It may be possible for people with food allergies--specifically those with aversion to nuts--to be able to increase their tolerance by ingesting exactly what they’re allergic to, a recent feature on Time suggests.

Under the close monitoring of researchers and scientists, a group of 40 adolescents and adults allergic to peanuts were first tested to see the maximum amount of allergen they can tolerate. Half of them were then given very small quantities of peanut powder under their tongue daily for 44 weeks, while the rest were given placebo powder.

After the trial period, 14 out of the 20 individuals who were given peanut powder were able to handle 10 times more of the allergen they could tolerate when the study began. On the other hand, only three of the 20 individuals from the placebo group had the same results.

Although the study is good news for those who want to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but couldn’t, experts warn that the experiment should never be tried at home. For the study, miniscule amounts of peanut powder were used on the volunteers--sometimes, even a billionth of a gram and under the supervision of a panel of scientists.

“While promising, the treatment is not ready yet to try in physicians’ offices, or to do at home. But we do have promise that it’s safe, that it works,” Primary researcher Wesley Burks, professor and department chair of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina, explains.

(Photo by Martin L via Flickr Creative Commons)

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