Do Probiotics Really Help?
There is some conflicting research on this topic. Some studies indicate probiotics work best when used by pregnant women, to prevent allergies in children or infants. Others claim there are no benefits, and some studies report people had improved symptoms when taking probiotics during allergy season.
The results could be due to a number of reasons ranging from the strains of probiotics that were used to the length of use. There are many factors that can affect the studies.
Although the results of the studies are conflicting, taking a high-quality probiotic is unlikely to cause any problems. If you do try a probiotic don’t expect results overnight. If you try a probiotic and symptoms don’t improve in 3 months it may not be the right probiotic, or simply may not help your allergies.
The Best Probiotics for Allergies
There was a recent study that people stated improvement in allergy symptoms after taking a probiotic for 6 weeks (linked below). The study was a double-blind and placebo-controlled study. There were fecal and blood samples were taken from the participants. It is one of the better studies I could find, and it had positive results. The strains of probiotics they used were Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and B. longum. Look for a probiotic with these three strains on the label if you are looking to improve allergies. If you can’t find all three look for a minimum of two of the strains.
In this study, they drew blood to test for allergy markers. The markers were the same in the placebo group and the group receiving probiotics, but the participants receiving probiotics stated improvement in allergy symptoms. The body still reacts to the allergins but the symptoms were less when taking probiotics. The study was only 6 weeks, so it is unsure if longer use would continue to improve allergy symptoms, or if symptoms returned after the probiotics were stopped.
It is possible there are other probiotics that relieve allergy symptoms. These strains were ones that showed results in a well-done study and could be some of the best probiotics for allergies and worth a try.
When to Take Probiotics
During the study, probiotics were given at the peak of allergy season. It is possible that taking probiotics before the start of allergy season could be helpful. I would recommend starting no later than a month before allergy season if possible. If you are a year-round allergy sufferer than it is always your allergy season, test out probiotics any time of year just be aware it may take a few weeks to a month to start seeing results.
Start out with a low dose. Anytime you’re starting a new product there is always a chance for a reaction or adverse effect. The probiotics can help repopulate the good bacteria in your gut, and healthy eating plus lots of fiber, to help feed the good bacteria, can help keep them there. It’s best to maintain the good bacteria, since taking a supplement for every beneficial bacteria your body needs is impossible.
How Much Should I take?
Dose recommendations can differ greatly by brand. Just start with a lower dose and work your way up. Depending on the brand doses can range anywhere from 1 billion to 10 billion. It usually isn’t a good idea to take more than the recommended dose on the bottle or what your health care provider prescribes.
If you notice any symptoms decrease the dose or stop. A little gas or bloating while your gut adjusts to the new probiotics isn’t worrisome, but large amounts of gas and bloating, nausea, headaches, concentration difficulties or other symptoms occur, don’t assume there is a “die off” phase and continue the probiotic. There are rare cases where bad reactions have occurred. If you have a weakened immune system or pre-existing health condition discuss dosing with your doctor first.