After weeks of sneezing, sniffling and wheezing, you're desperate to try anything that might help ease your seasonal allergy symptoms. Including taking advice from your kooky Aunt Sally who swears that adding a tablespoon of local honey to your tea will cure your pains. But is she right?
So, here’s the theory: Eating honey made by bees in your area means that you end up ingesting a small amount of the pollen from the flowers around you, too. This helps to relieve allergies because you gradually become less sensitive to the stuff. The idea is pretty similar to how allergy shots work.
And one small study from Finland did find that symptoms improved in participants who ate pollen-laced honey. However, other studies have found little to zero effect. That's because firstly, there's no way of knowing how much pollen is actually in your honey (if any at all). This is different to allergy shots, which use standard measurements to desensitize a person to pollen. And secondly, bees typically swarm to brightly-colored flowers and most seasonal allergies are actually caused by grass, trees and weeds.
Bottom line: There's not enough evidence to support the idea that eating local honey can help allergy sufferers. (Sorry.) Your best bet is to take over-the-counter meds and limit your exposure to pollen by staying indoors when possible and taking a shower at the end of the day.
But your aunt was right about one thing—sipping hot liquids could help thin out the mucus in your nasal passages and ease a stuffy nose. Time for tea (with or without honey).