- Herbal mixtures rooted in traditional Chinese medicine may combat allergic reactions to peanuts and other foods, according to researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
- The plant-based solution, known as the Food Allergy Herbal Formula (FAHF-2), demonstrated the ability to protect against peanut-induced allergic reactions in mice. This protection lasted for up to nine months after the end of the treatment.
- In addition to peanuts, the formula has shown potential in defending against allergies caused by tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.
- Following promising results, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recognized FAHF-2 as an investigational new drug. Human trials, which began last year, are currently evaluating the safety and effectiveness of the herbal remedy.
- The research suggests that traditional Chinese medicine may offer promising therapies for food allergies, a significant development in the quest for allergy treatment solutions.
A groundbreaking herbal mixture, steeped in the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine, may tame allergic reactions to peanuts and other food varieties, according to professionals from the renowned Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
The Growing Threat of Food Allergies
Food allergens pose a life-threatening hazard to both children and adults. Strikingly, there has been a surge in food allergies among children, up by 18 percent from 1997 to 2007. Consequently, in 2007 alone, as many as 3 million children across the U.S were suffering from food allergies, as per data from the National Center for Health Statistics. In the absence of any established treatment, avoiding the allergenic foods has been the defensive strategy so far.
A Reversal of the Allergic Reaction
Dr. Xiu-Min Li, spearheading the research and also leading the Center for Chinese Herbal Therapy for Allergy and Asthma at Mount Sinai, stated, “We can reverse the allergic reaction caused by peanuts.”
Fascinatingly, the protective bubble against peanut allergy could last up to nine months after discontinuing the treatment, she added. “This herbal concoction not only stops peanut allergy but also provides extended protection. There is a possibility that it may effectively control human peanut allergy.”
Can Traditional Chinese Medicine Be the Answer to Food Allergies?
The exciting findings were featured in the online issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology published in February. As part of the research, Dr. Li’s team examined their innovative herbal cure, designated the Food Allergy Herbal Formula (FAHF-2), on mice allergic to peanuts. The results showed that the formula protected mice from peanut-induced allergic reactions.
Incredible as it may seem, the FAHF-2 ensured immunity from anaphylaxis in mice for over 36 weeks even after stopping the treatment, which equals almost a quarter of a mouse’s lifespan, pointed out Dr. Li.
Apart from peanuts, the team demonstrated that the formula could protect against other food allergies including those triggered by tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.
Taking It to the Next Level
Given these promising results, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved FAHF-2 as an investigational new drug, and human trials began in the last year.
This momentous trial is evaluating the safety and effectiveness of the remedy for various food allergies including those due to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish, shared Dr. Li. “The results of the trial have shown that FAHF-2 is safe and well-tolerated,” she added.
Besides FAHF-2, Dr. Li’s team has also devised an herbal formula for treating asthma, which is currently under testing in human trials.
A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Sight
Dr. David L. Katz, head of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, agrees that a cure for peanut allergy, regardless of its origin, would be a significant scientific leap.
“This report suggests that traditional Chinese medicine may hold promise as a therapy for peanut allergy. The use of herbs as medical treatment over centuries would likely filter out ineffective and harmful options through a process of trial and error. Furthermore, the majority of pharmaceutical drugs have roots in plants. So, the actual differences between pharmacotherapy and herbal therapy are differences of degree, not kind,” he elaborated.
The Severity of Allergic Response to Food
Allergic reactions to food can present a spectrum of symptoms, from benign hives and vomiting to difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis, the latter being the most severe response. Anaphylaxis can tighten muscles, dilate blood vessels, and cause fluid to leak from the bloodstream into tissues, causing narrowing of respiratory passages, low blood pressure, or shock—potentially leading to loss of consciousness and even death.
For more details on food allergies, you can visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.