Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Honey “Sweet Relief”

Honey “Sweet Relief”
By: Dr Brian Allard

Suffering from asthma since early childhood, I had just learned to “live”with it. Diagnosed after visiting the E.R. at the age of 6, asthma had been a constant disruption throughout my life with no real relief is sight. Fast forward 25 years, thousands of puffs on various inhalers and numerous medications, I have found something that actually worked, something that changed my ability to
breathe, and that something was Honey.

 “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” Hippocrates

My opportunity came one summer evening at a roadside vegetable stand. I frequently stopped to pick up fresh veggies especially the tomatoes, nothing better than a freshly picked, farm raised, vine-ripened tomato. This particular evening I was really congested and had an audible wheeze because my inhaler was empty. The “Veggie man” as I called him offered me some Honey. At the time, I thought to myself, I wish he was selling inhalers, why do I need honey? The Veggie man
then began to share his life-long beliefs on Honey. He emphatically explained how raw, local, and most importantly, seasonal honey could really help with my wheezing.

Most people can agree that nature provides the basis of all medicines, for example Aspirin gets its origin from willow tree bark, and other plants containing Salicylate. Another well-known example is Penicillin, a very popular group of antibiotics derived from common fungi. Honey has been historically known around the world to have numerous health benefits ranging from its use as an antibiotic for minor wounds and burn care to its user as a cough suppressor. My particular experience with Honey would demonstrate how it can improve immune function and, in my case, virtually conquer asthma.

Pollen, is it Friend or Foe? It may just be both. Why is it some people can rake leafs, cut grass, enjoy
the outdoors when the pollen count is high, and others have symptoms that range from watery eyes to a full blown asthma attack? One huge reason is how the immune system responds to the outside environment. Hyper-response or over-reaction to pollen or other air-born allergens can trigger the body to produce excessive mucous, watery eyes, inflame certain tissues, and even cause death.
Naturally introducing these allergens (via honey) to the body may give the immune system the ability to create an antibody or otherwise recognize the foreign allergen, and thereby cause the body to have a normal immune response, or some level of immunity instead of the Hyper or Overactive reaction causing in my case, many asthma attacks.

Can honey play a role in immune response? One specific study suggests that unprocessed (raw)
honey has been shown to stimulate antibody production [1]. “Raw, local and seasonal” as suggested by the Veggie man is what worked for me! Without getting into the finer points of food pasteurization
and other specifics, “honey in the raw” is simply unprocessed honey, therefore it hasn’t been heated up or filtered. One might assume this would eliminate or diminish the allergen content of the honey.
Local honey is made by local bees, and local bees travel to local plants and flowers. Lastly, pollen can be very seasonal in some regions. For this reason some bee keepers list the season, (Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall) on the bottle. Obviously this is very far from an exact science, and people often ask, how much and how often? I simply pass along the simple wisdom of the Veggie man, “Give the honey bear bottle a squeeze, and a little dab will do ya…and don’t forget, putting it in hot tea is the same as cooking it”.

There are several mechanisms that can trigger an asthma attack. The rationale for this article is based on allergy induced asthma, specifically allergies found in air-born pollens. My case may not be typical, but none the less changed my life, therefore article worthy. As with anything related to a medical condition, be sure to check with your doctor. Ingestion of honey may not be suitable for infants, diabetics or persons with honey allergies.

1.Effect of Honey on Antibody Production against Thymus-Dependent and Thymus-Independent Antigens in Primary and Secondary Immune Responses. Noori S. Al-Waili,Afruz Haq. Journal of Medicinal Food. Winter 2004, 7(4): 491-494. Published in Volume: 7 Issue 4: December 28, 2004

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