Can a Spoonful of Honey Keep Allergies Away?

By , Elizabeth Lowry, Staff Writer
Mary Poppins might have sworn by a spoonful of sugar for a quick medicinal fix, but for allergies, many sing the praises of a spoonful of nectar from the hard-working honeybee, instead. 

Maybe you've heard that the sweet and sticky treat, when eaten regularly and procured from a local source, can temper allergies. The theory is that consuming it acts as an immunotherapy, much like an allergy shot. Because honey contains pollen, every time you take the "medicine," you're also ingesting local varieties of pollen, thereby subjecting yourself to your allergen. When introduced to an allergen in small doses, the immune system will eventually develop a resistance.  

"One tablespoon of local honey per day several months prior to allergy season, then two tablespoons per day during allergy season," is the recommended dosage, according to chiropractor and nutritionist Dr. Scott Schreiber.

Raw Honey Health Risks     

However, that seemingly harmless spoonful of recommended honey doesn’t come from the happy, plastic bear at your grocery store. When people advise eating honey to help with your allergies, they are actually suggesting you eat the raw variety. This type of unprocessed honey can contain bee parts, mold spores and bacteria. With no regulations or uniform certifications for raw honey, you might be consuming more than you realize. Plus, keep in mind that any honey carrying the "pasteurized" label is not raw.

Ironically, eating unprocessed honey can cause the very thing you are trying to avoid--an allergic reaction to the pollen or bee parts still contained in the mix.

To compound the issue, bees tend to pick up pollen produced by brightly colored flowers, whereas humans tend to be allergic to pollen that comes from grass, weeds and trees that do not contain these same kinds of flowers. "Honey has been touted as a natural allergy reliever, however there is no scientific proof that it works," Dr. Schreiber says.

Honey Studies

One study conducted at the University of Connecticut divided 36 allergy sufferers into three groups. Depending on their assignment, they were each asked to consume one tablespoon a day of either locally collected, unpasteurized, unfiltered honey; nationally collected, filtered and pasteurized honey; or corn syrup with a honey flavoring. None of the group who ate either kind of honey showed any relief from allergies.

A different study offered 40 people allergy medicine, then gave  some of those participants high doses of honey, while the rest were given a placebo. In this instance, scientists confirmed that honey given in high doses (alongside allergy medicine) did improve symptoms over an eight-week period.

However, since the studies have conflicting results and small sample sizes, further research would need to be conducted to confirm that honey can or cannot truly help with allergy relief.

Another reason to remain skeptical of honey studies is that, "There is no guarantee as to how much pollen may be in a serving of local honey, [and] using honey as an allergy remedy is not very reliable. Studies have had mixed results probably due to the varying amounts of pollen in local honey, making controlled experiments difficult," Carolyn Dean, MD, ND says.

Although the swarm of science is still out on eating honey for allergies, other medicinal properties of honey have long been touted throughout history. Ancient Egyptians, Chinese and African civilizations used honey for its antifungal and antibacterial properties, plus the World Health Organization lists honey as a possible cough suppressant and can be key in boosting energy to beat the 3:00 p.m. office slump. While honey can't definitively beat an allergy pill and a box of tissues for relief, keeping a jar nearby is still a great idea for your overall wellbeing.

How do you handle allergy season? Do any home remedies offer relief? Tell us in the comments. 

Join us each month as we sift through the so-called life hacks and miracle cures to get to the bottom of the latest buzzworthy trend. Get the facts and decide for yourself if you should Spark It or Scrap It


