Sublingual Immunotherapy Research

Allergy immunotherapy treats more than just the symptoms of allergy.  It is the only treatment known to affect the allergic disease itself—not just allergy symptoms.  The purpose of immunotherapy is to desensitize the body to allergens in the environment so that it will stop overreacting to them in ways that lead to uncomfortable allergy symptoms.

Allergens (such as pollen) are not the problem–they’re actually harmless.  The real problem is the way that the immune system of an allergic person reactions to these allergens.  Rather than simply ignoring them, the immune system perceives them as an attacking enemy and and emits chemicals in the body to fend off the allergens.  These chemicals lead to asthma, skin rashes, coughing, chronic sinus and ear infections, sneezing, itchy eyes, headache, and more.

Two ways immunotherapy is delivered:

  1. allergy injections (subcutaneous immunotherapy or SCIT – allergy shots)
  2. oral drops (sublingual immunotherapy or SLIT – allergy drops)

With subcutaneous immunotherapy, an allergy serum made up of traces of common allergens (grass pollens, tree pollens, etc.) is injected under the first layers of skin so it can absorb into the blood stream.  With sublingual immunotherapy, the serum is deposited under the tongue where it absorbs into the bloodstream through special cells in the mouth.

As the body is exposed to this serum, it may become desensitized to major allergens so that it will stop overreacting to them when it encounters them in nature.

SCIT has been around longer than sublingual immunotherapy. (SLIT became widely used in the mid-1980s.)  However, SLIT is widely considered more user-friendly because it is safer than shots and can be taken in the comfort of home rather than at a medical clinic.

Studies have shown sublingual immunotherapy to be safe for kids less than age 5.  It is also a good option for people who travel often, as they can be taken on the go.

SLIT has been supported by dozens of clinical trials performed throughout the world.  SLIT is used in many countries, particularly those in Europe.  In fact, more than 45 percent of Europeans who receive allergy treatment opt for sublingual immunotherapy.

SLIT is often a popular choice in the United States because of its effectiveness, its safety record, and the fact that it can be dosed at home.   SLIT is affirmed by WHO (the World Health Organization) and ARIA guidelines (Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma).

Contact AllergyEasy to find a sublingual immunotherapy allergist in your area who specializes in sublingual immunotherapy for environmental and food allergies.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.