Can eating honey reduce seasonal allergy symptoms?
To “bee” honest, eating any kind of honey, raw or in any other form, may make you sweeter but it won’t prevent problems with seasonal allergies.
The theory that eating so-called “natural” honey is beneficial is purely anecdotal and mostly found in homeopathic, or non-scientific, publications, according to Dr. Samuel Welch of the UAMS Department of Otolaryngology (ENT), Head and Neck Surgery.
“The main basis for immunotherapy, either traditional allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy, is based on the administration of very small and controlled ‘doses’ of the substance that the patient is allergic to,” says Dr. Welch. “In the process, the body responds to the internal presence of the antigen by making very specific antibodies and so subsequent exposures to the antigen results in a kind of ‘neutralizing’ or protective effect. So at first glance, consumption of local honey might seem logical.”
“However, there are several issues related to the ingestion of honey for allergy therapy purposes that make its routine use concerning. First, much of the ‘pollen’ in honey is not the type that humans are allergic to (flowers and other blooming plants). Second, while local honey main contain a few antigens that a particular patient may be allergic to, it will likely contain many that the patient is NOT allergic to. Subsequently, a susceptible individual who frequently consumes the honey may develop an allergy to these other allergens. Anaphylactic or life-threatening allergic reactions to honey are often reported in the scientific literature so even if it should be beneficial, there are potentially serious risks associated with it.”
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