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Question About Raw Honey
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I apologize if this question has been asked before.

Normally, I would assume that raw honey is gluten-free and safe to eat. BUT, what if the beehives are kept in an area that grows wheat and/or is surrounded by wheat fields? Is there a chance that gluten would be in the raw honey, or is that me being a worrywart?

The reason I ask is because I ate some raw honey in my pumpkin puree last night, and I had stomach issues all night and currently am experiencing all the warm, fuzzy feelings of a good glutening.

It could very well be something else causing this, but I'd like to know if this raw honey is OK to eat in my situation--we have a HUGE tub of it and I would hate to waste it!

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I don't want to discount anything necessarily, however I would think that the honey would be fine. Regular ol' honey could potentially come from a hive located close to a wheat field as well, and heating or processing it wouldn't do anything to destroy the gluten. So if raw honey is a potential source of CC, so would regular honey. And peanut butter when the peanuts come from a field next to a wheat field. And jam made from berries grown next to a wheat field. And sugarcane grown next to wheat. Etc.

If you really thought about all the potential sources for food to be grown next to a wheat field, you literally wouldn't eat anything you didn't grow yourself. And even then, you'd have to worry about birds and bees transplanting wheat to your garden...

Sorry to sound negative, but you have to draw the line somewhere, you know? Hope you're feeling better!

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Thanks for your response, Al. I don't know if this is possible but I've really begun to wonder since discovering my problem with gluten. I guess a sub-question of this topic would be: Can living in a wheat-concentrated area provoke symptoms or make symptoms worse?

I live in an area of Montana nicknamed the Golden Triangle, because such a huge amount of wheat is grown here, the largest in the state. (It's about 150 miles of solid wheat from each apex.) I honestly don't remember having any of these GI issues until after I moved here (I had other things but no GI distress.) It could be coincidence, but I sat down one day and figured out a timeline of when my symptoms got worse, and each time they coincided with harvest.

So it's not just "a" wheat field, it's hundreds of miles of them packed solidly. This is the windiest place I've ever been, dust is constantly everywhere. :(

Does anyone else have experience with this or a similar situation?

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Wow, that's a real puzzle! I don't know the answer but I was always taught that you should eat honey from local bees because they are using the pollen from local sources. The local pollen should help counteract your allergies. No scientific evidence just annecdotal.

Any beekeepers out there?

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Ang--that's actually why we started using the local raw honey in the first place, to help with my fiance's allergies. It seems to be really helping him! He used to get wiped out when allergy season hit, now he just gets a bit of sniffling and sneezing. As for helping me, I'm not so sure! :)

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We have kept bees before. Since acres and acres of wheat would SURELY provide a huge amount of perpetual wheat dust in the air, logic would tell me that this wheat dust would surely deposit itself on the hives and particularly in the sticky honey-laden beeswax trays. When we extracted our honey, we just manually strained off the worst of the debris and bottled it raw. Some beekeepers strain it further and heat it, but neither of those would eliminate wheat dust either. It's a good question that many of us might want to ponder. Maybe we need to buy honey that is exclusively produced from bees in areas that don't grow grains in particular. I'm sure corn or soy or other major allergen grains could be an issue here as well for the same reasons. Now one more thing to figure out! :rolleyes:

And I hate to say it, but I would also think it would be a problem for a gluten intolerant person to live in a wheat producing environment at all. That's when things can get difficult. How far do you go to avoid gluten?

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Gentle--that's an excellent point. We had considered staying here another few years (because it's financially lucrative to do so) but now with the advent of all these health issues, we'll probably move as soon as we can. The area we're planning on moving is NOT agricultural by any means, so I think things might improve.

It could be just a coincidence that all of this started after we moved here, but I'm not so sure...

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Just an update, and something to ponder.

I keep thinking about this subject, if living where I live is making me sick. Sometimes I think it's hooey, sometimes I think it's the key.

My wedding was last weekend, in the southern CA desert. Prior to leaving, I had some tummy troubles and was very nervous about being in a car for so long. We left on Tuesday, and luckily, the issues stopped on Wednesday.

