Alternative allergy testing is very controversial in the allergy field. Most board certified allergists will perform the skin prick test in the office and/or send for IgE immunocap blood testing. These two tests are widely accepted in the field and are reproducible. However, there are other “allergy” testing methods performed and here we will discuss a few.
Skin End-Point Titration (Rinkel Method)
This is used to determine a starting dose for immunotherapy (IT). Serial allergen concentrations are injected intradermally, then the wheal or bump is measured. The starting dose of IT is determined by this method and the maintenance dose is estimated between 25-50 times the end point dose. Randomized studies show that immunotherapy using this method is no more effective than using placebo.
Similar to skin-end point titration, this test uses various agents (chemicals, allergens, foods, others) administered intradermally, subcutaneously or sublingually. Subjective symptoms are recorded after 10 minutes following each dose. If there are no symptoms, increasing doses are given. If symptoms do occur, then lower doses are given until no symptoms (neutralization) occurs. Then that dose is given as therapy/treatment. Double blind placebo controlled trials found this method equivalent to placebo.
Cytotoxic Test and Antigen Leukocyte Cellular Antibody Test (ALCAT)
This is based on claims that leukocytes (white blood cells; cells that fight infections) change when exposed to an allergen in the blood, this would then indicate an allergy to that allergen. The ALCAT test is similar but measures change in the leukocyte cell volume after exposure to an allergen. This test is not supported by any controlled trials.
This alternative allergy test measures impedance (resistance) of the skin at acupuncture points in response to an electrical current (galvanometer) while foods or inhalants are placed in the opposite hand. A change in the current would be considered to have detected an allergy. There is no science to support these claims.
Allergens are placed in a patients hand (i.e. foods) while assessing the muscle strength in the opposite arm. A decrease in muscle power indicates allergy. There is no data to support this form of allergy testing.
Serum Specific IgG/IgG4
This is a blood test that checks IgG antibodies against specific inhalant or food allergens. This only indicates exposure and not causation to any inhalant or food allergen. Only the IgE antibodies accurately diagnose allergies. This should not be used to detect allergy.
A patients hair is analyzed for its mineral content. The test claim to show that after eating a harmful food it alters the mineral makeup in the hair. Hair grows 1/2 inch a month, it is not a good measure of the current conditions in the body. There is no rationale for the test to check for food allergies.
A patients pulse is checked after eating a food, the test claims to show that your pulse goes up after eating a food that you are allergic to. There is no scientific basis for this test.
As you can see there are multiple methods for alternative allergy testing. None of these methods above have been shown to be reproducible or more effective than using placebo. To detect allergies, only the skin prick testing method or IgE allergen blood test have been proven. For allergy testing, a patient should see a board certified allergy doctor to properly diagnose, test and treat allergy symptoms. Alternative allergy testing is not recommended.