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For those with allergies, spring and fall evoke feelings of dread. The changing seasons bring more sneezes and headaches than anything else. For those sick of treating their allergies with pills, allergy shots or raw honey may be worth considering. Which is better?
Many allergy sufferers receive shots as a way to fight their symptoms. Before receiving the shots, the patient will first undergo either a skin test or a blood test, to determine what they are allergic to. A blood test involves sending a sample of the patient's blood to a lab and testing it for the presence of antibodies. With a skin test, small amounts of allergens are injected into the skin, and the area is monitored for any sort of reaction. Typically the area may become swollen and itchy. Skin tests tend to be more sensitive than blood tests, but in patients with severe allergies or a fear of needles, blood testing may be a better option.
Once testing has been conducted, an allergist may recommend shots as a form of treatment. In allergy shots, trace amounts of allergens are injected into the patient. Initially, these shots will be given once or twice a week for three to six months. A tolerance to the allergens is gradually built-up, and eventually the patient is able to receive the shots every two to four weeks. This will continue for three to five years, at which point the shots may be discontinued.
After stopping the allergy shots, some patients may find that they no longer experience any symptoms. Others may find that their allergies return full-force.
The idea behind raw honey as an allergy treatment is very similar to the allergy shots. The key is that the honey must not only be raw, but also local. Bees carry pollen from all different types of local plants. That pollen, in turn, is found in the bees' honey. By eating small amounts of raw, local honey, you are exposing yourself to many of the pollens that cause your seasonal allergies.
To use raw honey as treatment, aim to consume two to three teaspoons per day, leading up to allergy season. If your allergies are severe, you may want to start earlier and with a smaller dosage and work your way up.
The primary disadvantage of using raw honey to treat allergies is the lack of scientific evidence behind it. This method has not been well studied, and most of the evidence of its success is anecdotal at best. More research would be required to determine if honey can, in fact, provide relief to allergy sufferers, how long it should be taken, and if there is any long-term benefit.
Do your research
Allergy shots offer proven relief from allergy symptoms, but raw honey may be a more natural alternative. Speak with an allergist, like those at Allergy Partners of Richmond, to determine which option is best for you.