Discovery Guides Areas


ABC's Of Allergies
(Released August 2006)

  by Sujata Suri  


Key Citations

Web Sites





Over the counter medicines such as antihistamines, corticosteroids or decongestants are helpful in only treating the symptoms of allergic disease, not preventing the onset of allergies.

Allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots) is the process by which increasing doses of an allergen are injected subcutaneously (under the skin) over time as a treatment to prevent allergic symptoms. Immunotherapy involves a series of injections (shots) containing a mixture of allergens to which a person is sensitive, regularly for several months or even years. The first shots start with very tiny amounts of the allergens and eventually dosages increase over time. This process is also called desensitization or allergen immunotherapy. Medications help in reducing symptoms but immunotherapy is the only available treatment for reducing sensitivity to allergens.

three cute kittens
People allergic to cat dander can order hypoallergenic cats

Rush immunotherapy (RIT), also known as accelerated immunotherapy, is done very quickly, with shots given every few hours, instead of every few days or weeks, to increase the tolerance to an allergen (Nelson, 1995). Rush immunotherapy can be done quickly if someone gets a life-threatening allergy, for instance caused by a bee sting or other insect venom. Recently it was found that patients receiving both Omalizumab (monoclonal antibody) and RIT had fewer adverse symptoms than those receiving either treatment alone. Pretreatment of Omalizumab enhances both the efficacy and the safety of Rush immunotherapy (Casale et al. 2006).

Homeopathic remedies: Homeopathic remedies and natural products such as Lycopodium, Pulsatilla and sulfur can be useful in reducing allergic response (Colin, 2006). Intestinal commensal bacterial flora or eating the right kind of yoghurt (probiotic bacteria) can also be used for inhibiting the development of allergic responses to food related allergens (Bashir et al., 2004) (See CSA's Bugs in Our Guts for more information). Studies in mice have shown that induction of allergen-specific IgE and symptoms is associated with functional TLR4 receptors of lipopolysaccharides (toll like receptors-4). Strains of mice treated with TLR4 showed reduced symptoms than untreated strains. Mice lacking TLR-4 produce higher amounts of IgE and histamine levels. Mice react to TLR-4 by producing liposaccharides and show increased levels of IL-13 and allergy specific IFNy and thus allergy reduction.

Avoiding exposure: Because prevention is better than cure, personal hygiene may be the best alternative for reducing allergies. Persons prone to respiratory symptoms should avoid exposure to allergens; they should cover their noses or wear pollen/dust masks while going outside or exercising during pollen season. Air filters in furnaces and air conditioners should be changed monthly. Air purifiers and cleaning of air vents and ducts can help in cleansing the air. Wooden or cement floors are preferable to carpets, while frequent washing of bed sheets, covers, and other linens also reduces allergens. Avoid exposure to stored clothes in boxes or wardrobes for months after removal from storage and wash them before wearing. The simple way to avoid pet related allergy is to avoid the pets; pet lovers can keep a hypoallergenic pet. Researchers have developed a cat which lacks the allergen (Fel D 1) so that people allergic to cats can own a hypoallergenic pet (

Special thanks to Deborah Whitman for her invaluable help with this Discovery Guide

© Copyright 2006, All Rights Reserved, CSA

List of Visuals


  1. Adlerberth, I., Carlsson, B., De Man, P., Jalil, F. Khan ., Larsson, P., Mallander L, Svanborg, C, Wold, A.E., Hanson, L.A. (1991). Intestinal colonization with enterobacteriaceae in Pakistani and Swedish hospital delivered infants. Acta paediatric Scand., Vol.80, pp.602-610.

  2. Alenius, H., Kalkkinen ,N., Reunala,T and Palosuo,T. (1996). The main IgE-binding epitope of a latex allergen, prohevein, is present in its N-terminal 43-amino acid fragment, hevein. The Journal of Immunology, Vol.156, pp.1618-1625.

  3. Bashir, M. E.H., Louie, S., Shi, H.N., Anderson, C. N. (2004). Toll-like receptor 4 signaling by intestinal microbes influences susceptibility to food allergy. The Journal of Immunology, Vol.172, pp. 6978-6987.

