The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine by Pediatric Food-Allergic Patients in Japan.
ABSTRACT Background: In developed countries, increasing food allergy prevalence and concern regarding food allergies have been reported. Although the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for the treatment of allergic diseases has increased in some Western countries, the actual proportion and patterns of CAM use for pediatric food allergies in Japan are still unknown. Methods: Fourteen allergy centers in Japan participated in the study using a questionnaire survey regarding the use of CAM by pediatric patients. A diagnosis of food allergy was made at each hospital by pediatric allergists. Results: Surveys were completed by parents/guardians, and data were collected for a total of 962 pediatric food-allergic patients. Overall, 8.4% of the participants used CAM to treat a food allergy. The major CAM therapies used were herbal teas (22.2%), including several Japanese herbal teas, Chinese herbal medicine (18.5%) and lactic acid bacteria (16%). Among the participants using CAM to treat food allergy, 13.6% thought that the CAM being used was very effective, while 11.1% of participants thought that CAM caused some type of side effect. Conclusions: Our study is the first large-scale national survey regarding the use of CAM in pediatric patients with food allergies in Japan. Unlike in the USA, which has a higher rate of CAM use (17%), approximately 8.4% of food-allergic patients used CAM in Japan. Interestingly, the major types of CAM used in Japan differed from those used in the USA. Cultural differences and food customs may affect the use of CAM.