Since it was my wedding, I allowed myself a bit of freedom with some gluten-free foods I don't usually eat, like a gluten-free brownie at the reception, gluten-free granny smith cider from Trader Joe's, Spanish rice, fresh fruit salad. I had no GI distress whatsoever. I also lost about 5 pounds. In fact, I felt better than I've felt in years. I loved being in the sunshine and warm weather, and the sky was so clear and beautiful.

We returned home, back to MT Tuesday night. On Thursday, my GI troubles started again and I've had "issues" each day. Yes, I didn't want to leave, but I was NOT expecting to have painful diarrhea after returning.

I just can't figure this out. Is it something in the region where I live? Is it a particular food I eat when I'm at home and nowhere else? Is it something in my house, like a mold problem? Is it something at work, something I'm breathing through the heating/cooling system?

I feel like I'm hearing hoofbeats and thinking of zebras, but is it really possible for all of these little things over the past 3 years to be merely unrelated coincidences? Does anyone have any thoughts on this, or any similar experiences? I'm sick of this.

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Interesting dilemma. There are people that are so sensitive to gluten that breathing it in causes issues. I here it

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Here's my unexpert thoughts...

Since people react to the "protein" found in wheat, barley, malt and rye. I would think that it should not be a problem to be associated with wheat dust. Perhaps during harvest time when the wheat hulls are disturbed, and if it were to "float" into the honey, it might be an issue. People with a wheat allergy, I would see a concern.

There are a lot of if's (to my humble opinion) and this would be interesting to research.

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Thank you for your replies!

Salax--I've never thought myself to be overly sensitive to gluten in particular (but I am sensitive to a lot of foods in general) so I don't know if it's that I'm breathing something or what. As for liking where I live, it's OK. I like certain things about it and dislike certain things about it. I actually like living here better now (that we've sort of become "established" and have good friends) than when we first moved here, yet I'm so much more sensitive and sick more often than when we started living here. It's a mystery!

Momma Goose--that's the thing I don't know about - what exactly is floating around and when. They harvest 2-3x per year here, depending on the wheat crop. It's also INCREDIBLY windy, and our houses are constantly collecting dust from neighboring fields. It's like a Steinbeck novel. I did have a reaction to wheat during allergy testing, but not large enough to be considered an allergy. (I think I registered as a "3" for wheat when it needed to be a "4" for an allergy.) I'm not sure how much stock I put into allergy testing anyway, I've heard and read that it's highly unreliable.

One thing that I've been pondering is if I'm getting sick because my home is not 100% gluten-free. My husband eats sandwiches for lunch, but prepares them in one area of the kitchen that I do not use. He also drinks beer, but that is easy to "contain" as far as gluten in concerned. Occasionally we will have burgers for dinner, and again these are prepared in the "gluten" area of the kitchen. I did realize that when we were gone (this past week anyway) there was virtually NO gluten in the house we rented. (Only one meal had gluten [hamburger buns] and it was eaten outside. There were no breads, cookies, cakes, etc. in the house that contained gluten. Everything else we served was gluten-free, and the wedding reception was gluten-free as well.

Perhaps it's a cross-contamination issue in my own home? Do many of you live in non-gluten-free households?

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Thank you for your replies!

Salax--I've never thought myself to be overly sensitive to gluten in particular (but I am sensitive to a lot of foods in general) so I don't know if it's that I'm breathing something or what. As for liking where I live, it's OK. I like certain things about it and dislike certain things about it. I actually like living here better now (that we've sort of become "established" and have good friends) than when we first moved here, yet I'm so much more sensitive and sick more often than when we started living here. It's a mystery!

Momma Goose--that's the thing I don't know about - what exactly is floating around and when. They harvest 2-3x per year here, depending on the wheat crop. It's also INCREDIBLY windy, and our houses are constantly collecting dust from neighboring fields. It's like a Steinbeck novel. I did have a reaction to wheat during allergy testing, but not large enough to be considered an allergy. (I think I registered as a "3" for wheat when it needed to be a "4" for an allergy.) I'm not sure how much stock I put into allergy testing anyway, I've heard and read that it's highly unreliable.

