Fight the Allergy with the Allergen: How Eating Peanuts May Cure Peanut Allergy
If you have a food allergy, whether mild or severe, you know it’s no picnic to deal with. Dining out at a restaurant or attending a neighborhood barbeque can spell trouble if you don’t know exactly what you’re eating! Children with food allergies may suffer the embarrassment of not being able to eat the treats at a friend’s birthday party, or partake in the lunch provided on a school field trip. But now researchers are attempting to address food allergies with a new type of treatment that involves slowly introducing the “culprit food” to your diet. Keep reading to find out more about this potential treatment.
Peanut allergies are dreaded by parents as they can be among the most deadly of food allergies. The degree of peanut allergies varies, with some children having life-threatening reactions to peanuts while others find that they experience mild stomach problems. A Duke University Medical Center study gave hope to some children who suffer from peanut allergies with an experimental treatment. The scientists gave the children small amounts of peanuts over a course of time to gradually “wean” them from the allergies.
So . . . did it work?
Of the 33 children in the study, nine are now free from their peanut allergies. The study took place over a four year time span. At first, the children could not even have one-sixth of a peanut before suffering a reaction. When they were six months into the study, the children could eat 15 peanuts before they experienced a reaction.
Other allergy treatments often subject a person to the allergen so that their body can build up immunity to the allergy itself. Over a period of time, a person who suffers from even severe allergies may find that they outgrow the condition with this type of treatment. Food allergies, however, were always treated differently. Because of the possibility of the food allergy being life-threatening, avoiding the allergen seemed to be the due course for treatment. The Duke University study was the first time that this type of “exposure” treatment was performed with food allergies.
The results of the Duke University peanut study not only give hope to children who are suffering from peanut allergies, but for everyone who suffers from any number of other food allergies. The hope is that by taking a little bit of the allergen and ingesting it, you can gradually overcome your allergies.
While this study is optimistic when it comes to food allergies, if you suffer from or have children with food allergies, you should be very cautious. The study was performed in a controlled, medical environment on children who did not have severe reactions to peanuts (they simply did not tolerate them well). It should not be used as a green light to start self-treating food allergies.
Allergies usually become evident during childhood and often last with the person for their entire life. Food allergies can range from not being able to tolerate a food well (such as getting an upset stomach after eating the food) to having a life-threatening allergic reaction. Peanut allergies are considered to be the most dangerous of food allergies, but not everyone reacts in the same manner with exposure to peanuts. While some children cannot even be around foods that are made with peanuts, others do not show great signs of being allergic to peanuts at all.
It appears that your immune system works in the same way to fight off food allergies as it does to fight off allergies to such things as grass and pollen. And with the above research in mind, this can spell hope for you or your child when it comes to dealing with food allergies!