Since the word “nut” is at the end of “peanut,” many people think that it is a nut. No, it’s just not named correctly. Peanuts are actually legumes, part of a plant that grows underground. True nuts grow on trees. To date, there are no tried and true cures for someone with a peanut allergy.
Kids Can Achieve Long-Term Tolerance
Because severe peanut allergy symptoms could occur at any time in a person who is allergic to peanuts, it is never safe to try to build up your resistance to them at home. Doctors and researchers have done this with some success. An article published in March of 2009 by Duke Medicine News and Communications explained that a study completed at Duke University showed that children can achieve long-term tolerance to peanuts.
Children in the Duke study were given very tiny amounts of peanuts. They started out with 1/1000 of a peanut given to them to eat. Children were put on daily therapy and the amount of peanuts given to them gradually increased. Within eight to 10 months, the children were eating up to 15 peanuts daily without an allergic reaction.
Out of the 33 children in the study, nine of them had been on maintenance therapy for more than 2.5 years. Doctors performed a series of food challenges and found that four of the children were able to stop treatment and continue to eat peanuts. After a year’s time, they were still off treatment.
Immunoglobulin E (IgE) tests show whether or not the body has made a protein that is formed when a child has peanut allergies. The protein is made in response to the peanut allergens. Those in the study had IgE levels above 25, but by the end of the study, their peanut IgEs were less than two.
A similar test was conducted in Great Britain, except that test subjects were given capsules filled with controlled amounts of peanut flour. The amount of peanut flour was gradually increased, and many of the children developed a tolerance for peanuts.
Children with peanut allergies may be able to avoid life-threatening anaphylaxis if they complete this therapy. Even if a child can only tolerate several peanuts, this could still reduce the number of serious reactions that occur when someone eats a bit of unknown peanut that accidentally got into their food.
Although the results of the research were positive, it will take many more tests to prove that this method actually works.