Many people who think they have food allergies do not, according to a front page article in this morning’s Times. The true number is only 5% of adults and 8% of children, according to a new report on allergy diagnosis, commissioned by the federal government.
“Yet about 30 percent of the population believe they have food allergies. And, Dr. Riedl said, about half the patients coming to his clinic because they had been told they had a food allergy did not really have one . . . People who receive a diagnosis after one of the two tests most often used . . . [skin prick test and IgE antibodies] . . . have less than a 50 percent chance of actually having a food allergy, the investigators found”, reports Gina Kolata in her NY Times piece.
Dr. Marc Riedl, an author of the new paper and an allergist and immunologist at the UCLA (my almamater) and his colleagues reviewed 12,000 pages of documents of all of the studies done on allergies between 1988 and 2009, and came up with only 72 studies that met their scientific rigor. The paper will be reported today in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).
The National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases are reviewing the diagnosis and treatment of allergies and expect to have a draft of new guidelines out in June.
“But for now, Dr. Matthew J. Fenton, who oversees the guidelines project for the allergy institute said, doctors should not use either the skin-prick test or the antibody test as the sole reason for thinking their patients have a food allergy. ‘By themselves they are not sufficient,’ Dr. Fenton said, ” reports Kolata in the Times.
Acupuncture is effective treatment for all kinds of allergies, especially those affecting the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Lung system, which includes the nose, sinuses and skin. We use a ‘root and branch’ approach to treatment. When symptoms are present we treat the ‘branch’ or the symptoms: running nose, sinusitis, hives/rash. When symptoms have abated we treat the root cause of the problem: weak/hyper-immune response. In my clinic I use a combination of acupuncture and individualized Chinese herbal formulas proven effective in treating allergies.
Allergies are a chronic problem, and require some continued care with acu-herbal therapy. When the patient and practitioner stick with treatment, results are rewarding. I find that branch symptoms are generally contained fairly quickly, but continued maintenance is required to strengthen immune function for a more sustained resolution.