In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics, including some of the most cherished medical myths out there. For our March/April 2012 issue, we talked to Michael Palumbo, MD, an allergist with Allergy & Clinical Immunology Associates in Pittsburgh, about the popular idea that honey helps prevent allergies.
Q: Can local honey help my allergies?
A: No. The theory that taking in small amounts of pollen by eating local honey to build up immunity is FALSE.
Here's why: It's generally the pollen blowing in the wind (released by non-flowering trees, weeds, and grasses) that triggers springtime allergies, not the pollen in flowers carried by bees. So even local honey won’t have much, if any, of the type of pollen setting off your allergies.
Studies show bees don’t just bring flower pollen back to their honeycomb. They bring "tree and grass pollen, in addition to mold spores, diesel particles, and other contaminants," says Palumbo. The problem is that it’s difficult to make a honey from just one kind of pollen (say, weeds and not grass). So, save your local honey for your tea and toast, not for your allergy medicine cabinet.