Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 23 2012

Dear Mark: Raw Honey and Allergies, and Resveratrol Debunked?

By Mark Sisson
124 Comments

Today’s Dear Mark question and answer post is a quick one – a two parter. First, I discuss the anti-allergy merits of real, raw, unprocessed local honey and include my own harrowing experience with using raw honey to combat a pollen allergy. Then, I address the fall-from-grace of a prolific resveratrol researcher shown to have fabricated his data, and I discuss what it means for resveratrol research at large.

As a side business, I sell local, raw, unpasteurized honey. I would love to see a Daily Apple column on honey and honey production (local vs large-scale (esp. from China), natural hive treatment vs antibiotic use on hives, filtering, non-homogenized vs homogenized, etc.). I often have people who are reluctant to buy my honey because it crystallizes and is cloudy.  These are natural processes and desirable characteristics as the pollen and propolis are left in the honey.  Once explained, many people are quite happy to buy the product.

I know you have written about honey throughout the site, especially as it relates to insulin but I would love to see people have a little more knowledge as to the benefits of local, raw honey for allergy relief, antibacterial properties and just great taste.  🙂

All the best,

Anita

I don’t eat honey very often, but when I do, I prefer crystallized, cloudy honey. I’d definitely be a happy customer of yours.

As for the merits of honey itself, I think it deserves its own post sometime in the future. Honey and humans share a long and storied history together, and it isn’t “just sugar.” Right now, though, I’ll discuss the question of raw honey and allergies.

There’s very little formal research on the subject. Last year, Finnish researchers found that eating preseasonal (taken before hay fever season commences) birch pollen honey reduced birch pollen allergy symptoms and resulted in less usage of antihistamines when compared to eating preseasonal regular honey. And then there’s this German study from 1956 that has no abstract, but the title is quite promising: “Resultant therapeutic method variations in pollen allergy with special consideration of oral desensitizing of pollen-allergic children with honey.” Sounds like they found something to me. Any German readers with access to research literature want to chime in?

But my personal opinion is that it can really work for seasonal, pollen allergies, because I’ve experienced it firsthand. On a family camping trip to Big Sur, I got a horrible case of hay fever. It was insanely windy all week, so all sorts of allergenic plant compounds were blowing around. It was like I had a tiny cloud of dust and pollen following me around, a la Pigpen from Peanuts. I’d never had it that bad – headache, stuffy nose, bleary red eyes – and it hit me about three hours after our arrival. I felt like I had the worst cold in the history of the world. I actually wanted to go home. On our second day, however, while on a hike, I came across an old guy selling raw, local wildflower honey by the side of the road. A handcrafted cardboard sign read “Good for hay fever.” I thought, “Why not?” and bought a pint. The guy was nice and enthusiastic about his product, and I always like to support small apiaries.

I took a big glug of it and continued on the hike. It was real good, not too sweet and with a raw floral quality to it. Again, I don’t eat a lot of honey, but this stuff was legit – even through my clogged nasal passages. We got back to camp, made dinner, and I went to bed soon after darkness fell. Nose was still stuffy, head was still congested, misery level was still elevated.

And then I woke up, and while things were still backed up, I could tell it was better. A thin jet of air even squeaked through my clogged right nostril, allowing me to breathe and (most importantly) taste the bacon that morning. Another glug of honey down the hatch. Overall, I’d say things were 25% better at this point. By late afternoon, I was 75% better. I kept taking hits of honey and by next morning, I was perfectly fine. Now, I suppose it’s possible that the honey acted as a placebo and my hay fever was already on its way out – I didn’t control for variables, there were no placebos involved, and I randomized absolutely nothing, so there’s no telling for sure. But I doubt it had no effect. Too many other people report similar experiences to make me dismiss my own experience as nonsense or coincidence.

I will say that if you’re going to use raw honey to fight pollen allergies, you’ll want to buy honey that comes from bees who deal with the same plants and flowers that produce the allergenic pollen in question. That means buying local, preferably wildflower honey. Unless you know for sure that your allergy is caused by a specific pollen from a specific plant, wildflower will give you the most bang for your buck by covering a large assortment of plants. So, while raw, unfiltered honey lovingly puked up by bees who subsist only on wild edelweiss growing in the Swiss Alps might taste amazing, it probably won’t do much for your allergies if you’re not allergic to edelweiss pollen.

Hey Mark,

Was able to get my parents eating according to the Primal Blueprint, and one of the things that really helps my mom is being able to eat the chocolate and the red wine (although she is saying that she is starting to feel pretty good). Then all of a sudden, this comes out:

Red wine researcher Dr. Dipak K. Das published fake data: UConn

What do you think of this? Is the reservatrol just one thing in the red wine, and it still has other antioxidants? What are a couple of winos to do?

Thanks,

Steven

Well, first of all, she’s feeling good, eating Primal, and that’s about all that matters.

Second of all, this guy who apparently fabricated a lot of his research on resveratrol, Dipak Das, isn’t the only resveratrol researcher in the world. He’s not even the foremost resveratrol researcher. He’s prolific, but others have done more. What I’m saying is that one guy fabricating his research doesn’t invalidate all the other research others have conducted on resveratrol.

Let’s put it into perspective with some actual numbers. He’s accused of fabricating data on 145 papers. That sounds pretty damning (and it is for his career and any research that relies on his) until you realize that a search for “resveratrol” on Pubmed alone returns 4, 479 papers. Subtract those 145 (and maybe another 145 to represent those papers that might have relied on Das’ research for some of their conclusions) and you’re still left with over 4,000 resveratrol papers. That remains an impressive body of research.

