Will Berkshire honey relieve your allergies?
Honey may be the sweetest word in the English language, and as a product it enjoys an equally stellar reputation. Used by humans for at least 9,000 years, it may have benefits in treating cardiovascular disease, coughs, gastrointestinal ailments, neurological problems, and wound care, according to the Mayo Clinic. But does raw local honey act as a vaccine in easing symptoms of allergies?
A 2002 UConn study found no effect, but a 2016 Penn State report cited positive benefits from ingesting honey. Critics of the latter study say that it addressed mainly birch pollen, which was added to produce the benefits. A Mayo Clinic physician says honey is “probably not” a vaccine, but a “sweet placebo.” Nobody seems to deny that honey belongs on a list of healthy foods along with blueberries, nuts, grapes and whole grains, among others. (Never give honey to babies under age one, though, it can be toxic.)
Beekeeper Doug Wilcox of Lee insists that raw honey can help with allergies so often found in the leafy Berkshires. His customers often say that a year after starting honey, their symptoms were less severe. Mary Adams of Otis, a medical professional, is one of them, and her often-severe sinus reactions were eased by local honey. So driven to produce a healthy product and to help the threatened bee population, Adams is studying beekeeping under Doug’s guidance and swearing by honey’s benefits.