by Timothy Sullivan – Cranston, RI
Seasonal allergies can be a horrible experience. Fortunately for most people, they are only a nuisance. When a person comes in contact with a substance they are “allergic” to, the body releases chemicals known as histamines, which cause symptoms such as irritation, swelling and itching.
When one goes to the pharmacy or the doctor’s office, the most common remedy is to prescribe a drug known as antihistamine, which reduces or blocks histamines. The result is an alleviation of the symptoms. Millions of people swear by the effectiveness of such medications to the extent that some people use them on a daily basis depending on the environmental conditions.
There are problems with relying on antihistamines. First of all, they don’t address the cause of the allergic reaction, just the symptoms. Second, these drugs have side effects that can be hazardous to not only the taker of the medicine, but also those around them. Third is the fact that these drugs can be expensive!
There are alternatives that people should definitely try that are not only harmless, but tasty, too!
I have personally recommended that several friends and their families eat a small amount of local honey during allergy season this year, and they couldn’t be happier with the results. It has obviated their need for antihistamines and they feel great.
The reason for its effectiveness is that the local honey helps your body’s immune system protect itself from the various pollens in the local area. The way this works has to do with how the immune system works. The immune system largely reacts to the environment through your stomach. Little particles like pollen stick to the mucus on the lining of the esophagus, which in turn is swallowed into the stomach. The immune system reacts to these minute particles and creates antibodies to those elements it senses and has helped humans thrive as a species in a world full of germs and allergens. Local bees come in contact with thousands of local plants’ flowers and pollen as they go about living their lives and making their hives from which honey is derived. The result is that trace amounts of a wide variety of local pollen are present in the honey you buy at the local farmers market or grocery store. The trace amounts of these local elements are enough to assist your immune system in creating enough natural resistance to local allergens to obviate the need for antihistamines!
A study performed by Penn State University in 2007 found “Significant differences in symptom improvement were detected between treatment groups, with honey consistently scoring the best and no treatment scoring the worst.” This test compared honey, DM (dextromethorphan, a commonly used cough medicine) and no treatment. The conclusion reads as follows: “In a comparison of honey, DM, and no treatment, parents rated honey most favorably for symptomatic relief of their child’s nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty due to upper respiratory tract infection. Honey may be a preferable treatment for the cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infection.”
The rule of thumb is that the honey needs to come from a source that is within 250 miles of your home to enjoy its allergy-fighting aspects.