And red wine remains a delicious (potentially healthy) beverage. Besides, the potential health benefits of red wine extend beyond resveratrol (which isn’t actually present in very large amounts in wine). Red wine, being the product of grapes and grape skin, contains a bevy of phenolic compounds, many of which have antioxidant properties. Grape skins are particularly rich in flavonoids, including flavonols, anthocyanins, and tannins like proanthocyanidins. There’s even a Wiki page devoted to the phenolic compounds present in wine, and there are over three dozen individual compounds (depending on varietal and method of production). Some of the benefits of drinking red wine:

I don’t know about you, but I’m opening a bottle tonight. I suggest your mother continue to do the same (maybe with dark chocolate, too) if it pleases her.

That’s all for today, folks. Keep sending along your questions, and I promise to try to get to all of them. Thanks for reading!

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124 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Raw Honey and Allergies, and Resveratrol Debunked?”

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      1. “local” is the key word. I will try to find the study. Folks allergic to various pollens showed relief of symptoms when feed honey from bees harvested in the local region where those pollens propagate.

      2. Raw honey because it still contains the pollen, which is usually removed when honey is pasteurised.

        Local honey because it contains the local pollen that is causing your hayfever.

        If you eat raw local honey in your area and eliminate hayfever it will be possible to still get hayfever if you went somewhere else, say abroad on holiday, because you could be affected by a different type of pollen.

        1. Thanks for the information Christopher and Andy! I had no idea honey could be this powerful. Good to know that local and raw is very key.

          Kind of like grass-fed beef and pastured eggs perhaps?

        2. Yet wind-borne pollen is different from pollen that depends on bees. You’re more likely to have an allergy to a wind-borne species.
          That doesn’t mean that bees can’t also collect the wind-borne, but they are probaby more likely to miss it out as it’s not in the wind-borne plants’ interests to attract bees.

  1. Thanks for discussing the benefits of red wine. I believe there is a lot of information now that proves that drinking it in moderation is good for you. Just because one researcher falsifies data to promote his own agenda, doesn’t mean that all the other evidence that has been accumulated on this subject is wrong too. I for one certainly plan to keep enjoying the taste and health benefits of red wine.

    1. It’s a shame that all of his data is now suspect. I agree – it’s easy to love a study that extols the benefits of red wine, of all things. And I take full advantage.

      But moderation, as always, is key.

  2. Our friends have bees, so our honey from them is REALLY local. It’s helped my hubby with his allergies. And I for one, will not give up my red wine and dark chocolate.

  3. Mark,
    On the honey/hay fever anecdote – Is it possible that the sudden ingestion of abnormal amount of carbohydrate in the form of simple sugars had something to do with curing your hay fever.
    I say abnormal, because you generally stay in the moderate to low carb domain – a sudden large insulin spike could have triggered some unknown pathway that took the hay fever with it. What do you think?

    1. Abnormal? Possible. Mark never noted how much honey he took in. I think 1 TBSP has 16 grams of carbs. Maybe he took 1 tsp at a time. I would say then it would not be abnormal.

      But, I have no idea what his intake was.

      1. Mark writes “I took a big glug of it and continued on the hike.”

        This appears to be several tbsps at one time. That triggered my question

  4. I am very new to this lifestyle and was just asking myself this morning as i put some honey in my tea (like i do every morning), if honey could still be a part of my daily routine. I know it probably isnt great for insulin but it was probably also part of grok’s diet. I hope i get to hear more about this topic. tks –

    1. Apparently one teaspoon of raw honey daily before bed promotes fat loss.
      Honey and cinnamon are supposed to be a healthy combination and cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar so I’m guessing a daily spoonful of both honey and cinnamon wouldn’t hurt.

      1. Yes! I just made a similar remark in another response about combining honey and cinnamon – but – promotes fat loss? THAT’s almost too good to be true! LOL! Going to give it a try.

        1. For breakfast, I have been eating 1/2 cup of oatmeal mixed with a teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of honey(currently buckwheat, that smells like a buffalo’s behind, don’t you know) for years. Not sure of the benefit’s but I hardly ever have head colds albeit I’ve never had allergic symptoms of any kind…

  5. I have experienced the benefits of raw honey and so I try to use it in small amounts in my baking or cooking (primal of course!)

    Also um I wasn’t drinking the red wine just for the revesterol so…no worries there 🙂

    1. Pasteurization destroys the beneficial compounds in raw honey, basically reducing it to sugar. Baking would probably do the same. A solution might be to bake something and then spread the honey on it after.

      1. Do you have anything to back this up? Heating changes the sugar structure of the honey, making it less crystallized and more the liquid stuff we are used to seeing, but let it sit in your cabinet for awhile and it will go back to being crystallized. I’m all for local unprocessed stuff cause it tastes better.
        It’s antibacterial and can supposedly last for centuries (as in you could eat the stuff they found in egyptian tombs) and I haven’t seen anything that heating it would change.

        1. This is from Wikipedia:
          Pasteurized honey is honey that has been heated in a pasteurization process (161 °F (71.7 °C) or higher). Pasteurization destroys yeast cells. It also liquefies any microcrystals in the honey, which delays the onset of visible crystallization. However, excessive heat exposure also results in product deterioration, as it increases the level of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and reduces enzyme (e.g. diastase) activity. Heat also affects appearance (darkens the natural honey color), taste, and fragrance.

  6. Raw honey, Dark Chocolate, and Red Wine. Three good reasons to go Primal.

      1. I LOVE Green & Black’s 85%! I don’t get it very often, because I can’t have just a small piece – the bar doesn’t last long!

        It’s something I never appreciated before going paleo, then Primal. I have a huge sweet tooth, and my palate was much different when I was drinking soda and eating processed sugar on a regular basis.

        I’m a lot more sensitive to any sweetness now and the 85% hits the spot!

        1. It really isn’t something I appreciated before either! Now it’s the most amazing thing in the world to me. I guess I’m kind of lucky in that I am satisfied with just eating a couple squares of it. A bar last me about 2 weeks (obviously that is if i eat it every day).

