Most of us have heard the claim that you can suppress your allergies to plants that grow in your area by eating honey that was made from those plants. The logic goes that the bees harvest the nectar and pollen, and in the process of making it into honey, somehow the allergens become harmless to the body so that the immune system gets used to them and doesn't overreact when they later enter the nose and eyes.
I have one question: what about wind-pollinated plants? Ragweed, for instance, is not pollinated by bees. Does honey work on ragweed allergies? If so, presumably the bees are not responsible; the pollen is just falling into the honey by accident, and we could reduce allergies to other things by just mixing them into honey ourselves. If honey doesn't work on ragweed ("generally considered the greatest allergen of all pollens" according to Wikipedia), then that's a major blow to the marketing claim about honey's effectiveness on allergies. Which is it?
Bees collect nectar from insect-pollinated plants to make their honey from, picking up some of the plants pollen as they do so. But they also collect pollen from wind-pollinated plants. I've no idea how much of that ends up in the honey, but there is a thriving business locally of collecting pollen from the pine and eucalyptus plantations. Special 'traps' are set at the hive entrances so that the pollen that the bees have gathered and stuffed into their pollen sacs is scraped off as they squeeze through the bars.
I wonder if it would be better to buy local pollen and eat it? Or would that trigger the allergies too much?
a couple of things: bees do visit some wind-pollinated plants to collect pollen. pollen is a vital part of their diet. I don't know if ragweed is one they forage or not, but it wouldn't surprise me.
also, I believe the mechanism for local honey helping with allergies is that consuming something orally has a tendency to shut down allergic reactions in a lot of cases. if our bodies attacked every foreign substance that entered out bodies through our mouths, we wouldn't last long, so the oral route is a trigger for immune responses to stand down. doesn't always work, and it obviously doesn't apply to food allergies. so perhaps eating raw ragweed pollen would help allergies, though eating local honey with ragweed pollen in it sounds a lot more appealing.