This weekend we stopped at a local farm stand to buy honey. The woman at the kiosk handed it to me, and loudly announced, “if you have allergies, this will help you. Local honey gets rid of your allergies”. Unfortunately there are many anti honey and pro honey groups these days, and they’re both pretty loud. Recently, actual research was conducted on the matter, and everyone went apeshit.

Studies on folk remedies are interesting. Hypothetically you would want to follow the folklore methods, but medical protocol often ignores this.  The folk remedy instructs the patient to take some honey every day, long before allergy season begins (maybe when there’s snow on the ground). The idea is that the local pollen should provide “immunity” to the allergen.

The study done by medical researchers was really weak. Patients only took honey for 2 months, deep into allergy season. The sample size was kind of a joke. And, here is the conclusion written in the study:

This study does not confirm the widely held belief that honey relieves the symptoms of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis.

But where the media’s concerned, studies prove things. The headlines? Local Honey Does Not Help with Allergies. Local Honey Isn’t Doing Anything for your Allergies. Dozens more question-based headlines that nonetheless conclude that the remedy is crap.

Want to hear the punch line? In the UConn study, all three groups got better. Why did the news stories forget to mention this? They also ignored the study in Finland that seemed to suggest honey can reduce allergies. Anyone with a brain knows: the reason we cite studies is not because they prove this or that. It’s so the public can READ the study and cast a logical eye on the methods, then make an informed decision.

The idea that local pollen in honey provides immunity is outdated. At some point people suspected the enzymes, so people were encouraged to forget about local, but to get the honey in a raw state. Now, it’s thought to be something far more logical: a compound called quercetin.

Quercetin is a flavinoid found in apples, oranges, and, honey. In abundance. It’s been found to suppress histamines and reduce inflammation. Oh, and to alleviate allergies. What does all this prove? Nothing. The evidence is still not strong. For either “side”.