Can Honey Help Relieve Seasonal Allergies
The idea behind eating local honey as a remedy for seasonal allergies is that it might work similarly to an allergy shot. When bees produce honey, it contains small amounts of pollen from nearby flowers. Consuming that honeyand therefore the pollenmay combat pollen allergies in a certain location. Ingesting flower pollen from a certain region, the thinking goes, may make you less sensitive to it.
Its an interesting idea, but unfortunately, it isnt proven. Research is scant and inconclusive. One small study in Malaysia found that honey consumption was beneficial to allergic rhinitis. But an earlier, small study at the University of Connecticut found no benefit in allergy sufferers who consumed local honey, commercially processed honey, or placebo .
Theres a fundamental weakness in eating honey as an allergy remedy: The amount of pollen that bees deposit into honey can vary widely. So theres no standard for how much pollen youre consuming. It might not even be the kind that causes your allergy symptoms. Relying on honey to assuage your hay fever is a shot in the dark.
To put it simply: There is no scientific proof that eating local honey will improve seasonal allergies, says the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology .
Are There Any Risks
Let’s say you genuinely believe that ingesting local honey improves your allergy symptoms. You may think there’s no harm in continuing to eat it therapeutically, anywaybut that’s not necessarily the case, Dr. Marks-Cogan says, particularly if the honey is raw.
“Raw local honey is not filtered and processed the same way as the honey in stores. So it could contain flower pollen, bee venom, bacteria, or other contaminants,” she says. “A person could potentially have anaphylaxis if the raw honey they ate contained any bee venom that they are allergic to.”
How Much Local Honey For Allergies
Suppose that you have obtained local raw honey and now want to use it to treat your allergies. You may be wondering how much honey for allergies will make a difference. Well, you should start with smaller doses. The idea is to provide your body with a safe amount of pollen everyday so it could develop a tolerance against it. It is okay to take a tablespoon of honey daily, but do not take too much too early or you may actually make you allergies worse. Here are a few tips to consider:
You can consume a tablespoon of honey once a day. Instead of taking it by itself, you can also take it with foods. Apply it to a toast and enjoy!
Avoid using honey when cooking or baking something. You need a specific amount of pollen to treat your allergies, but heat can destroy the pollen in it the honey.
You can add honey to a hot beverage to enjoy its benefits it works because the beverage is less likely to be hot enough to destroy the pollen.
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Aafa Explains: Can Honey Help My Seasonal Allergies
This post is part of our AAFA Explains series looking at complementary and alternative medicine aimed at asthma and allergies. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America wants to guide you as you decide between choices that may be likely safe or potentially unsafe.
There is a common myth that says eating honey helps desensitize your body to pollen and improves your allergy symptoms. Many people believe you need to eat honey found in your local area so it will contain the pollen you are reacting to.
But is this true? Can honey actually relieve pollen allergy symptoms? Lets look at the facts.
But Does Local Honey Actually Help With Seasonal Allergies
First, the bad news. Theres no guarantee the honey you eat has any pollen in it. Additionally, there are a lot of plants out there that produce pollen, and not all of them have flowers that are the preferred targets of honeybees.
In fact, honeybees usually prefer plants that arent commonly considered the main sources of pollen that commonly triggers seasonal allergies.
Other bad news: if someone has recommended you eat honey for allergies, they probably have told you that it needs to be local honey. Thats because different areas have different plants. If you eat honey with pollen from Alaska and you live in Arizona, the pollen in the honey will be very different from the particles hanging in the air around your house.
In many cases, local honey is also sold relatively unprocessed. That means there might be bee parts, bee venom, or bacteria. If youre allergic to bees themselves, eating this type of honey might cause its own allergic reaction and make your allergy problem even worse.
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You’re Not Allergic To Pollen
There’s a chance that you’re not allergic to the pollen found in the honey. It’s something of a misconception that insect-borne pollen from flowers is linked to allergies. It’s the actual pollen from weeds, trees, and grasses that is the leading cause of seasonal allergies.
Usually, honey bees pick up pollen from bright colored flowers, but pollen from these blooms rarely causes allergies. So even if local honey contains pollen, its not likely to be behind your allergy symptoms.
Some doctors have researched the issue and their findings suggest honey doesn’t work. It’s also fair to say that some other medical professionals disagree with this. That’s the thing about science it’s often open to interpretation. This is especially the case when there are no large-scale conclusive studies to back up a claim.
One small-scale study got volunteers with allergies to eat one tablespoon of local honey per day. Their symptoms didnt improve, not even slightly. Others will argue that it’s just one small study and cannot be taken seriously.
