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Finding Sweet Relief From Allergy Season

When I lived in New York, I barely knew what allergies were. However, when I came down to North Carolina to attend college and pursue a running career, I quickly found out.

Nearly a decade later, as beautiful as the leaves were when they changed color, I came to dread autumn. What spelled relief from the hot, muggy, humid North Carolina summers for most meant a runny nose, watery eyes, an itchy throat, problems breathing and sneezing so much that my stomach hurt. And if this wasn’t bad enough, I soon began to have problems once spring approached.

Being in North Carolina when Spring first arrives is quite a sight. You wake up one morning and everything is covered in yellow…LITERALLY. Sure, the flowers and the trees and the warmer weather are all great…but it’s not nearly as enjoyable when you’re catching glimpses of it inbetween sneezing fits and swollen, red eyes.

Finding relief

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are approximately 36 million people in the United States alone who suffer from seasonal allergies [source]. And according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), pollen allergy affects about 1 out of 10 Americans [source].

Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin, Tylenol, Benadryl, Saline nose sprays….I’ve tried them all…and with little success. So when my boyfriend suggested trying local honey, I jumped at the opportunity. Who would’ve thought that something as simple and delicious as honey would help me with my allergy symptoms?

The recommendation is to take at least two teaspoons of honey each day. The trick is, however, that it can’t just be ANY honey; it has to be local honey; and the reasoning behind this is that if you are suffering from seasonal allergies in the area that you live, it is because of the pollen from the plants. Therefore, if you consume honey that was produced by the bees and plants in your area, it will act as a sort of immune booster, reducing your allergy symptoms to the local flowering plants in the area.

So, how have things been going for me, allergy-wise?

While I still suffer from the occasional sneezing fits, my allergies haven’t been nearly as awful as they were in the past- and certainly not as awful as they were last year. Now, this may be due to any number of reasons, but there is a part of me that feels as though the local honey has helped. I usually consume a teaspoon mixed in with a cup of hot green tea and a squeeze of lemon juice in the morning, and I’ll repeat this later on throughout the day (because I love green tea). If not in green tea, I’ll sometimes take a slice of whole wheat bread, spread a little all-natural peanut butter on it and then spread a little honey on top of that and sprinkle a little cinnamon on top. It makes a great snack :)

Avoiding pollen

You can’t completely avoid pollen, but knowing when pollen is at its worst can help you reduce your chances of having an allergy attack. The following are some tips from the FDA [source]:

  • In the late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the morning.
  • In the spring and summer, during the grass pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the evening.
  • Some molds, another allergy trigger, may also be seasonal.
  • Sunny, windy days can be especially troublesome for pollen allergy sufferers.
  • Keep windows closed in your house and car. Run the air conditioner instead. In your car, make sure that the air conditioning is set to “recycle air,” so that no air is drawn in from the outside.
  • Avoid mowing grass and doing yard work, if possible.
  • Wear a face mask designed to filter pollen and other allergens out of the air, if you must work outdoors.

Uses for honey

The following is a list of some of the other health benefits that honey has to offer. [source]

  • Sweetener
  • Energy Source- Honey contains approximately 64 calories per tablespoon with the carbohydrates being easily converted into glucose for those with sensitive stomachs.
  • Weight Loss- Studies have shown that honey mixed with warm water aids in the digestion of stored fat in the body.
  • Athletics- Research shows that honey helps to maintain blood sugar levels, muscle recuperation and glycogen restoration post-workout.
  • Vitamins & Minerals- It is no secret that honey contains a variety of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B6, C, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
  • Antibacterial/Antifungal-Honey has long been used as a natural antiseptic!
  • Antioxidants
  • Skin Care- You’ll often see honey paired together with milk in order to achieve smoother skin.

I used to wake up at 4 a.m. and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness. -James Thurber

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