The researchers investigated whether the probiotic formulation Ecologic AllergyCare (Winclove Probiotics B.V., The Netherlands), could benefit patients with hay fever. In previous research the probiotic has shown to reduce eczema in children, another disease in the spectrum of atopic disorders. The researchers gave 40 hay fever patients the probiotic twice a day for a period of eight weeks. The patients were asked to report hay fever symptoms, medication use, and rated their quality of life. At the end of the study, 63% of the participants taking the probiotic reported a significantly improved quality of life. Importantly, the patients experienced less severe hay fever symptoms and used fewer medications.
Nic West, lead author of the research from Griffith University; "What is very promising is that we saw great consistency among study outcomes. Key rhinitis measurements along with symptom severity and medication load, all decreased during the study. These solid findings are very encouraging and provide strong support for further investigation of the probiotic supplement. The positive study outcomes might be explained by the multistrain nature of the probiotic formulation. We know that in allergies there is a reduction in microbial diversity. By exposing people to a multistrain formulation, with a broad number of probiotic bacteria, we may have a stronger effect on the immune system."
Hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis), is a chronic disorder of the upper respiratory tract, caused by an overreaction of the immune system to pollen. Hay fever is a global health problem affecting between 10% – 30% of the population worldwide, with increasing prevalence. Hay fever has a serious impact on daily life of patients and presents a substantial financial burden to consumers and the health care system. Although not a life-threatening disease on its own, uncontrolled hay fever can increase the risk of life threatening asthma during high pollen events, such as storms. Current treatment options, such as antihistamines, are costly, may not completely resolve symptoms and do not tackle the underlying cause.
West; "There is increasing evidence that show probiotics have a positive effect on the mucosal immune system, particularly in relation to allergies, and this evidence is going to grow. In the future, probiotics are likely to play an integral role in helping people manage their hay fever. Preventative use of probiotics in the long term can help control the severity of symptoms."