  4. Bell, E. (2002). Worms and allergy-what's going on? Nature Reviews Immunology, Vol. 2, pp.720.

  5. Belostotsky, R. and Galski,H.L. (2001). Apoptosis- Inducing Human- Origin Fce-BaK Chimeric Proteins for Targeted Elimination of Mast Cells and Basophils: A new Approach for Allergy Treatment. The Journal of Immunology, Vol.167, pp.4719-4728.

  6. Bohle,B., Wagner,B., Vollman,U. Buck,D., Niggemann,B., Szepfalusi,Z., Fischer,G., Scheiner,O., Breiteneder,H and Ebner,C. (2000). The Journal of Immunology, Vol.164, pp.4393-4398.

  7. Casale, T., Busse, W.W., Kline, J.N., Ballas, Z.K., Moss, M.H., Townley, R.G., Mokhtarani, M., Margolis, V.S., Asare, A., Bateman, K., Deniz, Y. and immune tolerance network group. (2006). Omalizumab pretreatment decreases acute reactions after rush immunotherapy for ragweed-induced seasonal allergic rhinitis. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol. 117, pp. 134-140.

  8. Colin, A. (2006). Homeopathy and respiratory allergies: a series of 147 cases. Homeopathy, Vol. 95(2), pp. 68-72.

  9. Diaz-Sanchez, D., Rumold, R. and Henry, G. Jr.(2006). Challenge with environmental tobacco smoke exacerbates allergic airway disease in human beings. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. (Article in press)

  10. Douwes, J., Strien, R.V., Doekes, G., Smit, J., Kerkhof, M., Gerritsen, J., Postma, D., de Jongste, J., Travier, N., Brunekreef, B. (2006). Does early indoor microbial exposure reduce the risk of asthma? The prevention and incidence of asthma and mice allergy birth cohorot study. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol. 117, pp. 1067-1073.

  11. Drew, A.C., Nirupama, P.E., Kenins, L., de Silva, H.D.,Suphioglu,c., Rolland,J.M., O'Hehir, R.E. (2004). Hypoallergenic variants of the major latex allergen Hev b 6.01 retaining human T lymphocyte reactivity. The Journal of Immunology, Vol. 173, pp. 5872-5879.

  12. Drouin ,S.M., Corry,D.B., Kildsgaard,J. and Wetsel,R.A. (2001). Cutting Edge: The absence of C3 demonstrates a Role for Complement in Th2 Effector Functions in a Murine Model of Pulmonary Allergy. The Journal of Immunology, Vol.167, pp.4141-4145.

  13. Kabesch, M. (2006). Gene by environment interactions and the development of asthma and allergy. Toxicology letters, Vol. 162(1), 43-48.

  14. Kondo,Y., Urisu, A. and Tokuda, R. (2001). Identification and Characterization of Allergens in the Tomato Fruit by Immunoblotting. International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, Vol.126, pp.294-299.

  15. Leung, D.Y.M., Sampson,H.A., Yunginger,W.J., Burks,A.W., Scheider,L.C., Wortel, C.H.,Davis,F.M., Hyun,J.D. and Shanahan,W.R. (2003). The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol.348, pp.986-993.

  16. Li, X. M., Srivastava,K. Huleatt,W.J. Burks, A.W. and Sampson,H.A. (2003). Engineered Recombinant Peanut Protein and Heat -Killed Listeria monocytogenes Coadministeration protects Against Peanut-Induced Anaphylaxis in a Murine Model. The Journal of Immunology, Vol.170, pp.3289-3295.

  17. Malkov, V.S., Markelov, V.V., Barabanschikov, B.I., Potemkina, A.M., Polozov, G.Y., Kozhevnikov, A.Y and Trushin, M.V. (2006). Reduction of the crop plant allergenecity due to soil treatment with Bacillus oligonitrophilus KU-1 strain. Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum 99, pp. 161-166.

  18. Mangan, N.E., Rooijen, N.V., McKenzie, A.N.J. and Fallon, P.G. (2006). Helminth-modified pulmonary immune response protects mice from allergen-induced airway hyperresponsiveness. The Journal of Immunology, Vol. 176, pp. 138-147.

