Sweet! a Placebo!

Sweet! A Placebo!

I love honey as much as the next person. It adds a bit of sweetness to my cup of tea and helps stick granola together. From time to time I hear reporters or friends claim that honey helps with seasonal allergies. Who doesn’t want an excuse to eat a sweetener for their health? As someone who’s asthma control is largely dictated by my asthma control, count me in!

Local honey for seasonal allergy control

You may have noticed that I’m a bit of a nerd and a fan of evidence-based practices. So I was always puzzled why some people swear by local honey for allergy control. I, on the other hand, did allergy shots, a daily pill, and honey mostly to coat my sore throat from the post nasal drip. If I were super compliant there is also a nasal spray I’m supposed to take in the allergy season. I just can’t seem to get into the rhythm of taking my nasal spray consistently. My nasal spray certainly does help when I remember to take it. However, I’ve lived with a minor nasal congestion for as long as I can remember. It no longer bothers me that my nose drips from time to time either down my throat or out into a hankie.

An article on local honey and allergies piqued my interest as I was surfing the Internet. The theory is local honey would prevent seasonal allergies because bees collect pollen that gets incorporated into the honey. The body learns that this pollen is not a threat.1 Researchers started testing this theory by having volunteers consume a tablespoon of either honey or a placebo artificial honey. In the first study participants knew whether they were receiving honey or the substitute. Those receiving honey reported lower allergy symptoms.

Researchers moved on to a double-blind trial comparing local honey, flavored corn syrup, and a pasteurized national honey.1 This trial lasted 30 weeks and involved a daily 1 tablespoon dose of the assigned honey. No statistical difference in allergy symptoms was found between the groups at the conclusion of the trial.1 Honey at a 1 tablespoon a day dose does not improve allergies over placebo. It is possible that a higher dose of honey would improve allergies.

I can't imagine trying to get down more than a Tablespoon a day of honey. Not to mention the cost and hassle of sourcing local honey. The alternative of going to the doctor for allergy shots 1 a week or less is my preference. Put me down for allergens into my arms and save the calories for chocolate. It's nice that science has validated that at a 1 tablespoon a day dose honey for allergies is a placebo effect. If you take your placebos in the form sweet sticky bee products who am I to judge. I will leave honey as an occasional sweetener in my life. I wish it were a miracle cure for my allergies. Unfortunately, I have to believe in honey for it to give me a placebo effect. Are you a believer who enjoys improved allergy symptoms from honey?

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