    1. I go for Lindt’s 99%. Well, I have had it twice in my life. I wish it was more abundantly available! It is by far my favorite. It is so easy to eat just a bit of the 99%. It’s perfect. I have trouble not eating too much of any other dark chocolate… even 90%!

      1. Me too! LOVE the 99%, and any of the sweeter bars (as you say, even the 90%) trigger my sugar addiction. Plus, I don’t feel guilty about having a piece of 99% at work, as my SAD-eating coworkers don’t like it.

        I live in Canada and get it at London Drugs. Superstore sometimes has it too.

        You can also make a little hit of emergency chocolate (if no 99% avail) by mixing a tsp of cocoa powder with a tbsp or 2 of the “cream” from some coconut milk. Eat with a spoon and pretend it’s a truffle. Yum! Cinnamon optional.

        1. This sounds like a wonderful idea. I need to experiment with pure cacao more often… adding some coconut milk and just a dash of honey sounds yummy!

      2. Where can you get that?? I don’t have many options where I live. No Whole Foods or anything fancy. When I can’t find something I usually just go to amazon. 😉

        1. I have not seen it at Whole Food or Trader Joe’s. I’ve enjoyed the 99% Lindt bar twice in my life. Both times it was purchased by my dear mother and received by me as a gift on Christmas for the past 2 years.

          She buys it at G.B. Russo & Son International grocery here in Grand Rapids, MI. It looks like its just a local place…

        2. I found my 99% dark chocolate bars at World Market. It is under their label and ingredients are dark chocolate (chocolate liquor and sugar).

  7. This bit about the honey was very interesting as I often use it in small amounts to sweeten dishes. Now if there were only something to help my dust allergy!

  8. My husband and I have a small apiary and we sell raw, wild honey at our local farmers market. I tell our customers the same thing Mark said, if the honey is from the pollen the person is allergic to then it could help. Unfortunately many people are allergic to grass pollen and mold which the bees have nothing to do with.

    The other thing that honey is very good for is wound healing. When honey comes in contact with a wound it actually produces small amounts of hydrogen peroxide creating an antimicrobial environment. I have had customers tell me that honey worked on healing wounds that would not respond to antibiotics. I know from personal experience as a chef that nothing works better on burns.

    Producing raw wild honey without chemical interventions is a lot of work and the yield from the bees (especially if you leave enough for the bees like we do) is significantly lower so be prepared to pay more for it. But a little of quality honey goes a long way.

    1. On the wound healing topic, I had an upper GI endoscopy a year or two back. The GE, intent on disproving my claim of gluten intolerance, despite 5 years of gluten-free eating, took a small bowel biopsy the size of the end of my thumb. Result: negative biopsy and 24 hours of moderately severe boring pain through to my back. NSAIDs were out of the question, and acetaminophen wasn’t effective, so in desperation I went to the cupboard and downed a spoonful of raw honey in a big chunk. 10 minutes passed and relief ensued. It was amazing. Every recurrence responded to the honey bolus until my poor duodenum had healed. I would recommend it to anyone.

  9. Oh, thank you–these are big ones for me!

    We have excellent local honey producers where we live, and I’ve thought about trying some for my terrible spring allergies. I’m pretty sensitive to sugar (rebound hypoglycemia continues to be a problem if I consume too many carbs. I’m concerned about the cost outweighing the benefit. Thoughts?

    1. Thay what I’m wondering too.. More specifically, what’s the minimum amount of honey you need to eat in order to reap these benefits? Minimum amount so that the benefits aren’t offset by the sugar…

      1. In my experience, one teaspoon per day is plenty – and my airborne allergies are not mild. Hoping that when I’ve been Primal long enough they will at least return to the level they were when they were inconsequential.

    2. I’m a little late here, but in case anyone is reading, I’ve been taking a teaspoon of honey in the morning with my coffee (also a good shake of ceylon cinnamon) and testing. After a half hour, I’m up 10-15 points and in another half hour my blood glucose drops most of the way back. An hour after the honey & cinnamon, I am back below where I started. So, quick up and quick down, without any other food. My starting point was anywhere from 85 to 95 mgdl, fyi.

  10. I use honey every day in my coffee…. sadly at our office they don’t use raw. Maybe I should start bringing my own, I always get hay-fever; I did notice last summer that and my asthma were a lot better after being primal for 6 months. I do buy raw for home use. And dark chocolate? It’s how I get through a day of being tempted by sweets and starches, by saving it for a treat at the end!

  11. I don’t really eat honey either, since going Primal, my craving for anything sweet has gone down the drain. However, my family members eat plenty of honey, and we get it from one of my uncles’ apiaries in Caucasus (=very clean air, pasture, etc). The buckwheat honey is a powerhouse. You can tell its high in iron – its a dark, dark murky brown – its extremely dense (can stand a spoon in it), has a marbled pattern to it, smells amazing and isn’t sickeningly sweet. As I said, I don’t really eat honey any more, but I’d put a spoon of this in my greek yoghurt just for the benefits.

    1. The best honey I ever had came from the mountains in Slovakia (I lived there for 6 years). It was, as you said, dark, murky brown and you could stand a spoon up in it. I still dream about it now that I’m back home in Canada.

  12. I like the slightly bitter taste of forest honey.
    Really hard to find in the US.

    Don’t care much about flowers, onionbloom or alfalfa honey. Too dang sweet.

  13. I think that the higher cost of raw honey is a good thing! It keeps me from eating too much, and allows me to stick to the good stuff!

  14. After that Imported Processed Chinese Honey story hit the newswaves, I threw out my generic bottle of honey and have started going hard-core raw honey. There seem to be a lot of decent raw honeys at TJs and WFs, but I was shocked to discover a little “hippie” store near me (no really, it’s super hippie, like they sell healing crystals and stuff) that carries some local honey made by apiaries *IN* San Francisco. I later found out there is an entire store here that caters to urban apiarists, as well as urban homesteading in general.

