Is your Honey Local?
This is by far the most common first question we get when we are selling our honey in-person. And the interest is not necessarily about supporting the local beekeeper. No...People are looking for allergy relief! Allergies can be an incredible nuisance, which is one reason why the sales of allergy related products such as Claritin, Zyrtec, and others is a multi-billion dollar market (roughly US$7.2 billion in 2012.)
The concept of eating honey to gradually vaccinate the body against allergens, otherwise known as “immunotherapy” is that local honey will contain the same pollen spores that give allergy sufferers so much grief when flowers and grasses are in bloom. Does it work? As WebMD bluntly puts it, “The theory that taking in small amounts of pollen by eating local honey to build up immunity is FALSE.”
Researchers at the University of Connecticut conducted a 2002 test on a group of volunteers who suffered from seasonal nasal allergies (You know the drill: red, itchy, watery eyes and nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing. In that study, the conclusion was that people who ate local honey experienced no reduction in their allergy symptoms, compared to people who ate a placebo or commercially pasteurized and filtered honey.
On the flip side, there was a study that a group of Finnish researchers published which showed a direct correlation on the ability of birch pollen and honey (regular honey enriched with birch pollen) to relieve seasonal rhinitis. Patients who used honey enriched with birch pollen prior to the pollen season had significantly better control of their symptoms than did those who used conventional medication only.
The bottom line is that there does not appear to be any comprehensive empirical scientific study. There does seem to be some evidence that certain people may benefit from honey for their allergies, but there is too little research now to draw any broad conclusions. Regardless, honey is an incredible food with many health-providing properties.
Just remember that most honeys you find in grocery stores have been filtered and therefore contain very little, if any, pollen. Raw honey like our TheraBee Culinary Honey hasn't been heat-treated or pasteurized so it still contains many enzymes, minerals and antioxidants that support a healthy immune system. Honey also has antibacterial properties that can be helpful in preventing infections on common cuts and skin irritations. Additionally, If you're suffering from a cold or sore throat, honey will help fight infection and soothe irritation.