Among allergy sufferers, there is a well-known belief that locally produced honey can alleviate symptoms. The idea being that the honey acts like a vaccine. Bees that jump from one flower to the next end up covered in pollen spores, which are then transferred to their honey. Eating that honey can build up immunity through gradual exposure to the local allergens that can make life so miserable for allergy sufferers. Here is more on how local honey can cure allergies.
Theory vs. Practice
The idea that honey can prevent allergies is based on a concept called immunotherapy. The theory makes sense, but there are some problems as well. It boils down to this. You get a tiny amount of the thing you’re allergic to, which can make you less sensitive to it. Over time and with bigger doses, your body builds up immunity to the allergen. It’s the same idea behind allergy shots.
Some people think eating local honey works the same way because it contains pollen. However, there is one issue with that theory: There’s no way to know exactly what’s in your honey.
Local Honey Healing Powers
Some people strongly believe that raw local honey can cure seasonal allergies through a process called immunotherapy. Many medical treatments, such as allergy shots, are also based on this particular principle.
The general idea is that you can desensitize the immune system to an allergen by exposing the body to small amounts of it over time. Gradually, the body stops overreacting altogether and the patient’s allergies disappear.
But, how would this process work with honey? Unlike grocery store varieties, raw local honey contains pollen from the immediate environment. Pollen is the main culprit of seasonal allergies. Thus, if you consume small amounts of pollen over time, your body will stop recognizing local pollen as a threat.
What Research Has Been Conducted Regarding Honey and Allergies?
One recent study examined the effect of pasteurized honey on allergy symptoms compared to local honey. The results showed that neither group who ate honey experienced relief from seasonal allergies. However, a completely different study found that honey eaten at a high dose did improve a person’s allergy symptoms over eight weeks. However, these studies have conflicting results and very small sample sizes. This makes it hard to determine if local honey could reliably help a person reduce their seasonal allergy symptoms. Larger-scale studies are definitely needed to confirm or recommend a certain amount of honey.
What You Should Know Before You Use Honey as a Treatment
Doctors and researchers haven’t recommended a certain amount of honey a person should eat per day to relieve their seasonal allergy symptoms. Plus, there are no guarantees how much pollen may be in a local honey. Also, note that you should not give honey to children under the age of 1. Also, some people who have a severe allergy to pollen can experience a serious allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis after eating honey. This can cause extreme difficulty breathing. Others may experience allergic reactions such as itching or swelling of the mouth, throat, or skin.
All this being said, like all naturopathic remedies, you may genuinely feel better taking honey. These studies prove that the results you see are most likely the placebo effect. But, the placebo effect can be helpful as well. All that matters in the end is that you feel better, and if eating a tablespoon of honey is what enables you to spend summer days outside in the grass, you should go for it. Honey hasn’t been scientifically proven to reduce allergies. However, it can still be a tasty alternative to sugary foods. Some people also use it as a cough suppressant. If you have seasonal allergies, you may need to look for a medically proven treatment. Examples include over-the-counter allergy medicines or simply avoiding going outside as much as possible immunotherapy.