Millions of Americans with nut allergies — whose reactions range from itchy mouths and pain, to anaphylactic shock that can lead to death — are doing all they can to avoid nuts.
But a study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that maybe nuts aren’t their enemy after all. The study found that in many cases, those with mild allergies could build up their tolerance to peanuts by experiencing them in tiny doses, over several months.
Do not try this at home: The sublingual immunotherapy involved dropping increasing amounts of peanut powder under the tongues of people with nut allergies (not the life-threatening kind). After 44 weeks of daily therapy, over half of them could handle ten times more peanut powder. Their tolerance to peanuts continued to increase over the following weeks.
Peanut immunotherapy studies have been done before, and made many with mild allergies feel hopeful (think of the food-loving allergy-sufferer, suddenly able to tolerate a small amount of peanuts; she can eat more adventurously, without worrying that a stray peanut in the curry might ruin her night).
Peanut therapy may have potential, but so far it hasn’t caught on.