Bye-Bye Food Allergies

Articles
July 20, 2009

Bye-Bye Food Allergies

Those of us familiar with allergies understand and for the most part have come to accept, the inconveniences that accompany this uncomfortable condition. Two percent of adults and six to eight percent of American children are reported to suffer from food allergies specifically. Seasonal and non-food allergies are much more common, affecting up to 50% of the population. Seasonal allergies are generally treated with an arsenal of both over-the-counter and prescription drugs and therapies. Allergists usually administer a course of allergy shots, which introduce the body to small amounts of the allergen thus helping to build immunity and desensitize the immune system. Food allergies have yet to be controlled in a similar manner… until now! A recently published study in the July, 2009 Issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, provides promising breakthroughs for all food allergy sufferers. Two different types of desensitization techniques were trialed: sublingual and oral immunotherapy. Both introduce the body to a miniscule amount of the allergen, similar in theory to allergy shots but painless! The extract is either placed under the tongue (sublingual) or orally ingested. Doctors slowly increase the amount of allergen over time, while monitoring the patient for any allergic response. This method is hypothesized to help build a tolerance for the allergen, which researchers believe will ultimately lead to a complete desensitization from the allergen. The study resulted in many positive and exciting conclusions. A majority of subjects were able to receive high doses of foods used in the treatment without displaying the typical allergic reaction, thus indicating desensitization as well as the modification of several immunological mechanisms. Both of these finding indicate a future for both sublingual and oral immunotherapy for food allergy sufferers. There is definitely a need for more studies before any definite and specific therapeutic conclusions regarding this technique can be made.

Those of us familiar with allergies understand and for the most part have come to accept, the inconveniences that accompany this uncomfortable condition. Two percent of adults and six to eight percent of American children are reported to suffer from food allergies specifically. Seasonal and non-food allergies are much more common, affecting up to 50% of the population. Seasonal allergies are generally treated with an arsenal of both over-the-counter and prescription drugs and therapies. Allergists usually administer a course of allergy shots, which introduce the body to small amounts of the allergen thus helping to build immunity and desensitize the immune system. Food allergies have yet to be controlled in a similar manner… until now! A recently published study in the July, 2009 Issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, provides promising breakthroughs for all food allergy sufferers.   

Two different types of desensitization techniques were trialed: sublingual and oral immunotherapy. Both introduce the body to a miniscule amount of the allergen, similar in theory to allergy shots but painless! The extract is either placed under the tongue (sublingual) or orally ingested. Doctors slowly increase the amount of allergen over time, while monitoring the patient for any allergic response. This method is hypothesized to help build a tolerance for the allergen, which researchers believe will ultimately lead to a complete desensitization from the allergen.

The study resulted in many positive and exciting conclusions. A majority of subjects were able to receive high doses of foods used in the treatment without displaying the typical allergic reaction, thus indicating desensitization as well as the modification of several immunological mechanisms. Both of these finding indicate a future for both sublingual and oral immunotherapy for food allergy sufferers. There is definitely a need for more studies before any definite and specific therapeutic conclusions regarding this technique can be made.

SupermarketGuru.com is excited about this study as this is certainly great news for all food allergy sufferers! Currently medical professionals can only recommend education - know what foods and food additives contain the allergen and avoid them! Those with severe allergies are also prescribed self-injectable epinephrine (the infamous epi-pen) and antihistamines to combat accidental exposure. Due to unclear labeling and undeclared allergens in commercially prepared foods, it is difficult for food allergy sufferers to maintain strict avoidance diets, leading to unexpected “run-ins” with the immune enemy.

While we wait excitedly for sublingual and oral immunotherapy to become part of the food allergy artillery, those with food allergies should continue to practice avoidance, and education - read labels carefully!

Luckily SupermarketGuru.com has a great tool to help food allergy sufferers when eating out. Here is a link to our free “Food Allergy Buddy Card”: http://archive.supermarketguru.com/page.cfm/page.cfm/7512. This way you won’t have any more of those embarrassing moments trying to explain your allergy, and the food will leave the kitchen allergen free every time! Bon Appetite!