Honey for Hay Fever: Manuka & Local Honey

Charlotte Haigh - Manuka Doctor Guest Author
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Charlotte Haigh is a London-based health writer, contributing regularly to titles including Stylist, Marie Claire, Woman & Home, Healthy, Women's Health, Grazia and Health & Fitness.

Author views are not our own.

Think of allergies and most of us think of peak hay fever season in the summer – with the sneezing, running eyes and coughing that can result from contact with grass pollens for so many of us. But hay fever can start as early as March for anyone who reacts to birch pollen. And while hay fever is one of the most common allergies, there are many other allergic diseases that can affect people year-round, including eczema and asthma. Anyone with an allergy will know it can be a struggle to manage symptoms. But there’s some anecdotal evidence that honey in general – and Manuka Honey in particular – may have a role in helping staying on top of them.

Honey for Hay Fever

Honey’s come a long way. Not so many years ago, you just bought a jar or squeezy bottle of whatever honey was available in the supermarket without thinking too hard about it. Now, there are so many choices. If you’re thinking about boosting your wellbeing, which do you go for? You’ve probably already heard a lot of positives about Manuka honey – but is it really superior to other types, such as local honey?

Honey’s a traditional folk treatment for hay fever, and some modern scientific research has confirmed it may help. In a 2013 Malaysian study, people with allergic rhinitis – of which hay fever is a form – took 1g of honey per kilo of their body weight every day for four weeks, along with an allergy medication, and their symptoms improved significantly more than the control group, who only took the conventional medicine. Scientists think honey may have anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects that help soothe the allergic reaction.1

Of course, if you enjoy eating local honey and you feel it’s working for your hay fever symptoms, carry on – it’s certainly not going to harm you. And while the ‘local honey theory’ has been challenged, honey of all types may still have a role to play.

Some research has found honey may potentially help ease debilitating symptoms, such as sneezing and running eyes, by moderating the immune system’s overreaction to pollen.1 More studies are needed to further investigate how honey could help but it could be worth trying a daily spoonful to see if it makes a difference to your symptoms.

Upgrade to Manuka Honey for Hay Fever

If you want to try honey for hay fever, why not make it Manuka and get the most potent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial benefits? There’s also been limited research to suggest Manuka Honey may have particular powers when it comes to a type of allergic rhinitis caused by fungal spores, although more studies are needed.2

And as Manuka honey is known to have particularly powerful anti-inflammatory properties, it may be especially helpful. It could also help if throat irritation’s one of your hay fever symptoms – try it in a soothing hot drink.

Managing your Hay Fever symptoms

A word of caution, though – it’s important to manage your hay fever symptoms well, particularly if you also have asthma. Hay fever symptoms can be a trigger for a potentially life-threatening asthma attack, so make sure you follow the advice from your doctor or pharmacist to stay on top of symptoms – don’t rely on alternative ways to manage hay fever if you have asthma as well.

Dr Hilary Jones' Hay Fever Hacks

Doctor Hilary Jones, our honey expert, shared his thoughts on managing and relieving your symptoms of Hay Fever.

“Many people are rejoicing as the weather heats up and sunny days become a more common occurrence - for the coming weeks at least.

“Many of us that is, except those of who suffer from seasonal hay fever. With symptoms including sneezing or a runny nose. Itchy or watery eyes and in some cases even headaches and sore throats, hay fever can stop you in your tracks if you are badly affected.

“Thankfully modern-day pollen monitoring is now very good, so much so that you will often hear the pollen count given on the day’s weather forecast.

“Thankfully there are many ways you can manage hay fever this Summer. From natural and more alternative remedies, to the more common and well-used over the counter solutions.”

1. If you suffer badly from hay fever then it may be best to avoid going out in the early morning and early evening, which is when the pollen tends to rise into the sky and then fall to the ground later on as the air cools.

2. A simple barrier like sunglasses, Vaseline in the inside of your nostrils, or changing the setting your car’s air controls to recycle air will all help reduce the amount of pollen that gets into your eyes and nose.

3. Many pet owners may be surprised to hear the doctor may also recommended washing your dog after a walk too, as they can carry pollen on their coats.

4. The same goes for going to bed. If you’ve had your windows open in the day then pollen may have settled on your pillow. Turn it over, or better still, swap your pillowcase to reduce the chance of this affecting you.

5. Some people do recommend local honey for hay fever based on the notion that the pollen in honey can help desensitise you to it. There is mixed evidence on this but if it works for you then I would certainly not be against it.

“In fact honey in general – of all varieties - can be good at this time of year if you are experiencing a sore throat as a result of hay fever. Honey is very good at soothing and a spoonful either in the morning or at night could help.”

"I hope you get to enjoy this better weather we are having and until next time stay safe."

Soothe Hay Fever sore throats with these natural remedies

Because Manuka honey is known to have particularly powerful anti-inflammatory properties, it may be especially helpful. It could also help if throat irritation’s one of your hay fever symptoms – for example by trying it in a soothing hot drink as a remedy.

The glands in your nose and throat make a huge amount of mucus every day, reports the American Academy of Otolaryngology. This mucus has many important functions, such as keeping your nose clean and moistening the air you breathe, and you usually swallow it without realising. Sometimes however, people may notice mucus dripping down the back of their nose or pooling in their throat. This unpleasant sensation is known as postnasal drip, and it can be caused by allergies like hay fever.

If you have postnasal drip, the trickle of mucus can irritate your throat and cause soreness and other symptoms, such as feeling a lump in the throat or swallowing more frequently. It may also make you feel the need to clear your throat more often.

That’s where Manuka Doctor’s honey-based Immune Defence Syrup (made with both Manuka Honey and Buckwheat Honey) and Manuka Lozenges could help.

Thanks to containing extra Vitamins like Zinc and B12, both of these products are approved to support Immunity by the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) as well as providing a soothing remedy for sore throats from the pure Manuka contents within.

Article References
  1. Asha’ari ZA et al. Ingestion of honey improves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis: evidence from a randomized placebo-controlled trial in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Ann Saudi Med. 2013 Sep-Oct; 33(5): 469–475
  2. Tamboo A et al. Single-blind study of manuka honey in allergic fungal rhinosinusitis. J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Jun;40(3):238-43

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