    Anyway the point of the anecdote is to show people that if you can get local honey in an urban environment, you can probably get it anywhere.

  15. Raw honey is awesome – perfect in tea and coffee or with cocoa for a sweet taste and energy boost – but bee pollen is a better bee product. I expect eating small amounts would help with pollen allergies more than honey would since there is a much higher concentration of pollen and it also contains lots of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s macronutrient composition by weight is approximately 30% protein, 10% fat, and 10% carbs. There are numerous benefits to be had from eating bee pollen.
    If you mix it in yogurt or kefir the bacterial enzymes will break it down into goo. An apiarist told me this makes it digest optimally.

    1. Where did you get those numbers for the bee pollen? 30%+10%+10%= 50%. What is the other 50%?
      I did a quick search and I found a web site that claims bee pollen is 35% protein 55% carbs and 2% fatty acids and 3% vitamins and minerals. I don”t know what they claim what the other 5% is. I’m not saying they are right but at least it’s close to 100%.

      1. I can’t remember the website but if those numbers are accurate then I assume the other 50% would be the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and whatever else is in pollen.
        The apiarist who I first bought it from told me it was about 30% protein so when I heard it from him and then read it online later I took it for granted the numbers were correct, even though I’ve also read some conflicting information from different sources.

  16. There’s an awesome little company in the Dallas area called Zip Code Honey that sells honey to/thru local restaurants and stores… based on that business’s zip code. I don’t think they have a website, but there are plenty of local restaurants with bottles for sale at their front counter.

    But now I have a bee question… Do intense heat and drought conditions have the same effect (lower production) on bees as they do most other crops (like last year’s record crop failures)? It may sound weird, but do they spend less time pollenating and producing honey and spend more time resting and avoiding the heat?

  17. Do you think that Grok would likely have taken a few thousand bee stings to get his honey?

    1. Maybe he’d use Jaguar Paw’s trick from Apocalypto and cover himself in thick mud before raiding a bee hive. Furs would work alright too.
      He could hit it from a distance with rocks or sticks to break it into pieces and then go up to it with a torch to scatter/singe the bees.

      1. Bees are generally not aggressive unless provoked. If you move calmly and don’t get greedy it is possible to scoop a portion of honey from a hive without incident.

      2. Actually, smoking the bees to sedate them is a common practice – from ancient to modern times.

    2. Honey hunting/gathering is an ancient activity and is still done by aboriginal peoples all over the world.

      And, coincidentally bee stings have their own medicinal value. Some people deliberately give themselves bee stings for issues like arthritis.

        1. I don’t remember where/when I first heard/read it. Probably sometime in the ’70’s when I first started keeping bees and hunting wild honey in the Ozark mountains. Methods for hunting wild honey haven’t changed much over time.

          There’s an article on wikipedia on the topic – brief, but its a start. I’d bet you’d find a few interesting articles online via search engine. There’s probably books/chapters on the subject, too.

          Really, hunting wild honey is intrinsic to the “paleo” lifestyle. So, even if honey is not in your diet, or even your medicine chest, its interesting as an example of how “primitive” people lived/live.

        2. Oh, I guess I should have asked what part you were interested in – the wild honey hunting or my remarks about bee stings.

          About the bee stings – its called bee venom therapy – an aspect of apitherapy. There’s also a wikipedia article on that topic and the same suggestion for searching for online articles would apply to this topic, too. It has several application in autoimmune disease beyond arthritis.

        3. Anecdotal evidence here, but I had a geometry teacher in 9th grade who kept pictures of his hands from before he started keeping bees, 10~15 years before teaching me… and his hands could barely hold a pencil. He started keeping bees and working bare handed (stung frequently) and you couldn’t tell there was anything wrong with his hands when I met him. I think this was somewhere around 1994~5ish. I he adamantly believed it was the bee stings that healed him. This was in rural western Wisconsin… not really evidence, but he kept photos because it mattered that much to him to share the story.

        4. A co-workers neighbor has MS and does a “bee-sting therapy” to reduce the symptoms, they have their own bees and produce some honey as well. Co-worker gave me a bottle for Christmas one year, I admit I was a little skeptical about the way the honey was produced as it was a clear amber color – I buy a local produced raw honey that is milky in the jar and that just seems more “natural”

  18. My settle for commercial, processed dark chocolate when you can make RAW chocolate that is so much healthier yourself!

  19. Yes, I’d be interested re raw honey and heating it in coffee. An Internet search comes up with specific temperatures to which you can heat honey before it denatures… I’ve no idea how hot my coffee is though……

  20. We are in Oklahoma and were in the drought area last summer!! Our cool days were in the 95 degree range!! Our bee hives were new to us last year so we didn’t harvest!! Had to leave them enough to overwinter till springtime!! The bee’s were CRANKY people and yes we fed them all summer with local honey and pollen patties that we buy from a local apiary business!! The honey production was down, pollen and nectar was hard for them to find!! We have a koi pond so the moisture was a godsend !!

  21. I’ve heard so many good things about the healing properties of honey…where I live there is a lady that sells local raw tumeric honey. It is amazing!!! After a long stint of being sick with a low immune system, I started taking this with bee pollen and within weeks was feeling better!!!

  22. My grandmother used to swear on apple coder vinegar and honey every morning to prevent arthritis.
    We have also given honey solution to our horses (both orally and straight on a wound) with fabulous success…..

  23. I heard that eating local honey will help with hay fever. I have been using local honey for a couple of years now and the pollen allergies that I’ve always suffered from have been relieved quite a bit. So, I’m a believer at least in that.

