Using fresh local honey has been claimed to be effective for the treatment of environmental allergies for many years. A quick search on the Internet shows that it is still prevalent. But does it work?
The theory behind honey for the use of allergies is based on the idea that bees carry back pollen to their hives and that a bunch of this stuff end up in the honey. Subsequently, it is claimed that eating this local fresh honey will improve allergies as the ingested pollen will desensitize the body of the allergies. That theory doesn't make sense however when you start to think about what causes seasonal allergies, and where bees go to collect what they need to make honey.
Seasonal allergies are the result of an allergic reaction to pollen from non-flowering plants such as from the Maple tree, Birch tree, and grasses. Non-flowering plant pollen is very light and small - two characteristics great for causing allergies because they enable pollen to float in the air for long periods of time and enter the airways easily. And where do bees go? They go to flowering plans. The pollen from flowering plants is big and heavy. Consequently, it does not float in the air much and is too big to enter very far in airways and it is rare for people to be allergic to flowering plants.
Not only is the theory behind honey and allergies flawed, but the scientific research does not support it's use for the treatment of allergies. For example, a study published in 2002 in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology looked at the effects of fresh local honey in individuals with allergies. The very well done study compared the effects of fresh raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized local honey to pasteurized honey as well as to a placebo in allergy sufferers. The results demonstrated that fresh raw unpasteurized local honey was no better than pasteurized honey or placebo in relieving allergy symptoms.
Source includes:Rajan TV et al. Effect of ingestion of honey on symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2002;88:198-203.