Thank you for your recent inquiry.
To my knowledge, there is no credible evidence that the ingestion of honey has beneficial effects on the symptoms of allergy. There is a review of this and other "complementary and alternative medicine" issues regarding alle Defining rgies where you can obtain more information. The reference is: Jennifer Heimall and Leonard Bielory. Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Allergies and Asthma: Benefits and Risks. In: Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology, 2004; Volume 27, Number 2, Pages 93-103.
There is also a nice discussion of this issue on "About.com: Allergies" by Dr. Daniel Moore that was updated on March 5, 2010. It is available online.
Finally, you should be aware of the fact that administration of honey to people who have allergic rhinitis is not completely without potential side effects. Anaphylaxis has been reported to pollen contained in honey, as you can see from the abstract copied below.
Thank you again for your inquiry and we hope this response is helpful to you.
Eur Ann Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Dec;38(10):364-5.
Anaphylaxis to honey in pollinosis to mugwort: a case report.
Fuiano N, Incorvaia C, Riario-Sforza GG, Casino G.
Pediatric Allergy Service, AUSL FG1, San Severo, Italy.
A case of anaphylaxis to honey in a 19 year old female sensitized to Compositae pollen is described. The patient suffered from summer rhinoconjunctivitis since seven years; in January 2006, ten minutes after eating bread and honey she developed angioedema of the lips and tongue, runny nose, cough, dyspnoea, and collapse, requiring hospitalization and treatment with high dose corticosteroids and anti-histamines. After two weeks, skin prick tests (SPT) with a standard panel of inhalant allergens and prick + prick with a number of kinds of honey were performed. SPTs were positive to mugwort, ragweed, dandelion, and goldenrod. Concerning honey, the prick + prick was positive to "Millefiori" (obtained from bees foraging on Compositae) and also to sunflower, limetree, and gum tree honey, while was negative for other kinds of honey, including the frequently used chestnut honey and acacia honey. The allergenic component responsible of anaphylaxis in this case seems to be a molecule occurring in Compositae pollens, as previously reported for other three reports, but also in pollen from plants of different families. Honey contains a large number of components derived from bees, such as gland secretions and wax, as well as from substances related to their foraging activity, such flower nectar and pollens (1, 2). Honey as a food has been associated to allergic reactions and particularly to anaphylaxis (3-6). Among the pollens, the role of Compositae is somewhat controversial, since its responsibility is clear in some studies (3, 5, 6) but considered negligible in others (7). Here we present the case of a patient sensitized to Compositae pollen who had an anaphylactic reaction to the ingestion of honey obtained from bees foraging on Compositae flowers and was tested with a number of different varieties of honey.
Phil Lieberman, M.D.
Key Words: honey, allergy therapy