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Treating Food Allergies

February 18, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 7

Feb. 4, page 18: A story on coping with the helium shortage erroneously referred to helium as a molecule. Under normal conditions, helium is a monoatomic gas.

We were quite excited to see “Eating Without Fear” but extremely disappointed that C&EN featured Johns Hopkins University’s antiquated and sometimes dangerous oral food desensitization technique and touted it as a new technique for food desensitization (C&EN, Oct. 22, 2012, page 12).

Other, superior treatments offer a better success rate than 28%, which was noted in the article. According to the article, “There’s nothing available to prevent the [food allergy] reaction from happening in the first place.” However, evidence-based desensitization techniques do exist that are more effective and safer than the method C&EN reported.

One called provocation/neutralization became an early and successful working tool for many medical societies, including the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, the Pan American Allergy Society, and some parts of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy. In fact, this technique is used in university otolaryngic allergy departments.

These medical societies have published evidence-based data on intradermal and sublingual (under the tongue) techniques that have diagnosed and treated food sensitivities. The techniques have helped thousands of patients with food sensitivities safely and efficiently. Many books have been written about these techniques, which are taught in postgraduate courses around the world. We hope we will have better feelings about your future work, and perhaps C&EN will report on the efficacy of provocation/neutralization in the future.

Alvin Barrier
Immediate Past-President, American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM)
Columbia, Mo.

Amy Dean
President, AAEM
Ann Arbor, Mich.

William J. Rea
Founder and Director, Environmental Health Center


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