  24. I love honey. Orange blossom, oak tree… but my favorite honey in the world comes from the Cedar mountains in Lebanon where the bees feed off the resin from the cedarwood. Raw, very dark and has a very unique flavor. I always hike there whenever I’m there/visiting family and buy a jar.

    I’m glad to know that putting a teaspoon of the stuff occasionally in my yogurt/cottage cheese is good for me!

  25. Equal parts raw honey, coconut oil (melted) and raw cacao powder. Perhaps a pinch of real salt, gelatin or spices if desired. Heat indirectly and stir until thoroughly combined, pour into moulds or a waxed-paper-lined pan, and refrigerate until set. Holy sweet treat heaven, Grokman!
    Personally I love orange peel, chili and cinnamon.

    1. WOW! Now THAT might just make me into a chocolate lover. Goes in my recipe box. Thanks 🙂

  26. “honey lovingly puked up by bees”
    while I realize it is an accurate statement, it could almost put me off of honey. Nothing against the little buzzers, but just anything that is puked up loses some appeal. Fortunately I like honey enough it’s not gonna happen.

    1. It looks “puked up” if you were to watch a honeybee transfer nectar to a cell (or another bee), but a bee’s crop is distinct from its stomach. The crop does have enzymes that change the nectar en route, but they’re not the same as the digestive enzymes produced by the stomach for when the bee is consuming honey for energy.

      So instead of “puking,” you could think of it as transporting the nectar in a pre-fermenting container that the bee just happens to carry on the inside since Nature didn’t bother to grace her with opposable thumbs.

  27. Along the I-10 corridor in Florida, you can get out of your car, on the side of the busy highway, walk 10 feet over to a fence and take pictures of raw honey bee-hives, 100’s of them. But I am sure none of the pollutants from the passing vehicles get on any of the flowers next to the road way.

  28. I was hoping someone would comment on manuka honey. Helps acne, inflammation, and used even in cancer. It’s $30 a jar at WF.

    1. We are actually using manuka honey in radiation therapy studies for cancer hoping that it will help decrease rates of esophagitis. It’s nice to see non-pharma, non-billion dollar drugs being used though I’m sure if the studies are positive they will somehow buy the rights to it…

      1. Yeah, like niacin/Niaspan. Anyway, what makes manuka honey special?

        1. It’s my understanding that manuka honey comes from pollen from the manuka tree (tea tree) that grows wild in New Zealand and parts of Austrailia. It has amazing anti-bacterial properties and is rated in a UMF (unique manuka factor) rating system. The ratings for commercial products are usually from around 4 through 30. This represents the antibacterial efficacy of the equivalent percentage of a Phenol solution.
          That is pretty amazing to me. I have an aunt who used it successfully on a MRSA infection she had had for over a year and it cleared it up in a matter of weeks. It’s also available on Amazon if you can’t find a local vendor.
          It has a very unique, floral aroma and taste. I use it for everything except large recipes. I personally find it quite yummy and try to keep at least a gallon in reserve in my pantry.

  29. I’m going to send this post to my fiancee. She struggles with this… plus, I love honey (yeah–I’m slightly selfish). Thanks, Mark!

  30. I am not saying I recommend this but one time while chopping hot peppers, I stupidly rubbed my eye. (primal law #9, avoid stupid mistakes) I especially don’t recommend this part of the story.

    I must have rubbed it really good or it was a very potent pepper because the tissues around my eye were on fire! I was in big trouble.

    What to do, what to do? I put raw honey on my eye. I know, I know, weird idea but, the burning sensation soon stopped. Worked for me.

    1. Why not recommend it? Honey has anti-inflamatory properties. I can imagine that it was quite soothing on what amounts to a chemical burn, in your case. Its used on other types of burns as well.

  31. Honey has decongestant and cough suppressant properties, as well as helping to desensitize pollen allergies. The darker types of honey tend to be better decongestants.

    The desensitization effects of honey are slow to accumulate – and as the first commenter states, its best used before the allergy season starts. I find that if I use local honey year round that I have little trouble from pollen allergies. And, it only takes a little – a teaspoon a day is plenty. Its akin to taking many tiny allergy shots to desensitize – and in fact that approach is used for dust mite and mold allergies.

    The decongestant effects of honey – good for flu, colds, or allergies – are more immediate of course. A bit more honey is usually needed but still not a lot. Sometime just a teaspoonful every few hours is effective. My personal favorite congestion remedy is a tea cup of hot water with a teaspoon of dark honey and equal part organic lemon juice mixed it.

    For an extra strong dose, a little bit of whiskey or some other hard liquor can be added. That’s a traditional, old-time cold treatment that used to be given to children or anyone else having trouble sleeping with a cold.

    I have rarely needed to add hard liquor – but when I have I used Tequila made from agave rather than a grain based liquor. I discovered many years ago that grain based liquors and I aren’t agreeable.

    1. My mother always gave us the honey, lemon juice, whiskey mixture for the occasional cold and congestion…worked wonders! I still remember how much better it made me feel.

  32. About honey’s wound healing properties – it has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflamatory properties as well.

    Egyptians and Middle Eastern people used honey in the embalming process.

    Wikipedia has a pretty good article on honey that lists its medicinal benefits, among other information.

  33. On the down side, its also possible to develop allergies to honey :-(.

  34. I’m in the early stages of going full primal. The meat and veggies are easy–it’s giving up the raw honey that is a challenge. I use local, raw, creamed honey. It smells like beeswax and spice (depending on season), it’s not as sweet as liquid honey, but adds a richness to my tea that I’m just not willing to give up. Thoughts on this?
    I don’t notice a typical sugar response with this particular honey or local maple syrup–but I do with other sugars including agave. Other than trying coconut sugar recently, I’ve only used maple syrup and honey for the past couple of years for baking etc. (molasses for cookies though)

    1. I’ve seen both maple syrup and honey used in small amounts in recipes in Mark’s “Primal Blueprint Cookbook”, so evidently its “officially” OK in small amounts.

