The ability of probiotic supplements to reduce the symptoms of hay fever will be tested in an eight-week study by Griffith University researchers.

Also known as allergic rhinitis, hay fever affects up to 30% of the general population and involves symptoms that include a watery or itchy nose, sneezing and nasal congestion.

“The trial comes at an opportune time, as spring can be particularly difficult for hay fever sufferers,” says Dr Nic West from Griffith’s Mucosal Immunology Research Group.

“High pollen levels in the air worsen symptoms and people are often forced to take over-the-counter medication to get enough sleep and maintain their normal activities.

“Probiotic bacteria are known to interact with the immune system, and while the exact mechanisms are uncertain, evidence suggests probiotic bacteria might promote immune tolerance to external stimulants, such as pollen, that lead to hay fever.”

As part of the study, participants are being offered the opportunity to have their gut microbiome screened, as research indicates that it plays a key role in maintaining the immune system.

One of the lead scientists overseeing the study, Dr Amanda Cox, has undertaken several probiotic studies.

She explained that the supplement under trial contains strains of bacteria that have been found to modulate the immune system for the management of allergic disease.

“This offers allergic rhinitis sufferers hope that a supplement can help with their condition,” she said.

Dr West and Dr Cox are looking for people with allergic rhinitis to participate in the eight-week placebo-controlled study that involves taking a supplement daily and reporting their symptoms of allergy.

The study is being conducted nationwide. For more information, visit the study website. The study team can be contacted via email or by calling 0421 627 367.