The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
The components of honey responsible for allergic reactions, ranging from cough to anaphylaxis, are usually thought to be pollens, glandular secretions and bee body material. There is some disagreement with the idea that honey allergies are primarily caused by the pollen particles found in the honey. Patients with polyvalent pollen or food allergies such as an allergy to celery, as well as patients with other bee-related allergens, should avoid honey consumption.
Chronic pruritic cheilitis (dry, itchy lips), occupational asthma, urticaria on the hands, chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, angioedema (swelling under the skin) with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), dysponia (abnormal voice), and dyspnea (difficulty breathing) have all been reported.
Side Effects and Warnings
In general, honey is well tolerated in the recommended does and for daily consumption. Honey has generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status in the United States. However, there are reported cases of honey intoxication documented in the literature as an adverse effect of consuming toxic honey also known as 'mad honey,' which is produced from the nectar of certain flowering plants such as those of the genus Rhododendron . The symptoms of honey intoxication vary from case to case and may include weakness, sweating, hypotension (low blood pressure), bradycardia (lowered heart rate), Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, gastritis (inflammation of stomach), peptic ulcer, nausea, vomiting, faintness, leukocytosis (abnormally high white blood cell count), mild paralysis, dizziness, vertigo, blurred vision, convulsions and respiratory rate depression. Avoid the use of honey that is produced from the nectar of flowering plants of the genus Rhododendron.
There is a concern with some third world countries that the topical use of honey on deep leprotic (of leprosy) ulcers may increase the risk of maggot infestation in the wound by houseflies and bluebottle flies. Topically, honey may cause excessive dryness of wounds, which may delay healing. Applying saline packs as needed may treat this.
Honey contains fructose in excess of glucose, which may lead to incomplete fructose absorption associated with abdominal symptoms and/or diarrhea.
Many cases of infant botulism (bacterial illness) caused by consumption of honey containing Clostridium botulinum spore have been reported. Clostridium botulinum spores can proliferate in the intestines of infants and cause botulism poisoning. However, this potential risk does not pertain to older children or adults. Do not use honey in infants under 12 months of age. Another concern is that due to its acidity, the practice of keeping honey in the mouth for a prolonged period may erode dental enamel.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
There are some concerns regarding the use of honey in pregnant and breastfeeding women. Potentially harmful contaminants such as C. botulinum and grayanotoxins can be found in some types of honey and may be harmful to pregnant or breastfeeding woman and to the growing fetus.