Report: Why Eating Local Honey Won’t Cure Your Allergies

honeyThey stagger into Andrew Murphy’s office itchy, sneezing, and watery-eyed. This, in itself, is unremarkable. As an allergist in Pennsylvania, Murphy regularly treats patients suffering from seasonal allergies. But when Murphy starts to explain to these patients the standard options for treatment—oral anti-histamines, nasal steroids, or immunotherapy—they want none of it. Instead, they want to know about an all-natural remedy they’ve heard touted by friends or on the Internet: local honey.

The logic goes like this: During an allergic reaction, your body’s defenses overreact in response to an allergen, causing you to swell and tear up and sneeze. For many, that allergen is pollen. And bees, as we all know, use pollen to make honey. By exposing yourself to a low dose of the very thing you’re allergic to, you’re helping your body develop a tolerance and stop freaking out every time you’re exposed to it. Sweet deal, right?

Except for one thing: That scenario is totally, utterly wrong.

First of all, bees do not make honey from pollen. Bees make honey from nectar. Yes, pollen gets stuck to their legs in the process, which is how they pollinate the next flower they land on. But when it comes to the actual honey-making, pollen is but an “accidental guest” to the party. “The amount of pollen in honey is minuscule and not enough to impact the nutrient value”—around 0.1 to 0.4 percent, according to the National Honey Board. (Raw honey might contain slightly more pollen than processed honey. It also might contain bee parts, venom, bacteria, and mold.) That’s certainly not enough pollen to make honey a miracle cure. Read more in Slate.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. .1 percent sounds like very little. But our body is sensitive to those amounts. Sodium on that level is recognized by our bodies. A peanut allergy can be effective from smell alone. That’s millions of percent. Honey has tens to hundreds or percent higher than smell.

  2. Local honey was recommended to me by Dr. Jafari a local ENT. I tried it and so have several of my friends. It definitely does work. Within two weeks of daily use (approx. 1 tablespoon) everyone felt relief. The only issue with the honey is if you have a high level of tri-glycerides which is a cholesterol problem. The KCL did say to check the honey for bee pieces for kashrus purposes. It can be purchased at Supreme at Cedar Court or sometimes I have seen it at the Co-up.

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