Thursday, April 02, 2009

Please Be Careful!

I've just been made aware of an over-the-counter product called AllerTherapy which is supposed to be a homeopathic remedy for allergies--pollen and food.

Among the statements made on their website about their food allergy formula:

  • You no longer need allergy shots to receive the benefits of immunotherapy! ALLERTHERAPY is formulated to include allergens that are not yet available with allergy shots, so this treatment option can help to resolve many more allergies than traditional allergy shots alone.

Really? THERE ARE NO ALLERGY SHOTS FOR FOOD ALLERGIES! So how can this product be offered as an alternative to shots?

Currently, as had made headlines recently, there are a couple of oral immunotherapy clinical trials underway at Duke University (and Arkansas Children's Hospital, too, didn't know that!). They have been fairly successful, but more trials need to happen before a general treatment is made available. The sample size in the Duke trial is very small, and to my knowledge, they are only testing immunotherapies for peanut and egg. The testing is being done in very closely-monitored conditions for the safety of the subjects.

Also from the AllerTherapy site:

  • Allergy Remedy Builds Immunity to Allergens Fast.

Oh I'd love to know how they know that.

About the only thing on this website that I think is a fact is the warning: "Contains Nuts & Seafood." Unfortunately, it's right after the statement "Treats Food Allergies."

Okay, they do recommend that those with severe allergies check with their doctor. Hopefully people will have enough sense to do just that and not buy this product.

Look, I know about immunotherapy. I had allergy shots for 5 years myself, only finishing up 2 years ago. I received shots for my grass, tree, dust, and dog (among others!) allergies. While this type of immunotherapy has been proven effective and relatively safe, I had to be careful. Why? Because I was being injected with things that I was known to be allergic to! I had to stay at the allergist's office for 20-30 minutes after each shot, because of the small but real risk of anaphylaxis. Those shots worked--but they were not risk-free. Thankfully, I never suffered more than a minor reaction or two.

Food allergies are more serious, causing more cases of anaphylaxis than a typical pollen allergen exposure (yes, they can be serious, too--I've experienced it myself--but there is almost no comparison). I absolutely cannot wait until there is a safe immunotherapy available for Ryan's peanut allergy. But I plan to wait for therapy based on the results of more scientific clinical trials, thankyouverymuch.

To read FAAN's Medical Advisory Board's statement about AllerTherapy, click here.

PLEASE consult with your allergist before trying any therapy for your allergies. If this product seems too good to be true, it's because it IS.

With apologies for the hasty nature of this blog post--I wanted to get this up quickly, but am also managing about 29 other things currently, including a sick, feverish baby....


Piz said...

"Homeopathic" should have been the first clue. Have a look at James Randi's work on debunking homeopathic "medicine." It's worthless.

Amy Dumas said...

Have you heard about the research with peanut allergies?
Can Peanut Allergies Be Cured? New Research Looks Hopeful
Not sure if that link will work so here's a tinyurl...