I grew up on a farm in Idaho, helping my dad bale hay, milk cows, drive the combine harvester, and perform many other chores that came with farm life. When spring and fall hit, misery struck. Pollen was in the air, and I was outside enough that I could feel its miserable effects in my eyes, nose, and throat.
I recognized these times of year as the dreaded hay fever seasons, but I didn’t know exactly what was making me feel so sick. Later, I learned that it was an allergic reaction caused by my body overreacting to pollens and releasing chemicals into my body to “fight them off.” For the time, though, I just knew that everything from the neck up seemed to be miserable, and I couldn’t wait until I felt better.
Looking for Something More
Those experiences in my youth gave me tremendous empathy for allergy sufferers. As I often say, “Allergies, may not affect the quantity of life, but they can sure put a damper on the quality of life.” In my medical practice, I sought to help my allergic patients escape their discomfort, but I was rarely satisfied with my efforts. Here’s what I knew:
- Medications such as antihistamines and decongestants were helpful for some patients, but they fell short for many others. They came with bothersome side effects and rarely masked all of the symptoms, so people still didn’t feel their best.
- Medications were also short-term. As soon as patients stopped their pills or inhalers, their allergy and asthma symptoms came right back. It bothered me that I wasn’t treating the source of the problem, just its symptoms.
- Allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy) presented a more lasting solution, but they had drawbacks. They took a long time to work, and they were very time-consuming . My patients often complained about having to be seen in the clinic regularly for shots, and I couldn’t blame them. Because shots were a hassle, I noticed that they had a high attrition rate. All too often, people would fall off the wagon before they had a chance to see results.
A Better Way
I knew there had to be a better way, and it came in the form of sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). SLIT started becoming popular in Europe in the mid-1980s. Within a few years, it began to get attention in the U.S. as well.
SLIT involves taking a liquid solution as drops under the tongue. The drops absorb into the bloodstream through specialized oral cells. Once in the bloodstream, they can begin “desensitizing” your body or conditioning it to tolerate more of the allergens that once made you miserable. Like allergy shots, SLIT could desensitize people to pollens, pet dander, dust, and mold.
I became one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy, and I quickly became one of its biggest fans. One of the best things about the allergy drops is that they have a higher safety profile than shots. As such, they can be taken at home rather than at the doctor’s office. My patients loved the convenience of at-home administration. They would simply dispense the serum under the tongue once per day, in the morning or night. The convenience factor helped them comply better. I had fewer patients dropping off of the serum, and I noticed that they were getting faster results. My in-office studies showed that 85 percent of patients experienced significant symptom relief within just three months of starting treatment. Results for asthma patients were even better, with 90 percent of patients feeling their asthma symptoms let up within the first three months on the drops.
Broader Allergy Protection
Over time, I developed a “comprehensive mix,” which meant that the antigen solution contained nearly 200 of the most common allergens. For my patients, this meant that they would be protected from all of the major allergens in the country and even the world. I am not aware of another allergy program with a serum as comprehensive as mine. In fact, most allergy programs only protect patients against a small selection of the elements that they are allergic to. This leaves patients vulnerable to new allergens that might come into the area through imported plants or to new allergic sensitivities that their body may develop over time. The “comprehensive mix” fortifies patients against most significant allergy triggers.
For Food Allergies, Too
Several years ago, I discovered even more magic with sublingual immunotherapy. As food allergies increased, I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t treat them. Here again, SLIT offered a solution. Trials at prestigious universities, including Duke and Stanford, have used oral or sublingual immunotherapy to treat peanut allergies with great success. I developed a food allergy treatment program using a comprehensive mix of food allergens. The “food serum” helped desensitize patients to dozens of food allergens, allowing them to eat more of what they loved without fear of repercussions.
It has been a rewarding journey from allergic farm boy to the president of AllergyEasy. I am passionate about the benefits of sublingual immunotherapy. I have seen it change many lives, and I love sharing it with doctors around the country who use our turnkey allergy treatment program to help their patients.