Honey has a long, documented history of medicinal use and is considered to have miraculous healing properties. There are many benefits attributed to honey, such as: immune boosting, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Honey also acts as a powerful antioxidant and is thought to contain carcinogen-preventing and anti-tumour properties.
Historically, honey has been used topically to treat ailments such as wounds, ulcers and burns. It is only recently that the antibacterial properties of honey have been chemically explained. Ingesting honey is said to be a miracle treatment for many ailments including seasonal allergies and the symptoms that accompany them.
When it comes to allergic reactions and allergy symptoms, some people swear by honey, believing it to be the perfect, natural cure.
Since honey is produced by bees that are highly exposed to pollens, there are many sceptics who question and challenge the claims that it can treat allergies.
Immunity from pollens?
During the process of bee’s gathering nectar, the bee also transfers pollen grains from one flower to another (pollination). When the bee arrives back at its honeycomb it carries pollen back with it, this is why honey contains small amounts of pollen.
When your system is exposed to these tiny amounts of pollen it is thought to naturally build up immunity through a process called immunotherapy.
Why Local Honey?
The closer to where you live, that the honey is produced, the better (ideally it should be produced within a couple of miles of your house). The honey will then contain the same traces of pollen that you are exposed to on a daily basis, this being the reason why local honey is recommended (as opposed to just any kind of honey).
By eating a teaspoon of local honey every day, your immune system should eventually become desensitized to the pollen that is being gradually introduced. In time, this should prevent your immune system from over-reacting when you are exposed to the pollen again. This over-reaction of your immune system is what triggers the allergic response.
What does science say about this?
Research has produced contrasting results. In one study, allergy sufferers were divided into two groups: one group was given honey; the other given nothing. The group who were given honey weren’t completely cured of their allergies, however the patients who displayed signs of improvement were able to reduce their intake of antihistamines. Most of the group who took honey claimed that their symptoms were reduced and less severe.
Should you take honey for your allergies?
Consumption of local honey should be treated with caution. The fact that the honey contains pollen, does mean that it could trigger an allergic reaction. If you have a pollen allergy that results in anaphylaxis or are allergic to honey then it would not be at all advisable to try this method of allergic desensitization.
However, if you do tolerate eating honey, then it may well be worth giving this a go. This is a natural and a cheaper alternative to undergoing immunotherapy at a private clinic. There are specialist NHS allergy clinic’s that offer immunotherapy but finding one that offers this service can prove to be extremely difficult.
As well as being cheap to buy, honey has a long shelf life and doesn’t require refrigeration or preservatives for it to stay effective over time.
Does a teaspoon a day keep allergies at bay?
Have you tried local honey for your allergies? Did it help?
If you want to find out your nearest local honey producer, then have a look on The British Beekeeper’s Association Website, which contains details of local contacts.