How many times have you sneezed from allergies and someone told you that you should go get yourself some local honey? Well, at least a dozen times? There’s been a legend for centuries that eating honey from local bees in your area can help relieve your symptoms to the seasonal allergens that linger where you live. Is this really true? Eat This, Not That released the scientifically proven answers in their Better Health section from well-known doctors on this subject.
Since honey has been used for a cough suppressant and an inflammatory, shouldn’t it help with allergies? “The theory got started because local, unprocessed honey (aka raw honey) was known to contain local pollens,” says Lakiea Wright, MD, an allergist at Women’s Hospital in Boston and medical director at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Raw honey is more likely to contain local pollen because it isn’t processed. During processing [that occurs in pasteurized, store-bought versions of honey], pollen is removed from the honey.”
Shouldn’t local pollen create in the sufferer allergen desensitization? “The concept of allergen desensitization is based on exposing your body to small, escalating doses of allergen to desensitize your allergy cells,” says Dr. Wright. In the case of local honey, you would theoretically be ingesting pollen-containing honey in small amounts regularly to minimize seasonal allergy symptoms.
So, does eating local honey actually help with allergies? “Unfortunately, [eating local honey] does not help with allergies because the pollens that bees collect are usually from flowers, which are not as potent and don’t provoke your immune system like other pollens (i.e. trees, grasses, and weeds) which cause ‘classic’ seasonal allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Wright.
Dr. Wright says eating local honey can even worsen your symptoms! Do what?
“In some cases, eating local raw honey may contribute to allergic symptoms because if you are highly sensitized, ingesting pollens in small amounts can cause local symptoms like an itchy mouth,” says Dr. Wright. “In rare cases, you can potentially have a more severe reaction like anaphylaxis because raw honey may contain bee parts, and if you have a bee allergy, you could have a reaction.”
If your allergies are not effectively controlled by over-the-counter medicines, it is best to see an allergist. Remember to wear sunglasses outside during the seasons you are most affected, keep windows closed, and shampoo your hair at night before going to sleep.
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