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Honey as Treatment for Seasonal Allergies

It’s springtime, which means it’s also allergy season. Cue long months full of incessant sneezing, running out of tissue boxes, and a non-stop itchy nose. For some people, their allergies get worse every year and medication doesn’t always cure-all. Looking to add a homeopathic method to your allergy treatment regimen and help “stop the snot”, so to say, caused by mild allergies? This is where honey comes in- yes, honey. According to some, raw honey can be used to alleviate allergy symptoms.

Season allergy symptoms are often caused by an influx of pollen in the air. Plants produce pollen in the spring so they can reproduce and make seeds. Click here to read our article about how pollination works and why it’s important. When pollen is inhaled, the body tries to defend against what it perceives as a foreign invader. The body produces an immune response, leaving you with sneezing, runny nose, itchy/red eyes, sore throat, and even difficulty breathing. To help your body reduce the immune response that causes these uncomfortable symptoms, you need to teach your body that pollen isn’t as dangerous as it thinks.

Getting your body used to pollen entails slowly exposing yourself to small amounts of the allergen over time so that your body doesn’t always react as severely when exposed. This is called immunotherapy. Honey can act as this small exposure of pollen because there is potentially small or trace amounts of  pollen in unprocessed honey. When bees collect nectar to make honey they also pick up pollen along the way. As a result, when you eat raw, unprocessed, local honey, you can expose your body to the same pollen that’s in the air.

Little research has been done to study of the effect of honey on allergy symptoms. The studies that have been conducted used small amounts of honey and found no reduction of symptoms. However, a team of researchers decided to test a much larger dose of honey, exactly 1g/kg of body weight to be exact. So, if you weighed 150lbs you would be consuming 68 grams of honey per day which is a little over 3 tablespoons of honey a day. In this study, participants saw significant improvements in their allergy symptoms after 8 weeks of consuming honey compared to the control group.

It is important to note, both the testing group and the control group were given allergy medication in addition to either honey or a placebo. We’re not telling you to ditch your allergy medication for honey. Rather, use a daily dose of local, unprocessed honey to complement to your current allergy treatment plan. Consult your doctor first before attempting to give honey treatment a try. People with allergies should not attempt allergen exposure without a doctor’s notice. Never give a child under one years old honey for they may develop botulism, a rare but serious form of infant food poisoning.