Healthy Living

Sep 29, 2010 3:07 PM by Carina Corral

Have you heard the buzz? Locals weigh in on whether honey cures allergies


The Food and Drug Administration has estimated 36 million people in the U.S. suffer from seasonal allergies.

Their quality of life during peak season has been compared to having heart disease.

But some sufferers have found relief in a sweet source: honey.

" I would say it took about six months before I really noticed that it made a difference," said Leslie Taylor, who moved to Lake Nacimiento from southern California 14 years ago and her allergies became unbearable; that is, until she heard the buzz about honey. Now, two teaspoons a day keeps the sinus headaches away. " I know that it is the pollen in the honey that helps you have an immunity to it."

The theory is that it has to be local honey, like the honey sold at Avila Valley Barn, that way your body builds up tolerance to local pollen.

" It gives you a little bit of what causes the allergy to begin with, so it's kind of like an inoculation, but in lower doses when they ingest the honey," said Avila Valley Barn Owner, Debbie Smith.

But Allergist Dr. Arthur McLean, who practices in San Luis Obispo, said do not believe the hype. " In terms of desensitizing for allergy if you do it in a controlled trial, you don't see that."

He said the main problem is when bees ingest the pollen they change its protein make up, so the pollen in the honey is not the same pollen that sets off an allergic reaction.

"The other possibility is that there may not be enough pollen ingested by the bee to create that tolerance in our immune response," said Dr. McLean.

A more sure fire, but costly, method, according to Dr. McLean, is an allergy vaccination.

It is a sticky situation because while scientific studies have never been able to prove honey actually reduces allergy symptoms, many sufferers have put it to the test with sweet success.

There was one informal study done at Xavier University in New Orleans that did produce positive results; however, the study was never published.

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