The Honey Controversy – Allergy Relief or Sweet Nothings?

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honeySpring is finally here in all its glory – flowers are blooming, grasses are growing, warm breezes sweep through the yard. But along with all these wonderful signs of spring (and, generally, caused by all these wonderful signs of spring), many of us experience seasonal allergies. As a result, we often find ourselves avoiding the beautiful outdoors instead of enjoying the new growth springing up around us.

Seasonal Allergies

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), seasonal allergies affect approximately 60 million people in the United States. Symptoms include sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, watery eyes, sinus headaches, and itching of the nose, eyes or roof of the mouth. The scientific term for this condition is allergic rhinitis. Most of us just think of it as pure misery.

There are many ways to manage these irritating occasional symptoms without resorting to prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals like antihistamines and steroids. Natural methods include such things as:

  • Ingredients and herbs like quercetin, nettle and Bromelain*
  • Homeopathic preparations*
  • Spring cleanse and detox programs*
  • Dietary changes*
  • Neti pot therapy for nasal congestion and irritation*
  • Simple avoidance during high pollen count days and other “high-risk times”

(This last choice is the most unfortunate approach, in our opinion, since it means missing out on the beauty of the outdoors during this magnificent season.)

What About Local Honey?

One unconventional approach to seasonal allergies is eating local honey. But while many people swear by eating 2-4 teaspoons per day in divided doses for allergy prevention, the general consensus in the medical world is skeptical. Few studies have been published on the subject, and so far, the results are far from conclusive. The logic behind the idea of using honey to help allergies is similar to the way vaccinations work: Introduce a safe amount of a pathogen to your system to encourage your body to develop immunity to greater doses of that same pathogen. Flu shots are an example of this type of approach.*

Study Showing Honey is Effective in Allergy Relief

A 2011 study published by the South Karelia Allergy and Environmental Institute focused on 44 human participants specifically allergic to birch tree pollen.*

This study approached allergy treatment much like a flu vaccine that works only on the specific strain of flu present in the vaccine. This study tested the theory that honey may reduce allergies only to those pollens present in the honey.*

A portion of the group was treated with honey that was specifically created from birch tree pollen in addition to their normal protocols. Another portion was treated with non-specific honey in addition to their normal protocols. A third group was given a honey-flavored placebo along with their normal protocols.

The results showed that those patients who were treated with honey specifically created from birch pollen had “significantly better control of their symptoms than did those on conventional medication only.”*

Counterpoint: Another Study Shows no Definitive Results from Honey

A 2002 study published by the University of Connecticut Health Center conducted a very similar study but received very different results.

Similar to the 2011 study, this study examined the use of local honey likely made from the same pollens that caused the participants’ allergies, as well as nationally collected honey. The researchers wanted to test the idea that eating local honey may help remedy seasonal allergies. Participants were asked to use their usual protocols only when needed, rather than in preventative fashion.

Like the 2011 study, 36 human participants were split into 3 groups: one group consumed a tablespoon of local, unpasteurized, unfiltered honey per day; a second group consumed a tablespoon of nationally collected, pasteurized, filtered honey per day; and a third group – the control group – consumed a tablespoon of honey-flavored placebo per day.

The results showed no definitive difference in allergy relief between the three groups.*

Your Opinion Matters!

Conflicting data is not uncommon in the world of medical research. And with so few studies conducted on local honey as a treatment for allergies, the question comes down to personal experience.

What’s your opinion? Have you tried using local honey to combat seasonal allergies? What have been your results? Add your thoughts in the comments below, and help contribute to our community of collective wisdom and shared personal experience!

P.S. If you’re interested in engaging in a seasonal cleanse and detoxification program this Spring, EcoNugenics is offering 15% off of PectaClear and Detox Complete through the month of May. Enter promo code: SOP3M  Learn more

There are 20 comments for this article
  1. Laura Robert at 2:52 pm

    My allergies are severe and they cause asthma attacks. My ENT 6 years ago gave me the choice of allery shots or using local honey. I chose the sweeter deal of course. My allergies aren’t completely gone, but I don’t stay locked up in doors or have terrible sinus infections and asthma attacks anymore. I use local honey in my herbal tea daily and it has help me tremendously.

    thanks
    Laura Robert

  2. Laura Robert at 2:52 pm

    My allergies are severe and they cause asthma attacks. My ENT 6 years ago gave me the choice of allery shots or using local honey. I chose the sweeter deal of course. My allergies aren’t completely gone, but I don’t stay locked up in doors or have terrible sinus infections and asthma attacks anymore. I use local honey in my herbal tea daily and it has help me tremendously.

    thanks
    Laura Robert

  3. Kathryn at 3:40 pm

    I believe in honey 100%.
    I had very severe hayfever years ago and asthma.
    After eating raw.unfiltered local honey everyday,I have no symptoms.
    I had to give up prescribed meds because of having my
    thyroid removed.
    If it wasn’t for honey, I would be in big trouble.

  4. Kathryn at 3:40 pm

    I believe in honey 100%.
    I had very severe hayfever years ago and asthma.
    After eating raw.unfiltered local honey everyday,I have no symptoms.
    I had to give up prescribed meds because of having my
    thyroid removed.
    If it wasn’t for honey, I would be in big trouble.

