Probiotics Provide Hope for Kids with Allergies
People experienced a marked reduction of the allergy symptom scores during treatment with Lactobacillus salivarius
A runny nose is all in a day for a child with allergies but new research has found that a simple supplement may help stop allergic sniffles. A study published recently in Indian Pediatrics found that allergic symptoms diminished in children with allergies who took a probiotic supplement containing a friendly intestinal bacterium called Lactobacillus salivarius.
Testing probiotics in allergic children
The study included 240 children, 6 to 12 years old, with allergies to mold or dust. The children all suffered from rhinitis, which presents as the familiar runny nose, itchy nose, and nasal congestion. Some children also had itchy, red, watery eyes, and some had mild asthma symptoms like cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Participants were divided into two groups: one received a probiotic supplement with 2 billion colony-forming units of Lactobacillus salivarius once daily for 12 weeks, and the other group received placebo. Their symptoms and use of allergy medications were monitored weekly by parents and at regular check-in visits during the study.
Probiotics seem to reduce allergy symptoms
Symptoms and medication use were similar in the probiotic and placebo groups at the beginning of the study, but over the course of the trial, several differences developed:
"We found a marked reduction of the allergy symptom scores during treatment with Lactobacillus salivarius," said study coauthor Dr. Rong-Hwa Jan from the Institute of Medical Science at Tzu Chi University in Taiwan. "The dramatic improvement in symptoms along with the decreased use of medications suggest that Lactobacillus salivarius may be an important treatment tool for allergic rhinitis in children."
How do intestinal bacteria help allergies?
Although no one knows for sure why probiotics have anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory effects, some laboratory studies suggest that the presence of healthy intestinal bacteria may increase levels of chemicals that are responsible for keeping the immune system in check. A properly controlled immune system is less likely to be triggered by particles in the environment like dust, pollen, and animal dander.
Keeping children allergy-free
Here are some ways to help reduce the risk of allergies and asthma in your children:
(Indian Pediatr 2012;pii: S097475591100603-1)
Maureen Williams, ND, completed her doctorate in naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle and has been in private practice since 1995. With an abiding commitment to access to care, she has worked in free clinics in the US and Canada, and in rural clinics in Guatemala and Honduras where she has studied traditional herbal medicine. She currently lives and practices in Victoria, BC, and lectures and writes extensively for both professional and community audiences on topics including family nutrition, menopause, anxiety and depression, heart disease, cancer, and easing stress. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.