Wouldn’t it be great to have a cure for food allergies? Currently, the only ‘cure’ is complete avoidance with the offending food(s).
In children with life-threatening food allergies, strict avoidance with the offending food item is a must. To date, there are no allergy shots for food allergies.
There are an abundance of researchers and non-profit organizations trying to find a cure for food allergies, and the hope is that something will break through soon.
Some of the ongoing research is hopeful. Here are some of the research studies going on currently in an attempt to cure food allergies:
Oral Immunotherapy (OIT)
There has been some exciting research in regard to finding a cure for food allergies, especially to the peanut allergy. Dr. Wesley Burks, chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Duke Medical Center, is part of a potentially groundbreaking study aimed at finding out whether children with peanut allergies can be desensitized to peanuts and eventually cured of the allergy altogether.
The study has children ingesting tiny, precise amounts of peanut flour every day, and gradually increasing the dose every two weeks. Known as OIT – Oral Immunotherapy – the research is very promising, but being done on a very small basis currently. Patients are becoming increasingly less sensitive as the study continues. This would NOT be a study to take on in your own home! Patients receiving the peanut flour are closely monitored for hours after each dose, and an abundance of emergency medical care provisions are available should a severe reaction ensue.
Dr. Burks said the therapy works by depleting the body of chemicals that cause allergic reactions. If successful, desensitization therapy should be able to help all different kinds of food allergies.
Dr. Kari Nadeau of Stanford is also working on this desensitization protocol. The NY Times wrote an article about her endeavors, and Dr. Nadeau wrote a response about this ongoing research that is in its infancy stages.
PBS reported on the OIT research in combination with Xolair here.
Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)
SLIT is an alternative way to treat allergies without injections. An allergist gives a patient small doses of an allergen under the tongue to boost tolerance to the substance and reduce symptoms. There are combination OIT/SLIT research studies currently. SLIT has fewer patients with reactions in comparison to OIT, yet patients do see positive results for a reduction of their allergies.
The use of Xolair in combination with desensitization OIT protocols is occurring in research around the USA currently. Xolair is a highly effective drug for chronic urticaria, but it does come with significant potential side effects – anaphylaxis being one of them. Heart problems, brain problems and possibly even a risk of cancer from the asthma medication are other side effects. Yet for some people the drug has been a miracle drug ceasing ongoing, daily reactions.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Researchers at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York have been working with two Chinese herbal formulas – one to treat asthma and one to prevent anaphylaxis to peanuts. Participants in the asthma study had results from the Chinese herbs similar to the control group taking the corticosteroid Prednisone. The herb to prevent peanut anaphylaxis has only been studied on mice, yet the herbs completely blocked anaphylaxis for up to six months. Dr. Xiu-Min Li, a leader of the project, is currently working with human trials.
Dr. Li and Henry Ehrlich are interviewed in this Anaphylactic Allergy Podcast regarding Traditional Chinese Medicine research:
Funding Food Allergy Research
Currently, the federal government, through the National Institutes of Health, spends less than $34 million per year on food allergy research. That research generally occurs at a five-institution consortium involving: Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore; Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC; University of Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Little Rock; and National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver.
In 2007, the NIH released its long-anticipated Report of the NIH Expert Panel on Food Allergy Research, which found that “food allergy has emerged as an important public health problem,” the first such statement from a federal government agency on the issue of life-threatening food allergies. The NIH Report calls for additional NIH-funded research to uncover the causes of food allergy, and for the development of clinical trials and treatments for the life-threatening disease. The NIH released the report on the heels of a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee at which Labor-HHS Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) called the increase in childhood food allergy “alarming.”
There are many other clinical trials attempting to find a cure for food allergies. Until a cure is found, the only “cure” for the food allergy is to stay away from the offending food. Read labels of EVERY food that your child eats, and all foods in your house. Re-read the labels each time you purchase a product, because manufacturing processes change continuously.
NAET: An Alternative Treatment for Food Allergies
The Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET) is based on curing the pathways of energy in the body using applied kinesiology and acupressure points. It is very far removed from Western Medicine! My son went through an NAET treatment to attempt to eliminate his allergies in 2000.
The treatment begins with muscle testing for the “basic” allergies, as defined by Dr. Nambudripad: eggs, calcium, Vitamin C, B-Complex, Sugar, iron, Vitamin A, mineral mix, salt, corn and grain mix. When holding a vial of one of these allergens in your hand, your other arm is tested for muscle strength – the practitioner tries to push your arm down. In the case of a small child, skin to skin contact is necessary while a parent uses their muscle strength. If you continue to have muscle strength, no allergy is present. If you become weak and can’t hold your arm up, an allergy is present.
If you do have an allergy, then acupressure points are stimulated while holding the vial of allergen. After that you must hold the vial for 20 minutes. Subsequent to the treatment, you must stay away from all foods that contain the allergen for 25 hours. This is sometimes very difficult, allowing very little food variety. During these 25 hours, your child may experience light-headedness, nausea, lack of energy, or in the case of my daughter feeling flushed and hot. And they may experience nothing.
After the basic allergies are treated, everything and anything else your child is allergic to is treated. This includes dogs, cats, peanuts, shellfish, cotton, immunizations – the list goes on ad infinitum.
