Last year while helping on at the CSA farm, I overheard one of the workers, Emily, and boss lady Beth talking about seasonal allergies. All the workers chimed in during our small break. We might love plants and the outdoors, but that doesn’t make us immune to the stuff floating in the air.
The subject of honey was brought up and according to my farm sources, honey helps to lesson allergies, maybe even prevents the biyearly attacks from happening. There is one important key to this: local honey. My farm friends use Lancaster honey because that is where they live; they told me to eat York honey. Because the bees rub against all the local flowers and brings it back with them before forming honey, my immune system will eventually be built up from their sweet nectar. Honey from China will have no effect, plus it is filled with additives and preservatives.
But does eating local honey really work?
Some by word-of-mouth shout yes, but one study done says to the contrary. The New York Times Health section wrote about a study that treated three groups of seasonal allergy sufferers with a daily tablespoon of: local, unfiltered and unpasteurized honey, commercial honey, and a corn syrup placebo. Over the course of several months, the two honey groups had no improvement over the placebo group. Also, this WebMD question concurs: Honey can’t help allergies, says Michael Palumbo, MD, an allergist with Allergy & Clinical Immunology Associates in Pittsburgh. (And who doesn’t trust WebMD?)
But, as I said, there is much debate. In order to not be outdone, a few years later a group of scientists studied the honey effect again, specifically birch pollen. While the birch pollen honey significantly helped those with a birch pollen allergy, regular honey did help those with allergies, just not as significantly. And some doctors, such as Dr. H Dr. Mitchell Hecht, think it’s worth a try for most.
I guess it comes down to a person’s preference and willingness to experiment to help their seasonal allergy relief. And despite its possible health benefits, you will be supporting local business.