What is OIT?
OIT stands for “Oral immunotherapy” or oral desensitization for food allergies. OIT is a medical treatment guided by a board-certified allergist with a payoff of lifetime freedom from food fear and stress. The immune system is re-trained to tolerate food proteins/allergens through regular eating of small amounts of food.
OIT has been studied in clinical trials for well over a decade. OIT has an 85+% success rate in clinical trials. Patients must have a documented IgE-mediated food allergy.
Two contraindications are previous eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE) or uncontrolled asthma (asthma must be brought under control before OIT begins). The allergist must also be sure you can take the protocol as seriously as it needs.
What is OIT?
The key to understanding OIT is that there is low level of allergen an allergic person can safely eat without a reaction. It’s invisible to the body. Then it’s raised slightly and the body still doesn’t react. The “threshold of tolerance” is gradually increased over time. The immune and digestive systems adapt, as they are meant to do.
How long does the process take?
The first day of treatment is a build-up day, starting with a minute amount of allergen ( i.e.1/10,000th of a peanut) totaling up to a tiny amount that day with a few doses spaced out. You are sent home and take less or equal to than the “safe dose” once or twice daily. You return to office in 1-2 weeks to increase the dose under their watchful eye. Usually it’s a minimum of 12-14 at-home doses.
After each dose there is a 1-2 hour observation period with no core body temperature elevation while the body digests and metabolizes the peanut. Regular dosing ensures your body stays desensitized and you get visible proof of protection every time you easily ingest the allergen.
The treatment process can take 6-12 months with 15-25 “updoses” reaching a daily serving of the allergen being eaten with no symptoms.
When are maintenance doses reached?
After a period of time, usually 6 months to 12 months at this dose, there is a final “challenge” of about double or triple what the daily amount is (i.e a 24-peanut challenge when eating 10-12/day). This challenge simulates “unlimited” eating and that the patient is “fully desensitized” to their allergen. From that point, you go into maintenance where X amount per day is eaten to keep the body recognizing the allergen.
For many, the dosing will continue for life. Perhaps not daily, but regularly like 3-5 times a week in a normal diet.