As we head into allergy season, you may feel less likely to grab a tissue and sneeze if you are eating a probiotic combination that has been shown to reduce hay fever symptoms.

Probiotics, which are live bacteria and yeasts—in foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, live-cultured Greek yogurt, and miso soup—have already been proven in published studies to regulate the body’s immune response to allergies, but not all probiotics show a benefit.

University of Florida researchers have figured out which one did.

The probiotic combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, sold as the Kyo-Dophilus supplement in stores, is known to aid in maintaining digestive health and parts of the immune system.

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UF researchers wanted to know if the components in this combination probiotic would help alleviate allergy symptoms. They suspected that it might work by increasing the human body’s percentage of regulatory T-cells, which in turn might increase tolerance to hay fever symptoms.

To do that, they 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 in the height of spring allergy season, participants responded to an online survey to convey their discomfort level.

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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.

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.

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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.

Allergy medications today have unwanted potential side effects, including dry mouth and drowsiness, so this holistic alternative might be just what the doctor ordered.

(Source: University of Florida)

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