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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Sublingual Immunotherapy and Allergies: Dr. Jonathan Psenka shows how this all-natural treatment can replace weekly allergy shots

Oct 31, 2013 03:40PM ● By Jonathan Psenka, NMD

Allergies are a common health concern in Arizona. Each spring and fall, more and more people seem to be suffering from sneezing, itchy eyes, and blocked sinuses that result from seasonal allergies. Some people have year-round allergies, often due to being exposed to an allergic substance more frequently. Pets such as dogs and cats are common causes of year-round allergies, as are molds and even some types of insects. Having allergies also can exacerbate other health conditions, such as asthma, which can severely affect someone’s quality of life. Finding an effective treatment can drastically improve an allergy sufferer’s life.

The treatment of allergies generally consists of using antihistamine medications. Histamine is a pro-inflammatory chemical that is made by the immune system, and when released in a high amount, causes the symptoms of an allergy. Antihistamine medications work by blocking the action of histamine. These medications can provide relief for some, but they only work if they are taken regularly. Very few people seem to like the idea of taking a medication regularly for the rest of their lives.

Another option for allergy treatment is immunotherapy. Immunotherapy works by re-training the allergy sufferer’s immune system to stop producing histamine when the body encounters an allergic substance. Immunotherapy works by repeatedly introducing a small amount of the substance a person is allergic to (typically a protein) into the body. Once in the body, this allergen will be “seen” by the immune system, and once it has been seen repeatedly over a period of time, the immune system will stop producing histamine. Immunotherapy causes the body to not be allergic by making the immune system so used to seeing the allergen that it no longer produces a symptom-causing histamine release. Simply put, immunotherapy trains the body to no longer be allergic.

Some people are familiar with the subcutaneous form of immunotherapy, commonly known as allergy shots. To have this therapy, a person is required to visit their allergist on a weekly basis to receive a series of shots containing the allergens. Because immunotherapy is typically not an overnight treatment, many rounds of shots are sometimes necessary. In some cases, the therapy must be continued for up to three years to reach maximal effectiveness. In addition to not liking the shots, most people also don’t like the idea of having to take time off work to visit the doctor and pay a weekly charge for the visit. Parents of allergic children may especially dread taking their children for these weekly allergy shots.

But immunotherapy is changing. Over the past 20 years, positive research has been published regarding sublingual (under the tongue) immunotherapy (SLIT) showing it is effective, safe and well tolerated by most people. Sublingual immunotherapy also works to train the immune system to stop being allergic, but does not require weekly shots.

People using SLIT to treat their allergies simply spray a small amount of the allergen-containing serum under their tongue each day. This simple administration means that people can use this treatment at home, eliminating the need for weekly doctor visits. This no-shot approach to allergy treatment is also fantastic for children. Many people are pleasantly surprised to learn that SLIT is actually a form of natural medicine and does not contain any synthetic medications.

Sublingual immunotherapy should always be administered under the care of a properly trained physician and be individualized, as well, meaning that the SLIT formulations are prepared specifically for the person being treated. One-size-fits-all SLIT formulations should be avoided, as there have been concerns raised about such products.

Dr. Psenka works with integrative cancer therapies, IV therapy, allergies, ozone, UVBI, diet and exercise education for the treatment and prevention of disease. For more information, call 602-428-6151 or visit

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