Myth: Eating local honey will cure your pollen allergies

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Raw honey contains hundreds to thousands of pollen grains per tablespoon. These pollens originate from the flowering plants visited by honeybees when they collect nectar to produce honey. In both allergy research and honey studies, the morphology of pollen grains is used to identify the specific plant origin of the pollen. Just as we count and identify aerial pollen to determine the allergy risk of a specific area, pollen in honey can be identified to determine which plants were visited by the bees.

A common belief among honey lovers is that eating raw honey can help your body build resistance to allergenic pollen and lessen allergy symptoms over time. Although honey has many proven benefits e.g. in wound healing and skin care, there is no proof that eating honey will not help to cure your pollen allergies. This is, among other reasons, because the aerial pollen grains that cause allergies are mostly from wind pollinated plants such as grasses and Northern Hemisphere trees (pine, cypress, plane, birch, etc.) and not from insect pollinated plants. Wind-pollinated plants produce pollen en masse to spread their genetic material as far and wide as possible. It is this mass release of pollen grains, specifically designed to float on the breeze, that trigger allergy symptoms in patients. Insect pollinated plants (which typically have the nectar-producing flowers visited by honeybees to make honey) are less likely to cause allergies, as the pollen grains are not produced in such vast quantities and have evolved to be spread short distances by insects.

In conclusion: honey is a delicious, natural sweetener to be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet, but it will unfortunately not help you manage your pollen allergies.

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