How Good Is A Treatment with Honey for Allergies?

The practice of treating allergies with honey is a controversial one. Many people swear that they have had a lot of success using honey for allergies, and swear by the idea that local honey is the most effective treatment for common allergic reactions. However, scientists have struggled to duplicate those results in clinical studies of honey for allergies.

honeyWith that said, the idea that honey is good for allergies is not a far-fetched one. Honey has been used as a cough suppressant throughout history and is also good for sore throats. There is also a long-standing old wive’s tale that says that honey has anti-inflammatory effects and can help to boost the immune system. So, it’s reasonable to think that honey could help to soothe certain allergies too, in particular seasonal allergic reactions to grass and pollen. These are the most common minor allergies today, so does honey work?

How Honey Might Help Hay Fever

One particular allergy that honey might be helpful for is hayfever. Hayfever is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen. Modern medicine accepts that you can treat allergies by exposing the sufferer to very small amounts of the allergen on a regular basis, until the immune system gets used to them. Honey contains trace elements of the flower pollen that the bees used when making the honey. Therefore, in theory, honey could help to fight hayfever.

The process of repeated exposure to allergens is called immunotherapy. In theory, honey contains spores that are exactly the same as the ones that give hayfever sufferers problems. As long as you are eating local honey, then you will be getting exposed to the very thing that has been giving you a runny nose, sore eyes, and other symptoms. Sadly, you won’t get the same benefit by eating the honeys sold in supermarkets, because these are frequently imported from abroad or from other parts of the country, so you will be training your body to accept allergens that you are not exposed to on a day to day basis.

Just a Placebo?

There is, of course, the possibility that honey simply acts as a great-tasting placebo. However, that is no reason to stop using honey. After all, it does have other positive health effects and it is a very good substitute for sugar. Note that it is not wise to give honey to toddlers, because there is a small risk of infant botulism, a very serious (and sometimes fatal) form of food poisoning. Honey is generally safe for older children and adults to eat however.

The one downside to honey is that it is fairly expensive. There are more cost-effective, and faster acting, ways to combat allergies. Of course, if you don’t want to take medication, and you like the taste of honey, then by all means add a spoonful to your breakfast every day. You will enjoy the immune-system boosting benefits of this tasty food, and support local beekeepers at the same time. What better way to improve your health?