By Brianna of Allergic Adventures (bio below)
Our allergic adventures began in 2007 technically, but we didn’t realize what was going on until 2008. Our oldest son was born happy & healthy. At about 2-1/2 months he developed a rash, we took him in & were prescribed a cream. We used the cream, naively I suppose, & the rash disappeared. I didn’t think much more of it, or the fact he spit up often. A happy spitter, the doctor’s called him, so nothing to worry about. Of course hindsight is 20/20.
At 17 months he was first allergy tested for a handful of allergens- milk & eggs showed up. We had suspected these & already removed them from his diet, so it didn’t help us much in finding the cause of his eczema. At this point, he was waking up multiple times a night, itching & miserable, his skin looked red & irritated, but no open wounds & nothing on his face. At 18 months, he was hospitalized with a staph infection. Broad-spectrum antibiotics pumped into him for three days, then we were released & his antibiotic prescription continued. Two months later, he was allergy tested more extensively. A number of intolerances showed up, in addition to his milk & egg allergy. Peanuts also showed up this time. We cut out all of these foods & his skin began to heal, & so it seemed our life was as well. Unfortunately, this only lasted a few weeks. Then suddenly the eczema worsened, finally spreading to his face, the nights were sleepless; the T.V. was on excessively & the doctor’s had no answers.
In the spring, I learned about a doctor who could possibly help us with an alternative approach. We didn’t go to him immediately, I was about six months pregnant with baby #2 & we were hesitant with the prospect of this doctor. I have to admit we became weary of doctors, after they repeatedly told us he would grow out of his allergies, the eczema, that the spitting was no big deal, the steroid cream prescriptions, etc. We tried so much conventional approaches unsuccessfully, we certainly reached a point of disbelief & almost mistrust.
I then came across a book called “Healing the New Childhood Epidemics” by Dr. Kenneth Bock. I felt like a light suddenly turned on. I had previously done extensive online research on severe eczema, which is how I learned about this book, among other treatment ideas. When I received the book in the mail, I immediately raced through the pages, searching for some kind of answer. I came across information on yeast overgrowth, reading the symptoms, & immediately knew that’s what he had. I went to my doctor & asked him about this theory & he explained to me that yeast overgrowth doesn’t actually exist. That’s when I sought out that doctor recommended to us a few months before.
Now I have to explain we live on an island, more or less in the middle of nowhere. We do not have many doctors here & have to travel, quite expensively, to seek out new providers with alternative approaches. While I know this is a choice we make, it’s one I believe in. When we made our first appointment with this new doctor, my son was diagnosed with yeast overgrowth within five minutes. He also explained to us a treatment called Low Dose Allergy (LDA) Therapy.
The easiest way for me to explain LDA is to tell you it is the process of retraining the immune system not to react allergically to the substances it’s reacting to, whether it’s food, environmental or chemical reactions.
The less summarized & more scientific definition of LDA is: “…desensitization with combinations of a wide variety of extremely low dose allergens…These allergens are given with the enzyme, beta-glucuronidase. The beta-glucuronidase acts as a lymphokine, a substance that potentiates the immunizing ability of the allergens…appears to specifically induce the production of activated T-regulator (T reg) cells, once known as T-suppressor cells, which can live in circulation for many years.”
LDA has been in the U.S. & Canada since 2002; it was developed by Dr. Shrader after Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization (EPD) became illegal to import. Both of these treatments, which are almost one in the same, have successfully treated hay fever, eczema, food allergies or intolerances, Crohn’s disease & asthma, among many others. However, it is not FDA approved. This makes it difficult to actually advertise this type of treatment, as well as expensive because insurance does not cover it.
It’s estimated over 400,000 doses of EPD & 300,000 doses of LDA have been given & there has never been a life-threatening reaction. The treatments are given every 7-8 weeks for about the first year. Depending on the response from the patient, they may continue to receive LDA every 7-8 weeks or possibly space them apart further. Over time, treatments may be spread to every six months to a year, potentially stopping altogether with no return of symptoms. Children typically stop earlier & successful treatments have been given to babies as young as one month.
LDA can either be administered with an intradermal injection, which basically means a shot on the surface of the skin, or sublingually. Many patients notice a difference after their first treatment. We certainly noticed a response after our son’s first treatment; however, it wasn’t as significant as we had hoped for. During the first year of treatments, the eczema patches on the bottoms of his feet, on the front of his legs & some of his forehead began to clear up. We started treatments when he was 2-1/2, when he was a little over 3, we continued to notice improvements but we honestly hoped for more. He still didn’t sleep well, his skin was clearer but still itchy, his wrists & ankles were still cracked & his forehead still had one quarter size spot that wouldn’t grow hair. It was challenging, trying to be patient for this treatment to work its magic…at least we hoped it would be magical for us. It certainly did have significant positive effects & we often had to remind ourselves that he was making large improvements, even if it wasn’t as quick as we hoped.
The major disadvantage of LDA is the highly restricted 3-day diet that patients have to follow. There are also certain medications patients cannot take within a certain time frame of their dose. For example, antihistamines are to be avoided for five days prior to the dose & for the three weeks following the dose. I know this can be a challenge for some, who take zyrtec or Benadryl regularly. However, we have significantly decreased how much antihistamine our son takes since starting LDA. The overall outcome can certainly be worth the challenges of the diet & medication restrictions. Of course, if we were in a situation where we thought we needed to administer the antihistamine or other life-saving medication, we would of course administer it regardless of the time frame.
After 8 doses of LDA, we decided to take a break. We had taken our son to a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor & found tremendous success. Those few spots that just hadn’t healed from LDA, disappeared within a few days of his acupuncture, massage, herbs & topical ointment. His wrists & ankles were soft, the cracks were gone; he was suddenly sleeping through the night; he was just healthier, finally! Last fall, though, we decided to start LDA again, after an entire year without it. He sometimes gets small rough patches of skin, especially on his back, & it’s always cleared & soft within a few days of his dose. It does certainly help, but I can’t be sure how much it helps. He has gotten a significant number of allergens & intolerances back in the past six months or so, but this may also be attributed to getting older (he recently turned 5).
It’s always a guessing game as to what the triggers are & what treatments are helping. However, the one thing I know for sure is that conventional medicine was not effective for us. We have sought out a significant number of treatment options & found many to be unsuccessful, but without doubt yeast overgrowth, TCM treatments & LDA treatments have had a significant positive impact!
Bio: Breanna is a full-time mom to three & part-time portrait photographer, in Kodiak, Alaska. Her oldest son has eczema, asthma & multiple food & environmental allergies. She attempts to blog about that at Allergic Adventures.