Boiled peanuts could provide a way to help children overcome a peanut allergy, according to the results of a year-long Australian clinical trial.
In a trial of 70 children ages 6 to 18 with a documented peanut allergy, 80% were able to eat the legume without an allergic reaction after they were given increasing daily doses of boiled and roasted peanuts – a potential treatment known as oral immunotherapy. .
However, those who conducted the experiment cautioned parents against feeding boiled peanuts to children with a peanut allergy.
In the first part of the study, for 12 weeks the children were fed doses of boiled peanuts that had been boiled for 12 hours. Over the next 20 weeks, the participants ate peanuts that had been boiled for two hours; This was followed by 20 weeks of eating roasted peanuts.
The initial doses in the clinical trial were supervised by medical practitioners for adverse reactions. The children were initially given 62.5 milligrams of crushed boiled peanut powder, the equivalent of one to 16 boiled peanuts, and increased their intake over time.
Of the 70 children, 56 — or 80 percent — were eventually able to eat the target dose of 12 roasted peanuts daily without an allergic response.
said lead author of the study, Professor Luke Grzeskowiak from Flinders University and the South Australian Institute of Health and Medical Research.
It is estimated that peanut allergy affects up to 3% of children in Western countries.
One of the study’s co-authors, pediatric immunologist Dr. Billy Tao of Flinders University, has previously shown that boiling peanuts appears to reduce the sensitivity of the proteins they contain.
“Essentially, the protein starts to unfold in a way that the body doesn’t react to anymore,” Grzeskowiak said. “So you get this decrease in the severity of the allergic response to exposure to boiled peanuts.”
Grzeskowiak emphasized that the results of the trial represent a potential treatment but not a cure.
“Continuing peanut use or exposure is needed to maintain this tolerance.”
He added that of the 45 children who were followed up six months after the end of the trial, 43 were still eating peanuts regularly. “None of these children reported experiencing severe allergic reactions … both from the treatment but also from accidental exposure.”
Despite the success of the trial—which did not include children with a history of very severe reactions—Grzeskowiak discouraged people from feeding their children with peanut allergies boiled peanuts at home.
“It’s really important that people don’t go on immunotherapy without an appropriate level of supervision. At this point, it’s part of the pilot studies.
The researchers did not test participants’ ability to tolerate peanuts weeks or months after stopping treatment.
“We recognize that the use of boiled peanuts has been considered for a long time,” said Jodi Aiken, Senior Educator for Health Management at Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia.
Experts have long suspected that consumption of boiled peanuts in parts of Asia may contribute to lower rates of peanut allergy in children there.
Commenting on the clinical trial, Aiken said the research was a first step in the right direction. “The authors are really clear that more research is needed on the use of boiled peanuts as a treatment for peanut allergy,” she said.
“As an organization, we’re really anxious that there are treatments, but we want those treatments to be safe and affordable,” Aiken added.
The clinical trial did not include a placebo component to compare the effectiveness of consuming boiled peanuts.
Currently, there are no oral immunotherapies for food allergy approved by the australian medicines regulator, the therapeutic goods administration. In the United Kingdom and the United States, a peanut allergen powder called Palforzia is approved for use.
The study was published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy.