Probiotics for Hayfever
Probiotics have traditionally been used for digestive complaints and as supplements for the immune system. New research has found that these supplements can reduce the allergic symptoms of grass and tree pollens. Hayfever is an allergic reaction to pollen that causes the immune system to release histamine which causes many of the symptoms such as itchy sore eyes, sneezing, runny nose and itchy throat.
Conventional medicines for hay fever are anti-histamines, steroid nasal sprays and eye drops containing sodium cromoglycate. I have noticed, in my work as a pharmacist, that these medications are not as effective as they were a few years ago.
Doctors are prescribing anti-histamines such as cetirizine, chlorpheniramine and loratidine in very high doses just to control the symptoms. Most hay fever sufferers take a combination of these products on a daily basis just to get through the day. These medicines do also have a number of side effects, and some people do not find them very effective. The main side effects are drowsiness and dry eyes.
A clinical trial was performed on 47 school children in Finland who had an allergy to birch pollen (the most common tree pollen offender in the UK). The group was split into two, one group took a placebo, and the other a combination of Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium Lactis. The results found that during the month of May, the probiotic group had less symptoms of runny nose and in June the group had three times less nasal congestion than the placebo group.
Other studies have confirmed that probiotic supplements are also effective at reducing the symptoms of hay fever caused by grass pollens.