      Personally, I’d go with how my body responded to small amounts. Some people develop allergies to both honey and maple syrup, even raw, local, etc. Some people are extra sensitive to any sugar. I’m actually allergic to white sugar – based on allergy testing as well as how it makes me feel – so for any sugar I listen to my body carefully, partly so that I don’t develop more allergies.

      1. P.S. I don’t care much for agave syrup’s effects on my body, either. Dr. Jonny Bowden claims to have debunked the “agave myth” saying that agave is “basically high fructose corn syrup masquerading as a health food”. You can find this reference online with a Google search.

    2. Another thought – you might try coconut creme in your tea. Tropical Traditions has a great coconut creme. Its sweet like coconut sugar but more creamy so it might be more like the creamed honey you like. I like creamed honey, too – and I know what you mean about that smell it sometimes has. I bet it would also be great with just a dash of cinnamon added, which is also a healthy spice.

  35. One could use grain free mead instead of the tequila and it already has honey in it! Red wine gives me migraines and I seriously dislike chocolate although dark lindt 99% is tolerable. I’ve been eating a square a day for added iron and it beats all other forms of iron supplement I have taken so far!I’m seriously dificient but since going primal, its on the rise at last!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion – I like it! I love honey mead!

      I have a similar response to red wine, especially burgundies – which is a shame since I like red wine. I like chocolate OK but can take it or leave it. That’s just as well as its a migraine trigger for me as well as a food that I’m allergic to.

      I’m not allergic to many foods – but those that I am are sometimes hard to resist. I’m wondering if maybe far enough into the Primal lifestyle my food (and airborne) allergies will change. I know that my food preferences have changed a LOT so far.

      1. Oh, about that red wine reaction….Japanese knotweed is a great source of trans-resveratrol so no need to go without trans-resveratrol in the diet (considered by some to be the most potent form of resveratrol).

  36. I can’t wait for the follow-up post and to get into the science (if we even know it yet) of honey.
    For now, it seems largely anecdotal – Mark got relief in 1-2 days taking larger amounts; others say you need a teaspoon a day and it has to build up. It’ll be nice to see some science before sticking extra fructose into my body daily. For example: As I kid I always felt better ingesting crackers, toast, and 7-up when I had the flu and many would agree, tho I now know I was most likely just feeding whatever bacteria I had and making my condition worse.

    1. There is “science” (body of research) re honey, if you want to look for it.

      As a former research scientist, I appreciate both the contribution of controlled studies and anecdotal evidence to the body of knowledge.

      Within the domain of scientific research we have both nomothetic and idiographic methods; normative and non-normative methods; parametric and non-parametic methods; and, both deductive and inductive reasoning.

      Many an hypothesis began as a statement of belief based on anecdotal reports.

  37. I have been so lucky to find someone willing to give me local raw honey for FREE whenever they have a surplus! I have HUGE allergies (suffering from a 3 week bout of an attack right now and trying desperately to keep the sinus infection at bay) and find this stuff to be awesome. Another thing honey is good for is a sore throat. “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” is a reference to a teaspoon of honey for a sore throat in my house. 🙂 Just don’t do it before singing because of the coating affect.

  38. Ive read in the most recent issue of Detail Mag that Resveratrol causes scarring of the liver

    1. When I recently checked, to that date all studies of resveratrol and the liver had been (1) done on mice and (2) conflicting in results. Many studies produced results that indicate that resveratrol has a healing effect on both alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver disease. If you’re a mouse. 🙂

  39. Studies have shown that in order to get the enhanced health benefits of resveratrol you’d have to drink like hundreds of bottles a day. Even if this research fraud affected what we know about resveratrol (and like Mark says, it really doesn’t), you’re not going to get the stuff in a glass of wine but in a highly distilled supplement. Which might not be a great idea since we still don’t know that much about its long term side effects at such high doses.

    1. All good points. Moreover, resveratrol as an isolated element may not be where the benefits are obtained. It may be that we don’t actually need more than what is found in a glass or two or red wine; but, that we need some matrix/compound found in the wine that includes resveratrol.

      In my experience, a trial of 100 to 200 mgs of the highest grade trans-resveratrol (sourced from Japanese Knotweed) available produced little or none of the health benefits that I was looking for.

      However, I may not be in the norm in terms of the effects that I was looking for. I seem to have an unusual carbohydrate metabolism that appears to be associated with long term (life long), (subtle) untreated thyroid malfunction. The personal medical studies are still underway so its just an informed guess at this point.

  40. Mark – could you add in something about the preservatives in red wine. I enjoy it, but can only safely drink it in Greece, where the local red wine has none. Most of the cheaper red wines accessible in England give me a headache within 3 mouthfuls – no fun at all. Whereas white wines aren’t a problem.

    1. I second that request. Please.

      I have the same type of reaction to red wine here in the US. I have been told that its the naturally occurring sulfates – but your lack of reaction to the Greek wine makes me wonder about that reason.

