FTC Disclosure: I was provided a review copy of the text of the book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are entirely my own. An Amazon Affiliate link is embedded in this post; through that program I receive a minor compensation for referring people to the Amazon website.
Spring has sprung here in Central Texas!
We know this of course by daffodils, sunny skies, and the arrival of Easter candy in the shops.
(“Shops.” Yes. I’ve been watching “Call the Midwife” series 1 & 2 in anticipation of their return to PBS later in the month.)
In the midst of all the shiny, happy and new of springtime, that grocery store candy brings with it a sinister note in homes like ours. Many of those prettily packaged goodies intended to fill up Easter baskets are chock-a-block with peanuts or peanut butter, neither of which is welcome in our house where a peanut-allergic youngster dwells.
Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, family trips to the Deep South where “boiled peanuts” are everywhere, wedding buffets with open bowls of nuts… all of these otherwise festive occasions are filled with repeated reminders that death by anaphylaxis is possibly only a wee bit of nut away. Would that there were some magic potion we could take to take away that weight of worry.
We parents hold hope for a cure in our hearts through all the years, through all the seasons.
An intriguing, well-written new book by Henry Ehrlich, “Food Allergies: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western Science, and the Search for a Cure,” gives me hope that we may see our dreams fulfilled.
The book is self-published (for now) [CORRECTION: the publisher is Third Avenue Books, LCC. Mea culpa. ], yet it comes with a foreword by John Lehr, CEO of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), one of the world’s largest food allergy research and advocacy groups.
In the text, Ehrlich explains how one doctor, Dr. Xiu-Min Li, is bridging the gap between Western methods and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)—a more holistic approach to care—and hopes to find a genuine cure. In addition to doing an outstanding job of laying out the pain of food allergies (he compassionately and accurately describes peanut allergies in particular as being so outside the mainstream experience as to make one feel un-American), Ehrlich lays out the obstacles and challenges Dr. Li and others face as well as providing a historical context . He also describes two herbal formulas developed by Li that may lead us to (or become) a “cure.” Currently, there’s great promise in a formulation called FAHF-2. (Another blogger has collected lots of information on FAHF-2, if you’re curious.)
Ehrlich’s book includes a healthy mix of science, Ehrlich’s skepticism, and moving patient accounts. It’s a splendid mix of journalism, science and humanity. Another friend purchased the book when it came up and we both agreed that it’s exceedingly well written–especially for a topic that could be rather dry and abstract.
It’s worth noting, too, that with the right screenwriter, the book could be turned into a compelling documentary. There is a “thriller” element to the text that other reviewers have noted that might even translate well to a film, as was done with the story of the AIDS epidemic in the classic book, And the Band Played On (film version).
Ah, but will there be a happy ending?
Let’s hope so. It would be such a joy to see Easter basket goodies and think only “springtime sweets” once more.
Until then, if you love a child dwelling on the frontlines of the food allergy battle, I strongly encourage you to read Ehrlich’s book as well as the blog (AsthmaAllergciesChildren.com) for which he serves as editor.