PITTSBURGH (CBS) — Just a few years ago, digging into a bowl of Peanut M&M’s was out of the question for the Lombardo brothers, all three suffered from severe, multiple food allergies.
“I was allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, peas, beans and sesame seeds,” said Nick Lombardo, the oldest of the three boys.
Luke Lombardo said living with allergies was a constant struggle.
“I always had to worry about what I was going to eat whenever I went out with my friends,” he said.
“It was a constant worry,” said the boys’ mother, Diane, who added that the family rarely went out to dinner because it was too stressful. “We’d have six EpiPens wherever we went, just in case.”
But, now, the EpiPens are gone and so is the worry. Diane no longer hesitates to give her boys food that not long ago would have meant a trip to the hospital.
All three of her boys went to see Amy Thieringer, a nutrition health coach based near Boston, Massachusetts, who developed her own system to treat allergies.
“I have worked with over 300 families. They can eat whatever food they want, whenever they want,” she said.
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Thieringer began developing her homeopathic, non-invasive program called Allergy Release Technique, or A.R.T.
She says a special computer program helps her to identify stressors in the body. She also uses something similar to acupressure to help strengthen her patients’ immune systems. Her patients also take high-quality probiotics.
“Seventy percent of the immune system is in the gut,” she said.
Before slowly introducing the offending foods, she works on the mind-body component.
“If you give a kid a food that they know can kill them it creates a heightened state of anxiety. In A.R.T, we have tools to help with that,” she said.
There are no scientific studies to prove that Thieringer’s method works, but a few allergists across the country are using the method of slowly introducing foods. It’s called oral immunotherapy. But even that isn’t approved or widely practiced.
Allergist Dr. John Saryan says many kids eventually outgrow allergies, but there currently is no known cure.
“For most patients, it’s avoidance, and, unfortunately, that’s all we have to offer,” said Dr. Saryan.
But Thieringer disagrees and says Children’s Hospital of Boston has taken interest in her results. According to Diane, Luke – a former patient at the hospital – took part in the study, eating 30 peanut M&M’s in one sitting.
“The medical field really needs to understand and accept what she does,” Diane said. “She has changed so many lives.”
It took about three years for all three boys to complete the program. Then, the family celebrated.
“We went to the store and we bought every kind of peanut butter, nut product we could find, and brought it home for them to just try,” Diane said. “It was a night to remember.”
The boys and Diane all say they are forever indebted to Thieringer for what she has done for their family.
“It completely turned my life around,” Nick said. “I don’t have to worry about food at all.”
Thieringer is working to train other practitioners across the country with the hope that this becomes a common treatment nationwide.
The cost and length of treatment varies depending on the child’s allergies.
Patients should talk to their doctor before trying an alternative treatment.