My daughter has a life-threatening peanut allergy so just about every day I find myself looking at new posts, pictures or other related news. Sometimes, like with the peanut patch, it’s exciting. Sometimes, like with the cost of Epi-pens, it’s frustrating. But most of the time? It’s fear-based and flat out wrong.
Why is the food allergy community rife with alarmism and pseudoscience?
Food allergies aren’t just frightening. They’re also unclear and unpredictable. Isolating, too. It’s easy to find yourself lured in by frauds and charlatans.
Like Robyn O’Brien, a well-known food allergy advocate who has no medical or scientific training yet spreads all sorts of misinformation about GMOs, processed foods and even vaccines. Or Zen Honeycutt, the founder of Moms Across America who claims, impossibly, to have reversed her children’s food allergies with an organic diet. Not to mention the many naturopaths and homeopathic practitioners offering to cure food allergies with unproven and untested treatments, sometimes with disastrous results.
So, what should food allergy parents do?
Well, first of all, always seek medical treatment from a BOARD CERTIFIED ALLERGIST. That means DO NOT take medical advice from your neighbor who sells essential oils, a homeopath or Robyn O’Brien. Or anyone other than a BOARD CERTIFIED ALLERGIST. Even your pediatrician, although obviously vastly more qualified than O’Brien, is not a substitute for a BOARD CERTIFIED ALLERGIST, because this is a rapidly evolving practice area and you want a doctor who is familiar with the latest research and evidence-based recommendations.
And yet, you can’t call your doctor every time a new headline hits your Facebook feed. Many people turn to their food allergy community — and by that I mean the people they know on Facebook — to get a sense of whether some new study or treatment sounds promising. But that’s a problem if your Facebook friends are anti-vaxxers and people known to exclaim — Man, what CAN’T essential oils do!?
That’s why I created a new Facebook group for science-based food allergy parents. If you’re a food allergy parent, join us! And for everyone else, please spread the word. I’m hoping we can grow the community quickly and invite physicians and scientists to join too, so people will have somewhere to go with those general questions. But not medical advice. Because for medical advice, you’ll obviously want to ask your — SAY IT WITH ME NOW — BOARD-CERTIFIED ALLERGIST.