Monday, May 6, 2013

Does Raw Honey Reduce Allergies?

Here in Minnesota the snow has just melted, and that means allergy season must be right around the corner.  It is welcomed by itchy eyes, uncontrollable sneezing, and the infamous runny nose.  This past year, fall allergies were pushing me to the breaking point.  Since I was pregnant at the time and trying to avoid unnecessary medications, I decided to do a mini-experiment with raw honey.  Raw honey that comes from mixed sources contains traces of pollen and other potential allergens.  While these allergens make us miserable during allergy season, ingesting potential allergens in honey seem to have the opposite effect and could act as a "vaccination" to these irritants. 

I've come across some studies for and some against the honey hypothesis: one unpublished study noting improvement in symptoms from consuming raw honey, and another disputing the effects of honey.  The study disputing the benefits of honey only had 18 participants per study group and didn't mention if raw or processed honey was tested.  I was still convinced that it was worth my time to give raw honey a try.

After some searching, we were able to find organic raw honey from mixed sources (not a single source like only clover, or only dandelion), which was produced locally.  Honey advocates note that honey from local sources (the closer the better) may have more effect than honey from distant farms.  Local honey will more closely mimic the type of allergens we are exposed to during allergy season.
After my short experiment, it did seem that there was some improvement in my allergy symptoms but it was difficult to tell if this was placebo effect or an actual effect of the honey.  The effects of raw honey may accumulate over time, so this spring I plan to start consuming honey before the symptoms start.  Honey advocates suggest starting to consume honey at least two weeks before allergy season kicks into full gear.

Unlike allergy medications that tend to put me to sleep or dehydrate me, raw honey had no side effects besides a happy stomach.  I've read many other benefits of eating raw honey, and supporting local business will keep me coming back for more.

Some of the benefits of raw honey:

  • Contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
  • Digestive aid
  • Topical salve (antimicrobial properties)
  • Cough suppressant

Note: do not give any type of honey to infants under 1 year of age.  Raw honey is unprocessed and may be a potential source of food poisoning.


  1. I've heard so many good things about using local raw honey! I'll have to give it a try!

  2. My littles (all over the age of one, of course) are loving honey for peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Now I'm on a quest to find it local without it costing an arm and a leg.

    1. We found a reasonable price on a huge jar at Whole Foods (shown in picture) but the honey was produced about 60 miles away. I ended up finding another local farm that was closer to us and made a thicker variety of honey, so I purchased that as well. Since you only need to consume about 1 tsp of raw honey per day it will last for a long time. My LO likes to have her honey on a spoon after her nap :). When given a choice of honey or an M&M (reward for napping) she will choose the honey!

  3. I have terrible allergies. I need to look into this.