Tired of hay fever allergies stopping you from doing all the things you love?
If you're fed up with itchy, weepy eyes and a runny nose (allergic rhinitis symptoms) every time you venture outside in the summer, then you'll love what the boffins have discovered about the popular probiotic drink, Yakult.
Hay fever alleriges are caused by an over-sensitive immune response. The immune system normally protects the body against harmful substances, but in a few individuals the immune system reacts to substances that are harmless to most people.
When a sensitive person breathes in an allergen such as pollen or dust, antibodies are produced which cause histamine and other chemicals to be released. This causes itching, swelling, and mucus production. Symptoms can vary.
When your immune system mistakes pollen spores, fungal spores, airborne chemicals, or dust particles for harmful invaders, the white blood cells - T-helper type 2 (Th2) lymphocytes - produce protein-like cytokines such as interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-5 and IL-6, which in turn promote the synthesis of the immune chemicals immunoglobulins [Ig] which bind to the pollen or dust particle and fight them off. This is allergic rhinitis.
When a small group of volunteers took the probiotic Lactobacillus casei Shirota, it significantly reduced the production of IL-5, IL-6, IFN-gamma and IgE. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is the main antibody associated with an allergic response or hay fever allergies.
At the same time IgG production slightly increased.
Lactobacillus casei Shirota is to be found in the fermented drink Yakult and the people in the study drank one of the commercial sized bottles each day (6.5 billion bacteria).
Here's what one LoveThatBug reader wrote me:
Susie from Australia said:
"I have been taking the Yakult everyday, several each day to begin with, and I have noticed a definite difference in the severity of my hay fever. After the first day of taking it, I have the first full nights sleep that I've had in months and the same again the second night. So Yakult will definitely become part of my everyday diet."
I'd love to sell it to you but if you look in the dairy section or yogurt section of your food store, you'll find it there!
The most common allergic response is to grass pollen which is thought to be responsible for 90% of hayfever.
I'm not allergic to grass pollen but I am allerigc to the pollen from pine trees - and guess what - I live in the middle of a pine plantation!
What I have found most helpful is using a Himalayan Institute Ceramic Neti Pot. It comes with full instructions if you haven't used a neti pot before.
Rhinitis simply means inflammation of the nose or its mucous membrane.
Ten volunteers with hay fever allergies (seasonal allergic rhinitis) took part in a double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial for five months Half of them consumed a daily drink of Lactobacillus casei Shirota whilst the others drank a placebo.
The conclusion: "Changes in antigen-induced production of cytokines were observed in patients treated with probiotics. These data show that probiotic supplementation modulates immune responses in allergic rhinitis and may have the potential to alleviate the severity of symptoms."1
It is worth noting that a study specifically on seasonal allergic rhinitis caused by pollen from the Japanese cedar tree reached a different conclusion. "These results indicate that fermented milk containing LcS (Lactobacillus casei Shirota) does not prevent allergic symptoms in patients sensitive to JCP, but may delay the occurrence of allergic symptoms in patients with moderate-to-severe nasal symptom scores."2
As Lactobacillus casei Shirota is readily available in most countries around the world, this is good news for anyone who suffers from hay fever allergies caused through grass pollen and is looking at natural hayfever remedies.
1. Ivory K, Chambers SJ, Pin C, Prieto E, Arques JL, Nicoletti C. Oral delivery of Lactobacillus casei Shirota modifies allergen-induced immune responses in allergic rhinitis. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008 May 28. [Epub ahead of print]
2. Tamura M, Shikina T, Morihana T, Hayama M, Kajimoto O, Sakamoto A, Kajimoto Y, Watanabe O, Nonaka C, Shida K, Nanno M. Effects of probiotics on allergic rhinitis induced by Japanese cedar pollen: randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2007;143(1):75-82. Epub 2006 Dec 29.