You've probably heard that eating local honey can help ease your seasonal allergy symptoms. The idea is that bees transfer pollen spores from area plants to their comb, so ingesting that honey will increase your tolerance for those allergens, gradually building immunity over time. However, many experts say there is no compelling evidence to suggest this belief is true.
Researchers from the University of Connecticut Health Center collected data from dozens of allergy sufferers for a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in 2002. One-third of the subjects were given locally produced honey. Another third were given commercial honey from non-local sources. And the final third were given a corn syrup, honey-flavored placebo. All three groups' allergy symptoms remained steady, showing no change over the course of the study.
"Seasonal allergies are usually triggered by windborne pollens, not by pollens spread by insects," Dr. Stanley Fineman, then president-elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, told the New York Times. He said honey "collected from plants that do not cause allergy symptoms would [likely not] provide any therapeutic benefit."
However, some experts still think there may be a connection between honey consumption and allergies. According to ABC News, one narrow study found if subjects allergic to birch pollen consumed honey that contained birch pollen, allergy symptoms improved.
The bottom line: eating local honey does not appear to improve seasonal allergies. Your best bet is to follow a more traditional plan for managing symptoms. Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter antihistamines and possibly even allergy shots or prescription treatments. Avoid known triggers, track pollen counts and invest in an allergen air purifier to minimize pollen in your home.
Check out the Allergy Be Gone website for all of your allergy prevention needs!