Pollen allergies, also called hay fever have been known for a long time but in today’s stressful environment it seems that more and more people suffer from allergies. Often it is difficult to identify the exact source. Specific pollen allergies may be avoided by changing one’s environment. Desensitization with established Western medical methods (subcutaneous injections of pollen extracts) are slow and generally have only a temporary effect, so they need to be repeated. Traditional and alternative health practitioners have claimed to cure pollen allergies.
It is said that the consumption of locally produced honey has a desensitizing effect because all honeys contain small quantities of pollen. However, not all available pollen species are collected by bees and thus may not occur in the particular honey.
There is not even anecdotal evidence that honey consumption will remedy pollen allergies, but consuming small quantities of honey regularly has not harmed anyone yet. The consumption of pressed honey which always has a very high pollen content, may at times cause small allergic reactions (personal experience) Feinberg et al., (1940) have shown in numerous comparisons that pollen consumption only marginally improved allergic reactions, so marginally in fact that it cannot be recommended, nor can improvements be distinguished from improvements possibly due to general improvements in health.
The greatest risk of allergic reactions exists with the direct consumption of pollen. This, however, can be avoided by consuming pollen packed in capsules or coated pills which prevent direct contact with any mucous membranes. Once in the digestive tract, the body generally does not show any allergic reaction. Again, careful trials by sensitive individuals are recommended if consumption is assisted upon.
This preempts any foods in which pollen has been incorporated, but allows taking pollen for special health reasons. Barrionuevo (1983) and personal trials by the author, who is strongly allergic to some pollen species, confirmed that by avoiding contact with eyes, nose, mouth, throat and pharynx, no allergic reactions occurred with ingested pollen. Intestinal allergies to pollen are rarer than most food allergies (Schmidt and Buchmann, 1992). Still, careful trials by sensitive individuals are recommended for all products containing pollen.
Since there are so many different substances in the different pollen species to which people react with allergies, only some extractions or a general denaturalization can inactivate most of the allergens for commercial production. This probably ruins some of the beneficial characteristics of the pollen as well. Getting pollen from areas without the allergy-causing species may help individuals who want to consume pollen, but such identification and separation is unlikely to be feasible for commercial production.
A simple muscle resistance test (kinesiology) can show allergic sensitivities before actual contact with the substance occurs. As a precaution, everybody, even those people who have not known any pollen allergies before, should first try very small quantities of the pollen or the product containing the pollen. Allergic reactions normally occur within a short period of time, from a few minutes to a few hours.
To avoid any problems with customers and with those who consume foods or use cosmetics and medicine-like products containing pollen, it would be advisable to include a warning on the product label, for example “This product contains pollen which may cause allergic reactions. Try small quantities first”.
Pollen should not be collected or purchased from areas with heavy industrial, urban or agricultural pollution (pesticide). The geographical origin of the pollen should be known, and producers as well as buyers and retailers should be using adequate cold storage.