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Comments

REDROBIN47 6/1/2020
Good information. I will have to try this. Report
2DAWN4 6/1/2020
It's an older article but I found it very informative. I am not a honey fan but I still enjoy reading it. Report
CECTARR 6/1/2020
Thanks Report
AZMOMXTWO 6/1/2020
thank you Report
AZMOMXTWO 6/1/2020
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AZMOMXTWO 6/1/2020
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AZMOMXTWO 6/1/2020
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AZMOMXTWO 6/1/2020
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EMCMAHON3 6/1/2020
My doctor wont let me have honey because it as Sugar in it. Am trying to avoid honey because my allergies is only during certain season's and my doctor told me that it is process that I need to get use to it and she also told me not to take any type of pills for my allergies because she cares about certain side of effects. Report
RO2BENT 6/1/2020
I don't think the author is trying to be divisive just providing information. Report
KLBAUSSIE 6/1/2020
I heard about the effect of honey on allergies years ago. I don't have a problem with allergies, but for some reason it stuck with me. When my late father-in-law moved from Florida to Georgia many years ago, he was concerned about the allergies. I told him about the local honey, of which there was an abundance where we lived, he tried it and he said it worked. I didn't know about the raw honey at the time, but since it was all locally harvested and bottled, I think it was probably raw. As to the person who said this article was fear mongering about the benefits of raw honey, that is not at all how I understood the meaning of this article. It simply said that it is not scientifically proven that honey of any kind actually works as stated.. Personally, I believe it works. Whether it is mind over matter or not is not really the point. If people get relief from it - then it works for them, and that is all that matters. Report
MJLUVSANIMALS 6/1/2020
I don't eat honey. I prefer 100% organic maple syrup. Report
GOLDENRODFARM 6/1/2020
It is articles like this that promote fear in people, it is more against eating honey in its natural state then anything. It is promoting over processing of a product that doesn’t need it. Just like the fear mongering against raw milk or unpasteurized eggs. One in a million eggs has salmonella in the yolk, so we must all eat pasteurized eggs or boil them until they are inedible. Report
CHERYLHURT 6/1/2020
We eat local, raw honey. Report
NEPTUNE1939 6/1/2020
ty Report
LEANJEAN6 6/1/2020
interesting point of view Report
EMGERBER 6/1/2020
Interesting I do not eat honey but good information in this article. Report
CORVETTECOWBOY 6/1/2020
Thanks Report
FERRETLOVER1 6/1/2020
Thanks. Report
DMEYER4 6/1/2020
thanks Report
LIS193 6/1/2020
Good information Report
GRALAN 6/1/2020
My father started using this when we moved in 1971 from LA Calif., to Oregon; city to farm. He began suffering Hay fever immediately. 1 Tbsp honey every morning is what he did, and when done prior to Spring he had minimal symptoms. It may have been placebo, but it was local, raw honey. It wasn't national, like in one of the studies. While this is an old article it is still a good read. Report
NASFKAB 6/1/2020
Wish bees would come to my terrace so I can get local honey Report
_CYNDY55_ 5/31/2020
Thanks Report
MANJULAAGARWAL1 5/5/2020
I rarely take Allegra, i usually takes natural remedies first. And yes i love to read your articles also.
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JOJO644 1/23/2020
I have allergies indoor/outdoor all season long. I usually just take Allegra but try more natural remedies first (humidifier, hot towel on face, shower, eucalyptus tree, nasal spray). Does make exercising more challenging when the allergies are bad. Report
PATRICIAAK 1/18/2020
:) Report
DGRIFFITH51 1/13/2020
We have two hives of lovely ladies, we filter their honey through a fine mesh cloth that extracts all of the parts out. We have a spoonful of honey every morning and yes it does help with our allergies to the weeds in our area. Report
EVILCECIL 9/26/2019
Interesting. Report
KHALIA2 9/15/2019
I learned something! Thanks! Report
I have used raw honey for decades to lessen my allergies to the different areas in which I have lived. Sadly, this author seems to a very skewed view to anything natural. Report
I use raw local honey to lessen the severity of my allergic reactions. I am sensitive to ragweed, grasses, dairy, several types of animal dander, etc.
The author is wrong, bees get pollen from more than just pretty flowers. They pollinate food crops all over or else we would starve & the Salinas Valley of central California would not be the salad bowl capital of the world; that's just one example.
Honey bees 🐝 are amazing & we are lucky to share their byproduct. If only honey mead had the same effect, I would get my daily dose that way instead! 🐨 Report
I use raw local honey to lessen the severity of my allergic reactions. I am sensitive to ragweed, grasses, dairy, several types of animal dander, etc.
The author is wrong, bees get pollen from more than just pretty flowers. They pollinate food crops all over or else we would starve & the Salinas Valley of central California would not be the salad bowl capital of the world; that's just one example.
Honey bees are amazing & we are lucky to share their byproduct. If only honey mead had the same effect, I would get my daily dose that way instead! Report
KHALIA2
Great info! Thanks! Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
RAPUNZEL53
Thanks. Report
RO2BENT
Maybe... Report
Grandma used honey to "seal a cut." I guess it's like using Neosporin. All I can say is my allergies are vastly improved since I lost 60 lbs. It might have to do with deep breathing exercises more than physiology, but definitely less sinus congestion. Alternate nostril breathing in yoga clears my head. Report
ROSSYFLOSSY
Good information. Report
HOTPINKCAMARO49
Good to know. Report
RO2BENT
Sure would be nice Report
ROSSYFLOSSY
I am allergic to honey. Report
Very interesting, guess will just have to try for myself. Report
RO2BENT
Worth a try Report
It’s baloney! Especially from the chiropractor “nutritionist “ dude........ Report
I put it in my juice with Apple cider vinegar, Dr Oz's slimdown drink it takes pretty good. I guess honey is good for a lot of things. Report
I am alegeric to bee stings, but eat honey collected by my neighbor on my land with no problem at all. It is raw honey, spun out of the combs, no bee parts in it at all. Report
Interesting. Report
wish I could eat honey Report