The Institute of Food Research in the UK reports that a milk drink containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS) might be useful.

First, the details.

  • 20 seasonal allergic rhinitis sufferers were evaluated for a change in immune status arising from the daily ingestion of a milk drink with or without live LcS over 5 months.
  • Blood samples were collected to measure total IgE and grass pollen-specific IgG and IgE antibody levels.
    • IgG antibodies comprise 75% to 80% of all the antibodies in body fluids and are important in fighting infections.
    • IgE antibodies in lungs, skin, and mucous membranes cause the body to react against pollen and are often high in people with allergies.
  • Cytokine levels (IL-5, IL-6 and IFN-gamma; critical for the immune response) were determined following culture of peripheral blood mononuclear cells for 6 days in the presence or absence of specific grass pollen antigens.
  • Neither the researchers nor the volunteers knew their treatment (double-blinded).

And, the results.

  • All responses were positive.
  • Levels of specific IgG increased and IgE decreased in the probiotic group.
  • Volunteers treated with LcS showed a significant reduction in levels of antigen-induced IL-5, IL-6, and IFN-gamma production vs placebo.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Probiotic supplementation modulates immune responses in allergic rhinitis and may have the potential to alleviate the severity of symptoms.”

Last year, researchers in Japan reported that drinking fermented milk containing LcS did not prevent symptoms in people with allergies to Japanese cedar pollen. However, in the subgroup of patients with moderate-to-severe nasal symptom scores before starting the study, supplementation with LcS did tend to reduce nasal symptom scores.

More on LcS is here.

6/1/08 14:04 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.