Science and Tech


Are Peanuts The Answer To Peanut Allergies?

Researchers say they've had a breakthrough in treating peanut allergies by adding small amounts of peanut powder to children's diets.
Posted at 4:31 PM, Jan 30, 2014

When it comes to food allergies, few foods are more deadly or more common than peanuts. But a new study, which researchers are calling a breakthrough, could help curb this problem.  

"British researchers have found a way to build up a tolerance for peanuts by adding in peanut protein powder to a child's diet." (Via CTV)

"So we take this peanut flower which is ground up and we feed it to the patients very gradually using a tiny amount to begin with. ... It's like retraining the immune system." (Via TheGuardian)

Starting with just 2 milligrams of powder, researchers steadily increased the dosage over six months to about 800 milligrams — about five peanuts a day. The study tested allergic kids ages 7 to 16 years old. (Via CBS)

Now, the idea might seem unorthodox, but researchers say no one can argue with the results. 

"After several months, 84 percent were able to eat at least five peanuts and 54 percent were able to eat 10." (Via Sky News)

But Fox News quotes researchers who are quick to caution this isn't a science experiment Mom and Dad should try at home. "It has to be [done] in a hospital setting with proper facilities to treat severe reactions in case of side effects." (Via Fox News)

Also Dr. Andrew Clark, one researcher involved in the study, does acknowledge a pretty big drawback. "If you stop eating the peanuts ... and you are re-exposed, you may have a severe allergic reaction." (Via Science Now)

Which means, Dr. Clark argues, avoiding peanuts completely might still be the better option for now.