Probiotics Reduce Pollen Allergies

grass pollen allergies

Photo by Danijel Micka

Allergies aren’t just about the allergen. They are also about the microbes in our bodies.

Research from Switzerland has determined that a common probiotic strain found in many probiotic foods and supplements has the ability to significantly boost immunity and decrease allergy symptoms during allergy season.

In this double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, the researchers gave 20 patients with seasonal allergies either supplemented Bifidobacterium lactis (strain number NCC2818) or a placebo for eight weeks.

The study took place during the peak of grass pollen allergy season and the patients were all sufferers of seasonal allergic rhinitis – the medical term for allergies mostly associated with grass pollen allergies. (Allergic rhinitis can also be an allergy to many other allergens, however.)

The recruits for the study were confirmed to be pollen-allergic using skin testing and a medical history of pollen allergies.

Before, during and after the eight weeks of treatment, the patients were given questionnaires and blood tests to assess their symptoms.

The researchers found that those who took the probiotic supplement had significantly fewer allergy symptoms. Sinus symptoms such as nasal discharge, sneezing and so on were significantly lower in the probiotic group.

The probiotic group also had significantly lower levels of inflammatory cytokines within their blood. Basophil levels – white blood cells often used to diagnose allergies and other inflammatory conditions – were also significantly lower among the probiotic group. These objective blood findings illustrated what their symptoms indicated: that their bodies were not responding in the same way to the pollen.

hay fever folded side
Learn more about how probiotics and other natural strategies can beat allergies.
Because most of the improvement came in the second month of treatment, the research also confirmed that probiotic and/or food supplementation need to be taken for a couple of months before good results are seen.

In this regard, the researchers commented that, “for the beneficial effect of probiotics to manifest on the immune system and allergic symptoms, a continuous 8-week period of oral administration could be required to reach a possible beneficial outcome.”

Other probiotic species help reduce allergies

Bifidobacterium lactis – previously named Bifidobacterium animalis and also sometimes referred to as Streptococcus lactis – has been found to have many different health benefits.

Many of these researched benefits of B. lactis are related to stimulating immunity, including reducing the incidence and severity of the common cold and influenza.

B. lactis is often used for culturing yogurt, as well as certain types of natural cheeses. Traditional buttermilk and cottage cheese production also utilizes B. lactis, but most modern conventional versions of these two healthy foods use acidification rather than probiotic culturing methods.

microbes and probiotics webinar


Singh A, Hacini-Rachinel F, Gosoniu ML, Bourdeau T, Holvoet S, Doucet-Ladeveze R, Beaumont M, Mercenier A, Nutten S. Immune-modulatory effect of probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis NCC2818 in individuals suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis to grass pollen: an exploratory, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jan 9. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2012.197.

Adams C. Probiotics – Protection Against Infection: Using Nature’s Tiny Warriors To Stem Infection and Fight Disease. Logical Books, 2012

Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.

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