Allergies: alternative diagnostics & therapy

The specialist treatment of allergies and allergic asthma has made great progress in recent decades. In a variety of scientific studies, the good effects of various drugs have been clearly documented. Also, the specific immunotherapy (allergy vaccine) has been proven for many years. But not all allergic people trust conventional medicine. Many resort to alternative therapies or alternative methods of allergy diagnostics.

Does an alternative therapy work?

However, the use of alternative methods in allergies is controversial. "Alternative medical procedures are usually not paid by the health insurance, because usually a proof of effect is missing, " said the President of the Association of German Allergists (DA), Professor Wolfgang Czech. Nevertheless, alternative healing and test methods such as commuting, autologous blood treatment, bioresonance therapy and Bach flower therapy as a panacea for allergies repeatedly make headlines. So what about the alternative allergy treatment?

Allergists have examined alternative methods

The working group Complementary Medicine of the German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (DGAKI) has evaluated alternative methods after a detailed review of the available scientific studies. With the exception of proven methods such as respiratory and physiotherapy, Kneipp's method, bathing or climatotherapy, the experts around the Munich allergist Professor Wolfgang Dorsch found almost no proof of effectiveness:

methoddescriptionproof of effectiveness
acupunctureIrritation of certain points on the body by needles.Controlled studies show effects in mild asthma. As a supplement to classical therapy of pulmonary medicine acceptable.
Electroacupuncture according to Dr. med. FullChanges in electrical potentials at acupuncture points should provide information about the causes of the disease.Already 1976 in the presence of Dr. med. Reinhold Voll refuted.
Treatment with own bloodVenous blood is injected into a muscle of the patient; in a homeopathic variant dissolved in water or alcohol for drinking. Controlled efficacy studies are not available.On the other hand it can come after the injection to painful inflammations.
Autohomologist Immunotherapy according to Dr. med. KiefSpecially prepared blood or urine is swallowed, inhaled or injected.A comprehensible proof of efficacy is missing. The method is extremely expensive.
Aromatherapy, color therapyInhalation of fragrant plant essences or irradiation with colored light.Autosuggestion or placebo effect: harmless but ineffective.
Bach Flower TherapyFresh flowers of selected plants are placed overnight in fresh spring water. The essence is taken or processed the next morning.The dropwise drinking of floral water is unlikely to have any effect.
KinesiologyAllergies are detected by contact with allergy triggers with subsequent change in muscle tension.Refuted in a double-blind study with an experienced kinesiologist. The method also failed with food intolerances.
CommuteAllergies are determined by commuting.No significance, the method is based only on suggestion
Bioresonance and related techniques"Ultra-fine vibrations" caused by contact with allergens or electrical phenomena should be measurable and erasable by means of a special device.Clinical studies have shown that bioresonance is neither suitable for diagnosis nor for the treatment of allergies. (2)
homeopathyUse of very diluted ("potentiated") agents.So far, only for the plant Galphimia glauca in a certain dilution evidence of efficacy in hay fever can be shown.
Traditional Chinese medicineUse of traditional mixtures of medicinal plants.The complex mixtures often contain dozens of drugs, sometimes with interactions that make scientific assessment more difficult. There is both evidence of efficacy and severe side effects.

Effectiveness of alternative methods is controversial

"Alternative methods are not really an alternative, they can not replace traditional therapy, " says ÄDA President Professor Czech. A sufficient evidence of allergies in the opinion of the specialist is not yet available. In the case of hay fever, antihistamine tablets for symptom relief and cortisone nasal sprays for anti-inflammatory purposes are highly recommended and the allergy cause can be effectively and long-term controlled with a specific immunotherapy (allergy vaccine). " Most patients are largely symptom-free, "says Professor Czech.


Dorsch, W., Ring, J .: Complementary methods or so-called alternative methods in allergology. Allergo Journal 3: 163-170, 2002.

Wüthrich B et al .: Bioresonance of diagnostic and therapeutic nonsense. Allergo Journal 15: 338-343, 2006.

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