Sunday, July 6, 2014

Scientists Discover Key Probiotic for Allergy Relief

Spring is generally known as “allergy season”, but July and August can be as challenging for allergy sufferers as April and May. Weeds and grasses are the main allergy triggers. The worst of these is ragweed, which usually arrives in August. Ragweed can travel many kilometers on wind currents, and therefore can trigger a reaction even in allergy sufferers who don’t have any of the plant growing in their immediate vicinity.

According to the CDC, 6.6 million people have reported hay fever symptoms in the US in the last 12 months and 7.8 million have reported respiratory allergy symptoms. Reported skin and food allergy sufferers were 8.8 million and 4.1 million respectively.

Traditional allergy treatments include over the counter antihistamines, analgesics for pain relief and nasal sprays. Doctors can prescribe stronger remedies if OTC medicines fail to relieve symptoms.

For decades, doctors and allergy sufferers have relied on these treatments to help allergy sufferers. But recently, scientists investigated the possibility of using probiotics to treat allergy symptoms. According to the World Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers started to study the relationship between probiotic supplements and allergies a few years ago and found that certain combinations of probiotics could reduce the nasal symptoms of allergic reactions.

Another study recently published in the Journal of Functional Foods looked at the anti-allergic behavior of ten lactic acid bacteria strains prepared from Mongolian dairy products and orally administered to mice injected with three type I allergy models. Type I allergy models include allergic rhinitis, food allergies, atopic dermatitis, and allergic asthma. Doctors have expressed concern that the incidence of these allergic diseases is increasing.

Japanese and Mongolian researchers involved in the study observed that of the 10 strains, the oral administration of the Lactobacillus plantarum (strain 06CC2 probiotic strain) “significantly alleviated” type I allergy symptoms across all three allergy models in the mice. The strain was isolated from the traditional Mongolian cheese, Aaruul – a curdled cow’s milk cheese which is dehydrated and dried in the sun.

The study’s authors noted that the impact of Lactobacillus plantarum was linked to T helper type 1 (Th1)/T helper type 2 (Th2) balance cells that play an important role in the immune system. Each type of cell has a different trigger and area of immunity specialization.

According to the study:
The 06CC2 strain was suggested to alter the Th1/Th2 balance toward Th1 dominance through intestinal immunity in these allergy models in mice, resulting in the suppression of mast cell activation, followed by histamine release and vascular permeability.
The researchers concluded that functional foods which include probiotic supplements could be an important part of allergic disease treatment both prophylactically and therapeutically. We welcome this research and look forward to further study.

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