One thing that I've been pondering is if I'm getting sick because my home is not 100% gluten-free. My husband eats sandwiches for lunch, but prepares them in one area of the kitchen that I do not use. He also drinks beer, but that is easy to "contain" as far as gluten in concerned. Occasionally we will have burgers for dinner, and again these are prepared in the "gluten" area of the kitchen. I did realize that when we were gone (this past week anyway) there was virtually NO gluten in the house we rented. (Only one meal had gluten [hamburger buns] and it was eaten outside. There were no breads, cookies, cakes, etc. in the house that contained gluten. Everything else we served was gluten-free, and the wedding reception was gluten-free as well.

Perhaps it's a cross-contamination issue in my own home? Do many of you live in non-gluten-free households?

I live in a non gluten free home with five gluten eaters and myself. My wife bakes and cooks all the time. We have a small kitchen and are careful about shared spaces. I just had my first issue with glutening since going gluten-free in November of 2008 yesterday and it came from my carelessly forgetting about what I had read on a label some months ago. There are crumbs sometimes, the smell of chocolate chip cookies or pepperoni rolls or some other baked good wafting through the house too many times for me..it's downright torture sometimes mentally but I have never had a problem with reacting or CC until I directly ingested a known (but stupidly forgotten) source of gluten. Then again, everyone is different.

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My thought on the honey is that I wouldn't eat it. Honey is basically from pollen, and pollen does travel through the air. In fact, I've read that farmers have tremendous difficulty keeping their fields producing the specific varieties of grains they grow, because of pollen drifting in from other fields in the area. This seems especially true for non-GMO crops. Does anyone recall the law suit where the farmer had GMO corn growing in his fields, which he did NOT plant? The company holding the patent on the GMO corn filed suit against him, for growing "their" crop without having paid for the seed. It was determined that pollen drifted in from another field.

Some studies on Celiac Disease, involving the original non-hybrid wheat varieties, have failed because the fields get contaminated with the man-made strains. Last I read, of the more than 20,000 varieties of wheat currently in commercial production, ALL are modern hybrids.

Anyway, I do think it is possible for someone to be reacting to wheat pollen or dust from the fields. What I think I might do, is take a new, clean air filter for an air cleaner, swish it in a pan of water, then test the water with one of those home gluten test kits. Then use the filter in the air cleaner device until you can visually see particulate collected on it. Then run the water test again. If you run the air cleaner outside, it should avoid being contaminated by the inside air. So if the filter then tests positive, it seems to me this proves that the gluten came from outside.

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Chasbari--you are brave! I got rid of all flours when I went gluten-free. The only thing my husband has is bread/buns, and beer. He even eats gluten-free pasta now! When I returned home, it was like I had been glutened, and I'm not sure what from, since I hadn't eaten anything out of the ordinary when I got back. I'm basically grasping at straws here. If it's a CC issue that's causing it, my husband already said he'd go gluten-free. I'd prefer not to do that if I don't have to, as it would be MUCH more expensive. He's also a ridiculously picky eater and can't/won't eat half the stuff I will.

RiceGuy--I am so glad that you believe this could be a real possibility! I feel like I'm going crazy some days, but my symptoms and problems HAVE to be related somehow to where I live. I wasn't even aware of harvest schedules before. I only figured out the link when making a timeline for my doctor, a timeline of symptoms and incidences of being ill. During each harvest, my symptoms would worsen and I would be VERY sick.

I'm definitely staying away from the honey, I guess DH will have to eat it.

The nearest large city in the area is the ACTUAL windiest city in N. America. This whole area is constantly dusty and windy. It's impossible to escape. We also live in an older building and the windows do not seal properly, so we always have dust/dirt from the outside getting in that way. I think we will definitely be moving much sooner than we anticipated.

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Chasbari--you are brave! I got rid of all flours when I went gluten-free. The only thing my husband has is bread/buns, and beer. He even eats gluten-free pasta now! When I returned home, it was like I had been glutened, and I'm not sure what from, since I hadn't eaten anything out of the ordinary when I got back. I'm basically grasping at straws here. If it's a CC issue that's causing it, my husband already said he'd go gluten-free. I'd prefer not to do that if I don't have to, as it would be MUCH more expensive. He's also a ridiculously picky eater and can't/won't eat half the stuff I will.

