Chinese Herbs, Allergic Rhinitis and Allergy to Peanuts

23 April 2008

An Australian study has demonstrated the benefits of a Chinese herbal preparation (Biminne) in the treatment of allergic rhinitis (AR) Hay fever. In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 58 patients received 5 capsules of either Biminne or placebo, twice a day for 12 weeks. Outcomes were assessed by changes in symptom diaries, quality of life scores, patients' evaluations of improvement on visual analog scores, physicians' overall evaluation, and total serum immunoglobulin E levels. A statistically significant improvement was found in the symptoms of AR, whereas others exhibited a positive trend that did not reach statistical significance. Total serum immunoglobulin E was reduced after the herbal treatment. A follow-up one year after completion of the trial suggested that benefit of the treatment persisted. (Annals Allergy Asthma Immunol 2002 May;88(5):478-87).

In a randomised blinded trial, 52 patients suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) were assigned to an active treatment group or a control group. The active group received a semi-standardised acupuncture treatment, once a week, and an appropriate Chinese herbal formula, taken as a decoction three times daily for six weeks. The control group received acupuncture applied to non-points and a “non-specific herbal formula”. 85% of patients in the active group experienced improvement in the Global Assessment of Change scale compared to 40% of the control group. (Allergy. 2004 Sep;59(9):953-60).

Herbal therapies may prevent potentially fatal allergic reactions to peanuts, according to a study in the October 2001 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI). Traditional Chinese medicines have been reported to have anti-allergic properties, which might be useful for treating peanut allergy. Xiu-Min Li, MD, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and colleagues from Mount Sinai and Johns Hopkins University investigated the effects of a Chinese herbal formula (FAHF-1), on peanut anaphylactic reactions. The researchers concluded that Chinese herbal formula protected peanut-sensitized mice from anaphylactic reactions and significantly reversed established IgE-mediated peanut allergy. No toxic effects on liver or kidney functions were observed, nor was there any overall immune suppression. This study suggests that FAHF-1 might well prove valuable for the treatment of peanut allergy in human patients. Food allergy currently affects approximately 2% of the U.S. population and appears to be increasing. Peanut allergy is a major cause of fatal and near fatal anaphylactic reactions to food and there is no cure for this condition. (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), October 4, 2001)

: Herbal Medicine

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