Along with all the other lovely gifts the universe bestowed upon me during my twenties, I received the gift of seasonal allergies.
One morning soon after arriving to work, my eyes swelled up. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, but it was so bad that I wasn’t able to function. My eyes were unbearably itchy and I couldn’t see. At first, my gut reaction was to imagine I had leukemia again. Random body parts swelling were some of the symptoms that landed me a leukemia diagnosis a few years earlier (although this may have been a foreshadowing of things to come). Thankfully, a lovely colleague expressed her similar ailments during spring and offered me her allergy medication (back then it was prescription only, now it’s available at the local pharmacy). The allergy meds worked, for the most part, and I was much relieved. But it was as if overnight I suffered with pollen allergies – it got so bad that I went for tests to figure out what was going on. The test results showed a severe reaction to tree pollen and tree fruit proteins too, which explained my swollen lips when eating apples, something I’d experienced since very young.
I battled a couple of seasons of swollen, itchy eyes by taking allergy meds (I believe it was Claritin). Then I relapsed with cancer and allergies became the least of my worries (at that point I was in my mid-twenties).
Once cancer had ended, and what felt like a literal ton of chemicals had been pumped through my veins, I became very anti anything that had to do with doctors or medicine – ironic, seeing as they were what saved my life, but after spending so much time hospitalized I developed a mental and physical aversion to that realm. Natural remedies and holistic healing became my sanctuary for all ailments – kind individuals, in a more home-like setting, sharing herbal remedies from Mother Earth. It was as close I was willing to get to medicine.
With my seasonal allergies persisting, I was given the following natural therapy regimen: two tablespoons of local raw honey at least once a day, plus bioAller’s Tree Pollen under the tongue as needed. After reading up on using honey to treat seasonal allergies, I figured, “what the heck?!” and decided to try it. The studies were inconclusive, but the gist was local raw honey, and bioAller’s Tree Pollen introduced a small amount of pollen, enough to trigger the immune system’s ability to build up immunity, similar to allergy shots. Even today, the science does not fully support the claims, but I didn’t see how eating honey could do much harm so I tried it with no expectations, only hope.
The honey was slow to result, but bioAllers offered temporary relief pretty quickly, although short lived. It was enough to keep me interested so I continued. I used honey from local farms, which at the time was Southbury, CT to my New Milford, CT location (about 15 miles between the two). Once I was hooked I did more digging and found raw honey even closer (one town over). Between the honey and the tonic, within the next couple of years my allergies mellowed and eventually were minimal to none.
You may wonder, were the seasonal allergies just a temporary issue and could it have been a coincidence that the honey cured me.
My tree fruit protein allergy is the real proof, in my opinion. Since at least middle school, I’m sure even earlier, any time I ate an apple or a pear my lips would tingle and even swell, and my throat would itch. I always assumed it was due to chemicals used on the fruit. Later, when I began eating organic I still assumed it was a chemical they must use, something approved under organic certification. It wasn’t until the allergy test in my twenties that I learned I had an actual protein allergy. The tree pollen allergy and the tree fruit protein allergy are connected and something many people experience, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. It’s called Oral Allergy Syndrome.
Ingesting raw local honey, regularly for years, I am now able to eat local tree fruit without any reaction (apples, peaches, pears – the local lot). No swelling of the lips, no itchy throat, and no tingling whatsoever. However, if I eat tree fruit that has been imported, fruit bought at the food store, my lips tingle, swell, and my throat itches. It seems the local honey built up my body’s immunity for local tree pollen and fruit. My seasonal allergies have improved as well. It’s a rare occasion that I suffer with itchy eyes or any other seasonal allergy symptoms.
Raw Honey’s Other Healing Abilities
The other day I received an email update from one of my favorite bloggers, the Nerdy Farm Wife. She has numerous, wonderful recipes, ideas, and tutorials on everything from soap making to homemade dog treats. This recent email included a post about raw honey. In this case, raw honey to treat diabetic sores. I don’t know the science behind it, but honey is known for its healing abilities and the Nerdy Farm Wife links to this study for a possible explanation. Her father suffered terribly with diabetic related sores, which doctors could not treat successfully, and raw honey helped.
Whatever the ailment, trying something like honey for allergies, or even raw honey for sores, is a benign experiment. I felt it was worth sharing as we enter what seems to be a possible beginning of spring. If you or someone you love suffers from seasonal allergies, why not try honey (unless, of course, you have an allergy to bees or severe pollen allergies). Always check with your doctor before trying new remedies though.
At the very least, eating local honey supports local pollination – and by now you probably know about my love of pollinators.
Cheers to warmer weather!
Much love and happiness,
Local Honey Pots Spots
Here’s a list of local honey spots (I apologize for those outside the area, but I’m sure an internet search for your area will do the trick.) If anyone has other recommendations, please share by commenting below, I’ll add to the list.
Mike’s Beehives, Roxbury, CT
Averill Farm, Washington, CT
Hilljack Sugar Shack, Litchfield, CT
Maywood Honey, Bridgewater, CT
Humble Bee Honey, Watertown, CT
Chapel Rock Farm, Goshen, CT
Steepleview Farm, Washington Honey Works, Washington Depot, CT
Autumn Harvest Orchard, LLC, Norfolk, CT
White Stone Acres, Winchester, CT
The Smithy Store, New Preston, CT
New Morning Market, Woodbury, CT
And here’s a pdf of honey farms registered with the state of Connecticut.