Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Heather's Corner: Oro Valley Seasonal Allergies; Leave it to the Bee's Knees

Palo Verde, Mesquite, Desert Ragweed, Tumbleweed, and Arizona Ash. What do these mean to someone living in Oro Valley?

Well, for those of you who stand with me in this time of seasonal immune system overload, you know them well. For those that don't, these are a few of the pollen culprits responsible for the throat-tickling, eye-itching, ear-throbbing symptoms of hay fever. But there is a natural and delectable occurrence in nature that just might have the ability to stave off some those symptoms. And it just so happens to be easy on the taste buds as well. Let's talk about honey!

Quick science refresher

Flowering plants reproduce by creating seeds, an occurrence taking place only after pollen comes into contact with it's pistil. Though some plants can self-pollinate, we need flying insects (butterflies, bees, wasps) on search for nectar from these plants, to travel between flowers, carrying the subsequent pollen stuck to their body after nectar consumption. This is called cross-pollination and ensures the strongest chances of plant survival.

What does this have to do with allergies? Well, a lot.

It turns out, much of the pollen remains on and in the bodies of bees and is carried back to the hive. While nectar is regurgitated to make honey, so is the pollen. Because of this, a theory stands that eating local honey introduces your body to much of the same pollen spores causing your allergies. Over time and exposure, your body could potentially become more immune, much in the same way vaccines work by introducing a dummy version of a particular virus.

This process is called immunotherapy. Ideally there would be enough spores found in honey to help the body become accustomed to this "intruder" but not enough to trigger a histamine-producing response. Sounds easy enough.

So where to get local honey?

Holly's Little Farm is a local Marana bee farm specializing in honey and hive products. They invite you to stop by and taste the difference between raw local honey and that you can commercially buy in the stores. Their "Desert Blend" is just what the name says, a nice mix of local plant life and exactly the kind, should the above mentioned theory ever prove scientific, that might help alleviate seasonal allergies. Personally I prefer my honey strained, meaning raw and never pasteurized or filtered, but they do offer a "hardcore" option where you might just get some particles of wax. Currently you can purchase this local honey from Oro Valley Ace Hardwares or straight from their website

So where's the proof?

Actually, almost all of the evidence of the immunizing effects of eating honey Is anecdotal. However, an unpublished scientific study conducted by Xavier University in New Orleans found that after six weeks of honey consumption, subjects suffered less allergic symptoms. For this allergy sufferer, that, and speaking with others that have found relief through honey use, is all the proof I need to give it a go.

As always, you should check with your doctor before trying any holistic approach to your allergies. In the mean time, allergy sufferer or not, what's to lose having a teaspoon of local honey on your toast or in your tea each morning? I'll let you know how it goes. Anyone else have any experience with the benefits of honey--we'd love to hear from you!
Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley for 6 years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. She loves gardening, nature, art, and travel. Currently her two young children fill up most of her days (and nights) with chaotic bliss. Oro Valley favorites: memorial bench at the entrance of Romero Canyon Trail in Catalina State Park, Toscana Studio and Gallery, OV Fall Festival, the gumption and determination of OV residents!

No comments: