Sunday, March 9, 2014

Food Allergies: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western Science, and the Search for a Cure

by Henry Ehrlich

Before covering this enlightening book, I'd like to take a moment to thank the author, Henry Ehrlich, whom I am lucky and honored to call a friend, for writing it. I think the author is worthy of discussion, along with the subject. I hope I am not overstating, but I believe Henry Ehrlich was born to write this book. Son of an "English teacher turned lexicographer," and cousin to the perennially top-rated New York allergist, Dr. Paul Ehrlich, whose father was a pediatrician, Henry is genetically predisposed to be the ideal storyteller and information liaison for our allergic community. He is able to distill information in a way that is engaging and accessible, while not failing to deliver the technical specifics of the complicated landscape, which is the human immune system.  

Henry displays the markers of his "gene expression" as the editor of and co-author of the book by the same name. He works tirelessly, providing top-notch content through his website, and acting as a guide, assisting us in our quest for reasoned wisdom from seasoned professionals. He is active in our community and shows a genuine, passionate interest in this most intriguing and perplexing of fields. I could not imagine anyone that would be better-suited to cover this subject, that is so personally and vitally important to our allergic children's futures.  (Even if we find that this particular treatment does not work for everyone, the lessons-learned will contribute to future scientific endeavors.)

Now for my discussion of the book, itself...

The cover imagery for the book is based on the concept of yin and yang, which Wikipedia describes, as follows: (emphasis mine)
In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin-yang, which is often called "yin and yang", is used to describe how opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world; and, how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (instead of opposing) forces interacting to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the parts. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation.
I cannot think of a more fitting characterization of the path that Dr. Xiu-Min Li has taken with her work at Mount Sinai. The book takes the reader through Dr. Li's history as a physician and researcher, the basics of food allergy, and a description of how Dr. Li came to focus her efforts on retraining the sometimes savage beast that is a misbehaving immune system. It chronicles the early trials on mice (murine models), and the initial human safety trials. The process for human efficacy trials is discussed, but the results of said studies have yet to be published. There are even case studies from patients that have seen Dr. Li in private practice and an account of participation in a clinical trial for FAHF-2. (Those who see Dr. Li in private practice are not taking FAHF-2, but an individualized dietary supplement treatment protocol, based on their particular needs.  FAHF-2 an investigational drug undergoing clinical trials and is not yet available for dispensation to the population, at large.)

I find this book to be an excellent reference for the skeptics, who might tilt a suspicious eye at anything "Eastern" or involving "herbs." Set any preconceived notions aside. This book may be about soft plants, but it involves hard science, and should satisfy even the most exacting scientific researcher.  It will help quiet the qualms of the nervous naysayer.

As I read through this book, I felt a renewed sense of hope. I know my graphic below may seem over-the-top, but it genuinely reflects the emotions I felt while reading. We do not often get to feel lucky, in this situation (though I try and take stock of the silver linings), but reading this book made me realize that we are extremely lucky to have such an amazingly brilliant, dedicated, caring, conscientious scientist working on our children's plight.

Original book image: "HOPE" added by Selena Bluntzer.

Henry Ehrlich's book, 
is now available for purchase from the following sources: - eBook Edition
Barnes & Noble - Paperback and Nook editions

Please also check out my review of one of Henry Ehrlich's other publications:

Disclaimer: I have not received any financial compensation for this book review. I received an advance book draft, but have since purchased multiple copies, with my own funds. links are affiliate links, but as always, all opinions are my own.