Probiotics for allergy relief?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts found in foods such as yoghurt and other dairy products. They have long been recognised as being good for your health, especially your digestive system. Now, a review published in the International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology suggests that probiotics could also help to reduce symptoms of hayfever and seasonal allergies. However, more research needs to be done.

Review findings mostly positive

Scientists from Vanderbilt University Medical Centre analysed 23 studies involving almost 2000 participants. The quality of the research was mixed, however two of the studies were what scientists call “randomized controlled trials,” a method highly valued in the scientific world.

Out of the 23 studies, 17 revealed that participants who had seasonal allergies who ate probiotics felt some relief in at least one area, such as improved quality of life or reduced symptoms. However, six studies revealed that probiotics didn’t reduce the effects of hayfever.

Good news for allergy sufferers

Overall, findings of this report show that probiotics have some potential to fight hayfever and seasonal allergies. This is great new for those who, in increasing numbers, experience allergy symptoms. This upward trend has been noticed in the Western world, especially among children. One possible explanation is that cleaner living conditions in developed countries means that people do not build up a tolerance to potential allergens. As a result, when they do encounter them, their immune system overreacts and an allergy develops. 

Too early to recommend

Because the studies covered by the review involved a variety of research groups, using a range of different types of probiotics, the benefits of probiotics cannot be easily applied to the general population. Therefore, before probiotics can be recommended as a way to treat allergies, further research will need to be done.  However, if you are an allergy sufferer you may want to consider increasing the amount of probiotics in your diet. There’s no guarantee it will make a difference to your allergy symptoms, but your gut will love you for it.

Learn more

Healing benefits of probiotics Food Matters
Do I need to include probiotics and prebiotics in my diet? Mayo Clinic


  1. Collado, Maria C., et al. "The impact of probiotic on gut health." Current drug metabolism 10.1 (2009): 68-78.
  2. Maziak, W., et al. "Are asthma and allergies in children and adolescents increasing? Results from ISAAC phase I and phase III surveys in Münster, Germany." Allergy 58.7 (2003): 572-579.
  3. Nicolaou, N., N. Siddique, and A. Custovic. "Allergic disease in urban and rural populations: increasing prevalence with increasing urbanization." Allergy 60.11 (2005): 1357-1360.
  4. Turner, J. Probiotics and seasonal allergies. International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology, May 2015. Allergy UK.
  5. Williams, Nancy Toedter. "Probiotics." American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy 67.6 (2010): 449-458.
  6. Zajac AE, Adams AS, Turner JH. A systematic review and meta-analysis of probiotics for the treatment of allergic rhinitisInternational Forum of Allergy & Rhinology. May 2015.

Written by: Adam May