The Jewish New Year, which is fast approaching is synonymous with the delicious, sticky and very sweet honey. Children come home from school singing songs about honey, cards are sent around with images of honey, honey cake and cookies are made in homes and most importantly a significant part of the holiday's dinner which revolves around dipping a piece of apple in honey. Honey signifies sweetness- the hope that the future year is filled with experiences that are pleasant and joyful.
There are approximately 320 varieties of honey which vary in colour and flavour. Honey is made by honeybees using nectar from flowering plants and is a natural sweetener and although consist mostly of sugar; it also contains amino acids, vitamins, and antioxidants. It is commonly used as a natural healing treatment for coughs, burns and wound healing. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial agent.
Allergy to honey is rare and although the exact figures in the general population are as of yet unknown- it is estimated to be less than 0.001%. But a quick search online will generate hundreds of people who state they have a severe allergy to honey.
So what’s going on, are the doctors wrong, uninformed- or are people running away with their wild imagination?
During the production process of honey by honeybees, it can possibly become contaminated with bee pollen and pollen from other plants and trees. Therefore if a person is allergic to pollen they may have an allergic reaction to some types of honey, although it may be hard to pinpoint which brands of honey are contaminated. In many cases, it is actually the pollen that is the cause of the allergic reaction, rather than the honey itself. For people who have sensitivities to pollen, doctors advise they use extreme caution, not only when consuming honey, but any other bee products- all of which could possibly contain their allergen.
Other possible allergens in natural honey are:
Since the late 1990s beekeepers worldwide have reporter the phenomenon of bees disappearing as well as the decline of honeybee colonies. This has resulted in honey production reduction of 49% during the last 20 years.
Due to the drastic supply shortage of honey, many companies have adopted the practice of adding other ingredients into their product in order to increase their production quantities. Some of the ingredients include maple syrup and corn syrup as well as other additives and with companies failing to properly label their products consumers are having allergic reactions to the additional unnamed ingredients.
This practice has been taking-up increasingly more space in the spotlight with American and Chinese companies both leaning heavily towards these procedures. Just last September in Australia official reports came to light into just how rampant ‘fake honey’ was across Australia with reports showing that up to 50% of honey was adulterated. Read more about it here: Fake honey scandal widens to Australian-sourced brands
Honey may be present in hidden forms in other products as well. These include:
An increasingly common trend among people who suffer from seasonal allergies is to use raw, locally produced honey as a form of treatment for their allergy symptoms. This practice is based on the theory that eating small amounts of honey daily helps build the bodies immunity through gradual exposure as bees transfer small amounts of pollen into the honey, the same pollen spores that are the cause of the symptoms these people suffer from.
Dr Julie Glass, a naturopathic doctor from Oregon further explains this procedure; "It's the same principle as allergy shots, where patients are given very small amounts of the substance they're allergic to. Over time, the immune system will recognize the offender so it doesn't launch an attack. The theory is that eating the honey with those spores can desensitize the immune system."
There has been some evidence indicating that using honey prior to allergy seasons can act as a preventative measure to compress the symptoms. Two recent, relatively small studies, which produced slightly different results, proved that although using honey in a medically capacity won’t be effective as a treatment with regards to food allergies, it possibly could help with seasonal allergies.
It is important to bear in mind that although honey is a natural substance, when using it medicinally it is used in larger doses and a health care provider must be consulted prior to giving a child honey medically or using it in that capacity for personal use. In addition, honey can cause a range of allergic reactions for patients with seasonal allergies or allergies to bee stings.
Food Allergy Concierge would like to wish all our customer and everyone in the allergy community a safe, joyful and sweet year. We look forward to serving you.
During our recent visit to Israel, we really struggled to find food for our son who has anaphylactic level allergies to egg and sesame. We approached both restaurants and hotels and were told they were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for preparing his food.
After learning about Dr. Eliana on-line, we contacted her in the hopes that she could provide a ‘normal’ restaurant experience for our family.
Both she and Shani were meticulous in their preparations with the restaurants to ensure that our son had a wonderful and safe experience.
We truly appreciate their efforts to take care of our son, and to provide us with a lovely vacation experience.
T.M., Chicago, USA
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing gift you have given us over this Pesach- the gift of having you with us!!!!
We have NEVER felt more comfortable, calm, and at ease than we did these past 10 days. Your warmth, professionalism, kindness, and care shown through in all that you did.
My children are so grateful that they were able to be with you this Pesach. You made sure that they were so well looked after and they felt so at ease and comfortable with you! You were so amazing and approachable to them! And they LOVED all the food you so amazingly prepared (supervised allergy-free food preparation, managed menus) for them!
It’s very difficult for us to trust people when it comes to our kids and allergies. You magically were able to take away ALL of our anxieties, and nervousness (and we don’t give that away so easily!!)
We can never fully thank you enough. We truly feel that you instantly became part of our family and we look forward to G-d willing being able to be with you and plan amazing trips with you many many many more times!!!!
Thank you and may Hashem bless you for the work you do. My son Jacob said your allergy card has been very helpful. I am so grateful- beyond words.
L.R., NY, NY
Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel. We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!
All the best,
S.C., New Jersey
We can't thank you enough for assembling this top-notch team of specialists to work with our daughter while she is in Israel.
T.G., Philadelphia, PA
"Food Allergy Concierge assisted us with a very helpful, detailed customized allergy card in Hebrew. The Allergy card was extremely helpful for multiple allergies and allowed us to eat safely in several eateries and hotels. Highly recommended.”
G.A. Illinois USA