There is a great deal of speculation as to whether you can prevent allergies by eating honey. From a purely clinical standpoint, little evidence exists to support that this works. Anecdotal evidence on this question of whether you can prevent allergies by eating honey ranges from complete support of the idea and testimonials as to it working wonderfully to the many who have tried it and found it doesn’t work.
In any case, allergy is a huge term, so you would first have to determine what allergens are causing the problems. If you are allergic to dust mites or cat hair, you won’t prevent allergies by eating honey, because these in no way desensitize you to such allergens. The theory behind eating honey, generally recommended as local honey, no more than 50 miles (80.47 km) from your home that is raw, is that if you consume pollen content in the honey, you’ll gradually build up a tolerance to things that are likely to give you hayfever. A similar remedy of eating honeycomb was popular in the 1970s, and hasn’t gained much in popularity since then.
There are a few holes in the theory that bear recognition. First off, when an allergist gives allergy shots, he or she does so in extremely low doses, so that you gradually build tolerance to allergens. Honey, conversely, tends to contain huge amounts of pollen, generally much more than you would be exposed to if you spent an hour or so outdoors. A person severely allergic to pollen might have an anaphylactic reaction to eating honey, though this is extremely rare. Alternately honey simply might worsen their allergies. Others report no worsening of allergic response, but also no improvement in symptoms.
This had led to the theory that you might be able to prevent allergies by eating honey if you are very young. In other words, exposure to large amounts of pollen present locally at an early age could desensitize people and help them have fewer allergies as they grow up. The problem here is that you should never give honey to children under the age of 12 months, since honey contains botulism spores, even when it is cooked, that can transmit botulism to babies. The risk is far too great and young children far too vulnerable to try this method for preventing allergies.
Perhaps this might work if you began giving honey to children over the age of one, but the theory also would suggest the children would have to live in the same location, or within 50 miles of it for the rest of their lives. At the rate people relocate, it’s an unlikely scenario. So while a child might have a tolerance to some pollens, he or she isn’t likely to have them to others that aren’t local, and if you don’t give local honey, then the child could still be allergic to local pollens.
Even though you will probably not prevent allergies by eating honey, there are some health benefits to honey. It can be soothing to sore throats and help calm coughs. It’s also helpful in providing “good” bacteria for the gut and can help with certain digestive ills. Some studies show that honey applied to burns may accelerate skin healing. It just isn’t likely to help with allergies. However, since allergies to pollen can make you so miserable, if you have the go ahead from your doctor or allergist, giving it a try will rarely cause harm, and it’s certainly a sweet if ineffective remedy.