Other Help For Allergy Season
As mentioned before, honey should be just one part of the allergy protocol. An anti-inflammatory diet is another part a huge part. Basically, limit processed food and eat more vegetables and fish. If you need more help, the University of Wisconsin has a thorough article on it.
There are also herbs you can use to help with allergies. Nettle is a natural antihistamine and is very affordable, in fact you might be able to forage it in your area.
Nasal washing with a neti pot or other nasal washing system will help remove the pollen from your nose. This is especially helpful if youve spent time outside.
Lastly, if you keep your windows open during the spring, you might want to close them and run the air conditioner. This is hard for those of us who enjoy spring with our windows open but it helps keep the pollen out of our house.
Thanks for sharing with your friends!
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Using Immune Memory To Your Allergy Advantage
When your immune system comes across pollen again, your immune cells recognize the pollen from all the pictures it took and posted up the last time they encountered one another. That memory allows your immune system to respond faster and better every time it encounters the familiar threat, because it learned how to best deal with it last time.
This system works great for threats like viruses or bacteria. These threats dont usually happen every day, so the immune system doesnt become desensitized to seeing the same problem repeatedly.
But imagine if the same problem kept happening every day. Most likely, the immune cells would stop responding as aggressively. Eventually, they might even learn to just live with it like a busted ceiling tile in the break room or a tiny leak in the roof whenever it rains.
When this conditioning is done intentionally, its called immunotherapy. These techniques can be used to help train your body to grow comfortable with having particles like pollen around, so your immune system learns to live with its presence and ignore it.
This is how allergy shots work. By giving you a concentrated dose of particle pieces that youre allergic to every few weeks or months, you can train your immune system to desensitize itself to the presence of that allergy-causing substance.
But What If I Want To Buy Raw Honey
Then buy raw honey that is local. This is another major misunderstanding of honey that its an either/or choice between raw or local. Raw just means the temperature hasnt climbed to a point where enzymes have been killed off. Local means identification of where the nectar and pollen came from.
In no way would raw or local contradict each other. For people who have little or not allergies to pollen, theres no need to buy local honey. Buy any honey from anywhere, and simply enjoy honey for the wholesome natural sweetener that it is.
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Ugh Fine What About Remedies That Actually Work
Where do I start? Your first step should obviously be getting in touch with your doctor, who’s aware of your symptoms and can make recommendations on remedies according to your own medical history.
From there, you can try to limit your symptoms during allergy season by limiting time spent outdoors when pollen count is high, changing your clothes immediately after being outside, and showering before going to bed, says Dr. Erstein.
Medication, like non-drowsy oral antihistamines and intranasal steroid sprays , can help ease symptoms even more. .
As far as more permanent remedies go, doctors can alter your response to allergens through allergy immunotherapy , says Dr. Erstein.
âAllergy immunotherapy is your best chance at modifying your bodyâs response to environmental allergies, as it typically helps 80 percent of people who receive treatment,â says Dr. Erstein. âUnfortunately, allergy immunotherapy takes time to work and is a big commitment.â .
The bottom line: Local honey will not help your allergiesâbut OTC meds and other treatments like allergy immunotherapy can.
Can Raw Local Honey Cure Allergies
If youre one of the 40 to 60 million Americans with hay fever, your symptoms have probably flared up in the past few months.1 Fortunately, there are many treatment options to alleviate uncomfortable allergy symptoms like sneezing, scratchy throat and itchy eyes.
Most seasonal allergies are mild enough that the symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter antihistamines. The only problem is, many Americans dont want to spend $20 to $40 per pack of allergy pills. More and more people have been turning to a natural alternative that doubles as a tasty snack raw local honey.
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Not All Honey Is The Same
Advocates of using honey to treat allergies will tell you that it has to be of local origin. It also has to be pure, unprocessed honey. That means it will most likely have the parts of bee in it. It may also contain mold, spores and bacteria too. These are the unwanted bits that are typically removed during normal commercial processing.
In most cases, eating raw, unprocessed honey is safe, but there is a small risk for some people. There will even be a minority where raw honey causes a fatal allergic reaction. This is particularly the case for anyone who is allergic to bees.
Other symptoms of eating raw honey may include:
- Swelling of the mouth
- Swelling of the throat
- Swelling of the skin
The cause of these potential reactions will either be the bee’s pollen or the bee parts inside the raw honey.
