Ko J, Lee JI, Muñoz-Furlong A, Li XM, Sicherer SH. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2006;97:365–369
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY. To determine the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use, the types of CAM modalities used, and opinions regarding CAM in food-allergic patients.
STUDY POPULATION. A total of 442 individuals were polled, 95% of whom were parents of food-allergic children. Two groups were evaluated by using an anonymous questionnaire: attendees at a Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network conference in 2002 and a convenience sample from the Pediatric Allergy and Immunology practice of Mount Sinai Medical Center (New York, NY). Three hundred eighty individuals filled out questionnaires, equal numbers from both groups.
METHODS. A 19-item questionnaire was constructed to collect data on types, frequency, and opinions of CAM use, severity of food allergy, and demographic information.
RESULTS. Diagnostic modalities considered unproven or disproven (including immunoglobulin G4 testing, kinesiology, electrodermal skin testing, and provocation testing) were used by 22% of the respondents. Chiropractors (10%) were the most common CAM providers, followed by homeopaths (5%), acupuncturists (4%), and herbologists (4%). Of food-allergic CAM users, 33% reported using chiropractic, 33% homeopathy, 17% Nambudripad's allergy-elimination technique, 12% acupressure, 9% massage, 6% acupuncture, and 3% reflexology. Sources of information about CAM included friends (39%), family (28%), the Internet (8%), and television (6%). Only 49% of the participants reported CAM use to their regular physicians. On a scale from 0 (not effective) to 5 (very effective), patients found that CAM therapies were not particularly effective (mean score: 2.08). If available, an herbal therapy of equal efficacy, safety, and cost was preferred as compared with a pharmaceutical drug (37% vs 12%; P = .001).
CONCLUSIONS. Unproven or disproven diagnostic methods and CAM treatments were used by ∼20% of the respondents (most of whom were parents of food-allergic patients). Most of those who used CAM noted poor efficacy, but if given a choice, many would prefer herbal therapies to pharmaceutical drugs.
REVIEWER COMMENTS. Education regarding effective food-allergy tests and additional research on CAM therapies are needed.
- Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Pediatrics