  41. Raw, unfiltered local wildflower honey contains living pollens which help stimulate the immune system to fend off allergic symptoms when those pollens are encountered in the air. When you heat the honey above 120 degrees Fahrenheit they living product is killed and you will no longer reap the benefits. I am an Advanced Level Beekeeper with the University of Florida Master Beekeepers Program and an enthusiastic backyard beekeeper in the lovely City of Belle Isle near Orlando International Airport & offer beginner beekeeping classes at Harry P. Leu Gardens in the City of Orlando. See leugardens.org for more information & Bee Happy as the amazing lives of Honey Bees and their help from beekeepers make about every third bite of our food supply in the U.S. possible. There would not be so many choices of quality foods without their hard work 🙂 Chris Stalder

  42. O.K. new to the honey thing….,.. do you need to refrigerate it???

  43. I became familiar with the use of honey to treat alergies when I had a sinus infection years ago. I was desperate for something other than antibiotics, becuase I had taken so many I had built up a tolerance. I was told by a homeopath to take local honey, and within 3 days, I felt better than I had in years. Coongestion gone, infection gone, breathing free and easy. Since then, I have recommended the honey treatment to dozens of people, who have had brilliant success. Yes, it does have to be a very specific, local honey that contains those pollins causing the reaction – but everytime I’ve suggested it to people it has worked beautifully. I’m sold. I travel often for work, and the first thing I do is find a local farm market and seasonal honey. I haven’t had a sinus infection in years, and considering I used to havee an average of 6 per year, find it a truly amazing cure! (My constant push of honey has my friends calling me “Mother Nature”)

  44. Ah, how I do love red wine. I’m dropping it through June to see if I can bring my Triglycerides way down. I started Primal end of November, so that’s not even 2 months. But my lab work last week showed high trigs (164, but they were 154 in September, so this is not a huge jump), but the Hba1c was 5.8! Something about me… Maybe red wine’s not good for all of us? I wish it weren’t to blame in my case. I don’t eat sweets, otherwise.

    1. Good for you for catching the trig elevation early before you start to see crazy high numbers! Please do share (with us) your lab results as you find what works best for you.

      Evidently there is something about (at least) some of us that causes us to elevate trigs on what seems like thin air. My own elevated trigs are what led me to the Primal lifestyle – but its too soon to know if my hypotheses hold water.

      I recently did a three month trial of very carefully controlled diet and exercise, which should have made a major impact on my trigs. It did help lower them a little but not as expected. My doctor had no explanation – and likewise for my body fat distribution that has been so resistant to interventions. So, I (once again) decided to do my own research. The trials continue.

      In a nutshell, what I believe is happening is that my carb burning fast twitch muscle fibers have largely converted to fat burning slow twitch muscle fibers. Thus, my body’s ability to utilize carbs for energy is significantly impaired while my body’s ability to convert carbs to fat is still quite active, thank you very much! NOT!

      Thus, a diet like Primal Blueprint makes perfect sense to (for) me. Likewise, the PB fitness program is also perfect for restoring a higher level of fitness to my muscles – which do not respond appropriately to exercise under the current conditions.

      In my case, what I believe has happened is that I have an inherited case of thyroid malfunction – which coupled with calorie deficit dieting (which my body reads as starvation) – resulted in a a common adaptive strategy, the above mentioned muscle change.

      I have had a (diagnostically) low basal temp my whole life. I looked symptomatic for hyper thryoid when I was young – including but not limited to a super fast metabolism. Ate like a horse and never gained weight. Had low blood pressure, low glucose, and low lipids. Even in my 40’s I had the same glucose and lipid profiles – and a 25 inch waist.

      Then, menopause arrived and I switched to a set of hypothyroid symptoms, including serious menopausal symptoms that didn’t fully respond to any approach either “natural” or conventional.

      Moreover, most what I did to support my health for the next ten years may have actually undermined it. Such as the extremely calorie restricted dieting. For another example, any form of estrogen, including soy based – further reduces TH (thryoid hormone) functioning. SO forth and so on.

      Over those ten years, I tried many forms of diet and exercise only to watch a slow elevation in my weight and lipids – but a steady normal blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose.

      Thus, the diagnosis of metabolic disorder never actually fit. I was finally properly diagnosed a year or or so ago with high TSH, low TH, and mild thyroid inflammation. I am now normal/stable on a low dose of 50 mcg of levothyroxine and am starting to see a change in how my muscles respond to exercise. And, for the first time in my life my basal temp is a steady 98.6 with little variation.

      Now, my focus is on getting my carb/fat metabolism in order – and the notion of eating Primal the rest of my life is actually becoming more of a happy thought for me everyday :-). I feel better all the time.

      Looking forward to seeing what my next lab results look like. I expect to see continued improvement – but it may take more than a few months to turn around a long standing state of disorder. Whatever, its all good.

      1. Fascinating stuff! I hope that you nail the carb/fat metabolism. I’m 46, and been a runner for 32+ years. My brother is wiry like me, long-term endurance athlete, and also puzzles over his high trigs, given that other numbers are good… what you wrote about the slow-twitch fiber made me wonder. I’m also wondering about the impact of hormonal birth control. I hope I get to see a follow-up for you, rrustad. My check will be in June.

        1. Thanks, Joy. I’d like to follow your situation as well. Perhaps the PB forum might be a good place to have this ongoing “discussion”. I haven’t visited the forum yet. What do you think?

          Seems to me, given your brother having a similar situation, that something genetic/familial may be involved. The more I learn about trigs the more complex the situation seems. We can’t just settle for understanding how it all works in “normal” cases we have to understand variants as well.

          Estrogen interferes with thyroid function. Soy also interferes with thyroid function, btw. So, soy based estrogens may be a double curse. Thyroid function affects lipids. At any rate, if I were you I’d definitely look at a hormonal connection as well. Even athleticism can affect hormones, as I’m sure that you know. Its all detective work, IMO.

          I have had a mix of both hypo and hyper thyroid symptoms my whole life. I have raised the question of thyroid malfunction with doctors since my 20’s – but until recently no one took that notion seriously. It took my insistence and changing doctors even then. From what I’m learning, its very common for doctors to overlook or disregard thyroid issues even when they are staring them in the face.

          Even more recently I discovered that there are inherited forms of thyroid malfunctions that have a mix of hyper and hypo symptoms like mine. So, next stop for me is the endocrinologist and maybe genetic testing. I have a family history that points to possible thyroid malfunction on both sides.

          Meanwhile, the learning curve is pretty steep but I finally feel like I’m making progress. I changed my insurance policy to one that doesn’t require me to have a PCP (primary care physician) or a referral to see a specialist. Now I have the ability to chart my own path a bit better with fewer obstacles.

