Immunotherapy for allergy
There are limited mainstream medical treatments for allergies. Probably the most important factor in rehabilitation is the removal of sources of allergens from the home environment and avoiding environments in which contact with allergens is likely.
Hyposensitization is a form of immunotherapy where the patient is gradually vaccinated against progressively larger doses of the allergen in question. This can either reduce the severity or eliminate hypersensitivity. It relies on the progressive skewing of IgG (”the blocking antibody”) production, as opposed to the excessive IgE production seen in hypersensitivity type I cases.
History of immunotherapy
In the 1960s, Dr Len McEwen in the United Kingdom developed a treatment for allergies known as enzyme potentiated desensitization, or EPD. EPD uses much lower doses of antigens than conventional treatment, with the addition of an enzyme. EPD is available in the United Kingdom and Canada and was available in the United States until 2001 when the Food and Drug Administration revoked its approval for an investigative study being performed. Since that time an American counterpart to EPD, known as Low Dose Antigens, or LDA, has been formulated from components approved by the FDA and is available for treatment from a small number of doctors in the United States. EPD (and LDA) is still considered experimental by many mainstream doctors and medical insurance companies, and many doubt that it is more effective than a placebo.
The third form of immunotherapy involves the intravenous injection of monoclonal anti-IgE antibodies. These bind to free and B-cell IgE signalling such sources for destruction. They do not bind to IgE already bound to the Fc receptor on basophils and mast cells as this would stimulate the allergic inflammatory response.
Several antagonistic drugs are used to block the action of allergic mediators, preventing activation of cells and degranulation processes. They include antihistamines, cortisone, epinephrine (adrenalin), theophylline and Cromolyn sodium. These drugs help alleviate the symptoms of allergy but play little role in chronic alleviation of the disorder. They can play an imperative role in the acute recovery of someone suffering from anaphylaxis, which is why those allergic to bee stings, peanuts, nuts, and shellfish often carry an adrenalin needle with them at all times.
Alternative allergy treatment
In alternative medicine, several treatment modalities are considered effective by its practitioners in the treatment of allergies, particularly herbal medicine, homoeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and kinesiology. However, these claims lack well-established evidence. Treatment or management of allergies with alternative therapies is generally criticised by mainstream medical practitioners and researchers to be supported only by anecdotes.