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Introducing "Medicine or Malarkey?" — Does a spoonful of honey help your allergies go away?

Spring is finally here! That means sunshine, shorts and, possibly, sneezing. Those beautiful flowering bushes and trees that herald the arrival of warmer weather can also mean misery for allergy sufferers. With all of the home remedies out there, you may have heard of the “local honey cure.” The idea is that repeated exposure to small amounts of allergens (in this case, the pollen picked up by the bees making the honey) will help an allergy sufferer build up a tolerance and experience fewer symptoms. Also, honey has been shown to be a cough suppressant, and it has some anti-inflammatory effects. But does that add up to a “cure” for allergies?

The answer is no. The purported beneficial effects of eating local honey have not been reproduced in controlled, scientific studies. This may be because the pollen bees pick up (which ends up in the honey) usually isn’t from the oak, ragweed and juniper plants that are to blame for your sneezing fits. Much of the relief people experience appears to be a placebo effect. For now, think of honey as a sweet treat, not a cure.

That’s not to say that some homegrown, nonmedical remedies won’t provide some relief. Here are a few things to try before seeking a medical intervention:

Invest in a neti pot.

These teapot-like devices flush the nasal cavity with a saline solution and temporarily relieve nasal congestion. Just be sure to use distilled, sterile or filtered water and keep your neti pot very clean.

Keep your indoor air clean.

This includes closing your doors and windows when the pollen count is high, using a dehumidifier, cleaning floors regularly using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and replacing your home’s air filter with a HEPA filter on a regular basis.

Keep your indoor air dry.

Along with clean air, allergy sufferers benefit from dry air. Invest in a dehumidifier to reduce the amount of moisture in the air in your home.

Limit outdoor exposure.

Avoid outdoor chores early in the morning when pollen counts are highest, and wear a protective mask during yard work.

Investigate some natural extracts.

Some plants, such as butterbur and spirulina, have shown promise in limited studies. As with any herbal remedy, talk to a medical professional before using these or other natural options.

If you can’t reduce your seasonal allergy symptoms with home remedies, you do have medical options. If your allergies are severe, consider consulting with a primary care physician who might recommend you visit an allergy specialist for testing. If you think you have a sinus infection or simple seasonal allergies, CareSpot can provide quick and convenient treatment.