March 2013

Immunotherapy for Allergies

According to new research, immunotherapy may be beneficial for individuals with allergies.

Rather than treating the symptoms of allergies, immunotherapy treats the immune system, which is responsible for an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction occurs when the body is exposed to an antigen (foreign substance like pollen, dust mites, mold and pet dander).

Immunotherapy exposes individuals to increasing amounts of a diluted allergen over several months. Theoretically, the individual will be desensitized over time, and allergy symptoms will be reduced.

The recent study included 207 children with allergies to grass pollen. The children were randomly assigned to receive placebo or grass pollen drops, from January through August. The drops were held under the tongue for three minutes and then swallowed.

Researchers observed allergy symptoms in the pollen season of that year. The children receiving the grass pollen drops had a significantly improved Symptom Medication Score (SMS), compared to the children receiving the placebo drops.

An improved SMS score indicated reduced allergy symptoms and lower consumption of allergy medication. Allergy symptoms in the SMS included eye irritation, sneezing or running nose and coughing or wheezing. The SMS also took into consideration the types and dosages of allergy medication.

For more information about integrative therapies for allergies, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
  2. Wahn U, Klimek L, Ploszczuk A et al. High-dose sublingual immunotherapy with single-dose aqueous grass pollen extract in children is effective and safe: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012 Oct;130(4):886-93.e5. 

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