RiceGuy--I am so glad that you believe this could be a real possibility! I feel like I'm going crazy some days, but my symptoms and problems HAVE to be related somehow to where I live. I wasn't even aware of harvest schedules before. I only figured out the link when making a timeline for my doctor, a timeline of symptoms and incidences of being ill. During each harvest, my symptoms would worsen and I would be VERY sick.

I'm definitely staying away from the honey, I guess DH will have to eat it.

The nearest large city in the area is the ACTUAL windiest city in N. America. This whole area is constantly dusty and windy. It's impossible to escape. We also live in an older building and the windows do not seal properly, so we always have dust/dirt from the outside getting in that way. I think we will definitely be moving much sooner than we anticipated.

I know I'm a year or so late here, but I'm wondering whether your symptoms subsided when you stopped eating the honey? I have all of the sudden had a return of symptoms, and I thinking it might some honey from the local farmer's market that I recently started eating a lot of. I'm going to stop and see what happens.

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Just my two cents:

I do think being in a heavily "infested" wheat harvest area may be an issue. I live in Denver and it's often windy here too, you can see the dirt and pollen being blown for miles. Remember, you have to INGEST the wheat to cause your Gastro symptoms, not simply "be around it". If it's that busy of an Agricultural area, this may be fairly easy to do.

I love the air cleaner filter idea, brilliant.

Here are some other thoughts.

I'm highly sensitive, but honey has never bothered me. I do buy local honey, but most of this isn't necessarily harvested near the major wheat producing areas in CO, maybe it's been luck so far.

Do you use separate toasters in your house? This is a must! Some go so far as having to use separate everything.

Does your hubby stick his knife in the butter, jam, peanut butter, mayo, etc etc when he uses it? Does it CC you?

Do you share a bread machine?

You should eliminate the possible CC in your household first, IMHO, before you panic. Have him go gluten-free for two weeks and see how you do!

Best of luck.

PS: You're not any more crazy than the rest of us trying to figure this all out!

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I apologize if this question has been asked before.

Normally, I would assume that raw honey is gluten-free and safe to eat. BUT, what if the beehives are kept in an area that grows wheat and/or is surrounded by wheat fields? Is there a chance that gluten would be in the raw honey, or is that me being a worrywart?

The reason I ask is because I ate some raw honey in my pumpkin puree last night, and I had stomach issues all night and currently am experiencing all the warm, fuzzy feelings of a good glutening.

It could very well be something else causing this, but I'd like to know if this raw honey is OK to eat in my situation--we have a HUGE tub of it and I would hate to waste it!

The bad news about honey is that manufacturers are cheating by adding Glucose syrup to the honey. I've been ill and couldn't understand why. After ruling out all possibilities I got to Honey. I confirmed the Gluten content by using a Gluten flow through test on expensive 100% pure Honey. I was shocked to discover the honey was full of Gluten! Now I steer clear of all Honey in the shops.

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Hello all! I am new to the forum and was excited to see this topic! For the past 2 weeks I have made gluten free pancakes on Sunday morning and have felt sick afterwards for the entire day. I used 100% pure maple syrup and the gluten free pancake mix. Well, the pancake mix calls for honey. I found it hard to believe that this would make me sick and I feared that maybe my gluten intolerance diagnosis was crap now. I researched online and found that honey can contain maltose. I was floored. I also found out that commercial honey is usually thinned and has syrup added to it. I bought a new pancake mix that does not require honey so I will let you know how it goes! ;)

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Maltose, despite the name, is not malt and is gluten-free. It is a form of sugar.

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Maltose, despite the name, is not malt and is gluten-free. It is a form of sugar.

Well that's good to know thank goodness! Thank you for the info. I do know that the honey I used was commercial, but I guess I'll have to look for other ingredients that may be the culprit. Totally made me sick twice now. Hmmmmm.....going to have me thinking now.

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Hi, guys. Just wanted to mention that I recently read a beekeeper's post, & that I was totally CRUSHED , as I LOVE HONEY!! (Especially the Really Raw Honey)! He was sharing the fact that when pollen is scarce, bees are known to roll around in any kind of dust, such as open flour sacks, coal dust, etc... I'm quoting what he posted below:

"As a beekeeper, I would like to adress a topic I haven't seen much about. Bee Pollen. During the times when actual pollen is scarce, bees gather up any kind of dust, including grain dust...

http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek060122.html

Chip Taylor, the University of Kansas entomologist best known for his project on Monarch Watch butterfly tagging, tells us dust collecting by Honeybees is actually quite common in spring. If pollen is unavailable, Honeybees collect all sorts of dust that contains carbon--even coal dust. Dr. Taylor reports that in open markets in Central and South America it's not uncommon to see bees collecting flour from open sacks or spillage--a behavior also well-known in Africa--and that beekeepers sometimes put out "pollen substitutes" such as high-protein soy flour in spring and fall."

