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Hay fever: is honey any good?

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Hay fever: is honey any good?

I was excited to read a leaflet that local honey could be a natural remedy for hay fever. I suffer from hay fever and very familiar with the dreadful symptoms which can sometimes ruin my day e.g. sneezing, itchy and sore eyes and throat.  My symptoms normally start in May which is less than 2 weeks away so it’s nearly time to take action. It is always best to start treatment early before you get the symptoms.

The main triggers of hay fever are tree and grass pollen which is normally high on hot and dry days. Here’s me hoping for a barbeque summer!

I normally use a nasal spray which I find to be effective but open to alternative natural treatment.

b2ap3_thumbnail_SNEEZE.jpgSo does honey actually work? I can see the logic of using raw local honey to treat hay fever. The idea is that the bees get covered in pollen spores when they come into contact with flowers and plants, they then transfer the spores to their honey. Exposure to this honey is thought to help the immune system learn to tolerate pollen better therefore helping to strengthen the immune system.

Apparently just a spoonful of local honey may help with symptoms. Local honey is best as it comes from bees usually within a few miles of where the sufferer lives and so likely to contain pollen spores they mostly get exposed to.

Out of interest I wanted to see if there any studies done to back this hypothesis. There hasn’t been much research done in this area and the little evidence available is conflicting. One study done by the University of Connecticut Health Center researchers did not find any difference between the local honey-eaters and a control group that wasn’t given any honey. In this study the people taking part were randomly split into three groups. One group took a tablespoonful daily of locally collected, unpasteurized and unfiltered honey; another took commercial honey and a third was given a corn syrup placebo with synthetic honey flavouring. 

In contrast, a more recent study came to a completely different conclusion. The study assessed exposure to birch pollen honey or regular honey on symptoms and medication during birch pollen season.  The researchers concluded that the people who had the birch pollen honey had significantly better control of their symptoms compared to thoses who didn't.  The study was small with only 44 patients but the results are promising that birch pollen honey could serve as a complementary therapy for birch pollen allergy.

What’s my verdict?

I think it’s still early days to switch treatment as the little research evidence available is conflicting. It could be that when more research is done that the benefits are shown to be true. Still I like raw local honey and so will continue to use it.

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Guest Sunday, 24 February 2019