Does Honey Really Help Combat Allergies?

  • Written By:Jessie Quinn
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The sun is shining, the weather is warming up, the bees are buzzing, and the allergies have migrated straight to your sinuses for the season. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’re not alone. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, around 24 million people in the United States experience seasonal allergies. And, while you might have your own drugstore-worthy stockpile of allergy relief formulas in your medicine cabinet, a potential natural allergy remedy is lurking in your kitchen cupboard — we’re talking about honey for allergy relief. Find out how honey can help combat allergies, ahead.

Why Do We Have Allergies?

“Allergies are caused when your body overreacts to substances, or allergens, in your environment,” says Dr. Manan Shah, Chief Medical Officer at Wyndly, a telehealth-first allergy practice focused on fixing allergies for life. Dr. Shah says the reason for this is because your immune system sees the allergens as a threat, “which leads to it producing a chemical called histamine in an attempt to remove the allergens from your body.” When histamine is released, many of us experience the physical symptoms that are so commonly associated with allergies. These symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and itchy skin.

The truth about allergies is that they don’t just happen during one season. Although often associated with spring, seasonal allergies “can happen during any time of the year, depending on what you are allergic to,” says Dr. Shah. That being said, the reason we call them seasonal allergies is because they typically refer to outdoor allergens such as grass, tree, or weed pollen. “Tree pollen allergies are commonly worse during the spring, while weed pollen allergies tend to peak in the fall,” Dr. Shah explains.

Nature’s Natural Allergy Relief

Those who experience seasonal allergies are likely no stranger to drugstore antihistamines. And, while that is a recommended treatment plan, nature also makes its own allergy relief in honey which, according to research, can help address issues with seasonal allergies.

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“Some people say that honey decreases their allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Shah. “This is because it can be a way of exposing your body to the pollen that triggers your allergies.” When we expose ourselves to a small dose of the allergen we are allergic to, we practice something called immunotherapy, which is a type of allergy treatment Dr. Shah uses. That being said, honey might only be helpful for some people. “The main pollen in honey is from flowers, so if you have allergies to trees, grass, or weed pollen, it might not be that helpful,” Dr. Shah explains, noting that if you plan to try honey for allergies and it works for you to “keep using it.” But, if you have more severe allergy symptoms, you might need “a treatment that’s more powerful than a teaspoon of local honey every day.”

Honey for Allergies

Those who swear by honey for allergies recommend consuming unpasteurized honey from your local area. The reason for this is because it is created by local bees, which can expose you to the local allergens. As far as how much honey to take for allergies is concerned, it is recommended to take one teaspoon daily.

With that said, taking honey for allergies comes with some precautions. First, Dr. Shah says if you plan to consume honey for allergies, “the amounts and types of pollen included in a jar of honey are not standardized, so it is unlikely that you will know how much pollen you are exposing yourself to.” Because of that, those with severe allergies might want to reconsider taking honey as a natural allergy remedy. “There are risks of triggering a severe allergic reaction when consuming an unknown amount of what you are allergic to,” says Dr. Shah.

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