Monday, May 7, 2012

A Taste Of Honey

Sorry if you're getting tired of all the food blogs, but I can't help myself. But then again, food is an important part of our lives that should be highly considered. But enough of my soap box. I wanted to share another local, green, tasty product that we didn't really understand until moving to Western Kentucky: Honey.
From a general google image search. It's from some global market site.
Honey is an amazing natural sweetener. While it has more calories than sugar, it is more digestible and contains b vitamins, calcium & magnesium. It is an antioxidant and has antibacterial & anti-fungal properties. And it can cure what ails ya.

Here are just some of the things honey can do:
- Heal Cuts & Burns
- Soothe & Treat Sour Throats- check out this video for a honey cough syrup from Learning Herbs
- Conditioner for Skin
- May even help your body repair damaged cells from colitis

But the biggest claim to fame is the folklore that it can help reduce springtime allergies. There are plenty of sites out there (for and against) the theory that eating local honey is similar to a process called immunotherapy. That's when small, but several exposures of an allergy are given over time, in hopes your body develops an immunity.

Immunotherapy is normally in the form of allergy shots. Back in college, I tried this treatment, but it's painful, inconvenient and costly. For the first few months, I had to drive 60 minutes round trip twice if not three times a week to get a shot filled with what I'm allergic to. Then I had to wait at the office for a good 15-30 minutes to make sure I didn't have a deadly reactions. After a few months, I was able to take the serum to my school's health department and get the shots once a week there... but I soon let that slide. I've talked with other doctors over the years about trying again, but my current insurance will charge me a co-pay for every single trip and that's not doable.

So needless to say, I'm up for trying anything to relieves my allergies in the month of April. As I said, I've tried shots, I always take antihistamines, and I even had nasal surgery to widen the passages after getting pneumonia from a sinus infection brought on by allergies. I may even try Helminthic therapy if my allergies got bad enough. But there's a few easier things to try first. Last Spring, Roxy made the suggestion of eating more local honey. I figured I would try it. Who wouldn't pick devouring sweet honey over deliberately infecting yourself with hookworms?

First I will say, many sites including webmd argue honey cannot help allergies. Mostly because spring allergies (including mine to trees) come from pollen that's from non-flowering plants. And since bees only go to flowers with nectar, they will only get tree, grass, or weed pollen by it being blown onto them by the wind. So it's in very small amounts if there at all. Reasonable enough argument. But that's the harm in trying?

With in the past year, I've included local honey in my diet through tea. I've even developed a slight addiction to chamomile tea with honey (oh so good). And I've gone through maybe five or six jars/bottles. I have to say something worked. I was still taking my normal medication & (infrequent) nasal spray and did have a few days of constant sneezing and itchy eyes. BUT I didn't need a cortisone shot nor did I get a sinus infection (which happens about every year) so I think I fared out pretty well. Which is odd because many were saying this year's spring season would be awful since winter was so mild.

As in every ailment, there are too many variables to find causation. Maybe this year wasn't too bad when it came to the pollen I'm allergic too. Maybe I'm growing out of my allergies. Maybe I finally avoided the outdoors enough to not be bothered. Maybe I finally got myself into doing the nasal spray enough. Or it could be all of that mixed in with local honey. Either way, I think I'm going to keep up the habit of enjoying some local honey with chamomile tea.
Thankfully there's lot of honey to choose from down here. There's at least three local places that I can count off the top of my head. One lady sells her honey during the farmers market. And even better, she sells cubes of beeswax. I bought a few blocks the other day in hopes of making some balms and salves later this summer. I can't wait to try/show you all that.

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