Do probiotics help with seasonal allergies?

Do probiotics help with seasonal allergies?

Do probiotics help with seasonal allergies? If you’re a longtime allergy sufferer, you know the intensity of seasonal allergies varies from y

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Do probiotics help with seasonal allergies?

Woman with allergy symptoms

If you’re a longtime allergy sufferer, you know the intensity of seasonal allergies varies from year to year. And sometimes the things that worked last year to relieve yoursymptoms — itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, stuffy head — won’t work this year. While allergy medications can help, they also have unwanted potential sideeffects, including dry mouth and drowsiness.

But now, some scientists say, there may be an alternative: probiotics.

Probiotics are live bacteriaand yeasts that are beneficial for your digestive system. Though we tend tothink of bacteria as something that causes illness, your body contains lots ofbacteria, both good and bad.Probiotics are usually called “good” bacteriabecause they help keep your gut healthy.

Probiotics have gained in popularityin recent years and are sometimes recommended by doctors,especially pediatricians, to counteract a course of antibiotics, which can wipe out thegood bacteria with the bad, causing an upset tummy and diarrhea in theprocess. Probiotics can help combat thosegastrointestinal issues.

The two most common types ofprobiotics are called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Lactobacillus can be found in yogurt and other fermented foods, such askefir. It can help with diarrhea and may even help with lactose intolerance. Bifidobacterium also can be found in some dairy products and may behelpful for patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Probiotics may be taken as a supplement, too — you may have heard of brands like Culturelle, Florastor and Align.

Early research shows promise

Woman using eye dropsProbiotics may change the balance of bacteria in your intestines, which in turn protects the immune system and reduces allergy flare-ups. (Photo: Nicoleta Ionescu/Shutterstock)

During allergy season, allergy sufferers may be heartened to hear thatprobiotics may help them, as well. A recentstudy published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that probiotics may help alleviatesome of the discomfort. Theresearchers studied 173 participants who suffered from seasonal allergies. Onegroup was given a placebo and the other a combination of lactobacilli andbifidobacteri (sold as a supplement called Kyo-Dophilus). It should be noted that this study did not include severeallergy sufferers, but the combination of probiotics did show clinical benefitfor those with more mild symptoms.

Though the researchers in this study admit they don’t quite know exactly how the probiotics relieve allergy symptoms, a 2015 study in the journal International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology mayshed some light on the subject.

In that study, researcherscompiled data from 23 studies and found that people with seasonal allergies whotook probiotic supplements or ate foods containingprobiotics showed improvement in their allergy symptoms compared with allergy sufferers who took a placebo. Researchers theorized that the probiotics changed the balance of bacteria in the intestines, which in turn protected the immune system and prevented allergy flare-ups.

“When you look at all the studies combined, there was a statistically significant improvement in both the rhinitis-specific quality of life of those patients and in their nasal specific quality of life,” lead author Justin Turner, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University Medical Centerin Nashville,said in a press release. But he cautioned that “the jury is still out” and further studies are needed.