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Fact or fiction? Experts break down a number of allergy myths

December 4, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Does honey help with hay fever? Does the desert dry up a runny nose? Allergies can affect your skin, your nose, and your digestive system. There's a lot of information out there about how to build your immunity and fight your allergies, but consider this: much of what you know may not be fact at all.

Allergies, triggered by things like pollen or pets, affect millions of people.

As the troublesome dust and dander spread through the air, so do myths about ways to beat them.

Some people believe bees make the best allergy fighter and the pollen collected in their honey can help you build immunity with just "one tablespoon of honey every morning".

Yet the benefits may not be borne out in research.

For example, a 2002 study split allergy sufferers into 3 groups: some ate local unfiltered honey, some ate commercial honey, and others ate a honey flavored placebo. After tracking the study patients for several months, doctors found no difference in the three groups.

According to an expert, a possible reason as to why no difference was found is because seasonal allergies are usually triggered by windborne pollens, not the type spread by bees.

Doctor Amitava Dasgupta says while there's not much scientific backing, the tasty cure is worth a shot.

"Honey is not going to cause any harm to your body, so if it doesn't do any harm to your body, what do you have to lose?" said Dasgupta.

While you may have thought of moving to the desert to escape allergens, the desert may not ease your symptoms. Although some of the plants that trigger allergies might not be in the desert, grass and ragweed pollen are found just about everywhere!

There's also hope for people who love pets and have allergies. Research shows exposure to dogs early in life can help prevent pet allergies. On the other hand, people who are already allergic to man's best friend might mistakenly think a hypo-allergenic dog is the answer.

A study at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan found hypo-allergenic breeds don't have lower household allergen levels than other dog breeds. While some people believe allergens are in an animal's fur, they're actually in the animal's skin and saliva. The best bet for those with pet allergies is a short-haired dog because they shed less and produce less dander.

While allergies are annoying, you can do some things to limit exposure at home, like use air purifiers and a HEPA filter on your vacuum cleaner.


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