Prevalence of asthma and allergy has increased over the past 2-3 decades in Westernized countries. Despite increased understanding of the pathogenesis of asthma and allergic diseases, control of severe asthma is still difficult. Asthma is also associated with a high prevalence of anxiety, particularly in adolescents. There is no effective treatment for food allergy. Food allergy is often associated with severe and recalcitrant eczema. Novel approaches for treatment of asthma and food allergy and comorbid conditions are urgently needed. Traditional Chinese medicine, used in Asia for centuries, is beginning to play a role in Western healthcare. There is increasing scientific evidence supporting the use of traditional Chinese medicine for asthma treatment. Since 2005, several controlled clinical studies of "antiasthma" herbal remedies have been published. Among the herbal medicines, antiasthma herbal medicine intervention is the only antiasthma traditional Chinese medicine product that is a Food and Drug Administration investigational new drug that has entered clinical trials in the United States. Research into the effects and mechanisms of action of antiasthma herbal medicine intervention in animal models is actively being pursued. Research on traditional Chinese medicine herbal medicines for treating food allergy is rare. The herbal intervention Food Allergy Herbal Formula-2 is the only Food and Drug Administration botanical investigational new drug under investigation as a multiple food allergy therapy. This review article discusses promising traditional Chinese medicine interventions for asthma, food allergy, and comorbid conditions, and explores their possible mechanisms of action.
© 2011 Mount Sinai School of Medicine.