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Dr. Oz & A New Strategy to Fight Allergies

May 3, 2012


Q. A friend of mine says that taking drops under her tongue for her allergies has changed her life. Is it safe and effective?

A. Glad the sublingual immunotherapy or SLIT — that’s what it’s called — is working for her. With the right doctor, this may be a safe and effective way to control allergies.

First, you get tested to identify what you are allergic to: tree pollen, mold, pets, dust mites, the whole roster of possible allergens. That’s generally done with a scratch test. You are checked for a reaction to as many as a dozen allergens at the same time, and get results in about 20 minutes.

Once the doctor knows what you are reacting to, he creates a regimen of drops that contain small amounts of those allergens. You give them to yourself at home every day; no weekly office visits for immunotherapy injections (that’s the standard approach). For some people, allergy symptoms don’t go away, for others they become milder or even disappear.

The World Health Organization says SLIT is a viable alternative to immunotherapy injections, and it’s been used successfully for years in Europe. The safety record is very good, and major studies have demonstrated its effectiveness. So why isn’t SLIT used more often in the United States? Well, although the ingredients in the drops are Food and Drug Administration-approved (they’re the same as what’s in immunotherapy injections), the delivery method is not. It’s considered off-label use.

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