Inspired by one of our favorite television shows, Allergy Myth Busters looks at a number of popularly held beliefs about allergy. But are these myths just urban legends or are they true?
The use of local grown honey can help relieve symptoms of allergic rhino-conjunctivitis and associated atopic (allergic) conditions including asthma.
What does the science say:
A literature search returns very few articles specifically addressing and using locally grown honey. A study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in February 2002 negates the benefits of local grown honey. The study followed a cohort of 64 people randomly assigned to one of three groups, with the first receiving locally collected, unpasteurized, unfilteredhoney, the second nationally collected, filtered, and pasteurizedhoney, and the third, corn syrup with synthetichoney flavoring. They were asked to consume one tablespoonful of honey or substitute daily and to follow their usual standard care for the management of their symptoms. Neitherhoney group experienced symptom relief when compared to the placebo group.
To the contrary, a study in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology in May 2011 appeared to show a benefit. In this study, Forty-four patients with physician-diagnosed birch pollen allergy consumed either no honey, regular honey or honey to which birch pollen was added (birch pollen honey or BPH) in incremental amounts from November 2008 to March 2009. At the conclusion, patients in the first 2 groups experienced no improvement of symptoms but the BPH group experienced a statistically significant improvement in symptoms scores.
So is the myth busted or true:
Essentially both articles are supporting the same conclusion i.e. locally grown honey is not beneficial for allergies. How so? Obviously in the first article there was no benefit obtained in the group consuming locally grown honey but the same result was actually shown in the second study. If the honey was not doctored with additional birch pollen, symptom improvement DID NOT occur.
Despite this, the second article is often cited as being beneficial in lay publications and websites promoting organic or naturalistic methods for treating allergies. They appear to ignore the fact that birch pollen HAD TO BE ADDED. The first article is cited often as being outdated or old and therefore given no credence, which is foolish. Otherwise most of what’s available is purely anecdotal with little factual evidence supporting the claim. Surprisingly, some websites purport the benefit but contradict their own anecdotal evidence.
Remember that bees are in the business of collecting a flower’s nectar, not pollen to produce honey. Therefore very little pollen is deposited in honey. Also, the pollen they handle is produced by flowers that require cross pollination by insects unlike the majority of allergy triggering tree, grass and weed plants that do not require insects to carry pollen for fertilization. They produce huge amounts of pollen and depend on the wind for distribution/pollination. They don’t need the bees. Yes some of the allergen inducing pollen grains end up in the honey but they are in insignificant quantity.
Final thought :
Remember if you are experiencing difficulty with allergy, your local Allergy Partners specialist is available to administer immunotherapy which utilizes a natural pollen extract to alleviate symptoms. It is the only modality proven to statistically reduce the progression of atopy and potentially reverse the allergic IgE mediated mechanism preventing asthma and the progression of allergy. Also, the consumption of locally grown honey is fine, but should not be given to infants under 12 months of age. Diabetics will likely have difficulty with blood glucose control and if a person is allergic to bee venom they may be at an increased risk of developing anaphylaxis to locally grown honey.”