I’ve heard it hundreds of times before, and the old saying goes: if you eat local honey, it’ll help desensitize your body to local allergens that make your nose drip and your head pound. I don’t particularly like honey, but I would be lying if I said that I occasionally didn’t consider eating a spoonful of honey if it meant I’d gain some relief from the seasonal allergies that plagued me each year.
Of course, with every circulating method comes a small bit of skepticality on my part. If it was really something that was such a magical remedy for seasonal allergies, wouldn’t it be more commonly practiced and suggested? People seem to think it’s the way to go for curing their allergy driven sniffles, so now #Fearless gets to do the fun work and ask: But does it work?
So, my initial thoughts about this are what’s not to believe? Bees pollinate flowers, flowers carry pollen, bees take pollen back hive and make honey, and pollen gets into honey. It seems simple enough, and honestly with the amount of people I’ve heard testing it and it supposedly working, I figure that it has to be true. Of course, I haven’t looked much further into than simply trusting what seems to be common knowledge for home remedy seekers for allergies. At the same time though, I reserve the right to be skeptical, because as I said, why isn’t this more loudly touted as the fix to season allergies? But, I’m not one to assume (or, at least, not frequently) so I guess it’s time for a little research into the topic.
Like I’ve already said, it seems like the logical explanation for honey to be a great fix to seasonal allergies. Bees pollinate plants, they take the pollen back to the hive, it gets into the honey, and then taadaa: you have a natural allergy shot that hurts less and tastes much better. But, what’s the deal behind it?
There are many, many blogs that claim they’ve found the secret to unlocking the best curative properties of local honey. There are too many to count, really. It reminds me of how every mom blog from here to Japan were touting the preventative properties of Grape Juice for stomach bugs. And on the surface, without any other scientific fact behind it, it sounds good, right?
While Healthline may not be the most reputable source, they do offer a pretty heavy insight into a lot of the myths that seem to be circulating. The biggest one being that even if the bees making the honey carried pollen back to the hive and it made it into the honey, how do you know how much pollen is in the honey you’re eating? There’s no regulation of “there is 0.025% of season pollen in every jar!” kind of label, so it’s possible your jar of honey has no pollen, or an extremely low amount – or that it has far too much.
They also discuss two different studies that found conflicting results. One said honey has no effect, the other said it had a dramatic effect in reduction of allergies. Beyond that, there are only a handful of other studies, all of which produce the same kind of varying results and use very small population sizes.
The NY Times also found this same result, likely with the same studies, saying that most reactions to pollen come from wind carried pollen, not pollen transported by bugs from flower to flower. Plus, many of the flowers that bugs pollinate isn’t the pollen that cause many seasonal allergy suffers problems.
And finally, the last, but likely most important, part of research I found is the risks. Let’s say that the right amount of pollen is found in the honey. If you feed it to someone who has very severe seasonal allergies, it could cause anaphylaxis in the most severe cases. Local honey also runs the risk of causing botulism in toddlers, especially those under the age of one.
These are, of course, worst case scenarios, and while I usually tend to stray away from “fear mongering” tactics, but in this case I feel like it does serve some kind of educational purpose. Just because it CAN cause this, doesn’t mean it does on a regular basis. Always remember that.
However, in case you wanted to read a little more on this topic to form your own conclusions, I will link you to a couple other articles that I found to be interesting reads:
I’m going to have to put my no stamp on this one, at least until more scientific evidence shows differently. At this point in all my research, it seems that many people have found that the idea that honey is a cure-all for seasonal allergies, while good in concept, is a little far reaching.
Beyond all the outside, uncontrollable factors that go into honey being produced, even from local, natural sources, it seems that you’d be better off getting an allergy shot and taking claritin then risking your health with honey. At least, for allergies.
Honey has a lot of other soothing properties (note I said soothing, not healing), and many people like to add honey to their tea to help aid a sore throat. But, this isn’t the same thing as ridding yourself of season allergies.
Too Long; Didn’t Read?
While many people may tout that honey is a great allergy fighter, I’m sad to report that the answer to your burning question is no, honey does not have any definitive allergy fighting properties. At least, at this point in time. Science has no conclusive evidence that it does or does not work, and it’s easier to find information on how honey does NOT work than it does.
That just about wraps it up for another wonderful and educational edition of But Does It Work? Have something you’d like me to research? Let me know in the comments below, and you could have your topic covered right here on #Fearless!
I personally love the BDIW? segments, because not only am I educating, but I’m learning myself. So help me continue to educate and learn by leaving a frequently circulated myth and method, and we’ll help you figure out the best question of all: But does it work?
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