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A new herbal formula based in ancient Chinese medicine may be able to control allergic reactions to peanuts and other foods, researchers from New York City's Mount Sinai School of Medicine report.
Food allergies are potentially life-threatening for children and adults. Food allergies among children have increased 18% since 1997, and in 2007, some 3 million U.S. children had food allergies, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Currently, there is no treatment for the allergies, so avoidance is the only protection.
"We can reverse the peanut allergic reaction," said lead researcher Dr. Xiu-Min Li, director of the Center for Chinese Herbal Therapy for Allergy and Asthma at Mount Sinai. In addition, protection from allergic reactions to peanuts persisted for almost nine months after treatment was stopped, Li said. "The herbal formula can stop peanut allergy and produce a prolonged protection," she said. "This formula may be effective for human peanut allergy." The report was published in the February online edition of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
For the study, Li's team tested their new herbal remedy, called Food Allergy Herbal Formula (FAHF-2), on mice allergic to peanuts. They found that the formula protected mice from allergic reactions from peanuts. In fact, FAHF-2 protected the animals from anaphylaxis for more than 36 weeks after treatment was stopped. This is one-quarter of the mouse life span, Li noted. Li's team has also shown the formula protects mice against other food allergies including tree nut, fish and shellfish.
Based on these findings, FAHF-2 has been given investigational new drug approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; a human trial started last year. The trial is testing the safety and effectiveness of the remedy for a variety of food allergies including peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish, Li said. "The results of the trial have shown that FAHF-2 is safe and well-tolerated," she noted.