Please Eat This Killer Peanut: Curing Allergies With The Foods That Cause Them

Posted on: 10 August 2015

The number of children in the U.S. with food allergies has risen 50% since 1997, which researchers have attributed to various causes including the processed Western diet, weak gut bacteria, and home environments that are too clean.

Now, researchers are suggesting that the best way to prevent and cure a food allergy is with the same food that causes it.

Early exposure seems to protect against later allergies.

Several years ago, doctors changed their minds about telling pregnant women to avoid peanuts and other possible allergens. That's when a Danish study showed that children of mothers who ate peanuts during pregnancy actually developed fewer allergies to peanuts.

Today, doctors and researchers suggest that parents don't stop with prenatal peanuts. The new approach is to begin introducing sensitive foods like peanuts to infants between 4 and 11 months of age. Of course, babies shouldn't be given whole peanut kernels due to the choking risk. Peanut butter or peanut flour are a safer way to introduce peanuts to this age group.

This new strategy is inspired by a British study that found only 3% of children fed peanuts in infancy developed the peanut allergy, while 17% of the kids denied peanuts in infancy went on to become allergic to the nuts.

Treat a hardcore peanut allergy with small doses of nuts.

Feeding peanut products to infants without allergies is one thing. Giving your allergic child the very food that might kill them is another matter altogether, but that menacing legume may actually help your youngster's body manage their food allergy.

Oral immunotherapy, or OIT, is the name of the controversial treatment which is initiated by giving the patient a first "dose" of 1/1000th of a peanut in a solution of peanut flour and water. This initial exposure is administered in the allergist's office, and the patient is then closely monitored for an hour. If there's no adverse reaction, the allergy sufferer takes the peanut flour home and eats a bit of it each day.

The patient will eventually graduate to a full dose of 10 peanuts, and by then, the therapy should give them increased immunity to life-threatening allergic reactions. This approach isn't meant to cure the allergy, but is intended to help allergic patients handle future exposure to the foods that make them sick.

OIT is not FDA approved, and results of the therapy are not conclusive, but it could be a game-changer for children with more severe allergies.

If you suspect your child has allergies, contact an allergy physician today to learn about all of the current research and new treatments available.