Can Local Honey Really Help With Seasonal Allergies?

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iStock

Seasonal allergy sufferers know that relief from streaming eyes, itchy throats, and stuffy noses can be elusive. One of the more widely touted home remedies is eating local honey or bee pollen to help prevent symptoms. The theory is that by exposing yourself to pollen produced by nearby plants—presumably the same ones triggering allergic responses—you can train your immune system to not react.

If you're plagued by pollen, you might be tempted to stock up on local honey—but don't head to the farmer's market just yet. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, allergists don’t believe local honey has a medicinal effect on allergies.

There are a few reasons why honey, delicious as it is, isn't an allergy cure-all. For one, most people with seasonal allergies are responding to pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds—plants that bees rarely pollinate. (They prefer non-allergenic flowering plants.)

What’s more, pollen of any variety isn’t present in honey in large quantities. Bees make honey from nectar, not pollen; any pollen that ends up in honey is there accidentally, and according to the National Honey Board, it's only present in trace amounts that won't have a noticeable effect on your immune system.

The available science supports that claim: One study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in 2002, found that sufferers who ate either local honey or commercially produced non-local honey got no more relief from their symptoms than sufferers who took a honey-flavored placebo.

Commercially available bee pollen supplements are also touted as a method of allergy relief for their purported ability to teach your immune system to be calm in the presence of pollen. But the supplements contain far more pollen than what most people would be exposed to by just walking around—which means they can actually make allergies worse. Just 50 pollen grains per cubic meter of air can trigger hay fever symptoms; one study estimated that there could be between 0.4 and 6.4 million pollen grains in a single gram of bee pollen.

It's probably not surprising, then, that there are reports of patients with pollen allergies suffering reactions as severe as anaphylaxis after consuming bee pollen. But that's not the only reason these supplements could be harmful: In an article for the Journal of Dietary Supplements [PDF], researchers explained that because pollen is collected by bees in less than sterile conditions, bee pollen may be adulterated with mold and bacteria, and caution that “it is impossible to produce a stable, consistent, and clean product from this contaminated source.”

Though honey and bee pollen won't help allergy sufferers get relief, they do have options. There are two immunotherapies currently available and approved by the FDA: the allergy shot and a sublingual (under the tongue) tablet. (Sublingual drops and anti-allergy toothpaste are also available outside the U.S.) Both methods give you a repeated, low-dose exposure to an allergen, adapting your immune system into not responding to that allergen—exactly what honey and bee pollen are supposed to do but don't. And unlike bee pollen or local honey, these treatments are administered or prescribed by a doctor, the doses are regulated, and studies have demonstrated their efficacy, all of which lower the risk of adverse reactions and increases your chance of successful treatment.

10 of the Best Indoor and Outdoor Heaters on Amazon

Mr. Heater/Amazon
Mr. Heater/Amazon

With the colder months just around the corner, you might want to start thinking about investing in an indoor or outdoor heater. Indoor heaters not only provide a boost of heat for drafty spaces, but they can also be a money-saver, allowing you to actively control the heat based on the rooms you’re using. Outdoor heaters, meanwhile, can help you take advantage of cold-weather activities like camping or tailgating without having to call it quits because your extremities have gone numb. Check out this list of some of Amazon’s highest-rated indoor and outdoor heaters so you can spend less time shivering this winter and more time enjoying what the season has to offer.

Indoor Heaters

1. Lasko Ceramic Portable Heater; $20

Lasko/Amazon

This 1500-watt heater from Lasko may only be nine inches tall, but it can heat up to 300 square feet of space. With 11 temperature settings and three quiet settings—for high heat, low heat, and fan only—it’s a dynamic powerhouse that’ll keep you toasty all season long.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Alrocket Oscillating Space Heater; $25

Alrocket/Amazon

Alrocket’s oscillating space heater is an excellent addition to any desk or nightstand. Using energy-saving ceramic technology, this heater is made of fire-resistant material, and its special “tip-over” safety feature forces it to turn off if it falls over (making it a reliable choice for homes with kids or pets). It’s extremely quiet, too—at only 45 dB, it’s just a touch louder than a whisper. According to one reviewer, this an ideal option for a “very quiet but powerful” heater.

