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Allergy Season Assistance, Part 1

From late spring through early autumn, airborne pollens, grasses and weeds reach their peak.  In the nasal passage and airway of sensitive individuals, these particles enlist an immune response typified by the activation of mast cells residing in the tissue lining.  Once active, mast cells release prostaglandins, leukotrienes and other immune mediators that influence nasal perfusion and fluid balance (Figure 1).  For decades, polyphenols such as quercetin and hesperidin have prevailed as the natural modalities of choice.*

Quercetin, hesperidin and apple polyphenols stabilize mast cell membranes, helping to contain the mediators and restrict their access to the sensitive upper respiratory linings.1 Support for mast cell membrane integrity is also a mechanism of the complex flavonoid spectrum found in extracts of apple, nettle and other immune-modulating botanicals.2 Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have demonstrated that polyphenols, particularly those in the flavonoid subgroup, are highly effective in maintaining healthy vascular permeability and indices of nasal responses.2*

In complex patients, balancing the immune response is a focal objective that commands a broad, systemic approach. Immunologic homeostasis is functionally contingent upon healthy bacterial populations of the intestinal epithelia, from which immune signals ramify throughout the body, including the respiratory tract.  Accordingly, a  meta-analysis involving 9 randomized controlled trials asserted that specific strains of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are effective in preserving nasal and airway function in the presence of common environmental triggers.3*

                    Figure 1.   Environmental particles stimulate production of IgE, which binds and activates mast cells. The active mast cells release mediators upon continual exposure to the particle.  Probiotics support homeostasis upstream of these events, maintaining healthy IgE levels.  Conversely, flavonoids, such as quercetin and hesperidin, function downstream to support the integrity of the mast cell membrane.*

            The Bifidobacterium longum strain BB536 is among the most extensively researched probiotic strains in the context of airborne particle tolerance.  Progressive compositional changes in microbial composition after several weeks of oral BB536 supplementation have been demonstrated in tandem with a healthy, balanced immune response.4  In a randomized, double-blind clinical trial, 44 subjects reporting an existing sensitivity to cedar received BB536 or placebo for 13 weeks during the spring. Significant support was evident in IgE responses and subjective scores relating to the ability of the nasal cavity and airway to tolerate airborne cedar particles.5 These findings were corroborated by a subsequent study, in which BB536 supplementation maintained the ability to perform normal activities comfortably during repeated exposure.6*

Other probiotic species that have been similarly characterized and validated include B. lactis Bl04, L. casei, L. acidophilus and L. plantarum.  Randomized, double-blind placebo controlled studies have collectively indicated favorable changes in IgE levels and indices of nasal and airway function relative to placebo.7-10 Although the duration of supplementation in most clinical trials is typically 3-4 months, clinically significant benefits have become evident within 4 weeks.6*

To date, the collective body of randomized trials of flavonoids and specific probiotics clearly supports their clinical efficacy.  Aller-Essentials provides the flavonoids quercetin and hesperidin methyl chalcone, together with apple polyphenols and clinically researched botanicals for mast cell integrity and healthy nasal function.  Probiotic IMM is a shelf-stable blend of B. longum BB536, B. lactis, L. acidophilus, L. casei and L. plantarum.  In complex patients, concurrent use of both products offers advanced support from two mechanistic angles.  Although formulated specifically for seasonal immune balance, Probiotic IMM promotes healthy gut ecology to support healthy natural defenses, regardless of the time of year.*