In addition to FAHF-2, Li's team has developed an herbal formula to treat asthma. That formula is also being tested in human trials, she said.
Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said that no matter where it comes from, a cure for peanut allergy would be an important breakthrough.
"This paper suggests that traditional Chinese medicine may offer promising therapy for peanut allergy," Katz said. "This is less surprising than it may seem."
First, it is probable that the use of herbs as medical therapy over a span of many centuries would distinguish the helpful from the useless and harmful by a process of trial-and-error, Katz said. Second, most drugs are derived from plants. "So, the actual differences between pharmacotherapy and herbal therapy are differences of degree, not kind," he said.
When traditional Chinese medicine works, doctors want to know the science of how it works, Katz said. "But for the sake of their patients, conventional practitioners should look past terminology that may make them wince to see the promise of new and potentially effective treatments."
Allergic reactions to food can range from mild hives to vomiting to difficulty breathing to anaphylaxis, the most severe reaction. Anaphylaxis causes muscles to contract, blood vessels to dilate and fluid to leak from the bloodstream into the tissues. This can result in narrowing of the upper or lower airways, low blood pressure, shock or a combination of these symptoms, and also can lead to a loss of consciousness and even death.
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