What is hay fever?
It is an allergic reaction caused by pollen from flowers, grass, plants and trees. Dust can also cause hay fever. Common symptoms of hay fever are runny nose, runny eyes, blocked nose, sneezing and itchy eyes.
There are many home remedies available to fight hay fever. Among all of them honey is the sweetest and the most delightful alternative. Science and research does not support it, yet thousands of people swear by it.
Beekeepers generally advocate that local honey is the best tool to fight hay fever because it contains the pollen from the local flowers which might have caused allergic reaction to the sufferers. Some beekeepers think that an area of 5 miles in radius could be considered local.
According to the Bee Farmers Association in the UK, this area is much larger and can extend even up to 100 miles. They believe that the flora and fauna are similar in a large area and, therefore, should not be a concern. Examples of large areas are Western Australia, California, and South of England etc.
Some beekeepers even think it does not matter as long as the honey contains pollen. They believe that the locality and floral source is irrelevant.
The real reason to go for local honey is not that the pollen is from the same flora, but because of the surety that it contains pollen. Commercial honey found in shops goes under pressurized filtration through micron size meshes which removes pollen.
Honey for Hay Fever is a Myth, is it?
Dr Maever O’Connor, Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center, says that it is only a myth and there is no proof that honey alleviates or prevents season allergies. He further explains that the pollen which causes allergies is from trees, grass and weeds and not that which the bees eat.
The University of Connecticut conducted a study in 2002 in which 36 hay fever sufferers were divided into three groups. The first group was given the local and unpasteurized honey. The second group was given non-local commercial honey. The third group was given corn syrup with honey flavoring. Honey flavoring is only artificial and does not contain any real honey. The study concluded that no difference was found among all the groups and they responded to hay fever in a similar way.
Those who consider it a myth also say that it is not only the flower pollen which causes allergy but also the grass pollen carried by wind. So if you are sensitive to grass pollen, then eating local or non-local will have not effect, as they argue.
So is it a myth, then?
The medical profession generally considers it to be a myth or old wives tales for the lack of evidence. However, for me personally, scientific evidence is not the only evidence. What about thousands of people who go to honey shops year after year for the same reason? For the reason explained above, it has become popular to buy only local honey so people swarm in the shops to get their stock well before the season starts.
Most of these people do not know about science, research, or evidence etc. All they know is they are allergic to pollen and honey works for them. The testimony of thousands of people is far greater evidence than the mere 36 people involved in a not much popular study.
People are different from one another. There are different types of hay fever, different types of plants, flowers, grasses and trees. Each plant, flower or tree releases their pollen at different time of the year. Some people may be allergic to pollens in spring; some in mid summer while other in late summer etc.
Also just like any medication which works for some people and does not work for others, eating honey for hay fever may work for some and not for others. Also there is no harm in taking honey unless you are specifically advised by your medical professional.
Give it a go and see the results. If does not relieve your from hay fever, it will benefit you in tons of other ways.
John Howat, secretary of the Bee Farmers Association of the UK is reported to have said that he himself suffered dreadfully until he started bee keeping and got bee’s stings. He acknowledged that since then he hardly suffered from any hayfever.
How long does it take to show effects?
Eating local honey for hay fever works on the theory that it desensitizes you to pollen allergy. It contains the heavy grained pollen which does not trigger allergic reaction and keep the body system to develop immunity against hay fever.
Some beekeepers think that it should be started at least 8 weeks before the hay fever season starts; while others think it should be at least 6 months before the season. Most proponents of the treatment think that it does not benefit if you start taking honey once the symptoms appears.
How to use honey for hay fever?
The easiest and best way is to get your local honey and eat it daily by the spoon. You can also spread it on your bread; mix it in your tea or any other drink. There are, however, some traditional methods passed down to us by earlier generations.
Many people consider them to be time tested and prefer to use them particularly for the symptoms of hay fever. You can take 1 tablespoon of honey mixed with cider vinegar and take it three times a day. Some people even believe honeycomb to be more effective than honey. Nettle tea sweetened with honey is also reported to produce good results.
We would love to hear from you if you have ever used honey for hay fever. You may leave a reply at the end of this post.