This is the fourth post in a short series chronicling our search for a food allergy cure and/or treatment for food and environmental allergies and asthma. You can read Part 1, The Fall I Gave Up on Food Allergies here Part 2, Looking for Treatments here, and Part 3, Getting the Boys on Board here.
In the span of five months, our family went from discussing the possibility of treatment for Zachary’s food allergies to making a decision on the treatment plan we felt most comfortable undertaking. If this post is the first you’ve read about our journey, it would be helpful to start at the beginning.
At this point, our two most viable options appeared to be oral immunotherapy (OIT) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
For a variety of reasons – two of the key components being that Zachary felt reluctant to consider ingesting his multiple allergens (I couldn’t blame him, even though I read the research), and I was interested in addressing the whole of his allergic issues including his asthma and environmental allergies – we opted to pursue TCM with Dr. Li.
Here are some things I learned along the way, as we weighed this decision:
Treatment is a personal decision. Whether to pursue treatment – and determining the one right for your loved one – is an incredibly personal decision. We opted for Dr. Li’s treatment because it seemed right for us and our family for right now. Will we never consider OIT? I can’t say that. It is possible we may need to pursue it as a complementary therapy to TCM for a stubborn food allergy. We just don’t know yet. Supporting families who have opted to pursue treatment is really important, though, because no matter the treatment, the commitment is huge.
Treatment is a commitment by the whole family. Each treatment requires an investment of time, money, and emotion. The possibility of hope at the end of the treatment is wonderful but in the meantime, there are moments that require sheer force of will to follow through to make it to the end goal.
There are excellent resources available for your research. At the end of this post, I’ve compiled a short list of resources that helped me as we weighed the pros and cons of each treatment, and a few more that have popped up since. There are more out there, don’t be afraid to dig in!
Networking is invaluable. Connecting with parents of kids in each type of treatment was key in helping us determine what might be the best treatment for Zachary and our family. I was able to learn more of the ins and outs of each treatment, the requirements of each treatment, the positive outcomes and the struggles.
It’s important to keep the faith. There are so many treatment options in clinical trial right now. If pursuing treatment is not an option for you and your family today, have hope knowing that there are many smart people working hard to make it possible someday!
Food Allergies: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western Science, and the Search for a Cure by Henry Ehrlich – This book uncovers the science behind the art of Dr. Li’s Traditional Chinese Medicine approach. As I read it, I felt like I was reading about a pioneer and a food allergy revolutionary. Goosebumps. It is a book well worth a purchase and a read.
TCM FAQ by Dr. Li, with Henry Ehrlich
Chinese Herbs for Allergies – a closed Facebook group which centers on discussion of Dr. Li’s treatment. The group is available to current patients of Dr. Li’s and those exploring her treatment as an option.
Food Allergy Treatment Talk – a closed Facebook group which allows discussion of a range of current and future food allergy treatments. There are a lot of really smart, sciencey-minded, solution-oriented folks in this group.
Desensitization FAQ on OIT from Dr. Bajowala of Kaneland Allergy & Asthma Center
First Long-Term Study of Peanut Therapy Shows Lasting Protection, Allergic Living Magazine
Next up: Meeting Bono