Does Peanut Allergy Oral Therapy Offer False Hope?

A Parisian storefrontA gorgeous Parisian storefront–here danger (Death even) lurks for many.

Three lovely, kind and well-meaning people shared with me the news recently about the LA Times story on immunotherapy for peanut allergy. As long-time readers here know, the topic of peanut allergy is one near to my heart. It’s also the reason why we began homeschooling.

That folks would think of our family in the wake of a story promising a possible cure is to be treasured. I am grateful for their concern and care. Deeply grateful.

There are problems, however, with the therapy described in the piece. I’ve decided that I can’t let it pass without comment. (You know how I am… opinionated.)

Indeed, I was brewing up a post in response to the news when I ran across this Facebook status post from my friend, “K.”

Her child has more food allergies than my own, so she’s even more acutely aware of the false hope the news provides us. In her note she said everything that I wanted to share but far more succinctly and passionately.

I offered to share her post, and she graciously accepted the invite.

K. wrote:

I want to clear the air, as I have had a few different people now ask me if I’ve heard about the new cure for food allergies that’s been in the news this week. Here are my thoughts.

Oral immunotherapy [“OIT”] is neither a brand new treatment nor is it a cure. The long-term efficacy is not proving to be good (the majority patients re-sensitize over time), and the treatment itself has significant risks, with some participants actually experiencing full-blown anaphylaxis during trials. Not to mention the practical difficulties, such as not being able to shower or exercise within a few hours of the daily “dose” (imagine me telling my 3 year old he can’t run around LOL) and having to eat a specific amount of the allergen every.single.day regardless of food preferences.

So while I am thrilled that research into treatment for food allergies is happening, and I’m not ruling out the possibility of OIT’s success (especially when used in conjunction with Xolair and other safety measures), at this point I do NOT see it as a realistic option for most kids. I am MORE excited about FAHF-2, which has already proven to be safe, well tolerated, and produce long-term changes in the immune system by modulating the overall response and not just desensitizing to specific allergens. Eagerly awaiting the publication of Ehrlich’s book* on this topic sometime soon.

Thanks for listening.

Yeah. What she said. Ditto.

Explore More:

Peanut Allergy Basics

What You Need to Know About Peanut Allergy

What You Need to Know About Peanut Allergy (Part 2)

Snacks for the Peanut Allergic (And Others)

In Memoriam, Amarria Johnson

Footnotes

* I was unfamiliar with Ehrlich’s book and don’t have enough information to evaluate it fully, but I trust K. on this because she is so well-read. Therefore I left her reference and included the link she shared.

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9 comments

  1. Dear Pamela,
    Thanks very much for your thoughtful piece and for quoting your friend about Food Allergies: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western Science, and the Search for a Cure. I expect my book to be available for order next week in paperback and via ebook shortly thereafter. I must point out that I am not an MD, but my cousin Dr. Paul Ehrlich is my co-author of another book on allergies and co-founder of asthmaallergieschildren.com, which I edit. Thanks again. If you would like to talk about the new book, please get in touch.
    Henry Ehrlich

  2. Xolair has some very strong anecdotal evidence as being excellent in buffering peanut allergies. My daughters doctor (and life saver really), Dr. Weinberger of Iowa University Hospital had mentioned that several people he knew were treated with Xolair for their asthma and found that their peanut allergies were no longer life threatening. I don’t know if that stayed that way or reverted after a period of time.

  3. My book is now for sale in paper on both Amazon.com and BN.com. It is also up on most major ebook platforms, although for some reason, Kindle has been slow. To read more about the book, go to asthmaallergieschildren.com and click on Traditional Chinese Medicine in the navigation bar.

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