  5. Clarence at 5:13 pm

    Honey is an amazing food with many healing properties. However, when it comes to allergies, it suggests an inner imbalance or lack of immune intelligence that just a little honey alone may not be able to handle. Once you get a wider array of immunomodulating substances, and even add the homeopathics – then you have something going to really battle seasonal allergies and hopefully get to a point where they cease to exist :)

  6. Clarence at 5:13 pm

    Honey is an amazing food with many healing properties. However, when it comes to allergies, it suggests an inner imbalance or lack of immune intelligence that just a little honey alone may not be able to handle. Once you get a wider array of immunomodulating substances, and even add the homeopathics – then you have something going to really battle seasonal allergies and hopefully get to a point where they cease to exist :)

  7. Jean at 5:37 am

    Actually I’ve been doing honey for years(at least 30 or more years)now,And it has helped me cut down on the allergy medication.I tend to start with honey in January to build up the resistance before spring hits. I’ve also told some of my co-workers about this,and they also have tried it and it has helped them.

  8. Jean at 5:37 am

    Actually I’ve been doing honey for years(at least 30 or more years)now,And it has helped me cut down on the allergy medication.I tend to start with honey in January to build up the resistance before spring hits. I’ve also told some of my co-workers about this,and they also have tried it and it has helped them.

  9. Ricky Williams at 5:54 am

    Elias this seems more like a allergy shot , which decreases immunity, the flu shot generally increases immunity, let me know if this specific flu shot is different. Hope you are doing well. Ricky Williams

  10. Ricky Williams at 5:54 am

    Elias this seems more like a allergy shot , which decreases immunity, the flu shot generally increases immunity, let me know if this specific flu shot is different. Hope you are doing well. Ricky Williams

  11. EcoNugenics at 10:54 am

    Eating local honey exposes you to a small dose of potential allergans, which does not decrease immunity but assists your immune system to modulate or accommodate, rather than over reacting to an otherwise benign substance. The idea is to desensitize your system in this way, so a larger exposure is not met with such a strong reaction. A flu shot helps your system recognize and mount an appropriate immune response against specific flu strains. Different parts of the immune system are involved. The Staff at Econugenics

  12. EcoNugenics at 10:54 am

    Eating local honey exposes you to a small dose of potential allergans, which does not decrease immunity but assists your immune system to modulate or accommodate, rather than over reacting to an otherwise benign substance. The idea is to desensitize your system in this way, so a larger exposure is not met with such a strong reaction. A flu shot helps your system recognize and mount an appropriate immune response against specific flu strains. Different parts of the immune system are involved. The Staff at Econugenics

  13. Lynda at 4:35 pm

    is there any thing natural that will help allergys?Help

  14. Lynda at 4:35 pm

    is there any thing natural that will help allergys?Help

  15. Sylver at 3:55 am

    Should we conclude that consumption of honey helps build a strong body immunity?

  16. Sylver at 3:55 am

    Should we conclude that consumption of honey helps build a strong body immunity?

  17. EcoNugenics at 1:13 pm

    Preferably local -to-your-area honey, as discussed in the article, can potentially be used to help with seasonal allergies because of its pollen content, which gives tyour body a small exposure to local pollen and can help your immune system deal with the exposure in a less reactive way. As far as building a strong immune system, there are other compounds which are a much more potent source of immune health, such as mushrooms. Too much honey, like any sugar, does not support immune health. So, “a little dab will do ya” is a good plan for use of honey.

  18. EcoNugenics at 1:13 pm

    Preferably local -to-your-area honey, as discussed in the article, can potentially be used to help with seasonal allergies because of its pollen content, which gives tyour body a small exposure to local pollen and can help your immune system deal with the exposure in a less reactive way. As far as building a strong immune system, there are other compounds which are a much more potent source of immune health, such as mushrooms. Too much honey, like any sugar, does not support immune health. So, “a little dab will do ya” is a good plan for use of honey.

  19. Kristi Davies at 8:07 pm

    I have moved from Florida to Georgia and now am back in southwest Florida….and am presently suffering from a severe sinus infection due to exposure to local pollen. My immune system was compromised (shingles) when I arrived in March in southwest Florida. I cannot take any of the normal medications containing decongestants/antihistimines, so, the use of local honey is particularly appealing to me. I bought a jar of local honey today and am using the “local honey protocol” as described above. My diet is clean and healthy, my health is good (other than the present sinus infection and have another month or so to go with the shingles which is on the way out, thank goodness!) I’ll save the website and report whether or not the honey has a positive effect. I cannot stay indoors as I am in charge of planting shrubs and doing some landscaping in my local homeowner’s association courtyards, and I visit a dog park in the woody area here twice daily. I’m out in the middle of the pollen a good part of every day. So, this should be a good test of the local honey treatment.

  20. Kristi Davies at 8:07 pm

    I have moved from Florida to Georgia and now am back in southwest Florida….and am presently suffering from a severe sinus infection due to exposure to local pollen. My immune system was compromised (shingles) when I arrived in March in southwest Florida. I cannot take any of the normal medications containing decongestants/antihistimines, so, the use of local honey is particularly appealing to me. I bought a jar of local honey today and am using the “local honey protocol” as described above. My diet is clean and healthy, my health is good (other than the present sinus infection and have another month or so to go with the shingles which is on the way out, thank goodness!) I’ll save the website and report whether or not the honey has a positive effect. I cannot stay indoors as I am in charge of planting shrubs and doing some landscaping in my local homeowner’s association courtyards, and I visit a dog park in the woody area here twice daily. I’m out in the middle of the pollen a good part of every day. So, this should be a good test of the local honey treatment.