Probiotic combination curbs allergy symptoms, according to new University of Florida study

Allergy season is just around the corner, and millions are to their doctor for allergy shots.

This year, though, you may want to consider something new: Loading up on a mix of probiotics.

A new University of Florida study, conducted at the peak of last year’s allergy season, shows a probiotic combination helps reduce hay fever symptoms—even when waiting until the start of the allergy season to take them.

Many published studies have shown a probiotic’s ability to regulate the body’s immune response to allergies; however, according to University of Florida researchers, not all of the probiotics show a benefit.

A valuable lesson to take from this fact is that when taking a probiotic supplement you should ensure it contains a blend of multiple strains.

Scientists already know that the probiotic combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria helps maintain digestive health and improves the immune system.

Now researchers suspect that a mix of probiotics might work by increasing the human body’s percentage of regulatory T-cells, which in turn might increase tolerance to hay fever symptoms.

For the University of Florida study, researchers enrolled 173 healthy adults who said they suffered seasonal allergies. The participants were randomly split into two groups: Some took the combination probiotic; others took a placebo.

The research period was eight weeks. Each week during the research period, participants responded to an online survey to convey their discomfort level.

Scientists also analyzed DNA from participants’ stool samples to determine how their bacteria changed. This is important because probiotics aim to deliver good bacteria to the human’s intestinal system.

The DNA test also confirmed who was taking the probiotic, said Bobbi Langkamp-Henken, a professor of food science and human nutrition and a senior author of the study.

The researchers conducted the experiment at the height of spring allergy season.

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

Researchers note that this study did not include severe allergy sufferers. But the combination of probiotics showed clinical benefit for those with more mild seasonal allergies, Langkamp-Henken said.

According to other published research in the field, seasonal allergies can reduce sleep and productivity at work or school and can cause stress and embarrassment.

Furthermore, current allergy medications have unwanted potential side effects—such as dry mouth and drowsiness. This would make a natural approach—via probiotic treatment—a most welcome addition to treatment options.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.