Alternative Treatments for Allergies: Do They Work?
There are no cures for allergies, and the best you can hope for is that your child will eventually outgrow a food allergy. For most people with food allergies, treatment is largely prevention; you avoid the offending food at all costs. There are also options to treat symptoms, of course, with over-the-counter medications or skin creams. But what about alternative therapies? There are practitioners of alternative medicine who offer services they say can really make a difference in the lives of those struggling with allergies. Please talk to your doctor before trying these treatments.
Advanced Allergy Therapeutics
Also known as AAT, advanced allergy therapeutics is touted as a non-invasive allergy treatment that involves no needles, no supplements, no medications and no avoidance, but is it for real? The idea behind AAT is to treat the organ systems involved in an allergic reaction, not the immune system which triggers the reaction. So for instance, if your child reacts to milk with a skin rash, a practitioner would target the skin, while if another child’s milk allergy causes digestive symptoms, the process would target that child’s digestive system.
During a treatment session, the practitioner uses gentle pressure on points on the body that correspond to the organ system involved in the allergic reaction. At the same time, the practitioner introduces a representation of the allergen to the skin where the pressure is being applied. That representation comes from a digital library of all the compounds that make up an allergen, giving the practitioner the ability to be precise with what exactly is causing the reaction.
There is no research evidence that proves AAT works, but anecdotal evidence from those who practice it and those who have benefited from it is easy to find. It is difficult to find any explanation of why this technique might work, but that may be because no one yet knows the reason. It is important to note that most practitioners state that they will not treat someone who experiences anaphylaxis and that, for these allergy sufferers, strict avoidance is still the best practice.
NAET – Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques
Another alternative therapy is known as NAET and is named for Dr. Devi Nambudripad, who developed the therapy in the 1980s. NAET is also advertised as being a natural, non-invasive and drug-free therapy. It is most often practiced by chiropractors and follows a series of therapies of various types: acupressure, muscle response testing, stimulating nerves along the spine and energy balancing. Through these techniques, practitioners claim they can desensitize a person to an allergen.
There is very little research into NAET, and troublingly most of the research has been conducted by Dr. Nambudripad’s research foundation and published in the foundation’s journal. One small independent study with just six children with peanut allergies did find that the children had no or limited reactions to peanuts after NAET treatment.
It can be tempting to try alternative treatments when traditional therapy does not help you or your child find relief from allergies. However, it is important to speak to your doctor before trying any of these. While the treatments themselves may be low risk, there may be some valid reasons you shouldn’t try them. Also, remember to keep up with your current treatment unless your doctor gives you the OK to stop.