Reported in Clinical and Experimental Allergy, scientists at the Institute of Food Research have found evidence that a daily dose of probiotic can beneficially change the immune status of people with hayfever.
"This was a pilot study based on small numbers of patients, but we were fascinated to discover a response", says research leader Professor Claudio Nicoletti. "The probiotic significantly reduced the production of molecules associated with allergy."
In the study, volunteers with a history of seasonal hay fever drank a daily milk drink with or without live bacteria over 5 months. The study was double-blinded and placebo controlled, so neither the volunteers nor the scientists knew who had been assigned the probiotic drinks. The probiotic drinks contained Lactobacillus casei. "The probiotic strain we tested changed the way the body's immune cells respond to grass pollen, restoring a more balanced immune response", noted Dr Kamal Ivory, a senior member of the group.
However, the researchers caution that sufferers not rush to the supermarket shelves just yet, as the changes found may not have an immediate effect on symptoms. Clinical symptoms were not measured in this study and one aim of future research is to perform a similar study to see if the immunological changes translate into a real reduction in the clinical symptoms of hayfever.
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Source: Norwich BioScience Institutes