Probiotic combo may ease your spring sneezing

(Credit: vika mno/Flickr)

A new probiotic combination taken during allergy season may help reduce hay fever symptoms.

Many published studies have shown a probiotic’s ability to regulate the body’s immune response to allergies, but not all of the probiotics show a benefit.

“Not all probiotics work for allergies. This one did,” says Jennifer Dennis, a doctoral student in the food science and human nutrition department at the University of Florida and first author of the study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Scientists already knew that the probiotic combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, sold as Kyo-Dophilus in stores, helps maintain digestive health and parts of the immune system. They suspect that probiotics might work by increasing the human body’s percentage of regulatory T-cells, which in turn might increase tolerance to hay fever symptoms.

They wanted to know if the components in this combination probiotic would help alleviate allergy symptoms.

Is life with a dog like taking probiotics?

For the study, which was conducted at the height of the spring allergy season, researchers enrolled 173 healthy adults who said they suffered seasonal allergies and randomly split them into two groups: Some took the combination probiotic; others took a placebo. Each week during the eight-week experiment, participants responded to an online survey to convey their discomfort level.

The scientists also analyzed DNA from participants’ stool samples to determine how their bacteria changed, because probiotics aim to deliver good bacteria to the human’s intestinal system. The DNA test also confirmed who was taking the probiotic, says senior author Bobbi Langkamp-Henken, professor of food science and human nutrition and a senior author of the study.

Participants who took the probiotic reported improvements in quality of life, compared to those taking the placebo. For example, participants suffered fewer allergy-related nose symptoms, which meant that they were less troubled during daily activities.

The study did not include severe allergy sufferers, but the combination of probiotics showed clinical benefit for those with more mild seasonal allergies, Langkamp-Henken says.

Other published research has shown that seasonal allergies can reduce sleep and productivity at work or school and can cause stress and embarrassment. Further, current allergy medications have unwanted potential side effects, including dry mouth and drowsiness.

Source: University of Florida