Honey as an Allergy Remedy

bee over honeycomb
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WASHOE VALLEY, NV - People around town are buzzing about a sweet solution to springtime sneezing. Locally produced honey is often said to help allergies because bees collect the same pollen that people are allergic to. The thought is that honey helps our bodies become immune to the pollen, but doctors say the science of sneezing isn't so simple.

As these trees and flowers bloom, they release pollen that gets in peoples airways and causes irritation. The thought behind a honey remedy is to expose the body more pollen so it no longer has an allergic reaction.

"The bees will naturally pack out the honey over the season and that is so that they can use it as storage for the wintertime for their food source," said Charlie Nash with Al Bees Honey.

Nash says pollen is still present in the honey and when someone eats it, they exposing their body to the allergens.

"It's not like a miracle overnight type of thing; I think you really have to boost up your body by eating it on a regular basis before the pollens actually come," said Nash.

Think of it like a flu shot. The doc injects you with a dead virus, and your body learns to fight it, so when the flu comes around, you're safe.

"So it's got the pollen from the region in it and that way people are getting tiny doses of the pollen to where their body is already familiar with it when they start breathing it in," said Kim Powers, an herbalist.

Powers uses plants and other natural items to fix patients' problems.

"And a lot of people want to use honey because it is the most natural thing. You know it's food," said Powers.

But not everyone believes the hype. Allergist Dr. Boris Lokshin says it's not a proven science.

"Oral desensitization can work, may work, but it does require, however, a very high level of ingestion of pollen that that's where the problem going to be," said Lokshin.

He doesn't deny it has worked for some people, but says it's likely just a placebo effect.

"When you deal with honey, you have no idea what exactly do you have in this honey, what kind of pollen you get, how much of it do you get," said Lokshin.

Despite the skeptics, plenty of people swear by the honey remedy. But according to their experience, not just any honey will work. It needs to be locally produced, raw, and unfiltered honey.

There are at least 7 different producers in town. You'll want to get the honey produced closest to your home or work. The pollens in the Northwest are much different from those in Hidden Valley.