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Buds are appearing on the trees in Brooklyn, which has me itching for warmer weather. But it also reminds me that my eyes, nose, and the roof of my mouth will soon be itching as flowers, trees, and grasses bloom. I received allergy shots for years, followed by annual refills for pills. But this year I was thinking about looking for a more natural way to treat my symptoms. In part, I confess, because I’m too lazy to make an appointment to get a new prescription, and my allergies aren’t that bad . Lucky for my lazy bones, our Green Guru Susan Cosier looked into claims that local honey is a natural remedy.
Does eating local honey help prevent allergies?Wei Ja, Gainesville, GA
A spoonful of honey is often touted as the best natural medicine to combat the sneezing and itchy eyes brought on by pollen-filled blooms. After all, bees make honey from the nectar collected from plants close to their hives, so it stands to reason that eating the sweet stuff would prompt your body to build up a resistance to the cause of your discomfort. Alas, no scientific studies show that local honey combats allergies.
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One Final Thought On Honey As Allergy Relief
As a naturopath, I always like the idea of using natural solutions to relieve health problems before medications need to become involved.
Theres no harm in giving honey a shot in your pursuit to get rid of some of your allergy symptoms.
That being said, if you suffer from severe allergy symptoms like wheezing, burning eyes, rashes, throat swelling, or any other symptom that would compromise your safety, you need to consult an allergist before you give honey a try.
The Amazing Benefits Of Local Honey
By Sher Warkentin in Natural Products
Why use local honey, you wonder? Shopping local has tremendous environmental benefits, no matter what youre looking to buy. When it comes to honey, not only are you helping the planet , youre helping yourself too. I recently took my kids to visit a local honey farm to learn about the benefits of local honey and why this sweet stuff is so amazing.
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How Does Honey Work On Allergies
In order for it to be effective it must fit these criteria:
Raw The honey needs to say that it is raw or you need to ask your farmer directly. Honey that is raw will still contain all the living enzymes needed to protect your body from a histamine overdose.
Local I have heard all sorts of specific mileages on this. Im not sure where they all come from. The truth is that there isnt a magic number of miles within which you must purchase your honey. Any raw honey that is harvested nearby where the same sort of plants are blooming at roughly the same time can be considered local.
Allergen Appropriate If you have fall allergies, you need to use raw, local honey that is harvested in the fall. If you buy raw, local honey that was harvested in the spring, you will no doubt enjoy some honey and get some health benefits. You will not, however benefit from the allergy prevention because the pollens to which you are allergic will not be found in this honey.
The big drawback here is that raw, local honey only works on pollen allergies. For years I was frustrated that I couldnt help people with other sensitivities. So I developed one of our honey spreads to work on the histamine reaction and to support the liver. The herbs I like best for allergy suffering are:
Honey Ginger Allergy Relief Tea
With anti-inflammatory benefits that rival those of NSAIDs, ginger not only helps to lower the risk of infections, it also helps break down toxins buildup in your organs. Ginger root is also known to cleanse the lymphatic system, which is basically our bodys sewage system.
If your allergies are causing an overproduction of phlegm, ginger will help break it up, easing your congestion while giving your immune system a boost.
All citrus are high in vitamin C, which helps boost your immune system and fills your body with antioxidants. Lemon especially helps to loosen mucus so that your body can easily eliminate it.
Apple cider vinegar
If youre even a little crunchy, you probably know that apple cider vinegar has a million + 1 uses. But did you know that it helps to break up and reduce mucous in your body, keeping your sinuses clear? Its antibacterial properties are also useful for sore throats and keeping infections away.
Full of vitamins and minerals , honey is also full of friendly bacteria, making it anti-fungal, and probiotic. To get the most benefits from your honey, make sure that its local and raw, if possible.
In the recipe card Ive linked to some of the products from my affiliate partners that I like to use. Purchasing through these links wont cost you anything extra. Thanks!
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Flights May Be Less Comfortable With Recommendations
He argues that airlines should continue disinfecting high-touch areas such as armrests and tray tables, stop in-flight food service, mandate mask-wearing, and ask patrons to keep their above ventilation fan on throughout the flight. While these adjustments make flying less enjoyable, they can help reduce in-flight virus transmission. Masks are currently required on public transportation.
Allen is not the only one saying it is safe to resume flying.
What You Should Know Before You Use Honey As A Treatment
Doctors and researchers havent recommended a certain amount of honey a person should eat each day to relieve their seasonal allergy symptoms. Plus, there are no guarantees how much pollen may be in a serving of local honey.
