The herbal formula FAFH-2 (TM) is currently in clinical trials as a botanical drug for allergies to peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. This is not something you will find at an average health food store; licensed acupuncturists are the place to go for traditional Chinese herbal medicine.
Chinese medicine has a long history of acceptance in Asia, and is gaining in popularity in the U.S. In 1998, the National Institutes of Health established the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to support research. The US Food and Drug and Administration issued, “Guidance for Industry Botanical Drug Products” in 2000. In 2007, a research team at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, published the first report on FAFH-2 and its success in a mouse model of peanut allergy.
Peanut allergy affects an estimated 1 percent of the U.S. population, and accounts for approximately 80 percent of the serious anaphylactic reactions to food. It is virtually unknown in China, but the Mount Sinai team formulated FAFH-2 using herbs from the traditional Chinese formulas Wu Mei Wan, for gastrointestinal illness, and Ling Zhi, which is recognized for anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties.
There is a well established mouse model for peanut allergy. FAFH-2 was successful in preventing anaphylactic reactions for at least six months in these mice, which is about 25 percent of their life span. In a Phase I trial already completed, FAFH-2 was found to be safe and well tolerated in human children. The trial currently in progress is a Phase I Extension Trial, and a Phase II trial is planned upon its completion.
One of the major challenges in botanical drug research is standardizing the product and dosage. The FDA relies on tests such as liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to define the botanical drug product. Check with your allergist or acupuncturist for the latest news on food allergy research.
Xiu-Min Li, MD and Laverne Brown, PhD, “Efficacy and mechanisms of action of traditional Chinese medicines for treating asthma and allergy”, J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Feb; 123(2): 297-308.