Innovation not to be sneezed at: Mandarin yogurt ice pop 'relieves' hay fever symptoms

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

The “W Double Mican Yogurt Ice” is said to relieve hay fever symptoms.
The “W Double Mican Yogurt Ice” is said to relieve hay fever symptoms.

Related tags Hay fever ice pop Allergen

Japanese ice cream manufacturer Meisui Ice has teamed up with researchers from Ehime University to produce a yogurt ice pop that relieves hay fever symptoms.

Made from mandarin orange and cow's milk, the yoghurt ice pop contains nobiletin and β-LG (β-lactoglobulin) — the ingredients responsible for reducing allergic symptoms.

Nobiletin is a major component of citrus fruits. It produces anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorogenic, and anti-diabetic effects. On the other hand, β-LG is a globular protein made up of 162 amino acid residues. It is absent in human milk but abundant in bovine milk.

The yoghurt ice pop, branded as W Double Mican Yogurt Ice, ​went on sale in September. A box of five pieces costs ¥600, while a box of 30 pieces costs ¥3,900. Each ice bar contains 0.5mg of nobiletin and 150mg of β-LG, Takuya Sugahara, professor at the Graduate School of Agriculture at Ehime University said in response to queries from NutraIngredients-Asia.

According to a series of research conducted by professor Sugahara and his team, the two ingredients have shown to reduce eye redness, swelling and itch - which are common symptoms of hay fever.

A local government survey conducted this year showed that half of Tokyo’s population suffered from hay fever, compared with less than a third in 2008.

The cedar and cypress trees were said to be the main source of hay fever in Japan.

To reduce the incidence of hay fever, the government is spending about US$7 million per year to cut down allergy-inducing trees and to replace it with lower-pollen varieties, according to a report from CNN.

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Clinical trials

A combination of nobiletin and β-LG in mandarin orange yogurt was found to reduce eye redness, swelling and itchiness in two clinical trials conducted by researchers from Ehime University.

Volunteers who were clinically diagnosed with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis during the Japanese cedar pollen season were recruited into the trials.

To find out the effect of nobiletin, two types of yogurts were used during the studies – one is a 150g of mandarin orange yogurt containing 150mg of β-LG and 0.53mg of nobiletin, while the other was the experiment control, containing 93mg of β-LG and no nobiletin.

In the first trial, 26 volunteers drank one bottle of mandarin orange yogurt or control yogurt each day for two to three weeks before and after they underwent two rounds of conjunctival allergen challenge (CAC).

CAC was meant to induce type 1 allergic conjunctivitis, which is a symptom of hay fever. The allergen used was cedar pollen.

After the first round of CAC, the volunteers’ average score of eye redness was between 3.03 and 3.07.

After eating 150g of mandarin orange yogurt each day for two weeks, the average redness score dropped significantly from 1.05 to 1.70.

In addition, the mean itching score decreased from the range of 3.05 to 4.34 to 1.39 to 2.12.

In the second trial, 31 volunteers underwent CAC and ate either the control or mandarin orange yogurt. 

After undergoing the CAC, the average score of redness was 1.90 to 0.78, chemosis (swelling) score was 2.62 to 2.81, and the itching score was 3.10 to 2.85.

Ingestion of the control yogurt brought average score of redness down to the range of 1.28 to 0.52, while the chemosis score was between 1.77 and 1.94, and the itching score was between 2.82 and 2.21.

In contrast, the ingestion of mandarin orange yogurt significantly reduced the severity of all three symptoms.

For instance, average redness dropped to between 1.03 and 0.18, the chemosis score was between 1.34 and 1.63, while the itching score was between 1.93 and 1.92.

Future study

The researchers pointed out that the trial has examined the effects of mandarin orange yogurt during CAC-induced conjunctivitis. ​However, its effects during the pollen scattering period are not yet studied.

Hence, further studies may be required in the future.

Nonetheless, they concluded that mandarin orange yogurt can be consumes to relieve allergic reactions.

“In conclusion, the results of this study showed that the administration of mandarin orange yogurt containing nobiletin and β-LG reduced the conjunctival allergic reaction in a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study.” ​ 

“Although further studies are needed to clarify the mechanism of the allergy suppressive effect of mandarin orange yogurt, mandarin orange yogurt can be a functional food item that can reduce the allergic symptoms. In addition, it might be able to reduce the dose of anti-allergic medications.”


Source: Clinical and Epidemiologic Research​ 

Effect of Mandarin Orange Yogurt on Allergic Conjunctivitis Induced by Conjunctiva Allergen Challenge

Authors: Yuko Hara et al

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