You can read what a doctor has to say about this in the piece below:
What’s The Idea Behind Eating Local Honey For Allergy Relief
Essentially, the hypothesis of eating local honey as a way to relieve seasonal allergies is similar in theory to immunotherapy, which typically takes the forms of pharmaceutical allergy shots or drops. “The idea is that by using small amounts of allergen and presenting these to the body, over time, the body will get used to them. Thus, the body won’t cause a reaction when the person is exposed to them,” explains Katie Marks-Cogan, MD, FAAAAI, FACAAI, a board-certified physician specializing in allergies, asthma, and sinus disease and the chief allergist at Ready, Set, Food!.
However, in reality, there are key differences between allergen immunotherapy and eating local honey. “With immunotherapy, you’re given small amounts of what we know you’re allergic to, with honey, you’re getting random types of pollen from flowers and plants that you may or may not be allergic to,” says Tania Elliott, MD, FAAAAI, FACAAI, a physician dual-board-certified in internal medicine and allergy.
While local honey may contain pollen from the immediate environment, Dr. Marks-Cogan says that it’s not the kind of pollen that allergists are referring to when discussing seasonal allergies, which is “pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds, and is wind-driven,” she says. “Pollen that bees come in contact with when hunting for nectar is flower pollen.”
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Wildfires In The United States
As of late June 2022, about 3,360,037 acres of land in the United States had burned from wildfires. This far exceeds the 10-year average of 1,332,551 acres burned over the same time period.
The primary causes of this intense wildfire activity are drought, lack of precipitation, and extreme temperatures. These factors set the stage for variable weather conditions in any given area to determine if wildfires will begin and how large they become.
Forecasting wildfires can be tricky because theyre so dependent on local weather conditions in addition to human activity. But its important to have an understanding of the risk level and potential impacts.
The National Interagency Fire Center creates a forecast each year as part of its Predictive Services report. So far in 2022, the U.S. is 110% above average for burned acreage, with much of the activity occurring in the west and southwest areas of the country.
Heres a look at the wildfire forecast for the upcoming months:
How Local Honey Can Help Seasonal Allergies
-Flowers have bloomed and for every flower, theres a bee.
Stacy and Tim Branam of Whitesboro have more than one million bees on their land and it all started because of Stacys allergies.
The pollen that naturally gets into it, as they produce the honey, helps build up your tolerance for things that might cause allergies in the area. And so I have seen a great improvement in my seasonal allergies, says Stacy Branam.
But shes not the only one who has turned to honey.
Todd Giesler who started beekeeping in Silo, Oklahoma says, we had so many problems with allergies, the doctor recommended that we started using some local honey.
We dont seem to have to use as much allergy medicine. I think its been really beneficial for us, adds Giesler.
If you want to give honey a try to minimize your allergies, youll need to shop locally.
The danger with store bought honey is that you dont really know where that honey is coming from and even if it says Texas honey, honey thats produced in Del Rio is not going to be local, is not going to be of any aid for you, adds Branam.
And not all local honey will look the same, it all depends on vegetation or the season of the year.
The rule of thumb is that the lighter the honey is, the sweeter it will taste.
So you can help support your local bees all by gardening.
Planting things that will help bees, whether its clover, or watching what kind of insecticide, or pesticides youre spraying, says Branam.
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Can You Tell Us About The American Lung Associations Mission
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Our work is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer champion clean air for all improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families and create a tobacco-free future. Whether its searching for cures to lung diseases, keeping kids off tobacco, or advocating for laws that protect the air we breathe, the work of the American Lung Association helps to save lives every day.
The Role Of Pollen In Allergies
Pollen deserves its own article, but in the context of raw or local honey, its essentially the key ingredient to allergy immunity.
When honeybees are collecting nectar , they are also collecting pollen from the same flowers. The pollen is packed onto the bees legs , and these pellets are taken back to the hive and stored inside the honeycomb. But bees have hairy bodies, and they move around a lot and pollen is a powder so the bees are covered in pollen by the time they go home. That means, as bees move around inside the hive, pollen is spread all over inside, including the honey. Therefore, as long as honey is raw, there will be traces of pollen mixed in.
This is good news, even though it may take some convincing for people to see it that way. Pollen has somehow become Public Enemy #1 because it is the source of seasonal allergies. What people are allergic to is pollen, flying around in the air when flowers start blooming, and it causes some confusion as to how pollen can be a good thing.
For one thing, pollen is a really powerful protein. Without it, bees could not survive. Everyone thinks, because theyre called honeybees, that bees live off honey , but its really the pollen that sustains them. Thats why inexperienced beekeepers, who provide lots of nectar or nectar-like substitutes but no pollen will inevitably have dead hives because they were too focused on the wrong food source.
Unfortunately, its what many bodies cant tolerate.
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