Low dose allergen treatment (LDA) is a safe and effective method of immunotherapy used for treating food and environmental allergies. Far different from other allergy treatments, LDA contains unique antigens that help restore your bodyʼs immune tolerance to the environment outside and inside your body. It is used to treat multiple conditions and appears to be a long-lasting treatment option for allergy and many autoimmune illnesses. It is also appears to be effective in the treatment of variety of chronic illnesses including Lyme disease and autoimmune dysfunction by modulating the immune system.
LDA includes mixtures of over three hundred allergens that act quite universally. This means that patients allergic or intolerant to many substances, and with quite diverse medical conditions, respond well to treatment. At Functional Medicine of Alabama, we use a variety of LDA mixtures, including inhaled pollens, danders, dust and mites, fungi, yeast (including Candida species), molds, foods, many food additives, most common chemicals and perfumes, formaldehyde, and also different bacterial antigens, based on your history and needs.
How Does LDA Work?
LDA works to restore your natural active immune tolerance to specific environmental antigens or allergens, which have become deregulated in allergy and autoimmune disease. LDA is used in extremely low doses that uses broadbased mixtures of allergens (antigens) made immunologically active by the enzyme glucuronidase. Following the administration of the LDA, there is an increase in T regulator cells (Treg). The Treg cells address inappropriate cellular responses to substances promoted by CD4 (helper), CD8 (killer) and B Cells (this is where the immune system has been trying to protect you from things like food, environmental inhalants or even your own tissues). Simply put, this shuts off the allergic or adverse response.
LDA is administered using tiny intradermal injections on the skin of the forearm. On average, our patients receive 1 to 2 injections (usually one on each forearm) per treatment. Initially, LDA injections are usually taken at two month intervals. As you progress, the interval between injections is gradually extended until they are taken at yearly intervals. Some patients may even be able to stop treatment for extended periods of time without their allergy symptoms returning. Other patients have taken injections 1 to 4 times a year for up to 20 years. Most patients can either go a long time between injections or stop entirely after about 16 to 18 injections. For severe food allergies, 6 to 12 doses or 1 to 2 years of treatment may be necessary before good results are achieved. Most patients notice improvement
within the first three doses. If no improvement is noted, there may be factors
interfering, which we would then evaluate.
The Difference Between LDA and Conventional Allergy
Conventional or what is known as “escalating dose” immunotherapy (where the dose is started low and increased over time) is employed in this country by many allergists, primarily to treat hay fever and cat and dust mite allergy, which are primarily IgE mediated. This type of immunotherapy works by creating a type of “blocking antibody” (specific IgG antibody), which inhibits the histamine-releasing ability (which produces the allergy symptoms) of the mast cell. The higher the level of blocking antibody that can be produced, the more successful the treatment. To produce adequate levels of blocking antibody, studies have shown that administration of very high doses of allergen is required. However, this method of treatment often causes intolerable swelling and other side effects before positive outcomes can be attained, and can be dangerous. Furthermore, only allergies to inhalants can be treated – not foods or chemicals, which is often a core problem.
LDA therapy stands for ultra-low dose allergy therapy, and thus uses only a very small, but effective, dose of the allergens. It is less dangerous than the escalating dose used by traditional allergy therapies. It also only has to be administered every 7-8 weeks at the earliest, and can eventually be every 6-12 months.
The effectiveness of LDA is improved if the problem foods and inhalants are avoided for a few days before after the injection. There are also a number of medications (such as antihistamines and aspirin and vitamin c ) that may significantly reduce or destroy the effect of LDA if taken in the three weeks after treatment. These will all be discussed with you by your physician.
The advantages of LDA therapy greatly outweigh the disadvantages, particularly in the fact that it effectively treats a very wide variety of disorders not generally perceived to be immune related or caused by an allergy such as migraine headaches, ADD/ADHD, Lyme disease, autoimmune disease, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic sinusitis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, weight gain, Hashimotoʼs, Touretteʼs and Raynaudʼs syndromes, and many others. Many of our patients who have gone through LDA treatment report that they need fewer medications, get fewer infections and have more tolerance to foods, pollens
LDA is a safe and effective procedure for relief of immune reactions including:
Environmental inhalant allergies (dog, dust, hay fever, mold etc.) and
Food and inhalant related conditions
IBS, inflammatory bowel (Crohnʼs and Ulcerative Colitis)
Chronic ear infections
Skin allergies/conditions: dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea
Asthma, pharyngitis, rhinitis, sinusitis
Food triggered headaches and migraines
Auto immune conditions: inflammatory bowel, rheumatoid, lupus,
hashimotos/graves, ankylosing spondylitis, ITP, interstitial cystitis, etc.
Chronic joint and muscle pain
Results You Can Expect
Often times, the effect of LDA can be felt immediately, however, for some the full benefit of LDA will take longer to achieve. Studies have shown that 60% of patients note a significant positive response with their first treatment and almost all patients respond positively by the third treatment. In particular, some patients with food allergy or intolerance may only notice sustained improvement after three to six doses and severely reactive foods may take two years to become tolerable. Alternatively, about 1 in 25 patients does not respond with strongly positive results until having had 6 treatments. The overall response rate for all conditions treated with LDA is approximately 65% to 95%, depending on the condition being treated. We require at least 5 treatments , since that is the best way to re-train your immune system, and is the most likely way to get the desired improvements. Once 5 treatments have been taken, subsequent treatments cane done at any time the patient needs them.
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