Allergies are the worst. Whichever time of the year they pop up for you, seasonal allergies can make your life miserable. Some people believe that eating raw, local honey may be the elixir for treating seasonal allergies, a type of strategy based on immunotherapy.
“People believe that eating honey can help because honey contains some pollen—and people are basically thinking that regularly exposing the body to pollen will cause desensitization,” says Dr. Gupta.
But here’s the thing: not all pollen is created equal.
“Humans are mostly allergic to tree, grass, and weed pollen,” says Dr. Gupta. “Bees don’t like the pollen from trees, grass, and weeds, so those pollens aren’t found in high quantities in honey; what’s found is mostly flower pollen.”
Pollen from flowering plants is heavy and just sits on the ground—so it doesn’t cause allergic symptoms like lighter pollens (aka pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds) that is free-floating in the air and enter your nose, eyes, and lungs—and cause allergies, explains Dr. Payel Gupta.
The other problem with the honey allergy treatment theory is that while it may contain pollen, there is no way to know what kind and how much is in it. “With allergy shots, we know exactly how much and which type of pollen is found in them—but we don’t know this information about local honey,” says Dr. Gupta.
So eating local honey may not be the most effective seasonal allergy treatment.