Probably not. Honey has been anecdotally reported to lessen symptoms in people with seasonal allergies. But these results haven't been consistently duplicated in clinical studies.
Still the idea isn't so far-fetched. Honey has been studied as a cough suppressant and may have anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, some experts point out that honey can contain traces of flower pollen — an allergen. And one treatment for allergies is repeated exposure to small amounts of allergens.
For now, however, it appears that honey may just be a sweet placebo. But don't let that stop you from using it in food and beverages. Just don't give honey to children younger than 1 year because of the risk of infant botulism, a rare but serious form of food poisoning.
Dec. 15, 2012
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- Rajan TV, et al. Effect of ingestion of honey on symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis. Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. 2002;88:198.
- Heimal J, et al. Defining complementary and alternative medicine in allergies and asthma. Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology. 2004;27:93.
- Saarinen K, et al. Birch pollen honey for birch pollen allergy: A randomized controlled pilot study. International Archives of Allergy and Immunology. 2011;155:160.
- Honey. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Sept. 12, 2012.
- Engler RJ, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine for the allergist-immunologist: Where do I start? Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2009;123:309.
- Botulism. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/botulism/#prevent. Accessed Sept. 19, 2012.