  19. Matricardi, P. M., B. Bjorksten, S. Bonini, J. Bousquet, R. Djukanovic, S. Dreborg, J. Gereda, H.-J. Malling, T. Popov, E. Raz, H. Renz, A. Wold, the EAACI Task Force 7 (2003). Microbial products in allergy prevention and therapy. Allergy 58:461.

  20. Mellon, M.B., Frank, B.T. and Fang, K.C. (2002). Mast Cell aChymase Reduces IgE Recognition of Birch Pollen Profilin by Cleaving Antibody-Binding Epitopes. The Journal of Immunology, Vol.168, pp. 290-297.

  21. Nelson, H.S. (1995). Rush immunotherapy. National Jewish-Medical Science. Vol. 13(3).

  22. Tae-Yong, S., Kim S-H., Suk, K., Ha, J-H., Kim, I., Lee, M-G., Jun, C.D, Kim, S-Y., Lim, P-J., Eun, J-S., Shin, H-Y., Kim, H-M. (2005). Anti-allergic effects of Lycopus lucidus on mast cell-mediated allergy model. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. Vol. 209:3, pp. 255-262.

  23. Takubo, M., Inoue, T., Jiang, S., Tsumuru, T., Ueda., Yatsuzuka, R., Segawa, S., Watari, J., Kamai, C. (2006). Effects of hop extracts on nasal rubbing and sneezing in BALB/c mice. Biological Pharmaceutical Bulletin, Vol, 29, pp. 689-692.

  24. Thi and De Blic, 2005. Food allergy, environment and primary and secondary prevention of atopic dermatitis. Ann Dermatol Venereol,Vol, 132.

  25. Thien Van Do., Elsayed, S., Florvaag, E., Hordvik, I and Endresen, C. (2005). Allergy to fish: parvalbumins: Studies on the cross-reactivity of allergens from 9 commonly consumed fish. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol, 116(6), pp. 1314-1320.

  26. Reese, G., Viebranz, J., Leong-Kee, S. M., Plante, M., Lauer, I Randow, S., Moncin, M S-M., Ayuso, R., Lehrer, S.B. and Vieths, S. (2005). Reduced allergenic potency of VR9-1, a mutant of the major shrimp allergen Pen a 1 (tropomyosin). The Journal of Immunology, Vol. 175, pp. 8354-8364.

  27. Rudolf, M.P., Zuercher, A.W., Nechansky,A., Ruf,C., Vogel,M., Miescher, S.M., Stadler, M. and Kricek, F. (2000). Molecular Basis for Nonanaphylactogenicity of a Monoclonal Anti-IgE Antibody. The Journal of Immunology, Vol.165, pp.813-819.

  28. Schulman, E.S. (2001). Development of Monoclonal Anti-Immunoglobulin E Antibody (Omalizumab) for the treatment of Allergic Respiratory Disorders. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol.164, (8): 6S.

  29. Schrezenmeier, J. De Vresem (2001). Probiotics , prebiotics and synbiotics-approaching a definition. American journal of clinical nutrition. Vol.73, pp.361S-364S.

  30. Singh, M. B., Bhalla, P.L. (2002). Hypoallergenic derivatives of major grass pollen allergens for allergy vaccination. Immunology and Cell Biology, Vol. 81, pp. 86

  31. Uguz, A, Lack, G, Pumphrey, R, Ewan, P, Warner, J, Dick, J, Briggs, D, Clarke, S, Reading, D, Hourihane, J. (2005) Allergic reactions in the community: a questionnaire survey of members of the anaphylaxis campaign. Clin Exp Allergy. 35(6):746-750.

  32. Valenta, R. The future of antigen specific immunotherapy of allergy. Nature Reviews Immunology, Vol. 2, pp. 446-453.

  33. Hartl, A., Weiss, R., Hochreiter, R., Scheiblhofer, S., bauer, R., valenta, R., leitner, W. and Thalhamer, J. (2003). Strategies for the development of safe and effective DNA vaccines for allergy treatment. Vol.94, pp.279-98