We are often asked if acupuncture can help with allergies - up to a couple of years ago I would have said yes! Regular acupuncture treatments and herbs can make allergy season a breeze but it helps to be proactive and start a little before your "bad time of year" starts - over time, those reactions would diminish and the allergies would greatly improve. But that was before I learned Soliman's Auricular Allergy Treatment (SAAT) from Dr. Nadir Soliman. This technique is amazingly effective at calming allergies of all kinds - seasonal allergies, food allergies, skin allergies, even the dreaded alpha gal allergy which can leave people severely allergic to all mammal products. I often combine herbs and homeopathic remedies with this technique for seasonal allergies to reduce the number to sessions patients need but this is one of our most popular treatments.
So what is alpha gal anyways? We have a great video about alpha gal here. The short version is some species of ticks have a molecule in their saliva, a form of alpha galactose, that can cause people to develop an allergy to the molecule after being bit. Unfortunately most mammal products have this same molecule and this causes them to also have reactions to common foods like beef, pork and dairy or even just being around dogs, cats or horses. The reactions can be mild from slight itching or a stomach ache to severe pain, massive hives or even life-threatening anaphylaxis. With SAAT we have over a 95% success rate in calming these reactions. But SAAT isn't just for alpha gal allergies - we have seen people for allergies to milk, peanuts, soy, chemicals in perfumes, food dyes, even sunlight and water. It doesn't seem to matter what the allergy is, SAAT remains very effective.
This is not a technique all acupuncturists learn. It's a specialized technique and it's important to see someone who has been certified by Dr. Soliman as an approved provider. When asking about SAAT it's not just about the money. Talk to the provider about their experience, how they handle it if something doesn't work. We all have somewhat different approaches in how we incorporate this into our practices. Things I would ask is: What base things do they check for alpha gal? Just alpha gal, alpha gal and dairy and some mammal meats? I don't want people to have to come back for multiple trips if we "miss something" that is common with alpha gal so my alpha gal screening has increased from alpha gal, mammal meats, dairy and gluten to all of those plus MCAS, MCAS autoimmune antibodies, carrageenan, magnesium stearate, whey, milk and a broader dairy filter plus a wheat mix that includes more than gluten. Then ask about do they charge by the needle, or for the procedure? We charge by the procedure because often one needle will catch more than one substance. Ask if they re-check after the needles are out or if you just try things on your own. We try to re-check in the office whenever possible. If they do re-check - what's the policy if something that was treated isn't clear. Is it a new fee, reduced fee or no fee? A very small percentage of the time something needs to be redone in our experience. Ask about the policy if things seem fine for a while and then you start having reactions again - in our experience it's almost always something new if it's an allergy but MAST Cell can get triggered again in some people. We don't charge to re-check and see if something we treated for is causing an issue - Dr. Soliman says he's not treated the same allergy twice using this technique, and so far that's been true but I want people to know that they can come in for help if it seems like things aren't working. It's not going to be 100% in all people where you can eat mammal with abandon, but in terms of reducing reactions, improving quality of life, and making life with alpha gal less stressful I firmly believe SAAT is a worthwhile investment. When left untreated, alpha gal seems to get worse with time in many people leading to chronic low grade (or high grade) inflammatory responses that just make you not feel good. It is extremely rare when we can't significantly help people with alpha gal or other allergies.
Here's another great blog post about treatment for alpha gal. We regularly have excellent results with it - and remember - it's not just for alpha gal, it can be used with any allergy!