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Alternative Health Blog

British Researchers Find Possible Cure for Peanut Allergy

Any parent with a child facing the danger of a peanut allergy will be, well, nuts about this news. British researchers at Addenbrooke Hospital in Cambridge have discovered that children can be desensitized to their legume allergy and effectively cured over a series of months.

You may know that health practitioners have discovered that patients allergic to bee stings can be desensitized over months of exposure to minute amounts of bee venom. This is the first study to address peanuts or any food allergy for that matter.

Peanut allergy symptoms in kids typically begins with breathing problems after exposure, which, of course, can be hidden in some foods on store shelves or even at school bake sales. Untreated, peanut allergic reactions can even be life-threatening due to anaphylactic shock.

The British researchers put the child volunteer subjects on a program of tiny five-milligram peanut flour capsules each day, the equivalent of maybe one sliver of one peanut. The concept is to increase the peanut dose very gradually to allow the body to develop antibody resistance. By the end of the six-month study, the children could all tolerate up to 800 milligrams or roughly five whole shelled peanuts.

It might not sound like a lot but it clears the child from the real danger of inadvertently eating peanut residue in processed foods.

The study was performed with four children, so, naturally, the researchers cautioned that a larger study will be necessary to validate the results. The British research team has expanded the study to include 18 more children (the original four will continue to take daily peanut flour capsules to maintain resistance).  

Nonetheless, the results give hope to parents with children facing such an allergy challenge. Here’s what Kate Frost, mother of a 9-year-old in the study, told BBC News: "It's very hard to describe how much of a difference it's made - not just in Michael's life, but for all of us. A peanut allergy affects the whole family. You can't go out to a restaurant. If your child goes to a birthday party, he takes a packed lunch."

Research leader Dr. Andy Clark said there is no reason to think it can’t help more children and adults.

"Our motivation was to find a treatment that would give [peanut allergy individuals] the confidence to eat what they like,” he said. “It's all about quality of life. It's not a permanent cure, but as long as they go on taking a daily dose they should maintain their tolerance." 

Bob Condor blogs for Alternative Health Journal every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

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Contributor Profile

Contributor Since:
August 13, 2008
Bob Condor
Along with bringing the latest news and trends about alternative health, Bob will help you get the most of your Internet health research.  Bob is the Living Well Columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.He covers health and quality of life for the Hearst-owned newspaper and writes regularly for national magazines. He is a former syn...