Eating boiled peanuts followed by roasted peanuts may be enough to help children overcome their allergies, according to new research. The idea is that creating a weakened version of a peanut in which the immunoreactive parts are partially destroyed by heat could act almost like a vaccine, training their immune system until handling a peanut doesn’t poses no problem.
The trial included 70 participants, all children between the ages of six and 18 known to have a peanut allergy. They then received a 12-week course of boiled peanuts for 12 hours, followed by a 20-week course of boiled peanuts for two hours.
“Oral immunotherapy,” as the researchers described it, works by creating a version of a peanut in which heat has partially destroyed its structure and immunoreactivity. By boiling a peanut for 12 hours, you can create a hypoallergenic version that, over the course of three months, can help the immune system better tolerate nut ingestion.
After 20 weeks of two-hour boiled peanuts, participants took a 20-week course of roasted peanuts until they ate 12 a day. They were then assessed for how desensitized they had become to peanuts, to see if oral immunotherapy was successful.
The result showed that 80% of the participants had become desensitized to peanuts after treatment, representing 56 of the 70 children enrolled in the trial. Overall, the researchers concluded that the treatment “was well tolerated and had a very low frequency of rescue epinephrine use.”
Although a positive outcome for the majority of participants, adverse effects of oral immunotherapy were reported in 61% of participants, and three children had to withdraw from the trial, demonstrating that the approach should not be tried at home outside of a clinic. test setting.
The researchers also point out in their discussion that they did not research the long-term efficacy of the treatment, which will need to be studied further before the boiled peanut approach can be rolled out. A 2019 study found that a type of desensitizing treatment that introduced small amounts of allergens into people’s diets may actually have increased the likelihood of long-term anaphylaxis, so the lasting effects of these treatments are worth establishing.
Despite this, it appears that treating peanuts in this way could be a cost-effective way to desensitize some children to this allergen and potentially save lives by ridding them of the worst of their immune response to peanuts. Since 1-3% of children in Western countries are affected by peanut allergies, this could make daily life a little safer for many children.
“Oral immunotherapy using boiled peanuts followed by roasted peanuts represents a pragmatic approach that appears effective in inducing desensitization and is associated with a favorable safety profile,” the authors concluded.
The study was published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy.