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Allergy Treatment: Natural Alternatives to Shots, Antihistamines and Steroids

Breaking news for those affected by allergy or mold in the greater Denver and Boulder area: A new type of immunotherapy is now available. The recent flooding has given rise to more indoor mold problems than ever before. Mold can hide behind walls which adds to the problem. Mold can be toxic to people and animals as well as cause allergy symptoms. Bottom line: people can get sick and allergies can get worse.

Immunotherapy (allergy shots) is a treatment in which small, regular doses of the same allergens that trigger symptoms are given to a patient. This is sometimes also referred to as desensitization therapy. The concept is very naturopathic (treat the cause with natural methods) and even homeopathic (like cures like). There is a new exciting form of immunotherapy now known as sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, in which daily doses of allergens are dropped under the tongue by the patient in their own home. This is NEW, convenient and very effective. Plus you don’t have to drive to the doctor’s office to get a shot every week.

Typically allergy shots are administered in the doctor’s office, weekly, for a period of 3 to 5 years and then discontinued. Commonly the benefit from allergy shots lasts another 3 to 5 years after stopping the shots, but then the changes in the immune system revert back and symptoms again increase. So unfortunately immunotherapy most commonly does not confer lifelong immunity and usually must be restarted depending on the return of allergy symptoms.

Allergy shots, while generally safe, have a rare but potentially fatal risk of anaphylaxis in which the allergic response is so severe that one’s mouth and throat swell causing suffocation in addition to shock or extremely low blood pressure. Sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, is a relatively new mode of immunotherapy in the U.S. that is generating a lot of interest because it is safer and just as effective. It has been used for decades in Europe and less widely by many allergists in the U.S. Despite not having FDA approval, the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy supports it. SLIT is administered by the patient on a daily basis in their own home by placing several drops under the tongue with a medicine dropper.

SLIT appears to have little to no risk of complications. Opponents of SLIT feel that this may be because SLIT is less effective than allergy shots. However, many studies have shown that SLIT is an effective form of immunotherapy, several showing equal efficacy to allergy shots.

Many physicians are incorporating (SLIT) into their practice because it provides a practical alternative to traditional allergy treatment options like antihistamines and corticosteroids. SLIT is easy to deliver, safe and yields long-lasting results. It can also reduce the amount of medications the patient must take over time.

The Difference between Immunotherapy and Antihistamines & Corticosteroids
Allergy medications such as antihistamines and corticosteroids are designed to temporarily suppress allergy symptoms. As soon as a patient stops taking the medication, they stops working though and often the symptoms will come back even stronger. In contrast, the process of immunotherapy desensitizes or “re-educates” the body’s immune system naturally so that it does not overreact to allergens from natural exposure, thereby reducing/eliminating allergy symptoms and the need for allergy medication. Sounds smart right?  Sublingual immunotherapy includes an escalation, or build-up, phase in which the allergy drop dosage gradually increases until it reaches an effective therapeutic dose, and a maintenance phase in which the effective therapeutic dose is maintained and continued.

SLIT vs. Allergy Shots
Sublingual immunotherapy is safe and effective naturopathic method of allergen immunotherapy. The advantage of SLIT versus allergy shots include a superior safety profile, better patient adherence due to convenient home-based dosing, and lower costs to the patient.

SLIT Allergy Shots
Delivery Spray Under Tongue Syringe/Injections
Safety Safer than Shots Very Safe
Convenience Self-administered by patient Office visit required for every shot/dose

Cost is a little over $200.00 for three months.

About Us: NatureMed Integrative Medicine is located in East Boulder just off the Boulder turnpike and serves the Denver area. The clinic is composed of three naturopathic doctors and one MD. We provide fully integrated care, using the best of all available medical systems. Call our office the serves the greater Denver and Boulder area if interested in a consultation 303.884.7557.