Treating peanut allergy might be as simple as slipping something under the tongue.

That’s the hope derived from a new study from the National Institutes of Health, which found that sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) can help minimize an allergic reaction to peanut in adolescents and adults.

The study

The study included 40 participants, ages 12 to 37, who had peanut allergy and were eating a peanut-free diet. Researchers initially measured how much peanut powder these people could eat without having an allergic response. This was followed by 44 weeks of SLIT therapy, after which researchers found that 70 percent of participants could consume about 10 times more peanut powder than they could during the initial food test.

Only 15 percent of participants who had been given a placebo treatment following the initial food test were able to increase their peanut powder intake during the second trial.

Implications, side effects and warnings

Experts note that the implications are encouraging–they hope that SLIT might one day be a viable treatment option to help prevent severe allergic response during accidental peanut exposure.

Side effects of SLIT were minor and included itchy mouth. Researchers note that people should not try SLIT therapy on their own, as the risks of immunotherapy can be dangerous when not under the guidance of a trained clinician.

The results of the study are published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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