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Does hop flavonol glycoside from beer really alleviate allergy & hay fever symptoms?

Sapporo Breweries Ltd., and Sapporo Beverages Co., Ltd. today announced that they:
have proven that Sapporo beer is effective in mitigating hay fever symptoms. Hop flavonol glycoside extracted from the beer prevents histamine, an allergy-inducing substance.

Sapporo Group conducted a clinical trial of 20 patients with hay fever symptoms and found that 60% them noted less sneezing and 55% noted less runny nose with significant improvements on their symptom-medication scores.

Sapporo has filed a patent application based on the effect of beer on hay fever symptoms. Going forward, the Group will explore the affect of beer on atopy and allergy symptoms related to house dust.

I'd question the power of a 20 patient trial to prove that hop flavonol glycoside provides relief from histamine. It's not that I disagree with their use of a clinical endpoint of sneezing and runny nose (although I suppose you could question what denotes "less" degree of sneezing and rhinorrhea). It's that I wonder if 20 patients is enough to "prove" that this substance relieves allergy symptoms. I'd like to see the study, but alas, I can't find it online.

A complicating factor is that histamine has been found more in foods having undergone fermentation, which is an essential process in producing the alcohol in beer. Ingesting a histamine-reducing diet may be able to help those who suffer from allergies. I wonder what's the histamine content of beer? Hmmm...

If this turns out to really be true it would be interesting to do an observational study on how flushed those who consume beer become versus other forms of alcoholic beverages not based on hops. Asians often flush in response to alcohol consumption even if they don't become inebriated. Histamine has been fingered as a possible culprit, and some people take antihistamines with variable success in blocking this socially embarrassing flushing. Given my observations of the Asians I've seen who consume beer, I'm not sure how well hop flavonol glycoside really blocks histamine.

Many at Google commenting on this.
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About the Author


Dr. Schwimmer's blog explores the intersection of medicine, new technologies, and the Internet.