Potential benefits, risks of honey remedy for allergies

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA-TV

Posted on April 23, 2010 at 5:11 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 28 at 3:09 PM

DALLAS - Spring weather and pollen continue to wreak havoc on North Texas allergies.

Experts blame bad allergies on the late winter, which kept pollens at bay. On March 23, two days after the last snowfall, pollen levels surged.

Sufferers have looked to prescriptions, over the counter medicines and even to herbs for relief. Some have found natural relief in honey.

The reason why is bees collect pollen from local plants and trees in order to make honey, which means eating local honey exposes the body to the same pollens that cause seasonal allergies.

"Well, you build up a little bit of an immunity to the pollen in the honey," said Phil Hamblin, of the North Dallas Honey Company "And, so the theory goes that, it will diminish the effects of whatever seasonal allergies that you have."

Hamblin said many people believe a tablespoon or so a day of local honey is a bit like an allergy shot, without the pain.

In fact, the North Dallas Honey Company purposely gathers only from area beekeepers for people who use the homeopathic remedy for seasonal allergies.Only raw, unfiltered honey works. Pasturized honey filters pollen out.

However, some health experts say local honey can be dangerous, even deadly.

"There has been cases of people who have taken homegrown honey that hasn't been processed, that's full of the pollens they're allergic to and had anaphalactic reactions to the pollen in the honey," said Chris Wagner, a Children's Medical Center nurse.

Wagner said people should never eat unfiltered honey because they can't control how much pollen is in it.

"It's like taking a pill and not knowing how much aspirin is in it," she said.

For just that reason, proving honey can fight allergies is nearly impossible.

Still, many allergy sufferers say honey as an all-natural allergy remedy is golden.

E-mail: jstjames@wfaa.com

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