Honey Allergy Test
Common names: Honey, Forest honey, Flower honey
Honey is a food which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.
Honey Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure
Honey is a sweet, viscous food substance produced by either wild or domesticated bees from the flower nectar and other plant secretions which they consume. It is used by bees as a food source and stored by them in wax honeycombs. Humans, as well as other animals, have long consumed wild honey, and humans have since domesticated bee populations for the cultivation of honey on a larger scale.
The flavour of honey varies according to the essential oils in the nectar from which it is produced, as well as the soil types and weather prevalent in the area. There is therefore a high degree of variance between honeys from different locales.
The colour of honey also varies, from nearly colourless to deep red-amber – mainly according to the type of nectar from which it is made. In general, the darker the colour of the honey, the stronger the flavour.
Honey is sold in the comb, as the extracted liquid, and in solid and granular forms. It is a common ingredient in pastry, sweets and sauces, especially in cuisines that predate the availability of processed sugars.
Honey may also be used as a natural means of giving colour, scent and emollient properties to cosmetics. The aroma and colour depend on the plants from which the nectar was taken. Honey has been used to impart both aroma and taste to cigarettes.
Honey Allergy Test: Allergen Description
No allergens have been characterised, but early studies indicated the presence of several proteins with allergenic potential. Subsequently, honey, bee venom, honey bee body components, and pollens were shown to be the main sources of allergens detected in honey. Mould spores and algae may also be present.
Proteins derived from secretions of pharyngeal and salivary glands of honey bee heads and pollen proteins contained in the honey have been concluded to be responsible for allergic reactions to honey.
Honey Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity
Cross-reactivity would depend on the component to which the honey-allergic individual is allergic, e.g. sunflower pollen or Compositae pollen.
Honey Allergy Test: Clinical Experience
Honey appears to be a common self-reported allergy. However, it may be that honey only uncommonly induces symptoms of food allergy in sensitised individuals. The hypothesis that honey allergy should be more prevalent because of the presence of pollen allergens in honey was negated in a study in which 46 patients with pollen allergy were challenged with either honey or a placebo through a double-blind method, and either no reactions or negligible reactions were reported.
Nonetheless, in sensitised individuals ingested honey can result in reactions varying from cough to anaphylaxis. Components in honey responsible for the reactions are usually thought to be pollens or glandular secretions and body material.
Allergic reactions may be severe, resulting in anaphylaxis, generalised urticaria or angioedema. Angioedema of the lips and tongue, cough, rhinorrhoea and profound hypotension have been reported.
Allergic contact cheilitis induced by repeated contact with propolis-enriched honey has been described.
Honey contains fructose in excess of glucose, which may lead to incomplete fructose absorption associated with abdominal symptoms and/or diarrhoea.
Honey poisoning (or ‘honey Intoxication’) was described over 4 decades ago, and occurs because of the presence of grayanotoxins (formerly known as andromedotoxins, acetylandromedol, and rhodotoxin) in honey.