NEWS: Probiotics May Provide Help with Allergies

By now, everyone knows that probiotics, whether you get them from food or a supplement, drastically help to improve the gut health and overall digestive systems in our bodies. But did you know that they could also help allergy sufferers? It’s true. A study says that a certain combination of probiotics could help ease the symptoms of hay fever if it’s taken during allergy season.

The probiotic combination providing this relief includes lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. Researchers believe the reason this specific combo might work so well for allergy sufferers is because it increases the body’s percentage of regulatory T-cells. T-cells are a specific types of white blood cells, or lymphocytes, that work in the body to recognize invaders like bacteria, viruses or parasites and then produce effective weapons against them. Some T-cells kill virus cells directly. These white blood cells work 24-hours a day to keep us healthy.

“Not all probiotics work for allergies. This one did,” said Jennifer Dennis, the study’s first author and a doctoral student in the UF Food Science and Human Nutrition department in UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Researchers at the University of Florida put this theory to the test when, at the peak of allergy season, they gathered 173 allergy sufferers. They split them into two groups, giving one group the probiotic combination and a placebo to the second. The experiment went for eight weeks, and each week, as a check-in process, the study participants completed an online survey to describe the level of discomfort they were feeling. DNA from the participants’ stool samples were also analyzed to chart how their bacteria changed. Because probiotics send good bacteria to the body’s intestines, the DNA samples also served as confirmation that the participants were actually taking the probiotic.

Those who received the probiotic combo said they felt better overall. They also had less allergy-related nose discomfort and felt better while doing day-to-day activities, compared to those who were just given the placebo, according to the study.

While this is a big find for probiotic fans and people plagued with allergies, it’s important to note that no one in the study was considered an extreme or severe allergy sufferer. So don’t toss your favorite hay fever symptom remedy in the trash just yet. Using probiotics to treat hay fever symptoms probably would work best for those who suffer from mild allergies.

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