Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy

ASCIA is the professional body for allergy & clinical immunology in Australia & New Zealand. ASCIA is a member of the World Allergy Organisation (WAO) & is affiliated with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).

Alternative/unorthodox methods should not be used for allergy testing or treatment.

Date reviewed: 30 November 2017

Whilst there is currently no cure for allergy, reliable tests and a range of treatments for allergy are available, which are backed up by scientific studies that demonstrate proven safety and efficacy.

In contrast, numerous studies have demonstrated the uselessness of several alternative/unorthodox methods that claim to test or treat allergy. These methods continue to be promoted in the community and some even make false claims that they can cure allergy. There is also currently no stringent regulation of alternative/unorthodox diagnostic techniques and devices, so they can be “listed” in Australia without having to prove that they work.

There is a risk of potential harm if individuals with allergies are incorrectly diagnosed and inappropriately treated using alternative/unorthodox methods, particularly if they have severe allergies. The costs of alternative/unorthodox methods are significant, and are usually paid for by individuals, with rebates from some private health funds. There are cost implications for healthcare services as well as individuals, as these funds are being directed into non-productive areas, and are therefore not available for more useful medical tests and treatments.

Examples of alternative/unorthodox methods that have been demonstrated to lack evidence for testing or treating allergy include food specific IgG and IgG4 tests, homeopathy, cytotoxic testing and kinesiology.

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Supporting evidence
  • Beyer and Teuber, ‘Food allergy diagnostics: scientific and unproven procedures’, Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 Jun;5(3):261-6.
  • Antico et al ‘Food-specific IgG4 lack diagnostic value in adult patients with chronic urticaria and other suspected allergy skin symptoms’, Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2011;155(1):52-6. doi: 10.1159/000318736. Epub 2010 Nov 26.
  • Bernstein et al, ‘Allergy Diagnostic Testing: An Updated Practice Parameter’, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008 Mar;100(3 Suppl 3):S1–148.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council. 2015. NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council; 2015.
  • Barton et al 1983, ‘Controversial techniques in allergy treatment’, J Natl Med Assoc. 1983 Aug;75(8):831-4.
  • Garrow, J. S. Kinesiology and food allergy. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296: 1573-4.

How this list was made How this list was made

The RACP Strategic Policy and Advocacy group assisted ASCIA in compiling the original list of 25 tests, treatments and services, that have been identified either in past work by ASCIA, other literature reviews or in evidence reviews performed by overseas specialist physician bodies or health agencies as being overused, inappropriate or of limited effectiveness.

Two electronic surveys were sent to ASCIA members who are Fellows of the RACP (256 members in total) in February 2015 and March 2015, to firstly rank a top 5 from the list of 25, and secondly to review the wording and rankings of the top 5 recommendations. The overall response rate for these surveys was 20%. All ASCIA members and relevant patient organisations were then invited to review the list.

Download ASCIA Recommendations