Local Honey and Allergies
A common natural remedy known to help prevent seasonal allergies is eating local honey. The idea behind honey treating allergies is similar to that of a person getting allergy shots. But is there really a scientific link between local honey and allergies?
When a person eats local honey, they are thought to be ingesting local pollen. Over time, a person may become less sensitive to these pollens. As a result, they may experience fewer seasonal allergies.
It is true that bees pollinate flowers and make honey but the amounts of pollen from the environment and plants are thought to be very small and varied. When a person eats local honey, they have no guarantee of how much pollen they’re being exposed to. This differs from the more direct immunization process of getting allergy shots.
In September of 2013, there was a placebo-controlled study done on the effectiveness of local honey on the symptoms of rhinitis over the course of 8 weeks in Malaysia. All of the groups received a dose of loratadine(Claritin) but the case group ingested 1g/kg body weight of honey daily in separate doses. The placebo group ingested corn syrup instead.
At the start of the study, there were no differences in symptoms between the two groups. After week 4, both groups displayed improved symptoms. At the end of week 8, only the case group that was fed honey showed improved allergy symptoms. The improvement persisted for a month after the cessation of the treatment.
In conclusion, this study seems to prove that honey ingested at high doses improves the overall and individual symptoms of allergic rhinitis and could serve as a complementary therapy for immunization.
In another study directed at improving birch pollen allergies(February to May allergies), over the course of a decade, a total of 44 patients diagnosed with birch pollen allergy consumed either birch pollen honey or regular honey from November to March. A control group of 17 patients took their usual allergy medication instead.
This study found that during the following birch pollen season compared to the control group, the patients using birch pollen honey experienced:
- 60 percent reduction in symptoms
- Twice as many asymptomatic days
- 70 percent fewer days with severe symptoms
- 50 pecent decrease in usage of antihistamines
Important Things to Note
Since these studies help prove the touted remedy for immunization of allergies, I can believe the anecdotal claims that it reduces allergy symptoms. However, it is important to be aware that honey itself can also be a trigger for severe allergic reactions. Clearly you should avoid this method if you have had a reaction to honey in the past.
Another important point to remember is that honey is high in fructose and in excessive amounts, it can exacerbate pre-existing insulin resistance and promote weight gain. This is particularly important if you suffer from signs of elevated insult, such as:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
As long as it is in moderation, eating raw local honey is likely to improve health and alleviate seasonal and asthma allergy symptoms. It has been a challenge for me to incorporate local honey into my diet to be effective for the birch pollen season because it is high in sugar and calories. I also prefer to drink my morning tea unsweetened or with lemon and don’t prefer the sweet taste of a teaspoon of honey. If this remedy has or hasn’t worked for you, let me know!
Eteraf-Oskouei, T., & Najafi, M. (2013). Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, 16(6), 731–742.