You don’t have to look far to find amazing claims of honey’s potential health benefits. A quick search through your favorite online search engine or your favorite alternative health magazine will quickly prove just how popular honey is as an alternative medicine. Honey is purported to help ease indigestion, relieve constipation and even grow hair.
Not all of these claims are as absurd as they might seem at first glance. Honey has long been recognized for its anti-microbial activities and was a favorite dressing for serious wounds for centuries. Honey is also high in antioxidants, a group of nutrients that, among other things, may help lower your risk of some types of cancer.
But perhaps the most interesting therapeutic use for honey is as a natural remedy for seasonal allergies. According to various natural health practitioners, the tiny amounts of pollen found in locally-grown raw honey work over time to desensitize the body to a particular allergen–not unlike the way traditional allergy shots work.
Using Honey To Fight Allergies
If honey is proven to work as a safe, natural allergy treatment, it’s almost certain that the best form of honey to take is pure, raw honey that hasn’t been heated or extensively filtered. If you’d like to try honey for your allergies, contact a local beekeeper in your area and explain to him that you’re interested in raw honey for allergies.
But Does Using Honey To Treat Allergies Really Work?
Unfortunately, very few studies have looked at honey’s potential role in the treatment of seasonal allergy symptoms and those that have found honey no better than placebo. One of the best studies looking at honey and allergies was a 2002 study from the University of Connecticut Health Center. In this study, 36 volunteers were given either locally grown raw honey, a nationally-distributed brand of honey or a corn syrup mixture flavored to taste like honey. Study volunteers were asked to keep an allergy diary and report any changes in symptoms. Upon the conclusion of this study no differences were found among participants in the three groups.
Can Honey Actually Cause Allergies?
While allergies to honey, and the pollen honey contains, are apparently quite rare, they’re not unheard of. A 2006 study published in the French medical journal Allergie et Immunologie documented the case of 19-year-old woman who experienced anaphylaxis after consuming honey containing pollen from various plants.
Cases like this one are rare but they underscore natural medicine’s most basic rule. “Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe.” If you have any questions about honey’s potential as an allergy prevention or treatment, talk to your primary health care provider for the advice that’s appropriate for you.
Fuiano, N., et al. (2006). Anaphylaxis to honey in pollinosis to mugwort: a case report.
van der Weyden, E. (2005). Treatment of a venous leg ulcer with a honey alginate dressing.
Gheldof, N., et al. (2002). Identification and quantification of antioxidant components of honeys from various floral sources.
Rajan, T., et al. (2002). Effect of ingestion of honey on symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis.