Local honey good alternative for treating spring allergies

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's that time of year when many of us are looking for any kind of relief we can find for our spring allergies. Antihistamines may seem like the best option. But mother nature actually provides us with a tasty alternative.

Sniffling, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, not to mention the grimy, yellow film covering our cars...all sure signs that pollen season is alive and well here in Central Virginia. If you're suffering from an allergy to tree pollen, relief may come from a source that you may not have considered before.  It's from an insect that most of us try our best to avoid.

Bees are hard at work producing honey, which is not only a sweet treat, but a therapy that has the potential to make the spring a more enjoyable time of year.  So how does it work?

"It really works by the principles more of immunotherapy, almost like the premise of a vaccine, where it's giving some of the allergen into the system, so you really kind of build up a tolerance if you will to it. So, typically once we hit allergy season, your reaction to it is going to be far less than it would be otherwise," said pharmacist Baylor Rice.

It's very important that you use local honey.  Honey from Seattle, Wa., just won't do.  The local honey helps you build a tolerance to the tree pollens that are common to this area. So how much do you need?

"Generally, people are going to want to take about two teaspoons twice a day, is what we're going to do for adults," he said.

Children will need a smaller dosage and your doctor is the best person to talk to about that. Now you may be asking, "Could I have an allergic reaction to the honey itself?" It's possible.

"So if you've had a history of being sensitive to things in the past, start with just a little bit, maybe even a quarter of a teaspoon once a day and slowly work that dosage up over a couple of weeks to two teaspoons twice a day, it's always good to be on the safe side," Rice said.

Although we are just past the peak of tree pollen season, local honey can still offer you a little bit of relief.

"But it's kind of one of those things we probably, ideally should have started that back in the beginning of March, or maybe even later in February to try and get it into the system and built up prior to hitting the peak of pollen," he said.

So if you haven't tried it already, you now have another weapon you can try to combat the spring pollen storm.  Your local doctor and pharmacist can also recommend some other short term solutions to help you feel better.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.