What is SLIT?
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is an injection free natural treatment that addresses the underlying cause of environmental allergies. The therapy involves exposing a patient to small doses of the allergen(s) under the tongue, which helps to re-train the immune system to become less reactive. This process is called desensitization, and can be used to treat hay fever allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, and allergic asthma in adults, and children over 3 years of age.
Sublingual immunotherapy has endorsement from the World Health Organization, the World Allergy Organization, and the Cochrane Collaborations, and has been used for over 60 years in various countries. Numerous peer-reviewed journals have shown that sublingual immunotherapy is both safe and effective, and when compared to conventional allergy shots, it costs less, is more convenient, and requires fewer clinical visits.
How does SLIT work?
Like injection therapy, SLIT works by changing the body’s ability to react with allergens. A small dose is given every day sublingually (under the tongue), which desensitizes your immune system to the allergen(s).
An initial allergy scratch test is first performed to determine which allergens you are reacting to (skin prick testing cannot be undertaken in pregnant women, and individuals taking B-blockers). The first dose of the indicated allergen(s) is given in office, and subsequent daily doses of the allergy drops are taken at home. Retesting after 6 months of treatment will determine if the allergy drops are still needed.
SLIT can be used during the allergy season, or preventatively 30-60 days prior to the offending allergy season. Treatment continues to the end of the allergy season, or beyond if indicated.
Types of allergens tested and treated include cat and dog dander, dust mites, tree pollen, weeds, grasses and mold.
When should I start SLIT treatment?
Preventatively: Treatment should start 4-8 weeks prior to the offending allergy season.
Co-seasonally: Treatment during the allergy season can be started at any time.
BC Allergy Seasons:
Tree pollen: February to June
Grass: May to August
Weed: August to November
Mold, dust and dander: There is no season for these allergens – treatment can start at any time.
Studies and Articles on SLIT
Preventive effects of sublingual immunotherapy in childhood: an open randomized controlled study. Marogna, Maurizio; Tomassetti, Dante; Bernasconi, Antonella; Colombo, Fausto; Massolo, Alessandro; Rienzo Businco, Andrea D.; Canonica, Giorgio W.; Passalacqua, Giovanni; Tripodi, Salvatore. Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Volume 101, Number 2, August 2008 , pp. 206-211(6).
Effects of sublingual immunotherapy for multiple or single allergens in polysensitized patients.
Marogna, Maurizio; Spadolini, Igino; Massolo, Alessandro; Zanon, Pietro; Berra, Daniele; Chiodini, Elena; Canonica, Walter G.; Passalacqua, Giovanni. Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Volume 98, Number 3, March 2007 , pp. 274-280(7).
Efficacy of sublingual immunotherapy in grass pollen allergy. Wessner D, Rakoski J, Ring J. Chemical Immunology and Allergy. 2003;82:53-61.
Dr. Meghan van Drimmelen | Naturopath Victoria BC