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If you or someone you know suffers from spring allergies, consider eating raw, local honey to reduce the symptoms. How does it work? Raw honey has many natural health benefits that can help boost immunity and alleviate allergy symptoms. Here are three things to know and what you can do to feel better this spring….

1. Why honey makes a difference.

When it comes to food, bees are smart. They go for plants that support overall hive health; especially flowers that produce pollens high in phytochemical content. Honey and pollen make up the bees’ diet. Beekeepers know what kinds of flowers bees like and which are good for them too, so beekeepers place their hives accordingly.

Pollens and certain types of honey are high in phytochemical content, meaning they have protective and disease preventive properties. While phytochemicals are not considered essential nutrients in the human diet, they are believed to have healthy benefits, including antioxidant and antibacterial capacity.

Given the composition of nutrients found in raw honey, which includes bits of pollen, raw honey can boost overall overall immune health. This means that not only spring allergies can be reduced but overall health can be affected.

At this point, we should mention that no FDA claims are being made to the efficacy of honey or pollen, but there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to lend credence to their use.

2. Pollen: culprit or remedy?

Pollen is widely known to have some very healthful properties, yet many people are allergic to a greater or lesser degree. So, how can pollen possibly be effective against pollen allergies?

The process is similar to a vaccine. When a specific pathogen is introduced into the body, the immune system is stimulated, causing it to boost the production of antibodies. 

So with pollen, if a small amount is eaten on a regular basis leading up to and during allergy season, the body can build immunities to help reduce the symptoms.

Caution must be exercised if one is extremely allergic to pollen. The next section will offer some helpful hints to determine what’s right for you.

3. How to get started with honey.

Assuming you are not extremely allergic to pollen, start with a small test to evaluate your tolerance. Eat a small amount of pollen to see if any particular symptoms appear (i.e. itchy eyes, runny nose). A ‘small amount’ could be a teaspoon of raw honey or a grain of pollen. If all goes well, begin a daily regimen of one or more of the following options:

  • Raw ‘unfiltered, unheated’ honey contains larger bits of pollen, so it’s a great choice for everyday use. It has a thicker texture because once it’s extracted from the hive, it’s left to crystallize. If you’ve eaten this type of honey before with no apparent allergic reaction, use it on a daily basis.
  • Pollen-fortified honey is another option for those who prefer to ‘dose’ out their pollen intake. Start with a small amount (i.e. quarter teaspoon) once or twice per day. After several days, consider increasing the amount to a level that doesn’t trigger an allergic response.
  • Pollen can be sprinkled into foods like smoothies, yogurt and cereal. The only recommendation here is to not add it to baked or hot foods. Start with a few granules or a quarter teaspoon.
The goal here is to not trigger allergy symptoms, but rather to stimulate the immune system and build up antibodies to lessen the effects. If no reactions are experienced with eating a smaller amount, move to a slightly larger amount. Each person will have a different tolerance and preference, so apply these recommendations accordingly.

Start a few weeks before the pollen flies and allergy symptoms kick in. Hopefully you will find relief and a new outlook on going outdoors this spring!