Buy it: Amazon

3. De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heather; $79

De’Longhi/Amazon

If you prefer a space heater with a more old-fashioned vibe, this radiator heater from De’Longhi gives you 2020 technology with a vintage feel. De’Longhi’s heater automatically turns itself on when the temperatures drops below 44°F, and it will also automatically turn itself off if it starts to overheat. Another smart safety feature? The oil system is permanently sealed, so you won’t have to worry about accidental spills.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Aikoper Ceramic Tower Heater; $70

Aikoper/Amazon

Whether your room needs a little extra warmth or its own heat source, Aikoper’s incredibly precise space heater has got you covered. With a range of 40-95°F, it adjusts by one-degree intervals, giving you the specific level of heat you want. It also has an option for running on an eight-hour timer, ensuring that it will only run when you need it.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Isiler Space Heater; $37

Isiler/Amazon

For a space heater that adds a fun pop of color to any room, check out this yellow unit from Isiler. Made from fire-resistant ceramic, Isiler’s heater can start warming up a space within seconds. It’s positioned on a triangular stand that creates an optimal angle for hot air to start circulating, rendering it so effective that, as one reviewer put it, “This heater needs to say ‘mighty’ in its description.”

Buy it: Amazon

Outdoor Heaters

6. Mr. Heater Portable Buddy; $104

Mr. Heater/Amazon

Make outdoor activities like camping and grilling last longer with Mr. Heater’s indoor/outdoor portable heater. This heater can connect to a propane tank or to a disposable cylinder, allowing you to keep it in one place or take it on the go. With such a versatile range of uses, this heater will—true to its name—become your best buddy when the temperature starts to drop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiland Pyramid Patio Propane Heater; Various

Hiland/Amazon

The cold’s got nothing on this powerful outdoor heater. Hiland’s patio heater has a whopping 40,000 BTU output, which runs for eight to 10 hours on high heat. Simply open the heater’s bottom door to insert a propane tank, power it on, and sit back to let it warm up your backyard. The bright, contained flame from the propane doubles as an outdoor light.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Solo Stove Bonfire Pit; $345

Solo Stove/Amazon

This one is a slight cheat since it’s a bonfire pit and not a traditional outdoor heater, but the Solo Stove has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon for a reason. Everything about this portable fire pit is meticulously crafted to maximize airflow while it's lit, from its double-wall construction to its bottom air vents. These features all work together to help the logs burn more completely while emitting far less smoke than other pits. It’s the best choice for anyone who wants both warmth and ambiance on their patio.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Dr. Infrared Garage Shop Heater; $119

Dr. Infrared/Amazon

You’ll be able to use your garage or basement workshop all season long with this durable heater from Dr. Infrared. It’s unique in that it includes a built-in fan to keep warm air flowing—something that’s especially handy if you need to work without wearing gloves. The fan is overlaid with heat and finger-protectant grills, keeping you safe while it’s powered on.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Mr. Heater 540 Degree Tank Top; $86

Mr. Heater/Amazon

Mr. Heater’s clever propane tank top automatically connects to its fuel source, saving you from having to bring any extra attachments with you on the road. With three heat settings that can get up to 45,000 BTU, the top can rotate 360 degrees to give you the perfect angle of heat you need to stay cozy. According to a reviewer, for a no-fuss outdoor heater, “This baby is super easy to light, comes fully assembled … and man, does it put out the heat.”

Buy it: Amazon

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Want to Fall Asleep Faster? Try This Breathing Technique

Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels
Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Struggling to fall asleep can feel like a hopeless battle. It often seems like the harder you try turning your brain off, the less likely it is to happen. One way to trick yourself into falling asleep fast is finding something to concentrate on other than how long you've been awake. For nights when your thoughts just won't stay quiet, try the 4-7-8 technique.

According to Simplemost, the 4-7-8 breathing method is meant to combat anxiety, restlessness, and other enemies of a good night's sleep. The actual technique is simple: Just inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Like counting sheep, measuring out your breaths gives your brain something to do that isn't obsessing about your hectic day or the day ahead.

Taking slow, deliberate breaths has also been proven to reduce stress. Neurons that influence calmness have been found in the breathing control centers of mouse brains. In humans, deep breathing has long been central to mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation. The 4-7-8 breathing technique functions as both a distraction from your thoughts and a way to combat any anxious sensations that may be keeping you awake.

The next time you find yourself tossing and turning at night, try anywhere between three and eight rounds of this breathing technique to calm your body and mind. And to get the best rest possible, make sure you're settling into the best sleep position for your health.

[h/t Simplemost]