Unproved and controversial methods and theories in allergy/immunology

Allergy Asthma Proc. 2019 Nov 1;40(6):490-493. doi: 10.2500/aap.2019.40.4278.


Unproved methods and controversial theories in the diagnosis and management of allergy/immunology are those that lack scientific credibility. Some definitions are provided for perspective, as in chronic medical conditions, frequently nonscientifically based treatments are developed that can have a profound psychological effect on the patients in the absence of objective physical benefit. Standard practice uses methods of diagnosis and treatment used by reputable physicians in a particular subspecialty or primary care practice, with the understanding that diagnosis and treatment options are consistent with established mechanisms of conditions or diseases. Conventional medicine (Western or allopathic medicine) is that which is practiced by the majority of physicians, osteopaths, psychologists, registered nurses, and physical therapists. Complementary medicine involves diverse practices or products that are used with the practice of conventional medicine, such as using acupuncture in addition to opioids for pain relief. Alternative medicine implies use of complementary practices in place of conventional medicine. Unproved and controversial methods and theories do not have supporting data, validation, or sufficient scientific scrutiny, and they should not be used in the practice of allergy/immunology. Some examples of unproven theories about allergic/immunologic conditions include allergic toxemia, idiopathic environmental intolerance, and toxic disease from indoor molds. Unconventional diagnostic methods for allergic conditions include cytotoxic tests, provocation-neutralization, electrodermal diagnosis, applied kinesiology assessments, chemical analysis of body fluids, and serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) or IgG4 testing. Unproven treatments and intervention methods for allergic/immunologic conditions include acupuncture, homeopathy, halotherapy, and autogenous urine injections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity / therapy*
  • Immunologic Tests / methods