Low Dose Allergen Immunotherapy
We are excited to introduce a new treatment for allergies and sensitivities at the Northern Centre for Integrative Medicine called LDA immunotherapy, short for Ultra Low Dose Enzyme Activated Immunotherapy.
What conditions can be treated with LDA?
- Seasonal Allergies (“Hay fever”)
- Dust mite, mold & animal dander allergy
- Urticaria (“hives”)
- Eczema (dermatitis)
- Food allergy (e.g. Anaphylaxis to peanuts)
- Food (or food additive/preservative) intolerance
- Adverse responses to chemicals (“multiple chemical sensitivity” or “MCS”)
- ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
Since LDA addresses the faulty reaction of the immune system, many autoimmune conditions respond well to LDA as well:
- Irritable bowel disorders
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Migraine and other headaches
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosis
How does LDA work?
Allergies develop because the immune system falsely identifies normal substances as pathogens. Usually, a specialized set of immune cells (B cells, T-helper cells) identifies and tracks down bacteria, viruses and other pathogens in the body and destroys them before they can cause disease. Another kind of immune cell, the T-suppressor cells, controls the reaction of the B- and T-helper cells and prevents them from attacking human cells or harmless substances. With an allergy however, the B and T helper cells misidentify normal substances in the body to be allergens and erroneously cause patients to be ill.
LDA is a method of immunotherapy enhanced by a small dose of the enzyme, beta-glucuronidase. The beta-glucuronidase activates extremely low amounts of various allergens (extremely small amounts when compared to standard allergy injection materials) and stimulates the production of “T-suppressor cells.” These cells turn off the “helper cells” that cause the misidentification of normal substances in the body that get mislabeled as allergens or as foreign invaders, which in turn leads to an abnormal immune reaction, causing illness symptoms and problems. Since T-suppressor cells take a while to mature in the bloodstream, LDA needs to be administered only every two to three months for the first six to eight months; then less often as treatment progresses
What is the LDA treatment like?
An LDA treatment consists of a small injection on the inner aspect of the forearm with a small amount of the injection (1/20 cc.) given intra-dermally (in the first layer of the skin). The average patient receives 1-2 injections (usually one on each forearm) per treatment.
The response to LDA does not take long to appear, and certainly over 60% of patients note a significant positive response with their first treatment. Most all patients respond positively by the third treatment, and if no response is noted by then, we generally re-evaluate the situation. The overall response rate for all conditions treated with LDA is approximately 65-95%, varying with the condition being treated.
LDA has a few considerations compared to other types of immunotherapy. For example, most patients must adhere to a restricted diet the day before, the day of, and the day after LDA treatment. There are also a number of medications (such as antihistamines and aspirin) that may significantly reduce or destroy the effect LDA if taken in the three weeks after treatment. Before starting the therapy we will discuss the requirements and prepare you for your treatment.
LDA should not be used during pregnancy.
Is LDA safe?
Yes! An estimated 300,000 of LDA have been given worldwide, and – unlike many other types of immunotherapy – life-threatening reactions to LDA have never been reported.
There may be initial stinging at the injection site and some patients have reported a temporary worsening of their symptoms. Adverse reactions lasted for only a short duration before disease symptoms significantly improved.
Do I need LDA for the rest of my life?
NO! LDA immunotherapy is extremely low dose and administered infrequently, only every two months at first, and later less often. Treatment is required only every two months initially for a period of approximately 12 months. After that time, the treatment interval may generally be extended to three months or longer. Most adults with significant problems require 16 of 18 treatments at these intervals of two months or less often, at which time treatment often may be discontinued. Of the approximately 50% of patients who are unable to discontinue LDA after 16-18 treatments without return of some symptoms, the majority will continue treatment longer at intervals of 6 months to a year. Children (under 12) may often stretch their treatments out earlier, and stop sooner without return of symptoms. Children as young as one month of age have been treated safely.
I am on conventional allergy shots – why should I switch to LDA?
LDA includes mixtures of over 300 allergens that allow patients who are sensitive to a single or a multitude of allergens to respond to treatment, including dust, mold, pollen, animal dander, as well as foods or even bacteria.
Conventional immunotherapy on the other hand is limited to the treatment of hay fever and animal and dust mite allergies; neither foods nor chemical sensitivities can be addressed. The conventional immunotherapy employs escalating doses of an allergen injected under the skin, which is the trigger for the body to produce antibodies that block the allergic reaction.
The higher the level of blocking antibody that can be produced, the more successful the treatment. In order to produce adequate levels of blocking antibody, administration of very high doses of allergen are required, which often cause intolerable swelling and other side effects (to the point of life threatening anaphylaxis) before clinical efficacy can be attained. In Addition, to maintain its effect, conventional immunotherapy must be administered at a minimum of one injection per month and cannot usually be stopped without the return of some or significant symptoms.