(NOTE: The above post was quoted from "acjeff" at another celiac forum/blog).

I have no idea if there really is such a thing as "gluten-free" honey- trust me, I've been looking! Now I know WHY I used to be bent over in PAIN after eating some pure raw bee pollen! God Bless & be well.

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Wow - I'd never heard of the dust collecting. That...might explain a few things with honey. Interesting.

Re: the original question on wheat fields (I know it's old, but we're all interested again, yeah?). I do know that some of the protein used in the making of honey remains in the honey afterward. The protein is not completely destroyed when the bees make the honey.

This is a problem for the corn allergic, because some beekeepers are feeding bees corn syrup, and the corn still remains in the honey afterward in high enough amounts to cause an allergic reaction.

I'd never heard of any farmers using wheat based syrups, but this got me curious, and now...now I know better. Syrups based on wheat aren't used, but wheat can be used as part of a supplemental feeding of bees during the winter time.

"None of the protein supplemental foods fed to honey bees is a complete replacement for natural pollen; however, several brewer’s yeast products, Wheat, and soybean flour, fed singly or in combination, can be used to improve the nutrition of colonies when natural pollen is scarce. Cane or beet sugar and isomerized corn sirup can be used to supplement the bees’ diet of nectar or honey." http://www.beesource.com/resources/usda/supplemental-feeding-of-honey-bee-colonies/

This is older information (although put out by the USDA), and so I don't know how common the practice is for most beekeepers. Probably worth checking out, if you think you've reacted to honey, yeah?

Another issue that might make one ill (although may not be gluten related) is all the medication they add to the beehives now. Mite infestations are so ubiquitous that almost all hives have to be medicated. One way of doing this is to put in strips with the medication, for the bees to walk over and spread around. It's preferred that this is done when the honey isn't being made, but it's not required.

I haven't been able to get a lot of information on what's in the medication, unfortunately, so I have no idea if it's gluten free or not.

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From Gluten-Free Diet A Comprehensive Resource Guide, by Shelley Case, 2008 edition, page 33:

Foods allowed: Honey

The same information appears in the 2006 edition, also on page 33.

Shelley Case is a recognized expert on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. I don't really know about the beekeeper.

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...Foods allowed: Honey

...Shelley Case is a recognized expert on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. I don't really know about the beekeeper.

I wouldn't deny that there are experts on the disease, and the diet, but honestly? We're nowhere near a full understanding of this disease or the foods involved, so their expertise only stretches so far. Even the experts are still learning and refining what is 'true' about our disease, as new information comes to light. Honey is probably fine for most celiacs; I honestly don't know. But based on what people have said here, some people are having issues with it.

We wouldn't be human if we didn't question why, or search for answers. I don't think anyone here was trying to imply that we should all run away screaming from honey if we're a celiac. I think it's more that we're trying to search for why some of us seem to have trouble with it. We know that people like Shelley Case think it's fine for us; that's why we ate it in the first place.

Unfortunately, Shelley doesn't have the answer for why we got sick, which is why we're talking here, yes?

Relying solely on the experts, for a lot of us, is agreeing to lie down and get sicker. Because if they're right, then all our issues and problems are just in our heads. All the foods that make us react, consistently, couldn't possibly be a problem.

Well, for years, celiacs' neurological issues were 'all in their head' or solely due to malnutrition, too. Now the experts have had to eat their words as they find evidence to the contrary. The allowed/not allowed list of foods has changed over the years, as well. Researchers still haven't even done studies on some of the grains that are listed as safe for Celiacs to eat. Until recently, they'd only done studies on oats, rice and corn to see if they were safe.

We're nowhere near the end of research on this disease OR the foods that we can have. If we were, I figure probably a lot more of us would be doing better than we are.

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