Probiotics may help those with hay fever

June 4, 2008 at 2:53 PM
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NORWICH, England, June 4 (UPI) -- A daily dose of probiotic can change the immune status of people with hay fever and help them deal with peak grass pollen season, British researchers said.

In the first human study of its kind, scientists at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, England, said they found that probiotic bacteria in a daily drink can modify the immune system's response to grass pollen, a common cause of seasonal hay fever.

However, the researchers are not telling hay fever sufferers to rush to the supermarket shelves because the changes may not have an immediate effect on symptoms.

"This was a pilot study based on small numbers of patients, but we were fascinated to discover a response," study leader Claudio Nicoletti said in a statement. "The probiotic significantly reduced the production of molecules associated with allergy."

In the double-blind, placebo controlled study, volunteers with a history of seasonal hay fever drank a daily milk drink with or without live bacteria over five months. The probiotic drinks contained Lactobacillus casei, a bacterial species that has been widely studied for its health promoting properties.

The findings were published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy.

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