Note that you should not give honey to children under the age of 1. This is because raw, unprocessed honey has a risk for botulism in infants. 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.
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Are There Risks To Taking Bee Pollen And Honey For Allergies
There are some risks to taking both bee pollen and honey.
Some people are allergic to the honey itself and shouldnât consume or use honey topically under any circumstance. Honey also contains sugar, which can lead to complications for people with conditions such as diabetes.
Bee pollen may cause side effects, such as gastrointestinal issues, shortness of breath and rashes. Itâs important to talk to your doctor before starting any at-home or natural treatments.
Doctors also do not recommend feeding honey or pollen to children under the age of one. Doing so may cause botulism. Talk to your pediatrician before giving bee pollen to children under the age of 12.
The Theory Behind The Healing Powers Of Honey
Some people believe raw local honey can cure seasonal allergies through a process called immunotherapy. Many medical treatments, such as allergy shots, are also based on this 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. Eventually, the body stops overreacting altogether and the patients allergies disappear.
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.
At least, thats the theory.
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Can Local Honey Help With Allergies The Answer Is
Its one of the most common folk remedies that people swear by eating local honey to ease seasonal allergies that affect so many of us.
The thinking has been that consuming local honey produced by bees acts as a natural allergy shot of sorts by exposing you to local allergens.
“Is a very nice, neat theory, but theres very little research to suggest that it actually works, said Russell Greenfield, MD, with .
Aside from the lack of supporting research, Greenfield said theres another big reason hes not a proponent of the local-honey theory: Most people who get seasonal allergies are actually reacting to tree and grass pollen, not flower pollen collected by bees.
Still, Greenfield said trying local honey should be reasonably safe, and he encourages anyone inclined to try any natural remedies to discuss it with their provider. Note: Children under 1 year of age should never be given honey due to the risk of botulism, Greenfield said.
Allergies aside, Greenfield said honey does have its benefits. For children over 1, honey is considered as an effective cough suppressant, he said.
And when it comes to natural allergy remedies, Greenfield said there are herbal options that could merit discussion with a health provider. Some of those, he said, include butterbur, quercetin and stinging nettle. Greenfield strongly encourages those who are interested in herbal remedies to bring them up to their healthcare provider.
If you dont have a primary care provider, find one at .
Why Honey Might Not Be So Effective
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, there are a few problems with the honey home remedy:
Bees dont follow a consistent honey recipe, so its hard to know how much pollen and what kind youre getting from raw honey. In contrast, we know exactly what is in allergy shots.
The pollen in honey is gathered where bees buzz on flowers. Flower pollen isnt typically what causes annoying seasonal sniffles and irritated eyes. The pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds is what causes the irritating symptoms of seasonal allergies.
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Therapeutic Effects Of Honey
Honey is made from flower nectar. Bees suck this sugary substance from flowers. In their digestive system, the nectar mixes with other substances, so that it transforms a bit. The new substance, honey, can be harvested from the hive.
Praised for its antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, honey has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Some of these therapeutic effects have been proven by scientific studies. For example, bee products like honey show “promising” health benefits, particularly for wound healing.
There’s also evidence that bee pollen, which contains honey, could boost your immune system and defend your body against bacteria, viruses, pollutants, dust mites, and other microorganisms that invade your body.
How Does Local Honey Help With Allergies
*Start by taking ¼ teaspoon of the local, seasonal, wildflower honey orally once daily. Increase the amount of honey by ¼ teaspoon every 2 days, working up to 1 tablespoon of honey per 50 lbs of the persons weight. For example, a person weighing 100 lbs should work up to 2 tablespoons of honey daily.
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What Does The Science Say About Honey And Allergies
The research on treating allergies with honey is limited. Only two studies have been done, and they contradict each other.
A 2002 study in Connecticut divided allergy sufferers into three groups. The first had local raw honey. The second had commercially produced honey. The third group got a placebo . The allergy symptoms didnt vary significantly among the three groups.
A 2013 study in Malaysia had one group of people with seasonal allergies consume raw honey while a control group consumed a placebo . Both groups also were given an antihistamine. There was no difference in symptoms after 4 weeks, but the researchers found an improvement in allergy symptoms in the honey group after 8 weeks. That improvement lasted a month after the group stopped using honey.
So, honey might help, but experts have reasons to doubt honey as a cure-all for seasonal allergies.
