Japan’s Megmilk Snow Brand launches first functional yoghurt drink to relieve allergy symptoms

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Nyu-San-Kin Helve contains one billion CFU of Lactobacillus helveticus SBT2171 per 100mL ©MegmilkSnow
Nyu-San-Kin Helve contains one billion CFU of Lactobacillus helveticus SBT2171 per 100mL ©MegmilkSnow

Related tags Japan Megmilk snow Yoghurt FFC Allergies

Japanese dairy company, Megmilk Snow Brand has launched the first fermented milk product with a food with function claim (FFC) touted to relieve eye and nose discomfort due to allergies.

The yoghurt drink, Nyu-San-Kin Helve was launched in Japan earlier this month. It contains Lactobacillus helveticus​ SBT2171, a lactic acid bacteria that has been studied previously for its effect on relieving symptoms of allergic reactions.

Clinical trial

In a human study, researchers recruited 100 adults who had experienced eyes and nose discomfort on a daily basis and were tested positive for antigen-specific antibodies against house dust or mites, but were otherwise healthy.

The participants were divided into the treatment group (fermented milk containing SBT2171) and placebo group (fermented milk without lactic acid bacteria). They were tasked to consume one bottle (100mL) daily for 12 weeks.

Researchers observed the treatment group had significantly improved eye and nose discomfort scores by week eight (p<0.05) compared to the placebo group. 

The treatment group also had significantly lesser number of sneezes compared to the placebo group by week nine (p<0.05).

Researchers said L.helveticus​ SBT2171 may help suppress the production of antigen-specific antibodies that cause allergic reactions and the production of Th2 cytokines.

They explained that an imbalance of immune cells (more Th2 cells and less Th1 cells) would result in eye and nose discomfort such as rhinorrhea and sneezing. As such, the findings confirmed that consumption of L.helveticus​ SBT2171 can suppress the increase of Th2 cells, resulting in the balance of the immune cells and improving overall allergic symptoms.

First of its kind

According to a patient survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the number of patients with allergic rhinitis increased by about 1.3-fold in 2008 compared to 1998.

While there is no cure for allergies, the elimination or avoidance of causative substances such as pollen, and house dust, are recommended to alleviate allergic symptoms as well as taking drugs for symptomatic therapy.

For non-drug treatments, ingestion of a yogurt drink like Nyu-San-Kin Helve for 12 weeks may reduce sneezing and discomfort, and help improve daily quality of life.

Megmilk Snow Brand said it is the first yoghurt in the Japan market with an FFC claim of its specific function, and hopes L.helveticus​ SBT2171 can potentially open up new functions and markets.

Masanori Sagara, manager of the public relations and investor relations department told NutraIngredients-Asia​ there are one billion L.helveticus​ SBT2171 CFU per bottle of Nyu-San-Kin Helve (100mL). The product is low-fat and contains 37 kcal per bottle.

The yoghurt drink retails for JPY 120 (US$1.10) and can be found at convenience stores and supermarkets in Japan.

There are currently no plans to distribute the product outside Japan, Sagara told us.

The company has launched other yoghurt products containing the Gaseri SP​ strain and Bifidobacterium SP​ strain.


Source: Functional Foods in Health & Disease


“Intake safety of Lactobacillus helveticus SBT2171 and its effects on nasal and ocular symptoms associated with mites and house dust: An open-label study and a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group study”

Authors: Maya Yamashita, et al​.

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