With spring in sight, sneezing and watery eyes can't be far behind. But a probiotic combination may be able to ease the symptoms of seasonal allergies, says new research from the University of Florida.
Previous studies have shown that some probiotics — but not all — can regulate the body's immune response to allergies.
"Not all probiotics work for allergies," said doctoral student Jennifer Dennis. "This one did."
Research has shown that the probiotic combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, sold as Kyo-Dophilus in stores, helps maintain digestive health and parts of the immune system. UF researchers wanted to know if the components in this combination probiotic would help alleviate allergy symptoms, perhaps by increasing the number of T-cells, a type of white blood cell that helps the body's immune system adapt to fight pathogens.
During the height of the spring allergy season, researchers enrolled 173 healthy adult volunteers who suffered from seasonal allergies. They were randomly divided into two groups: one group took the combination probiotic while the other group took a placebo. Every week during the eight-week experiment, participants took an online survey that measured their level of symptoms.
In addition, scientists also analyzed DNA from their stool samples to determine how their bacteria changed, because probiotics aim to deliver good bacteria to the intestinal system. The DNA test also confirmed who was taking the probiotic.
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.
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Other natural substances have been found to provide effective relief from allergy symptoms:
Green tea. A Japanese study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the antioxidant EGCG (methylated epigallocatechin gallate) in green tea blocks the production of histamine and also cuts the production of immunoglobulin E, both of which trigger allergy symptoms.
Honey. Honey made from flowers and plants in your area may help "immunize" your body against pollen allergens. A study published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology found that patients with diagnosed birch pollen allergy who ate honey that included birch pollen reduced their symptoms by 60 percent and used 50 percent fewer antihistamines.
Fish oil. A study published in the journal American Review of Respiratory Diseases found that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, which are potent anti-inflammatories, reduced the symptoms of asthmatics who were sensitive to pollen. Fish oil lowered the levels of leukotrienes, chemicals that help promote allergic reactions.
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