New research from a pilot study at Griffith has shown that probiotics can improve the quality of life of hayfever patients.

As part of a clinical first-of-its-kind development program, the researchers investigated whether a multispecies-probiotic formulation, which has been shown in previous research to reduce eczema in children, could benefit hayfever patents as well.

They gave 44 adults aged 18-65 with moderate to severe hay fever, the probiotic twice a day for a period of eight weeks. The patients were asked to report hayfever symptoms, medication use, and rated their quality of life.

“At the end of the study, 63% of the participants taking the probiotic reported a significantly improved quality of life,” says research leader Dr Nic West from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland.

“In addition, the patients experienced less severe hayfever symptoms and required less medication.”

Hayfever (seasonal allergic rhinitis), is a chronic disorder of the upper respiratory tract, caused by an overreaction of the immune system to pollen. It is a global health problem affecting between 10% – 30% of the population worldwide, and is increasingly prevalent.

Hayfever has a serious impact on quality of life of patients and presents a substantial financial burden to consumers and the healthcare system. Although typically not a life-threatening disease, hayfever can exacerbate asthma during extreme weather events, such as that seen in Melbourne in 2016 with critical outcomes. Current treatment options, such as antihistamines, are costly, may not completely resolve symptoms and do not tackle the underlying cause.

Supresses an inflammatory response

“We suspect that the probiotic formulation supresses an inflammatory response of the regulatory cells of the immune system, which in turn increases tolerance to hayfever causing agents,” says Dr West.

“We have already seen in various studies that probiotics can have benefits in regards to immune health as well as gut, respiratory and even mental health. With these latest results relating to hayfever, although this is not seen as a ‘cure all’, it is great to see the reduction in symptoms alongside the absence of any adverse side effects.”

As a pilot study, he says these findings are key outcomes that support the clinical development of probiotics for allergic rhinitis.