Girl Planting seeds

Honey: Nature's Allergy Cure?

Springtime bring the glorious smell of flowers in bloom.  It happens every year, without fail, yet I never cease to be amazed at the persistence of nature.  I also know many of my patients suffer with seasonal allergies, so I’m mindful of preparing them early, before the itchy-sneezy season kicks in.  While there are some effective natural treatments for allergy symptoms, I’ve found (like with many ailments) prevention trumps treatment.  Conventional medicine, in my experience, does not offer much in the way of safe and effective seasonal allergy preventive strategies – but the natural world does.  One remedy, in particular, would make Winnie-the-Pooh very happy.


It turns out that eating a small amount of honey made by bees pollinating local flowers may prevent seasonal allergies due those same pollens.  The theory is fascinating.  The idea has to do with immune system tolerance; exposure to a small amount of an offending substance can lead to tolerance of large amounts of the same substance.  It’s the same concept behind immunotherapy or “allergy shots.”  But in the case of honey, does it really work?  A recent study looked at response of those with birch pollen allergies to preventive birch pollen honey (BPH). During the allergy season, patients who ingested incremental amounts of BPH preventively reported significantly fewer symptoms and used 50% less antihistamines.  Anecdotally, I’ve seen similarly positive effects using local honey of all sorts.  You first have to find a farm or market that sells locally pollinated honey (or become a beekeeper) and then give your child a small amount—even a ½ tsp daily should suffice—daily for at least a month before the allergy season begins.  Watch for signs of allergies (runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, cough) when you start and stop the honey if those symptoms worsen with ingestion.    Make sure to avoid the use of honey in children under a year, due to the risk of botulism in this age group.


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