Reviews: Allergy Resource Books
Published in 2014
Food Allergies: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western Science and the Search for a Cure
By Henry Ehrlich
Third Avenue Books, $17.95 paperback
Dr. Xiu-Min Li is the modestly brilliant woman behind the revolutionary Chinese herbal formula, FAHF-2, which is gaining increasingly impressive results in the treatment of food allergy. Now author Henry Ehrlich has written a remarkable book on Li’s research and the quest to not just desensitize the millions today who must manage food allergies, but to change their immune systems for good.
Ehrlich presents Li as a unique physician immersed in two worlds: Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western medicine, as she’s an allergy specialist at Mount Sinai in New York. The book has riveting sections, including one on Li’s early work with eczema patients. While using herbal treatments to clear the skin of those covered “head-to-toe” with eczema, mothers began to ask Li about herbs and food allergy. She’s then off and running.
Ehrlich also delves into the state of other therapies, such as oral immunotherapy. Li sums up her reservation: “OIT doesn’t fundamentally alter the immune system.” And that’s what she aims to do. While the book has the “more study needed” caveats, the reader can’t help but come away enthused about Li, her magic herbal blends -and where they might take us. The book will be released in February. -Gwen Smith
The Family Food Allergy Book
By Mireille Schwartz
Basic Health Publications, $12.95 paperback
San Francisco allergy advocate Mireille Schwartz has penned a comprehensive book for anyone who lives with, or cares for someone with, a life-threatening food allergy. Schwartz, who has a severe fish allergy, provides proven strategies derived from a lifetime of managing her own allergy while caring for her food-allergic daughter.
Nothing is neglected: from the biology behind allergies and an in-depth review of the Top 8 to holidays, travel, summer camps, schools and more. Her restaurant chapter is particularly comprehensive; beyond the excellent advice on dining out safely, Schwartz even includes a wealth of information for the restaurateur. From the newly diagnosed to the seasoned allergy veteran, everyone stands to learn from this book. -Patrick Bennett
Published in 2013
Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends on It
By Dr. Scott Sicherer
Johns Hopkins University Press, $15.95 paperback / e-book
In his third book, Dr. Scott Sicherer, a leader in the field of food allergy, has compiled a goldmine of information for any patient, parent or caregiver dealing with food allergies. Written in Q&A format, this book provides highly informative responses to hundreds upon hundreds of questions about food allergies.
Drawing on his experience as an allergist, educator and researcher at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Sicherer boils down complex medical information into plain language, without sacrificing the facts.
This guide travels the distance from food allergy basics, testing and reaction avoidance to the complicated concerns of bullying, anxiety and quality of life with food allergy. Sicherer, who is also a columnist for this magazine, offers great counsel on breastfeeding vs. formula, prevention strategies and introducing potentially allergenic foods to young children. He serves up the latest on outgrowing allergies, and moves onto the big questions about research and whether we’re moving in the direction of a cure.
It’s easy to see why fellow allergists and advocates have given strong endorsement to this book. In the preface, advocate Maria Acebal, of FARE’s board of directors, aptly notes: “I found answers to important questions I hadn’t yet thought of asking.”
You’re bound to keep this comprehensive guide handy. to refer to again and again as questions arise. You know you can count on Scott Sicherer for a thoughtful answer. –Patrick Bennett
The Total Food Allergy Health and Diet Guide
By Alexandra Anca,
Robert Rose Inc. publisher, $24.95 paperback
While the jacket touts its 150 recipes, this volume gets well beyond cooking. Living up to its title as the “total” food allergy guide, registered dietitian Alexandra Anca starts out with an in-depth section on the immune system and food allergies. She then walks the reader through IgE antibodies, T-cells, and explains the difference between food allergy and sensitivity and more.
Anca delves into diet planning for the top allergens (she even includes sesame and mustard), offering handy grocery-shopping charts of the types of foods that are safe, unsafe and questionable for a specific allergy.
Her recipes, which come with scientific nutritional information, range from breakfasts to desserts and are designed for people with food allergies, sensitivities or celiac disease. There are options for any palate: from Hawaiian pizza to Indian food. With the assistance of allergist Dr. Gordon Sussman, Anca has produced an excellent and varied resource. –P.B.
Published in 2012
The Food Allergy Experience
By Dr. Ruchi Gupta, with Denise Bunning
In The Food Allergy Experience, Dr. Ruchi Gupta speaks with the authority of a leading allergy researcher – but equally, she speaks as the mother of a daughter with food allergies. She provides many great tips; I was particularly struck by her advice to watch allergic kids not just for physical signs of a reaction but also for emotional ones such as sudden crying or anxiety.
But what really sets this book apart is that “experience” in the title. It is not just her own, but heard in the voices of many. Gupta surveyed parents at a local support group about their attitudes about life with a food-allergic child. There was an outpouring of response that led to this unique and quietly powerful book.
From the mom who speaks of allergy affecting “her work, her marriage and her outlook on life” to the parents talking about issues surrounding social activities and the mom who relates how her young son had a panic attack at a restaurant – “a reminder that this takes an emotional toll on all of us” – this book candidly captures the realities of life with food allergies. Most helpfully, Gupta weighs in with compassionate advice for those of us living the “experience”. –Gwen Smith