The use of local honey to prevent asthma and allergies - Tom Ogren -

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the respiratory tract - an exaggerated production of the immune Pretend that your life starts out anew each morning when you wake up, refreshed from a good night’s sleep. Picture your body like an empty five-gallon bucket. In the morning your bucket is empty of any allergens, you are symptom free, and feel great.

You go to the kitchen to get some coffee and the cat strolls by, kicking up a bit of cat dander; this dander goes in your bucket, but you feel fine. You go out on the back porch to drink your coffee, and on the morning breeze some allergenic pollen from a male yew in your garden floats by; you inhale it without noticing – but the pollen goes in your bucket too.

For breakfast you have toast, and allergens in the wheat, reacting to an existing grass pollen allergy, go in your bucket. Your bucket now is half full, but you feel fine. By the end of the day all kinds of different allergens have found their way into your bucket, and by early evening the bucket is full, but not overflowing, and you still feel fine.

With your dinner you eat some lettuce that has been sprayed with an insecticide – and the pesticide residue, an allergen, also goes into your bucket which is now too full, so it overflows. Suddenly the
allergy symptoms all appear.

How does the bucket theory relate to using local honey?

In local honey there will be tiny amounts of local pollens, the exact same pollens that one would normally be getting exposed to on a regular basis. But because the amounts of these pollens in the honey are so small, instead of triggering allergies, the local honey works as an immunology agent.

Regular use of local honey often results in a build up of immunities to an already existing pollen allergy. Once the body is no longer allergic to these particular pollens, it will no longer see them as allergens so they won’t go in the bucket.

However... Ed
Tom’s theory is excellent and for all but the ultra-sensitive, might well be really helpful. However, if you are ultra-sensitive to the pollens that would be likely to be found in your local honey, take care that even that tiny an amount does not trigger a serious reaction.
Moreover, wonderful though bee products may be, they can cause their own problems. Propolis, the sticky, resinous stuff bees use to seal the hives and which has all kinds of wonderful medical uses as an antimicrobial, an emollient, an immunomodulator and an anti-tumour growth agent, can also cause allergies.
In a study reported in 2005 (Dermatitis. 2005;16(4):209-215) up to 6% of those suffering from contact dermatitis (eczema) were found to be sensitive to the propolis used in the skin creams they used.

Tom Ogren is an expert on low allergen gardening - see

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First Published in 2009

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