Results of NAET
When my son was treated for a corn allergy, his eczema immediately got better. We had been struggling with cortisone creams for years to no avail. So the allergy may be latent in a child’s body, or may be anaphylactic.
My daughter received treatment for a cat allergy. She always had itchy eyes and a runny nose even visiting a house that had a cat. She didn’t even have to get near the cat. After the NAET treatment for cats, she was able to spend the night at a friend’s “cat house” without any problem whatsoever! Yet, a few months later, she had the cat allergy return so badly that she can’t even go into a house with a cat without being bothered.
Many people have had complete elimination of their allergies using NAET– even to the point of scoring a –0- on a standard skin prick test.
How to find an NAET practitioner
We obtained our practitioner through word of mouth and recommendations from others who had results. There are many people who have taken NAET course work, however not all practitioners are the same. Chiropractors may know NAET but not practice it on a daily basis, and therefore might not do the technique properly. Therefore they will not achieve the results that Dr. Nambudripad quotes – 80% of patients are helped. Our own practitioner stated she had a higher percentage of success.
After receiving NAET for a particular allergen, your child’s allergy should disappear entirely. However in the case of my son’s anaphylactic reaction to peanuts, cashews and shellfish, we were unwilling to test the success of NAET by feeding him one of these foods immediately. We preferred to take the prudent approach and go back to the allergist and have another round of allergy testing performed. We did have another skin prick test completed in December of 2000 and were disappointed that the NAET treatments did not appear to have worked at all. He was still severely allergic to peanuts, cashews and shellfish (all items he had treatments for).
He did receive a treatment for cats and dogs also. These allergies are also still at the severe level per the skin prick test.
For us, the NAET treatment didn’t prove to be valuable in eliminating my son’s allergies.
My Own Experience with NAET
I have seen another local NAET specialist who uses a slightly different technique. I had tremendous stomach problems since having H Pylori (a bacteria) diagnosed in 2007. It seemed that everything I ate caused stomach upset. I began taking hydrochloric acid with my meals since the H Pylori is notorious for affecting stomach acid. The acid did help, but my diet was still very limited. I felt I had nothing to lose by trying NAET again, and trying to have an open mind!
The practitioner that I chose has a full-time practice of NAET patients. She also has a biophoton mattress that I lay on for 18 minutes after the treatment. This mattress neutralizes the allergens that have just been treated so that if I were to touch one during the subsequent 25 hours, the treatment would not be nullified.
I don’t have any food allergies that test as anaphylactic currently by an IgE testing; however I have several that are high positives on both a blood test and a skin prick testing. I have been using NAET more for stomach and digestive issues than directly for food allergies; however I have received treatments for foods that I’m currently allergic to. I have been treated for digestive enzymes and immune system issues. I did feel some relief for a few days after being treated with digestive enzymes; however this may have been due to adding hydrochloric acid to my diet more than as a result of the NAET treatments.
I found no change in my stomach being able to better digest foods by having received NAET treatments. I’ve been disappointed once again with the treatments.
Chiropractic Care: An Alternative Treatment for Allergies
We have found some relief of allergy symptoms and viruses with specific types of chiropractic care. Like any profession, there are good chiropractors and not-so-good ones. Get a referral from someone who is currently a patient. Some insurance companies do cover chiropractors. Chiropractic care is supposed to align the spine so that the rest of the neurological system can work properly.
I’ve found that when my children’s sinuses are really plugged up, they frequently have neck pain, probably from swollen lymph nodes. Now when they get a cold, or have bad hay fever, I take them to the chiropractor for an adjustment. Frequently, they feel better instantly. My daughter had a terrible ear infection one spring caused by the flu, and the chiropractor was able to adjust her ear helping the Eustachian tube to drain mucous.
There is a specific type of chiropractic care called Sacro Occipital Technique (SOT). The chiropractor that we visit performs this technique. The idea is to identify the body systems that are causing your specific symptoms. The doctor analyzes your spine, cranium and organ-related issues. Our SOT doctor is very good at working with organ-related problems. When Morgan twice had hives all over his body from an unknown origin, we took him to the SOT doctor after being told he probably had a virus from our ‘regular’ doctor. The SOT determined his polarity had flipped – in other words his energies were working backwards. Once the polarity was properly situated through the technique, he immediately felt better and ceased having hives. Finding a chiropractor who truly understands energy flows in the body – similar to a practitioner understanding acupressure points – is key with this technique.
Many chiropractors also practice nutrition and want to dispense vitamins, herbs and other supplements. We’ve found this to be especially dangerous for a food allergic child. I have yet to find a chiropractor who is well enough versed on nutrition that they understand the exact ingredients in the supplement. I’m sure there may be one out there; however most chiropractors went to school to learn to adjust the spine, and have taken classes after the fact to augment their practice by becoming nutritional practitioners. I’ve had well-meaning practitioners suggest “just a drop” of a supplement under my son’s tongue! I’ve used this as a learning lesson for the doctor, and steered clear of using any supplements unless discussed with our allergist.
We use chiropractic care in addition to our allergist not instead of standard medical care. Getting my son’s spine adjusted doesn’t rid him of food allergies, nor would it stop an anaphylactic reaction. However, after my son’s anaphylaxis in 2006, we did take him to the SOT doctor to get his energies straightened out which helped him feel better overall. Nothing negative has come from chiropractic care, we’ve found, so we’re believers!