Anyone who suffers from seasonal allergies knows just how frustrating those sneezes, sniffles, and stuffy noses can feel when pollen and other allergens start swirling around. Those with severe reactions to those triggers can rely on regular allergy shots to help relieve their symptoms. For those with more mild (yet still annoying) reactions to seasonal allergies, you may have heard that adding more local honey to your daily meals and drinks can help soothe nasal issues — but is there any truth to that?
The idea behind this theory is easy to believe: Exposing yourself to local honey, which can still contain the pollen from the flowers in your area that bees chose to pollinate, will slowly build up your immunity to those allergens. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (ACAAI) points out how this idea is actually similar to how allergy shots expose sufferers to pollen or pollen mixtures. The difference is that that those injections can be measured and carefully monitored, whereas with local honey you’re never quite sure how much pollen is actually floating around inside. One thing that is for sure, though, is that whatever the amount found in local honey might be, it is far less concentrated than the shots. Plus, local honey will only contain the pollen bees carry over from flowers and ignore others found in trees, grasses, and weeds that can also cause adverse reactions. ACAAI also cites a study that tested local, commercial, and placebo honey varieties with allergy sufferers and found no difference.
When the Mayo Clinic was asked whether local honey can help with seasonal allergies, Brent A. Bauer, MD, answered more succinctly: “Probably not.” He does admit that the idea “isn’t so far-fetched" considering the fact that honey can act as a cough suppressant and has many anti-inflammatory effects. Those can obviously come in handy when you’re dealing with allergies, too, so it’s no surprise that people have found supplementing their days with local honey helpful in some capacity. However, he concludes, “it appears that honey may just be a sweet placebo.”
Although it might not actually help with your allergies, there is one undeniable benefit to choosing local honey over commercial brands: You’ll know it’s the real deal and not some fake honey trying to fool you. If you’re still looking for answers to your seasonal allergy woes, you should definitely make an appointment with your doctor ASAP.
In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying honey as the sweet and healthy treat it’s always been!