How raw local honey can help curb seasonal allergies.
March 10, 2023
Seasonal allergies (aka hay fever or allergic rhinitis) affect 10-30% of people worldwide. And some kind of allergy to a “foreign protein” affects 40% of people worldwide. Although most allergies, especially seasonal allergies, are not life threatening, it can be a miserable condition that lowers someone’s quality of life.
An allergy is when your immune system reacts to a “foreign substance”. With seasonal allergies, your body is overreacting to pollen.
When a person with allergies comes into contact with pollen, bee venom, bioengineered proteins, dander, etc, their body creates antibodies to defend itself, even if the substance isn’t innately or usually harmful. In other words, an allergy is an immune system overreaction. It can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways, or digestive tract.
For someone with seasonal allergies, pollen from certain types of plants triggers an allergic response. Pollen is a fine powder produced by cone-bearing plants when they are flowering. The pollen gets released and travels in the air or on bees to fertilize other flowers so the plant can make seeds.
As Mary Poppins says, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” What if there were a natural “medicine” for seasonal allergies? What if that solution was sweet and delicious? What if the solution was raw seasonal honey?
One method of helping curb allergies is called “exposure therapy”. By exposing your body to small doses of the allergen you’re reacting to, in greater and greater amounts over time, it can help you build a tolerance. It can help your body understand that a specific allergen is not foreign or harmful. It prepares your body for the next exposure, so it will not overreact… at least not as much.
Raw honey naturally contains pollen. Eating raw honey is a way to practice exposure therapy for seasonal allergies and lessen your symptoms.
Bees need both pollen and nectar for survival. They need pollen as a vital source of fat and protein for young and adult bees. Nectar, on the other hand, is a carbohydrate and an energy source. Bees turn nectar into honey, which is their food storage for winter.
Bees are hairy. When they travel to harvest nectar, pollen gets stuck to their hair. When they deposit nectar at the hive, the pollen gets in the honey in incidental and accidental ways.
Ethical bee farmers like ours make sure the bees have plenty of nectar to forage. And then, they periodically remove most of the honey from the hive, leaving the bees enough honey to keep them happy and fed (no high fructose corn syrup for our bees!).
If you’re interested in using honey to curb seasonal allergies, there are some important things to look for:
RAW: The honey needs to be raw, NOT pasteurized. Honey that’s raw will contain unaltered pollen and living enzymes that are needed to protect your body from a histamine overdose.
UNFILTERED: Many honey makers filter honey to give people that smooth, luscious texture. It helps delay crystallization and creates a clear, brilliantly transparent goo. But, when honey is filtered, it takes most of the pollen grains and wax out. You want the pollen in there!
SEASONAL: If you have spring allergies, you should use honey harvested in the spring. If you have fall allergies, you should use honey harvested in the fall.
ALLERGEN SPECIFIC: The honey should be made from bees harvesting from the plants you are allergic to. That way the honey will contain the specific pollen you are reacting to. So specific honeys (raspberry, blueberry, knotweed, etc) will likely not work. You should be looking for wildflower honey, where the bees forage from a variety of plants that grow in nature.
And guess what? All of the honeys that Miller’s offers are raw and unfiltered. We also offer a variety of honeys from different seasons.
We work with Welsh Mountain Apiaries. They move bees to wild foraging areas around the US that are free from pesticides and GMOs. They bees are not fed high fructose corn syrup, and they do mite control without chemicals. All of their honey is 100% raw and unfiltered.
Have you tried raw seasonal honey to curb your allergies? What was your experience?