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Honey bee collecting nectar and pollen

Eating local honey has been considered a natural way to treat one’s seasonal allergies for many years. The rationale is since local honey is made withthe local pollens from the area, eating the honey on a regular basis will naturally desensitize you to those pollens. Sounds nice, but does this really work?

The short answer is no. First of all, honey bees do not use the pollen to make honey. It is the nectar they collect from flowers that is transformed to honey. Honey bees do collect pollen but they consume both the pollen and honey for food. The bottom line is there is virtually no pollen or plant antigen in honey.

Further, the pollen from flowers do not significantly cross react with the various trees, grass, and weeds that cause seasonal allergies. So even if honey contained pollen, it wouldn’t do much good. Even allergy injections with flower extracts will not help those with tree or ragweed allergies.

Honey

Honey is a delicious, natural sweetener, but nothing more. When it comes to treating your allergies, best to leave the bees out of it.

Some people notice a flare in their seasonal allergies in early July, peaking around the 4th of July Holiday. In the mid-west, the most likely reason for this flare is an allergy to grass. In this part of the country, grass season tends to have two peaks: one in early June and another one in early July.

What can be done about grass allergy? Here are a few tips.

Avoid grassy areas as much as possible, especially during mowing or right after mowing.

Wear a good quality mask during mowing.

Take a shower after exposure to grass.

Saline sinus irrigation after exposure to grass.

Use allergy medications (detailed in previous posts).

Allergy immunotherapy for grass in the form of allergy injections or allergy oral drops.

In late May to early June, we often start to see the cottonwood trees shed their seeds. White, fluffy, cotton-like material can be seen floating all over the place. Some people get itchy and sneeze right around this same time of the year. Naturally, they blame the cotton. Their symptoms must be due to cottonwood tree allergies, right? Wrong.

Cottonwood trees (also known as poplar trees) actually pollenate in April. Their large fluffy seeds that we see in late May and early June are NOT the allergen people react to. So, if it’s not the cottonwood, then what is it? It turns out that Hickory trees, Walnut trees, Sheep Sorrel weed, and mid-western grass all start to pollenate at the same time that the cotton-like seeds are released. In all likelihood, the allergy symptoms are caused by one or more of those 4 culprits. So, don’t blame the cotton!