Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Allergies and Local Honey

To my knowledge, there is no
scientific evidence that local honey helps with allergies, although there is much anecdotal evidence. I happen believe it, due to my belief and understanding of homeopathy, if nothing else.

Honeybees visit flowers to sip the nectar, and they pick up pollen in the process. Back in the hive, they partially digest the pollen and nectar into honey, which they seal in the honeycomb. This honey later acts as food, both for new bees, and to sustain the bees in lean times.

Homeopathy says that a little bit of what ails you will cure you. It seems reasonable to me then, that ingesting the bits of pollen in local honey will help build up an immunity to the pollen local to my area. I think that's kinda like getting a flu vaccination but without the mercury. However, if you have allergies now, taking raw local honey won't help. It takes time for your system to build up resistance to pollens. Getting a flu shot when you have the flu doesn't prevent the flu, either.

Even if local honey doesn't provide allergy relief, there are some good reasons to use honey versus other sweeteners if you can't kick the sugar habit, and at least one
very specific reason for it to be local. Honey is a simple sugar composed of more-or-less equal amounts of fructose and sucrose, depending on the variety of honey. Honey can also contain some minerals, organic acids, amino acids, vitamins and antioxidents.

It is commonly believed that honey doesn't produce the blood sugar spikes like other forms of sugar like HFCS or even plain cane sugar. The literature is not consistent in supporting that idea, so I'm not addressing that bone! I will continue to occasionally use local honey, and I particularly like the taste in hot tea.

Cooking with honey, especially baking, can be problematic for recipe amounts. Generally, the amount of sugar can be reduced by half when using honey, but keep in mind honey is a liquid and you may need to also reduce the amount of liquid. I don't bake with honey, but it seems I read somewhere to reduce the liquid by 1/4 the amount of honey. (For example, reduce liquid by 1/4 cup if you are using 1 cup of honey.)

I have used honey in making jams and jellies and had no problems with them jelling, but that may also be due to the
Pomona's Universal Pectin I use, which I think would even jell water! When I add a touch of honey for taste to a dish I'm cooking, I have to be careful because it can burn easily.

One more thing about honey: it is antimicrobial. That means it is great to put on cuts and small burns. It keeps forever... the most it might do is get sugary-crystal-looking. In that case, heat it gently in a pan of water on low heat.

specific reason to use only local honey turns out to be lengthy in explanation, so I will do another post on Wednesday. It's important information, so please watch for it. Then on Friday, my post is a (mostly) re-print on Bee Pollen as a superfood


  1. One thing I have learned from local raw honey is that it will ferment if not used for a too long of a period of time. I have a local friend who gives me a secret stash when he collects honey. Last year was a meager year for honey and he lost 2 hives also. I put back a pint of honey for hard times. I went to make a nice cup of hot herbal tea and opened the jar. It smelled of pure alcohol and tasted like it also.

    Another use that works well for me is using it for a dressing on my poultry flock. Their skin is very thin. I put a dab on a wound and it naturally falls off.

  2. How interesting. In 25+ years, I've never had local honey ferment. Since it is antibacterial for human small cuts/burns/wounds, I'm not surprised it works on animals too.


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