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Can you be allergic to honey?

There are approximately 320 varieties of honey which vary in color and flavor. Honey is made by honeybees using nectar from flowering plants and is a natural sweetener, and although it consists 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.

honey allergy

The BIG question- can a person be allergic to honey?

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 honeybees' production process, honeybees can 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 honey brands 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 also for any other bee products, all of which could contain their allergen.

Other possible allergens in natural honey are:

  • Buckwheat
  • Tulips
  • Sunflowers
  • Eucalyptus
  • Willow
  • Oak
  • Hackberry
  • Other plants in the area

Recent production trends

Since the late 1990s, beekeepers worldwide have reporter the phenomenon of bees disappearing and the decline of honeybee colonies. This has resulted in a honey production reduction of 49% during the last 20 years.

Due to the drastic supply shortage of honey, many companies have adopted adding other ingredients into their product to increase their production quantities. Some of the ingredients include maple syrup and corn syrup, as well as other additives. With companies failing to label their products properly, consumers have allergic reactions to the additional unnamed ingredients.

This practice has been taking up increasingly more space in the spotlight, with American and Chinese companies 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.

Hidden Honey

Honey may be present in hidden forms in other products as well. These include:

  • Chocolate bars
  • Candies
  • Cakes
  • Gingerbread
  • Cereals

Honey as a treatment for seasonal allergies

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 body's immunity through gradual exposure as bees transfer small amounts of pollen into the honey, the same pollen spores that cause 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 minimal 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 before 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 medical capacity won’t be effective as treatment regarding food allergies, it could help with seasonal allergies.

It is important to bear in mind that although honey is a natural substance when used medicinally, it is used in larger doses. A health care provider must be consulted before giving a child honey medically or using it in that capacity for personal use. Also, honey can cause a range of allergic reactions for patients with seasonal allergies or allergies to bee stings.

To read: Can honey be a cure for allergies??? click here


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Meticulous in their preparations

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

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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!!!! 

CO, Canada
April 2016

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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.

Yasher Koach!
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Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel.  We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!

All the best,

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T.G., Philadelphia, PA

The Allergy Card was Extremely Helpful

"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

Allergy Free baked goods for the lockdown

My family ordered a week's worth of food from Food Allergy Concierge during the most recent lockdown. Having the food on hand, and knowing that it was safe for everyone in the family to eat, helped turn the lockdown into a stay-cation! We were still able to take a break from cooking and worrying, and we look forward to using FAC's services again in the future.

Very easy to order and communicate your needs

We are so lucky we found this company to help us while our son was traveling. They provided allergy-safe baked goods and delivered them to his hotel so he could have bread and pastries on his month-long Israel trip. It was very easy ordering and communicating his needs. I would definitely use the food allergy concierge again the next time he travels to Israel.

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