds & Coughs
(The Art of a Mom)
6. Zarbee's Baby Cough Syrup + Mucus Organic | Best Cough & Cold Medicine For Infants / Toddlers
(iCkEdMeL)

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