Don't Worry Be Healthy: Oh, Honey

-Marissa Tomko

Last spring, I spent an absurd amount of my final week in Eugene solitary in my empty apartment, wrapped up in my friend’s sleeping bag, refusing to go outside. I was a wreck.

The sun was shining, my friends were adventuring, and my exams were just about over. I should have been enjoying my last week in Eugene before I drove the long fourteen hours back to my summer job in Utah. But I couldn’t—I had allergies.

Living in the grass-seed capital of the world does things to a person. What with  the flowers that bloom ridiculously early and the trees that loom over you at every turn, there is pretty much no way to escape allergy symptoms—and they get old pretty fast. Over-the-counter meds make you feel off, and doctors are not always willing to give you an allergy shot if they don’t think your symptoms are “severe” enough. So while I’m hanging around in the winter months, I want to be able to do something to prevent a sniffly spring. When I was talking about it the other day, my roommate gave me a promising answer: honey.

The idea behind honey as a preventative treatment for allergies is similar to how a vaccine works: locally made honey contains traces of pollen from the flowers honey bees have visited. By downing a spoonful a day, it is said that you can become immune to local allergens, just like how a vaccine with a weakened or dead virus causes your body to build up an immunity to it. It seems almost too easy—and it might be.

There are numerous articles, such as this one found in The New York Times that say the pollen that causes allergies is not the same pollen that bees are interacting with, making the honey remedy not work. Unfortunately, this seems to be the general consensus. Even those who have heard positive testimonials don’t believe it unless there is scientific evidence to back it up—and there really isn’t any. This could be because local honey makers do not have the funds or priorities to run these kinds of experiments and bigger corporations are simply not interested. In any case, the question remains largely unexplored.

As for me, I’m not going to write this theory off just yet. It can’t hurt, and I’ll do anything to avoid the imminent fate that awaits me come spring. And if it doesn’t work, I’ll be the one hiding my red eyes with a baseball cap and popping Benadryl at every opportunity.

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