Posted by: Chris Maloney | March 11, 2013

Preparing For Spring Allergens: Got Probiotics?

English: Photo of skin test about 15 minutes a...

English: Photo of skin test about 15 minutes after the application of allergens and the scratching. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So as we look to see the snow beginning to melt, all allergy sufferers thoughts turn to spring. We can already see the antihistamines emptying off the shelves, and the stockpiling in bathrooms around the country.

Is there anything else we might try, particularly as the antihistamines tend to lose effect over decades of use?

Why yes, the addition of probiotics might ease the suffering. In several studies, adding probiotics (variations on lactobacteria) eased symptoms without necessarily changing the response in the blood to the allergens. In other words, people suffered less, but their labs still came back positive for the allergy.

My thought would immediately be that the immune response of the nose to pollen/allergens is based on a threshold of irriation. Adding probiotics orally allows some of them to migrate up the nose and to competitively block the growth of other more irritating bacteria. So the body’s surface antibodies, the IgA, are less likely to go ape when confronted by both pollen and the background irritation.

In this case, the probiotics are oral, which means adding fermented foods into your diet.

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2004 Apr;15(2):152-8.

Treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis with lactic acid bacteria.

Wang MF, Lin HC, Wang YY, Hsu CH.


Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology, Department of Pediatrics, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan, ROC.


Probiotics are perceived to exert beneficial effects in the prevention and treatment of allergic diseases via modifying the gut ecosystem. The aim of this study was to assess whether ingestion of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus paracasei-33 (LP-33), a strain newly isolated from the human intestinal tract, can improve the quality of life of patients with perennial allergic rhinitis. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we gave patients fermented milk with (n = 60) or without (n = 20) the addition of LP-33 (2 x 10(9) colony-forming units per bottle) for 30 days. A modified questionnaire concerning pediatric rhinoconjunctivitis quality of life was administered to all subjects or their parents at each clinical visit. Scores for the overall quality of life significantly decreased in the LP-33 group as compared with the placebo group, in both frequency (-16.02 +/- 2.14 vs. -7.27 +/- 3.55, respectively; p = 0.037) and level of bother (-16.35 +/- 2.33 vs. -6.20 +/- 3.13, respectively; p = 0.022) after the 30-day treatment. Subjects reported no severe adverse effects such as fever, abdominal pain, or diarrhea. The results suggest that ingestion of LP-33-fortified fermented milk for 30 days can effectively and safely improve the quality of life of patients with allergic rhinitis, and may serve as an alternative treatment for allergic rhinitis.

PMID: 15059192


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