The Buzz: Local Honey Might be a Cure for Allergies

Autumn is among us and, for some, that could mean a daily battle with a runny nose, watery eyes, coughing and head-exploding sneezes. After trying every nasal spray, antihistamine and decongestant on the market, why not seek out the actual source of your ailment for a potential cure?

Although the Discovery Health website states, “There have been no peer-reviewed scientific studies that have conclusively proven whether honey actually reduces allergies,” locally-made raw honey might be a good alternative to over-the-counter meds.

I say local honey because in order for it to work, the pollen in the honey must contain the same pollen spores as the flora in the area that causes your suffering. The process of this possible relief is called immunotherapy.

Discovery Health says in their article, “Introducing these spores into the body in small amounts by eating honey should make the body accustomed to their presence and decrease the chance an immune system response like the release of histamine will occur.”

I have just started the therapy myself, but Ellen Andersen, a Shepherd University biology professor and owner of three hives on her property in the mountains outside of Harpers Ferry says, “I have a number of friends that take a daily spoonful of local honey and swear by it to ease allergic reactions during the high pollen season.”

To test this theory, it’s imperative to use raw, local honey. This does not include honey you can buy in your local grocery store. According to an exclusive study completed in 2011 by Food Safety News, “More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce.”

Shocked already? Wait, there’s more. The honey is ultra-filtered through a process that includes heating the substance and sifting out the pollen content. The Food Safety News website states, “It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey – some containing illegal antibiotics – on the U.S. market for years.”

The FDA will identify honey as “real honey” only if it contains pollen. The problem is that the FDA is not actually testing the honey sold here. Without the “real honey” differentiation, consumers are not being given a clear picture and the fraudulent bottles labeled honey are enabled in our marketplace.

Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association, said in the Food Safety News report that “it is pretty safe to assume that any ultra-filtered honey on store shelves is Chinese honey and it’s even safer to assume that it entered the country uninspected and in violation of federal law.”

Bottles labeled “pure” and even some organic varieties sold in stores may very well be part of the imposters infiltrating the store shelves. Andersen said this is “despicable” and it needs to stop. We, as consumers, falsely believe the labeling on honey varieties across the nation and this is a misconception that could prove dangerous.

According to the New York Times, a disease that has been killing numerous bees for the past several years “expanded drastically in the last year, commercial beekeepers say, wiping out 40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation’s fruits and vegetables.”

Simply put, our bees are in danger.

“Happily, small scale beekeeping is becoming rather popular, even in very urban areas.” said Andersen.

Bees and the real honey they produce are valuable resources. To allow beekeepers to continue the process, give it a try, buy local and support the distributors in your area. You might be skeptical, but it couldn’t hurt.

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