NYMC Faculty Publications

Successful Management of Chronic Urticaria and Food Allergies in a Pediatric Population Using Integrative Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapy: A Case Series

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Clinical and Molecular Allergy

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Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology


BACKGROUND: Food allergy is becoming increasingly common among the pediatric population. Despite strict avoidance of food allergens, a subgroup of sensitive individuals still develops frequent, persistent, and difficult to treat hives (FPDTH) for which there is no curative therapy. Although these cases are rare, these patients are in most need of therapy. CASE PRESENTATIONS: This is a retrospective review of 3 pediatric patients with highly sensitive food allergies who initially presented with hives daily or every other day, or multiple times a day, but achieved marked remission after traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) therapies. Patient 1 (P1) is a 5-year-old who has experienced 140 reactions in his lifetime. Reactions were mostly hives with 4 episodes of anaphylaxis. P1 had used Prednisone 20 times, had an Epinephrine injection 4 times, and had 3 emergency room (ER) visits. Patient 2 (P2) is a 12-year-old who had experienced hives since age 3. Despite daily antihistamine use, P2 had > 730 reactions in his lifetime at the time of presentation including 2 episodes of anaphylaxis. He had been prescribed prednisone 4 times, an Epinephrine injection 2 times, and had 1 ER visit. Patient 3 (P3) is a 20-month-old girl who had experienced > 120 reactions including 1 episode of anaphylaxis. She was on daily desonide and frequently used an antihistamine, yet still had required a course of prednisone once, an Epinephrine injection once, and had 1 ER visit to manage her reaction. After presenting to our clinic, patients received internal and external TCM treatments, including herbal baths and creams (Remedy A-D) as basic remedies to reduce food reactions, including but not limited to frequent hives. Within 7-9 months of TCM treatment, remarkably all patients had complete remission of atopic symptoms. All three patients also experienced an improvement in other conditions including food intolerance, diarrhea, anxiety, eczema, and environmental allergies. After 1 year of treatment, all three patients had reductions in food-specific IgE levels that had been previously elevated, and additionally, P1 and P3, who initially had high total IgE levels, experienced a marked decrease in total IgE levels as well. All three patients continued to introduce foods into their diet that they previously had reactions to, and all 3 patients remain symptom-free. CONCLUSIONS: Three pediatric patients with a known history of multiple food sensitivities and physician-diagnosed food allergies that presented with FPDTH underwent a TCM regimen and experienced dramatic improvement in symptoms and reduction in their IgE levels. This regimen appears to be effective in FPDTH population although a further study in a controlled clinical setting is required.