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If you’ve ever suffered from hay fever — also known as allergic rhinitis — you know it’s no walk in the park. On the contrary, it can turn a mere walk through your local park into an unpleasant, sneeze-and-sniffle-filled ordeal!
Around 40 to 60 million Americans are estimated to suffer from allergic rhinitis each year. All sorts of environmental allergens such as dust mites, molds, animal dander, air pollutants and the one you most likely think of — pollens — cause allergic reactions.
If you’ve been unlucky enough to experience the sneezing, runny nose and red, watery and itchy eyes, you’ll understand these allergies can be a huge pain — sometimes to the point where they have a negative effect on your daily activities and quality of life.
Of course, medications do exist to treat hay fever allergies. For instance, antihistamines are a common choice. But these can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, restlessness and anxiety, dizziness, fainting, digestive problems and may even lead to heart palpitations in some.
That’s why it’s always exciting to discover that natural alternatives can help…
Handle hay fever with probiotics
Recent studies have found that altering your gut bacteria with the assistance of probiotics — which are essentially free of side effects — can effectively relieve seasonal allergies by moderating your immune system!
The idea that gut bacteria are associated with hay fever may sound strange. But inside your gut you have around 10 trillion bacteria that are intricately involved in the operations of your immune system and how your body functions.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that can be introduced to your body by way of fermented food sources such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, miso soup, kombucha, and kimchi; or via supplementation — that help improve the quality of the bacteria in your gut.
And in terms of seasonal allergies, probiotics have been proven to provide some relief…
Researchers gave people probiotics over 8 weeks during spring allergy season. The participants were required to take 2 capsules a day containing 1.5 billion strains per capsules, which included probiotic strains L. gasseri KS-13, B. bifidum G9-1 and B. longum MM-2. These were consumed after breakfast and dinner each day. At the end of the 8 weeks, researchers found the probiotics reduced all their symptoms and dramatically improved the quality of their lives.
In another study, participants with persistent allergic rhinitis were all given an antihistamine along with probiotics (LP-33) or placebo, for five weeks during the grass pollen season. Compared to the placebo control group, who only took the antihistamines, the eye-related symptoms in those taking probiotics, significantly improved. And they reported a higher quality of life overall.
These kind of results have also been replicated across multiple clinical trials — a meta-analysis of seventeen studies reporting various probiotic strains show significant benefits for allergic rhinitis.
Researchers believe that hay fever may be partially caused by an imbalance between different types of immune cells. And since gut bacteria are involved in immune function, taking a simple probiotic supplement or consuming more fermented foods can help your body restore the delicate balance by altering the composition of your gut flora, which of course, wards off those awful seasonal allergies!
Costa DJ, et al. Efficacy and safety of the probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei LP-33 in allergic rhinitis: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (GA2LEN Study). — European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014;68:602-607.
Dennis-Wall JC, et al. Probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1, and Bifidobacterium longum MM-2) improve rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life in individuals with seasonal allergies: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. — American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2017;105:758-767.
Yang G, et al. Treatment of allergic rhinitis with probiotics: An alternative approach. — North American Journal of Medical Sciences. 2013;5(8):465-468.
Zajac AE, et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of probiotics for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. — International Forum of Allergic Rhinology. 2015;5(6):524-532.