Does honey relieve allergy symptoms?

From Fort Worth Weekly:

"If you Google "local honey allergies" about 450,000 results appear. Publications like Self magazine, Consumer Health Digest, and the Sacramento Press all report the stories of people whose allergies have disappeared after eating the natural sweetener.

But "The bees don't know what you're allergic to," he said. Most people are allergic to windborne pollens that come from grass and trees, but bees mostly gather flower pollens, he said. Another problem: You'd have to eat dozens of pounds of honey for it to be beneficial, the allergist said. There isn't enough pollen in the natural sweetener to make a big impact."

Does honey relieve allergic symptoms?

The answer is "no."

A 2002 study examined the effect of ingestion of honey on symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis.

Thirty-six participants who complained of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis were recruited. All recruits were scratch-tested at entry for common aeroallergens.

The cohort was randomly assigned to one of three groups receiving:

1. locally collected, unpasteurized, unfiltered honey
2. nationally collected, filtered, pasteurized honey
3. corn syrup with synthetic honey flavoring

They were asked to consume one tablespoonful a day of the honey or substitute and to follow their usual standard care for the management of their symptoms. All participants were instructed to maintain a diary tracking 10 subjective allergy symptoms, and noting the days on which their symptoms were severe enough to require their usual antiallergy medication.

Neither honey group experienced relief from their symptoms in excess of that seen in the placebo group.

This study does not confirm the widely held belief that honey relieves the symptoms of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis.

Effect of ingestion of honey on symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis. Rajan TV, Tennen H, Lindquist RL, Cohen L, Clive J. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002 Feb;88(2):198-203.
Image source: A jar of honey with honey dipper, Wikipedia, public domain.

Can Locally Produced Honey Reduce Your Allergy Symptoms? Dr. Neil Kao ("The Allergy Dude's") Allergy and Asthma Website, 2010.
Can Eating Local Honey Cure Allergies? No, in most cases. NYTimes, 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9/07/2010

    Honey has always soothed my sore throat or cough. Not sure about it helping allergies. It might even be good for you to research whether or not you have allergies, or if it's just a cold, so that you can come prepared to your physician. I've found online articles from Webmd or Directoryselfhelp, really any site that has Symptom guides useful for my searches before I contact my doctor. It's always good to run across things like this before actually trying it at home!