There are many old wives tales or popular myths about how a person can treat their allergies. Here at Intermountain Allergy and Asthma, we have heard them all! As a way to help dispel allergy myths, we’ve invited Dr. Harris to share a few of his thoughts in our “Allergy Myths 101” blog posts. We hope you’ll read this and read future 101 posts. Dr. Harris, take it away!
Here is a popular allergy myth: Eating unfiltered local honey will help control allergies.
I want to start this by saying that I love unfiltered “raw” honey. I personally eat a lot of honey (sometimes by the spoonful), but I don’t recommend it for allergies.
There are two reasons that local honey is unlikely to be helpful with seasonal allergies:
Local Honey Allergy Myth Reason 1: The pollen that is found in honey is generally not the pollen that is causing your allergies. Bees are attracted to bright, colorful, and fragrant plants (such as roses or lilacs), but pollen from those plants usually doesn’t cause nose and eye symptoms. Most of the time, the pollen types that make us miserable in the spring and fall comes from drab, un-colored plants, with no noticeable fragrance (such as the grass in your front lawn, or ragweed). These are the plants that bees usually ignore. Ingesting the wrong pollen simply isn’t going to make a difference.
Local Honey Allergy Myth Reason 2: When we eat pollen-containing honey, the pollen proteins are very likely destroyed, or at least significantly altered by stomach acid and other digestive enzymes so that any allergy potential they may have had is eliminated.
If you could somehow put honey with the ‘correct’ pollen in it under the tongue (where a portion is absorbed directly into the blood stream) it might be effective. Believe me though, it would take a lot of honey to do any good.
So – by all means enjoy the flavor of raw, local honey, but use tested and proven medicines and treatments to take care of allergies.
Duane J. Harris M.D.
Intermountain Allergy and Asthma
A Local Raw Honey Tip from Dr. Harris
An interesting taste test is to compare ‘raw’, unfiltered honey and commercial honey from your local store (it’s important that the raw honey hasn’t been heated at all or this may not work). A friend who produces honey told me about this and I could definitely taste a difference (I loved the ‘raw’ honey). Apparently, any significant heating can change the flavor – so you get the best, most ‘natural’ flavor by consuming the honey before it crystallizes and needs to be heated or ‘melted’.