GAINESVILLE, Fla.— With an estimated 6.1 million Americans suffering from the sneezing and scratchy eyes associated with seasonal allergies, experts now say they may have discovered a new source for relief.

Jennifer Dennis and fellow researchers at the University of Florida’s Food Science and Human Nutrition program recruited students to take capsules filled with a specific combination of probiotics.

The supplement, called Kyo-Dophilus, was already proven to provide digestive benefits but its effects on the body’s immune system were unknown.

“I was very surprised with our results,” said Dennis of the study’s findings. The researchers say those who took the probiotic twice daily during allergy season saw a noticeable improvement in how they felt.

“What we found was that those who took the probiotic had a clinical benefit in that they rated their quality of life to be better, or improved,” said professor Bobbi Langkamp-Henken of UF's Food Science and Human Nutrition program.

The findings were published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“This is my first publication, too,” said an excited Dennis, who admitted at first even she was skeptical of the results.

Dennis cautions probiotic capsules are far from a cure.

“The results we showed are for an average person,” said Dennis. “It’s not going to work for everybody, so I hope people don’t get their hopes up that this is the next big thing.

"It doesn’t work that way. It may work for some people, though.”

Dennis plans to continue her research by isolating which specific probiotic ingredients are responsible for the allergy relief and what other health benefits they might hold.

"There are a million other factors at play in the gut which determine whether a person is healthy or not,” said Dennis. “I think it's fascinating and we don’t know a lot about it.”