Unproven Approaches in Allergy
As the name states, this article covers allergy related approaches of evaluation and treatment that are not proven or disproved by medical research. None are FDA (Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency which regulates this area) approved as an allergy approach and are not generally accepted by experts in allergy, the Board-Certified Allergist. Individuals seek wellness and sometimes enticements by media, friends and even some health care workers and practitioners influence individuals to make questionable and poor choices. These choices of unproven approaches in allergy which will be discussed in this article cover the spectrum from experimental research appearing helpful to the allergic patient to other methods with placebo false results, and some at worst, dangerous. Beware of testimonials professing remarkable or even miraculous benefits from methods described in this article. Finally, this article describes several unproven approaches in allergy but should not be considered a comprehensive review.
Homeopathic and low dose Immunotherapy – Medical studies have proven this method of administering allergy solutions is no more effective than placebo. Those receiving allergy injections may ask to see the allergy vial(s) from which they are receiving injections. Ask whether the vial is the “maintenance concentrate” vial, also known as the highest concentrate from which a patient will receive the doses of allergy injections. If the vial is colorless, like water, and is the “maintenance concentrate”, it is likely low dose or homeopathic allergy treatment.
Allergen Immunotherapy, by injections, oral drops, or any form of administering a “treatment” for food allergy, rashes including hives, chemicals, hormones, viruses, bacteria, smoke or petrochemicals. This form of treatment can be dangerous. The current method of treatment for food allergy is avoidance but carefully controlled immunotherapy trials are being pursued in academic institutions.
Pet Exposure – as a way of inducing an allergy tolerance and preventing pet allergy. There is some positive evidence in studies but certainly is considered preliminary. More studies are ongoing to validate, or not, and define details. A caution, if someone is already allergic to a pet, exposure to try and induce tolerance is counterproductive, causing an increase in allergic symptoms.
Computer Based Allergy Treatment Program – a newer form of an allergy treatment scheme marketed on the internet. This theoretically flawed and potentially dangerous approach claims to treat any and all allergies. The approach utilizes a behavior modification program, FDA approved for behavior modification. If an allergic patient falls victim to this approach, the consequence may be fatal. Consider the severely allergic child with peanut allergy, severe shellfish allergy or penicillin allergy to name a few.
“Bee Pollen” pellets or granules ingested for allergy treatment – Not proven effective and potentially harmful to the allergic patient. Since this product is considered a nutritional supplement, the concentration of ingredients varies widely. The problem occurs when a highly allergic patient inadvertently ingests a high amount of the allergen(s), pollen in the pellets, to which he/she is allergic. A much lesser allergen exposure is in honey, which likewise is not an effective allergic treatment and there have been rare allergic reactions associated with its ingestion.
Total Environmental or Universal Allergy Syndrome, “20th Century Syndrome”, Total Immune Disorder Syndrome, and other names - to explain the person’s variety of adverse presentations and symptoms to any and sometimes claiming to all common chemicals, irritants, allergens and other exposures. Treatments have proposed to dramatically seclude these individuals in special “homes” with limited materials and contact with the “outside world”. Some are recommended injections to substances and approaches that have been proven not effective and have been covered in other sections of this article.
“Yeast Connection” or yeast or Candida overgrowth – as a form of allergy causing a multitude or problems and symptoms. Disproved.
Food Additives, Artificial Food Coloring, Food Associated Salicylates, Sugar – as a “common” cause of allergy symptoms, toxicity or behavior problems. Except for rare cases, disproved. There are a few exceptions, for example sulfite and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
“Provocation – Neutralization” of allergy symptoms with injections or drops under the tongue. Disproved.
Reflexology or other Kinesiology Methods of Allergy Treatment – Disproved.
Coffee Enemas – Yes, you read correctly, as a proposed method of food allergen elimination or “detoxifying” by the “colon cleansing” presumption.
And, finally a couple of disproved food allergy diagnostic approaches:
Food Allergy Diagnosed by Blood Tests – 1) IgG Method - this serum based molecule indicates a normal immunologic response to a food (s). Its presence does not indicate food allergy. On the other hand, measuring IgE to a food (s), usually by the RAST or CAP-RAST method is an acceptable method of evaluating food allergy. 2) Analyzing a blood sample’s white blood cells response to a food. If some type of “abnormal” white blood cell response occurs, an allergy to that food is supposedly diagnosed.
The best way to avoid unproven and disproved allergy approaches and even possibly harmful results is to become informed such as through this article, ask questions to your health care provider and certainly the expert in allergy, the Board Certified Allergist.
The Texas Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Society (TAAIS) is a group of more than 220 board-certified Allergists/Immunologists in Texas.
An Allergist/Immunologist is a physician, usually an Internist or Pediatrician, who has had special training and experience in the field of Allergy and Immunology and who is considered to be an expert in the diagnosis and management of immune system disorders such as asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), eczema, urticaria (hives), drug reactions, food allergies, immune deficiencies, and all general aspects of anaphylaxis.
A Board Certified Allergist/Immunologist is a physician who has passed the certifying examination of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. A list of Board Certified Allergists can be found here. Those with “ABAI” under Board Certification are Board Certified Allergists/Immunologist.