Those doctors who practise enzyme-potentiated desensitization would probably be surprised at my putting this treatment into a section on alternative therapies. I do so simply because at the time of writing this is not a well-established therapy, even though the first treatments were carried out at St Mary’s Hospital Allergy Clinic in Oxford, UK, in 1966.

The principle of desensitization is based on a release of a chemical called beta-glucuronidase by specific white blood cells involved in the immune response. This beta-glucuronidase is attached to a known allergen and kept next to the skin for several days or injected into the system. The body becomes tolerant of the allergen and any allergic response is reduced.

Enzyme-potentiated desensitization is cur-rendy licensed only for use in asthma by the NHS, and the boffins in Oxford are adamant that the technique should not be used for anything else. This is because they do not want ‘cowboys’ to use the technique incorrectly and discredit the work. If this treatment is successful billions of dollars will be wiped off the pharmaceutical companies’ profits because of the decreased necessity of asthma drugs and any other compounds used in allergic-responsive conditions. We await the future with interest.