  45. Raw honey saved my life – literally. I had vicious seborrheic dermatitis all around my mouth and face. It hurt to talk. I became depressed.

    And then I found a site that told me about a honey mask. I slathered honey on my face for three hours a day, every other day, for months.

    My face is now clear (which I also attribute to this site as well, as I believe my healing was aided by being primal).

    I then told my mother that people with unsealing wounds from surgery had great results with manuka honey. She had a friend with a son with MRSA, and he tried it – and it healed his rashes/scars/whatever other awfulness he endured. This after every doctor prescribed every damned cream and/or steroid in the book.

    Raw honey is nothing short of magical. And the answer to most health problems almost always lies in nature.

  46. Just got a 1 pound jar of raw clover honey. I’ve been taking little shots from it and dipping protein bars in it, indulging.

  47. This compound is actually used in Pharmacy school kinetics classes. The main issue is a few of the chemical functional groups, when they undergo metabolism by the body, are rendered non-bioavailable. Pretty interesting example especially how it is marketed as a supplement to do everything from reduce inflammation to solve world hunger. Well, maybe not that, but way more than it can deliver on.

  48. As A primal fanatic and a beekeeper I would love to see more articles on the benefits and uses of honey!

  49. Honey helps some folks, but can also make people worse. If they’re folks who tend to react to everything (indicating an imbalanced immune system, likely leaky gut, etc.), be super careful. What’s in the honey may have nothing to do with the allergy they’re experiencing, and instead sensitize them to a whole new bunch of things.

    There are lots of natural options for fighting allergies. I’ve written about some of them here: http://www.celilohealth.com/fear-not-the-flower/

    And here:
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1594/is_3_12/ai_74628722/

  50. I recently moved to Santa Barbara, California from Arkansas. I am a 27 year old female and when I moved here, for the first time I started to have asthmatic attacks and allergy symptoms, along with a runny nose and coughing throughout the night. It was absolutely horrible. I had never had any kind of allergies or asthma before. I stayed for a few months and just dealt with the symptoms by taking medicine. But I was miserable.
    I moved back to Arkansas for three months and my symptoms went away. But whenever I would start strenuous exercising the coughing would rear its ugly head again. I think the stay in Santa Barbara had triggered something. Then I moved back to Santa Barbara and my symptoms came back worse. I went to an urgent care facility and they diagnosed me with bronchitis and put me on antibiotics, and inhaler, pain medication and coughing medication. I took everything but I felt so frustrated because I felt like the doctor was just covering up my symptoms and not really addressing the underlying problem. Three weeks later, my bronchitis had cleared up but I was still having the asthma attacks 4 to 5 times a day with horrible sneezing, wheezing, painful coughing, and all of the allergy symptoms. It was so embarrassing. I could hardly go anywhere and I knew that holding down a job would have been impossible with all the coughing and hacking I was doing. I hated the antihistimine medicine because even though it may stop the runny nose, it gave me a headache and sinus pressure.
    I started taking raw, local, unheated honey because I was at the farmers market and I just wanted to try some, not thinking it would have any effect on my allergies and ashma. I just love honey and I always eat it straight and use it with hot tea, but up until that point I had just been using some raw organic honey from whole foods. But it was not LOCAL. I remember buying the raw local honey from San Marcos Farm at the farmers market and then walking back to my car, coughing the whole time. It would not go away!!! After a week of using the local honey my coughing and runny nose and asthma attacks started to become less and less. I went from using my inhaler several (5 or 6) times a day to 1 time a day. It has now been about a month after starting the local honey and I have not had to use my inhaler for the last 2 weeks. All of my other symptoms (the runny nose, painful sneezing, the headaches, the coughing, and wheezing) have completely disappeared. I am so excited. I had no idea local raw honey could have this effect until I noticed my symptoms were all gone and tried to figure out what it was that could have possibly gotten rid of them. Then I realized that switching from regular to local honey was the only thing I had been doing differently. So I am a firm believer in local raw honey. It treats the causes, not just the symtoms.
    Now I have recently gotten two jobs singing for entertainment and working at a tea shop which would have been impossible 4 weeks ago. I could barely talk normal, much less sing. I have been eating at least 2 tablespoons a day. I just love the stuff! It tastes so good. I put it on toast, put it in hot tea, and eat it straight. E-mail me if you want some more info. stephanieleeshepherd@gmail.com . So I looked it up and contrary to most people’s opinions there has been a study done by a university on the subject and it proved local honey to be effective. Here is their statement and webite: “At least one informal (unfunded) study on allergies and honey conducted by students at Xavier University in New Orleans produced positive results. Researchers divided participants into three groups: seasonal allergy sufferers, year-round allergy sufferers and non-allergy sufferers. These groups were further divided into three subgroups with some people taking two teaspoons of local honey per day, others taking the same amount of non-local honey each day and the final subgroup not taking honey at all. The Xavier students found that after six weeks, allergy sufferers from both categories suffered fewer symptoms and that the group taking local honey reported the most improvement.”
    Full article link: http://health.howstuffworks.com/local-honey-for-allergies.htm

  51. Hey there! This is my first comment here sso I jut wanted to give
    a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading
    through your posts. Can you suggest aany other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics?
    Thanks!

  52. I’ve had allergies since i can remember and tried every medicine under the sun, seriously. I’d have week long allergy attacks sneezing over 100x a day this would happen every few weeks. Only thing I’m on now is a teaspoon mixed with 16 oz. water everyday. Local raw honey anytime i go on vacation or move to a new place, first thing I do is find the honey. Been doing it for 2 years and only get allergy attacks when I forget to take the honey for a few days.

    Don’t go to walmart and think the 4.99 honey is going to help though, find at least pure honey from a local farmers market or whole foods store.