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Alternative Treatment Methods for Allergies

Topic Overview

Allergies can be frustrating because there is no cure. Many people try dietary supplements, acupuncture, or other alternative treatments. You may find some symptom relief from these treatments, but most of them either have not been studied or have not been proved effective in the treatment of respiratory allergies. They generally are not harmful, but they can be costly and time-consuming.

Examples include:

  • Acupuncture. Very thin needles are placed into the skin at specific points on the body. Acupuncture has reduced symptoms of allergies or asthma in some people in some studies, but many experts do not agree with the study results.
  • Homeopathy. Very small quantities of substances believed to cause disease are used to treat the disease.
  • Neutralization therapy (also called symptom-relieving or tolerance therapy). Doses of the substance you are allergic to are placed under your tongue. This is not the same thing as sublingual immunotherapy, in which increasing amounts of the allergen are placed under your tongue.
  • Detoxification. Detoxification is a regimen (such as for 30 days) of exercise, forced sweating, niacin (a B vitamin), and drinking a mixture of water, salt, and polyunsaturated oil. You avoid alcohol and medicines.
  • Enzyme potentiated therapy. A low dose of an allergen is mixed with a very small quantity of a natural body enzyme, beta-glucuronidase, and injected into the skin.
  • Biologically based therapies. Substances found in nature are sometimes used to treat illness or promote wellness. They include foods, vitamins, and both herbal and nonherbal dietary supplements. For example, some people use butterbur extract to help intermittent allergic rhinitis (which occurs fewer than 4 days a week or fewer than 4 weeks a year).

Some alternative remedies have the potential to be harmful:

  • Autogenous urine therapy. Protein is taken from your urine and injected into the surface of the skin. There is a danger of harm to the kidneys with this procedure.
  • Vitamin and nutrient supplements. You take high doses of vitamins and other supplements. High doses of some supplements can cause problems. For example, vitamin A poisoning can occur if you take large amounts of vitamin A.
  • Environmental chemical avoidance. You avoid contact with a long list of environmental chemicals and foods. This treatment can seriously disrupt your life and isolate you from others.
  • Diet therapy. You eat only certain types of food and take vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. There could be a danger of malnutrition if the diet is not balanced.

For more information on some of these treatments, see the topic Complementary Medicine.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last Revised June 17, 2013

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