A study in mice shows that a Chinese herbal formula may help prevent dangerous reactions to peanuts. Peanut allergies affect as many as 6 percent of young children and are a major cause of anaphylaxis—a severe allergic reaction with respiratory symptoms that can be fatal.
Xiu-Min Li and colleagues at Mount Sinai School of Medicine conducted experiments in mice with established peanut allergies to see if a formula of nine Chinese herbs, called FAHF-2, could reduce sensitivity to peanuts. The peanut-sensitive mice received 7 weeks of oral treatment with FAHF-2 or water as a placebo treatment.
The mice were then exposed to peanuts to see if they would have anaphylactic reactions. They were exposed twice—once one day following the conclusion of FAHF-2 treatment and again 4 weeks after treatment finished.
The researchers found that FAHF-2 completely protected the mice from a dangerous reaction on both occasions—showing that protection lasted at least 4 weeks after the treatment finished. The mice treated with the placebo (water) had anaphylactic reactions. The researchers note that the protection of FAHF-2 may result from a shift in the immune balance away from the allergic response.
C. Qu, K. Srivastava, X.-M. Li, et al.. Induction of tolerance after establishment of peanut allergy by the food allergy herbal formula-2 is associated with up-regulation of interferon-γ.. Clinical and Experimental Allergy..2008