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Eating Local Honey Cures Allergies

Springtime is when trees and plants spread their seeds - at least the pollen that becomes seeds. And that pollen wreaks havoc on your body whenever you take a breath outside. All of those beautiful, fragrant flowers and deep green grasses that allergy-free people just love to pick and prune, literally make you sick.

Without flying insects like butterflies, wasps and bees, flowering plants would have a hard time surviving.

To reproduce, flowers create seeds, which eventually grow into new plants. Seeds don't develop spontaneously; they develop after pollen, sticky spores found on the stamen of a plant, come in contact with the pistil. This process is called pollination.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates around 36 million people in the United States alone suffer from seasonal allergies, known also by the common name of hay fever and the more technical name allergic rhinitis. It may not improve your mood to know this, but all that pollen is actually harmless.

Those months of runny nose, scratchy eyes and headaches you endure each spring is actually the result of a case of mistaken identity. Your body mistakes pollen for damaging invaders like fungal spores and dust mites. This triggers the release of histamine, a natural chemical that's part of an immune system response. Histamine causes inflammation and irritation of soft tissue, which leads to your suffering.

Modern medical science has produced countless cures for seasonal allergies. These remedies are available both over-the-counter (OTC) and by prescription, and many work by counteracting histamines. These kinds of drugs are called antihistamines, and they tend to do the trick. But drugs often come with side effects. In addition to reducing allergies, antihistamines can also produce dry nasal cavities, drowsiness and other undesirable conditions.

It's for this reason that some people look for more natural allergy remedies. To combat seasonal allergies, honey's considered a fine replacement for drugs. But how could honey possibly help reduce allergy symptoms?

The idea behind eating honey is kind of like gradually vaccinating the body against allergens, a process called immunotherapy. Honey contains a variety of the same pollen spores that give allergy sufferers so much trouble when flowers and grasses are in bloom. Introducing these spores into the body in small amounts by eating honey should make the body accustomed to their presence and decrease the chance an immune system response like the release of histamine will occur. Since the concentration of pollen spores found in honey is low - compared to, say, sniffing a flower directly - then the production of antibodies shouldn't trigger symptoms similar to an allergic reaction.