How Honey Could Cure Your Allergies
There have been no peer-reviewed scientific studies that have conclusively proven whether honey actually reduces allergies. Almost all evidence regarding the immunizing effects of eating honey is anecdotal. But these reports have proven persuasive enough for some people to try to fight their seasonal allergies by eating honey every day.
Without scientific inquiry, we’re left with only theories about how honey could reduce allergies. The prevailing theory is that it works like a vaccination. Vaccines introduce dummy versions of a particular virus or germ into the body and effectively trick it into believing it’s been invaded, triggering an immune system response . This produces antibodies designated to fight off the foreign invaders. When the body is actually exposed to the harmful germ or virus, the antibodies are ready for them.
As innocuous as honey seems, it can actually pose health risks in some cases. Honey proponents warn that there is a potential for an allergic reaction to it. And since honey can contain bacteria that can cause infant botulism, health officials warn that children under 12 months of age whose immune systems haven’t fully developed shouldn’t eat honey at all .
The study was never published, but the anecdotal evidence in favor of honey as an allergy reliever continues: Several of the study participants asked if they could keep the remaining honey after the experiment was concluded.
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Debunking The Honey Cure
There are a few other reasons to assume that honeys curative effects have been vastly overstated. Firstly, there is no way for the average consumer to verify how much pollen is present in their honey. The amount is likely so small that it would not have a therapeutic effect on the body.
Many people dont realize that bees make honey out of nectar, the sugary sweet liquid excreted by flowers, and not pollen, the powdery substance used for fertilization. Bees are attracted to nectar, and as they collect it to make their honey, pollen accidentally sticks to their legs. In other words, pollen is a trace contaminant in honey, not the main ingredient.
Also, even if there was enough pollen in raw local honey to trigger the immune system, it would probably be the wrong kind. Bees typically pollinate colorful flowers, yet most people are allergic to pollen released by grasses, trees and weeds.
What Research Has Been Conducted Regarding Honey And Allergies
One 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 different study found that honey eaten at a high dose did improve a persons allergy symptoms over a period of eight weeks.
These studies have conflicting results and 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 needed to confirm or recommend a certain amount of honey.
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How To Take Local Bee Pollen For Allergies
Bee pollen is sold in health food stores in both powder and supplement form.
The powdered form may be added to food or beverages, such as smoothies, salad dressings, yogurt or other soft foods. Or, you can simply take the powder by itself or mix it with water.
Some people donât like the taste of bee pollen so they opt to take it in supplement form.
Again, talk to your doctor before taking bee pollen and start with a smaller dose to ensure you donât experience any reactions or side effects.
What Are Some Proven Ways To Combat Seasonal Allergies
You can track the pollen counts in your area on your weather app. When pollen counts are high, a few lifestyle tweaks could help you avoid an allergy attack:
Limit your time outside.
Use an air purifier or air conditioner in the home and keep your windows closed.
Change out of clothes you wore outside and shower when you come in.
Dry your clothes inside rather than on an outdoor line.
Wear a hat, sunglasses, and a mask outside to keep allergens off you and out of your eyes.
If seasonal allergies are making you miserable or interrupting your sleep and work, ask your healthcare provider about allergy medications such as or .
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Why Eating Local Honey Helps With Naturally Managing Allergies
Honey is good for so many things.
It can be used as a natural sweetener for teas, desserts, and other recipes, can help soothe a sore throat, and its even used as a natural moisturizer in some skin care products.
However, what you might not know is that consuming local honey is also a great way to naturally help manage springtime allergies.
Keep reading to find out how consuming local honey might help give you some relief from springtime allergies.
Whats The Connection Between Local Bees And Allergies
Just as plants need the pollen of other plants to pollinate and produce seeds, bees need pollen to make honey.
As the bees travel from plant to plant, they collect more and more pollen, often dropping grains already collected from previous plants. Bee pollination is one way plants are able to reproduce.
Pollen also happens to be the sticky substance that causes allergy symptoms. As it travels through the air, it affixes itself to other plants â but it also may stick to your clothes, hair and skin or blow right into your eyes, nose and mouth.
When pollen enters the body, some peopleâs immune systems donât recognize this substance and instead view it as a threat. The body releases histamines to fight this allergen. While histamines are effective at fighting infections and other issues, they may also cause swelling, irritation, sneezing, itching, watering and other allergy symptoms.
Since local bees use the pollen of local flowers to make honey, trace amounts of pollen are found in local honey. Some researchers believe that taking small amounts of honey or bee pollen may help the body build resistance to local pollens.
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