This is not the first time I’ve written about the wonders of drops for allergies for different conditions. But drops for asthma…this is new…
A large chunk of the population deals with the discomfort and limitations of allergies and asthma here in the US. This allergy season seems to have hit patients particularly hard. Worse, rarely do I see that commonly used medications like Advair, Allegra and Zyrtec do more than make life a little easier. Resolution or complete control is not the norm.
While the medications to treat allergies and asthma may be slightly different, I have always lumped them together because the immune system imbalance is the same (Th2 dominance, in case you’re curious). This also means that the early-life risk factors are similar, such as:
- Antibiotic use
- C-section birth
- Formula feeding instead of breastfeeding
When asked what organ plays a critical role in allergies and asthma, few would answer that it is the gut that drives these types of problems.
Why the gut? Because 2/3 of the immune system is centered around the gut; so designed because the vast majority of foreign material that you are exposed to comes from the stuff you shove in your mouth.
So what if the stuff you were putting into your mouth was very carefully crafted to trick the immune system around your gut into behaving the way it is supposed to? Sounds pretty cool, right? That is the goal of sublingual immunotherapy, otherwise known as drops for allergies.
This approach to allergies here in the United States, however, lags far behind Europe. Here in the states, these drops are off-label use because the FDA has not approved its use. But certainly not for lack of research, as we can see from this particular review.
Researchers looked at the data on drops for allergies and asthma across 63 studies with over 5100 participants total. What did they find?
- Strong evidence supports that sublingual immunotherapy improves asthma symptoms, with 8/13 studies showing 40% improvement.
- Moderate evidence supports that drops for allergies decrease rhinitis or rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms, with 9/36 studies showing greater than 40% improvement.
- Medication use for asthma and allergies decreased by more than 40% in 16/41 studies.
- Moderate evidence found the drops improve conjunctivitis symptoms (13 studies).
- Evidence found that drops improved the combined symptom and medication scores (20 studies).
- Evidence found that disease-specific quality of life was improved (8 studies).
- Local reactions were frequent, but severe allergic reactions were not reported.
Overall, I would have to say that the FDA is WAY behind Europe on this one. Sadly, many allergists dismiss drops for allergies as not having any research to support its use. You have to be avoiding an awful lot of medical literature to not notice 63 studies IN YOUR FIELD that deal with this approach.
Maybe it’s time to find a new allergist (luckily for those of you in our clinic’s area, we offer drops for allergies).