Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chinese Herbal Formula to Protect Against Food Allergy Ready for Phase 2 FDA Trials

One of the most exciting recent developments in the treatment of food allergy is the development of Food Allergy Herbal Formula 2 (FAHF-2), a combination of nine herbs from traditional Chinese medicine.  The therapy is based on a traditional formula called Wu Mei Wan (used for gastrointestinal parasitosis), but has since been modified to remove some ingredients and add others, in an effort to improve the safety profile and increase effectiveness for food allergy. Wu Mei Wan is one of the classic herbal formulas taught to students of traditional Chinese medicine.  Over time, it has become apparent that the active ingredients may have utility beyond the original application.


Previous animal studies have demonstrated that FAHF-2 not only protects severely peanut-allergic mice from reactions during peanut challenge, but also that the beneficial effects may last for up to 6 months after discontinuing treatment.  Phase 1 human trials in the United States have shown promise that FAHF-2 will be both safe and effective as protection against severe food-allergy reactions, but longer trials with a larger number of subjects are needed to prove long-term safety and efficacy of the therapy.

To this end, the researchers are now enrolling patients in the phase 2 clinical trial.  This study will be conducted at Mount Sinai and Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute (Little Rock). Participants, aged 12-45, with allergy to peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and sesame, may be eligible. For more information, please write to: pediatricfoodallergyresearch@gmail.com.

What is most exciting to me about FAHF-2 is that it presents a scenario where we are utilizing a rigorous evidenced-based approach to evaluating traditional medicine's safety and effectiveness.  It is my hope that this scientific approach can be used to bring other alternative therapies into the mainstream, and create a truly complementary approach to healing.

My expectation is that pediatric trials will be next on the horizon.  This is good news, because the heart of a parent is where the deep-rooted desire for a safe treatment for severe food allergy is most fervent.