This morning during a chat with some of my mommy friends, I learned about a natural way to prevent and reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies. We discussed how our allergies seem to be getting worse, and how we are now allergic to things we were never allergic to before, because of changes in our bodies from having children and aging in general. Not only do these allergies cause itchy eyes and respiratory issues, but also some skin conditions like hives and dermatitis.
One of my friends mentioned that she has successfully curbed allergies in her family by consuming local, raw honey. The idea behind this is that local bees pollinate local plants that produce local allergens. Consuming small amounts of honey containing trace amounts of these local allergens helps the body build up a natural immunity to these allergens over time.
This is not a new concept, not only has it been practiced for years by societies around the world who rely on nature for their medicine; but this is also the idea behind allergy shots in the realm of allopathic (“Western”) medicine; administering small doses of a suspected allergen to cause the body to become immune to it.
Can I use any honey?
You can’t just go to the grocery store, pick up a honey bear, and use it to solve your allergy problems. You have to use a raw, local honey. It has to be raw because the pasteurization process used in commercial honeys will destroy many of the beneficial bacteria and other healthful properties naturally contained within the honey. It has to be sourced locally, preferably within 20 miles of your home, because anything further than that will introduce allergens that are not in your immediate environment, which somewhat defeats the purpose.
Some better grocery stores and specialty health food stores like Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s sell raw, local honey; but your best bet is to go to your local farmer’s market and see what they have. Even if you live in an urban or suburban area, there is likely a local market that sells products sourced within 20 miles of your home. Check your local yellow pages, online, or ask around.
How do I take it?
The best way is to start eating small amounts of the honey prior to the start of the allergy season, gradually increasing to one teaspoon a day, and continuing throughout the season. Although it is technically already spring, it is still very early, and the cold weather in many parts of the country (March came in like a lion…and went out like one. No lambs in sight.), may have staved off some of the pollen. If you start now, you might benefit from the honey this season.
Can this remedy be used on children?
Honey is generally well tolerated, but any substance should be tested in a very small dose to rule out any adverse reactions prior to regular consumption. However, honey in any form must not be given to babies under one year of age. Although a rare occurrence, it could cause infant botulism.
Does science support this?
As with many tried and true natural and home remedies, there are little to no scientific studies proving the efficacy of honey on allergy prevention and treatment. The reason is because small, local farmers simply do not have room in their budgets for large-scale clinical trials or controlled, double-blind studies like the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture allergy shots and antihistamines do. What they do have, however, is hundreds of years of success stories from real people and real families. If honey was not effective, people would have stopped using it by now.
Raw, local honey has so many wonderful uses. Not only does it provide sweetness to our food in a way that works with the body, but it can also be used to treat minor wounds, clear up problematic skin, and soothe digestive problems, and deliver vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to the body. Adding allergy prevention and relief to that list makes honey a very powerful and multi-functional gift from nature.
Article first published as Help Your Body Fight Off Allergies Naturally on Blogcritics.