Some people believe that honey can help hayfever symptoms as a result of a process called immunotherapy. During immunotherapy the individual is exposed to a small amount of the substance they are allergic to, in this case pollen, in the hope that over time they will build up some resistance to it.
This treatment can be prescribed for people with severe and persistent allergies where the likes of anti-histamines and steroids haven’t worked. It is viewed as a last resort however, as it involves either taking tablets or receiving an injection from a specialist over a two to three year period.1
So, how might honey help hayfever? Well, the belief is that because local honey contains traces of local pollen, eating it regularly could help a person to become immune to that pollen. This process of immunotherapy should, in turn, ease hayfever symptoms like itchy eyes, skin rashes and sneezing.2
The type of honey needed for this process is very specific though and so any old supermarket honey will not do. Instead the focus is on local honey as this is believed to contain pollen from plants in your area, plants that are likely causing your hayfever symptoms.
Where’s the evidence?
Although there has been lots of discussion on whether or not local honey can help hayfever, unfortunately there is a lack of scientific evidence on the matter. In fact, a study conducted by the University of Connecticut in 2002 actually found that honey had no impact on hayfever symptoms.3
Here researchers tested the effects of local honey and nationally collected honey alongside their placebo – corn starch flavored with honey. Over ten days the thirty-six participants consumed one tablespoon of honey alongside their usual hayfever treatments. However, the results showed that no one experienced an improvement in their hayfever symptoms.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that another study on the matter found that when eaten in large quantities, honey could help hayfever symptoms.4 So, if you were to go on this study’s findings you’d just have to eat honey for breakfast, lunch and dinner for it to have any impact!
Overall though, I think there’s still a still a bit of research to be done in order to reach any firm conclusions on whether honey can help hayfever.
As I discussed in my blog '5 surprising things that could help your allergic rhinitis', there is a bit of conflict regarding whether or not local honey can help hayfever. Some people swear by it but, equally, others argue that honey has no impact whatsoever on hayfever symptoms.
However, if you’d like a more definitive answer than this I think the best thing to do is to try it for yourself! If your symptoms improve over time then you can say that eating local raw honey does indeed help with hayfever and if not, well at least you’ve given it a try!
Natural hayfever treatments
You may be a little sceptical of honey and its claims to help hayfever sufferers so don’t worry, we have a few other options. From Moisturising Eye Drops to our Soothing Neem Cream for skin rashes, we have a range of natural remedies for symptoms of hayfever.
Our Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets are also popular as they are non-drowsy and can be used alongside other hayfever treatments as well. They are made from a variety of tropical herbs that provide relief from a range of hayfever symptoms including watery eyes and a blocked nose.