Local honey, allergies, and the digestive system

Most science sources say that local honey will not treat allergies. These sources make several arguments but never mention the affects of digestion. For example:

  • People are not allergic to flower pollen but that is what is in bee honey
  • There is not enough pollen in honey to give immunity

I got allergy shots for 14 years. The allergen was injected directly into my body. If eating it worked, they could have given me pills.

None of these sources ever say, “A pollen allergen introduced orally will be destroyed by the digestive system before the body can develop a response to it.” Is my hypothetical quote true?

They sure as heck can be! What do you think the people with ragweed or goldenrod allergies are suffering from? Pollen very much is an allergen. “Hayfever” is largely triggered by plant pollen.

I’m trying to unpack what is suggested here. It looks a bit confused.

I’m assuming:

  1. A person has an allergy to local pollens.
  2. There is a suggestion that since local bees will create honey from the same flowers there is some connection in locally sourced honey to the local allergens.
  3. That eating this honey will provide a path to manage the pollen allergy.

I can all all manner of issues here.

  1. Bees only visit flowers that deliver nectar. Grasses and many other sources of plant allergens don’t create nectar, so the bees won’t have visited.
  2. Bees don’t by design place pollen in their honey. Honey is enzymatically modified regurgitated nectar (bee barf) that has been significantly dehydrated after it is placed in cells in the hive. Any pollen in the honey is there by accident.
  3. People can have allergies to anything, including honey, but an allergy to honey is not proof that there are pollen related allergens in the honey.
  4. The digestive system is pretty good at degrading stuff, and the chances that pollen allergens will survive and enter the bloodstream is pretty much zero.
  5. Randomly ingesting allergens is not a useful approximation to desensitisation therapies for allergies.

Honey does contain a whole host of VOCs characteristic of the scent of the flower the nectar came from. I guess a person could actually be allergic to the scent, in whihc case the local honey would contain some. But this is seriously stretching things. Eating it won’t help anyway.

Hayfever is largely triggered by pollen from grasses, trees and weeds. Pollen from brightly coloured flowers - the stuff bees like - doesn’t actually cause much hayfever.

Oh, please - you’ve never seen bees on goldenrod? Seriously?

Just ignore that bees are major pollinators of things like fruit trees - you know, like cherries, whose blossoms are so “showy” that come cultures have seasonal festivals celebrating them.

The notion that no one is allergic to “flower pollen” is BS. True, not everyone with seasonal allergies reacts to, say, roses, but some people do. Or that “weeds” don’t have showy flowers or aren’t visited by bees.

True, grasses are mostly wind-pollinated and not visited/dependent on bees, but that’s only one subset of the pollen generators out there.

What might be legit in your OP are statements that honey doesn’t contain enough pollen to be effective in helping with allergies to local plants, or that the digestive system destroys the pollen before it can affect the immune system in any way.

I didn’t say that people aren’t allergic to flower pollen. I said that hayfever is largely caused by the kind of pollen that is spread on the wind, not by bees. Because that’s the stuff that actually gets up your nose.

But don’t take my word for it.

Most of the pollens that cause allergic reactions come from trees, weeds and grasses. These plants make small, light and dry pollen grains that travel by the wind.

Grasses are the most common cause of allergy. Ragweed is a main cause of weed allergies. Other common sources of weed pollen include sagebrush, pigweed, lamb’s quarters and tumbleweed. Certain species of trees, including birch, cedar and oak, also produce highly allergenic pollen.

Plants fertilized by insects, like roses and some flowering trees, like cherry and pear trees, usually do not cause allergic rhinitis.

I think you got wrapped around the axle on what some sources say about this. That isn’t really the point.

Please read the actual question, which relates specifically to the digestive system. Regardless of whether anyone is allergic to flower pollen, my expectation is that if you eat pollen it won’t help you develop immunity to it.

We had another thread about this recently with excellent citations… Hang on

Here’s the post i was thinking of.

I don’t know if it’s true, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Stomach acid is far more powerful than most people realize.

On the other hand, such a rule is clearly not universally true. If it were, people with shellfish allergies wouldn’t have any trouble.