Birch Pollen-rich Honey May Help Patients with Birch Pollen Allergy

This study from Finland assessed the effects of the preseasonal use of birch pollen honey (BPH; birch pollen added to honey) or regular honey (RH) on symptoms and medication during birch pollen season.

44 patients with birch pollen-related allergic rhinitis consumed either BPH or regular honey (RH) daily from November to March.

17 patients on their usual allergy medication served as the control group.

From April to May, patients recorded daily rhinoconjunctival and other symptoms, and their use of medication.

The results were encouraging - during birch pollen season, patients who took birch pollen honey (BPH) reported:

- 60% lower total symptom score
- twice as many asymptomatic days
- 70% fewer days with severe symptoms
- they used 50% less antihistamines

Patients who preseasonally used BPH had better control of their symptoms than did those on conventional medication only. The results should be regarded as preliminary, but they indicate that BPH could serve as a complementary therapy for birch pollen allergy.

This study is interesting mainly because previous trials have failed to show benefit of local honey as treatment of allergic rhinitis.

References:

Birch Pollen Honey for Birch Pollen Allergy - A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. Saarinen K, Jantunen J, Haahtela T. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2010 Dec 23;155(2):160-166.
Can Eating Local Honey Cure Allergies? No, in most cases. NYTimes, 2011.
Image source: A jar of honey with honey dipper, Wikipedia, public domain.

Comments from Twitter:

@DrSilge (Robert Silge, MD): interesting. Hard to get the bees to care about anemophilous plants though.

@DrVes: correct, bees are not interested in those - there is no ragweed pollen-honey as far as I know...

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