Can local honey help my allergies?

Tom Ogren of Safe Gardening says yes, although Wikipedia and Web MD are not so sure...




Wikipedia is a great resource, but sometimes they just don’t get it right. Below is a quote from a Wikipedia article about honey, and after that is the link they provided to back up this claim. (My own rebuttal of this follows both.)

From Wikipedia:
Raw honey contains some pollen and may contain small particles of wax. Some allergy sufferers wrongly believe that raw, local honey can help build tolerance to the pollen in the air. [65]

Below, from Web MD (a site that is generally excellent).

Q: Can local honey help my allergies?

No. The theory that taking in small amounts of pollen by eating local honey to build up immunity is FALSE.

Here's why: It's generally the pollen blowing in the wind (released by non-flowering trees, weeds, and grasses) that triggers springtime allergies, not the pollen in flowers carried by bees. So even local honey won’t have much, if any, of the type of pollen setting off your allergies.
Studies show bees don’t just bring flower pollen back to their honeycomb. They bring "tree and grass pollen, in addition to mold spores, diesel particles, and other contaminants," says Palumbo. The problem is that it’s difficult to make a honey from just one kind of pollen (say, weeds and not grass). So, save your local honey for your tea and toast, not for your allergy medicine cabinet.

A different take on local honey & allergies:
A rebuttal of the above article from Web MD:

The theory that taking in small amounts of pollen by eating local honey to build up immunity is not in the least bit false, rather the theory has much to recommend it.

First – there are no “non-flowering trees” (see above) as all trees produce some sort of reproductive flower structures. Nor for that matter are there “non-flowering” weeds and grasses…no such things.

Secondly, even plants that are perfect-flowered and complete-flowered and that are primarily insect-pollinated….many of these plants also produce some pollen that does become airborne, and it does then indeed trigger allergies. Privets (Ligustrum spp.) would be a good example.

This entry also contradicts itself….first it states that grasses are “non-flowering”, and then later it says that bees “bring tree and grass pollen” (back to the hive). Grasses, of course, do flower.

Lastly, the article ignores the scores of people, worldwide, who strongly claim that their own allergies have indeed been greatly helped by using local honey. Also ignored here is the basic concept of “proximity pollinosis,” that allergies are often triggered by the closest source of the allergen (think landscape plants and pollen). 

As to the claim that honey contains mould spores. Yes, sometimes it does, and this is yet another reason why it works as a low cost, natural, safe, often effective method of immunization.

And, one other thought on mould spores in honey: honey contains natural antibacterial properties, as well as other natural antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Properly stored honey never gets moldy.

Thomas Leo Ogren

First published in November 2014

Comment from a rapeseed and sugar allergic reader:

Have just read article on Honey. Please remember that local honey can be collected from a rape field. Some of us are allergic to rape, but above all else English bees are kept alive in the winter by putting SUGAR in the hive. This migrates through to the honey and for those of us who have no enzymes to break down double saccharides it is absolutely lethal. Sainsbury's organic is very good.

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