Every year, more than 20 million Americans experience seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis. For some, seasonal allergies can be mild and barely affect daily life, while others experience more severe symptoms. Allergic rhinitis can cause swelling of the eyes, headaches and a long-lasting cough that make being productive at work difficult. Individuals who suffer from seasonal allergies may turn to anything to try to reduce their symptoms. One common belief is that consuming local honey will provide relief for seasonal allergies, but this may not be true -- and it could potentially be dangerous.
Local honey is from one’s regional area and is touted as containing pollen from the area. People believe that local honey acts as a form of immunotherapy – allowing the body to build immunity to the local pollen if consumed throughout the year. Unfortunately, local honey often does not contain any pollen, and may not provide any allergy relief. Furthermore, local honey is often not processed and could contain harmful bacteria or bee venom. Children under one should not be given any honey. Those with bee allergies would be safer to stick to store bought, processed honey.
The research behind the effects of local honey on seasonal allergies is inconclusive. While some studies have found that it has no impact at all on symptoms, other studies have shown there is a possibility that consumption provides relief. However, because of the dangers of raw honey, most medical professionals do not recommend this method for alleviation of symptoms. Nonetheless, there is no harm in consuming processed honey that is found in grocery stores. Honey may ease some symptoms of allergic rhinitis such as a sore or dry throat. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it is best to speak to your doctor about options before trying local honey.
Written by: Leslie Lewis, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern