Local honey for hay fever
Spring brings misery for hay fever sufferers and lots of enquiries about local honey for us. As the pollen count rises, many hay fever sufferers look for a natural remedy and there's a widely held belief that raw or unprocessed honey from local hives can help with hay fever.
If pollen is setting off your allergies every spring, you may already have found that local honey works for you. Alternatively, you may be wanting to try it out.
Either way, please be aware that we cannot make any health or medical claims for our 100% pure and unprocessed local honey.
Hay fever caused by pollen usually starts in March and can continue until autumn. But pollen is not the only cause – other indoor and outdoor triggers include dust, pets and mould.
What's the theory about local honey and hay fever?
The theory is that by eating local honey, you're ingesting local pollen. Many believe that this allows your body to build up a resistance to pollen, thereby reducing your reaction to it and relieving hay fever that's caused by pollen.
Why do honey bees collect pollen?
As you may know, bees don't intentionally use pollen to make honey – they use the nectar they forage from plants. But they do collect pollen as well as nectar to feed the hive.
Honey bees actually collect pollen in hairs at the back of their hind legs. This is how they pollinate plants.
Pollen provides several important nutrients and is used mainly by the nurse bees. These are newly hatched bees that tend to the larvae, feeding them 'bee bread' a mixture of pollen, nectar and water.
Is there pollen in honey?
Small amounts of pollen do get into honey. The more unprocessed the honey is, the more likely it is to contain some pollen.
Call it what you will, this is why people look for 'unfiltered', 'raw', 'natural', 'local' honey as a remedy for hay fever. And it's likely that many supermarket honeys (especially at the cheaper end) will not contain any pollen at all as they are so processed.
Some believe that even the tiniest amount of pollen present in honey is enough to help you build a resistance to it.
Is there evidence to support the honey for hay fever theory?
Although there's no definitive scientific studies to support the belief that unfiltered local honey can help you build a resistance to pollen allergens, we have heard plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting the theory, including lots of happy customers.
Most sources quote a 2002 study by the University of Connecticut which failed to prove conclusively that honey could help hay fever sufferers. The study compared the effects on hay fever suffers of local unfiltered honey, processed honey produced on a large scale and a syrupy placebo.
Another argument used to disprove the theory that honey is an effective remedy for hay fever, is that that honey bees will only have collected certain types of pollen – the pollen they find on flowering plants, whether cultivated flowers, weeds or tree blossom.
Honey bees don't generally collect pollen from grasses, for example, and it's this lightweight pollen floating around in the air that often sets off many people's allergies.
Tree pollen and local Dorset Honey
We do know that honey bees forage some of the worst allergy-causing pollens, however. These include: willow, oil seed rape and lime (or linden) trees.
Pollen from Tilia x europea - Lime / Linden tree - image courtesy of Science and Plants for Schools
Here in the UK lime trees are due to blossom in June / July and cause yet more misery for many hay fever sufferers. So it's worth pointing out that our current batch of Dorset Honey is mainly from bees foraging on lime tree blossom. It's pure, natural unprocessed honey and we currently have plenty in stock!
Honey as a traditional remedy
Honey has always been a traditional remedy for some of the key symptoms associated with hay fever, including an itchy or sore throat and coughing.
If you're suffering from hay fever, honey may or may not work for you, but it does give us yet another reason to enjoy this miraculous, delicious and natural treat.