Peanut-fearers, rejoice — new research suggests that treatment may be possible for peanut allergies. A study sponsored by National Institutes of Health in the January issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that by exposing people to small amounts of peanut powder every day, they could increase their tolerance.
First, people with a peanut allergy went through a terrifying food challenge, seeing how much peanut powder they could eat before they had an allergic reaction. After 44 weeks of sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), a treatment in which you place a small amount of the allergen under your tongue to decrease sensitivity, they were again asked to eat peanut powder until they had a reaction.
During the second challenge, 70 percent of the participants on SLIT could eat 10 times more peanut powder than before. After 68 weeks, many participants could consume significantly more peanut powder without having an allergic reaction.
SLIT caused only some minor side effects, like mouth itching, and overall it seems that daily therapy may be safe under the watchful eye of a professional. In the future, it could help people with peanut allergies avoid severe reactions to accidental exposure.