With changing seasons come insufferable allergies. Over-the-counter allergy medication frequently causes drowsiness, fatigue, and other unwanted side effects.

As a healthy and natural alternative, consider this unlikely hero: Honey!

Many swear by pre-season and general use of at least a tablespoon of raw local honey per day to reduce seasonal allergy and asthma symptoms. Recent preliminary studies are founded on the theory that ingestion of honey works similar to a vaccine. Consuming honey composed of pollen from local spores (those specific to the region) will help build up immunity.

Raw vs. Non-raw

When picking out honey, raw is always best. Honey found in supermarkets (and not labeled as ‘raw’) is often pasteurized, killing yeast and enzymes crucial for vitamin and mineral activation and absorption. Raw honey also aids in digestion, increases energy, and is full of antioxidants.  Raw honey may not look appetizing as it is cloudy, thick, and contains crystals – however, the aroma, taste, and nutritional profile are far superior than the processed version.

Manuka Honey

While Manuka honey is not local to most of us (it is native to New Zealand) it has a plethora of health benefits in addition to allergy relief. Medihoney, which contains Manuka, has been approved by the FDA to treat wounds and skin ulcerations. Manuka honey is also used as an antibacterial, for gingivitis prevention, and as a treatment for inflammation.

Begin consuming raw local honey before allergy season hits. Two to 3 spoonfuls daily should be adequate. Due to the thick texture of raw honey, use as a spread, dissolved in tea or coffee, or add to a smoothie. The best source for raw local honey is straight from a beekeeper or a local market to ensure the pollen content is indeed local.

You can find Manuka honey at the following sources:

Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey

Manuka Doctor Bio Active Honey

Kiva Certified UMF 15+ Raw Manuka Honey

Note: Honey is not recommended for infants under the age of 1 due to infant botulism. Those taking chemotherapy drugs, have poor reactions to honey, or are pregnant and breastfeeding should also avoid honey.