Boiled Peanuts for Peanut Allergy
Updated: Sep 12, 2021
Are boiled peanuts the answer to the peanut problem?
When my son was 6 months old, we introduced peanut butter and Bombas on time as we were told. We did everything right, but yet there was this IgE mediated allergic reaction. So now what? Again, avoiding peanuts forever didn’t sit right with me.
When we went to the allergist he immediately did a skin prick test for peanut, which was positive. Subsequently we had multiple skin prick tests for peanut we well. Every single one was positive and the response seemed to be growing during each. At one point, he even had a satellite reaction. My 6 month old son had a discovered peanut allergy based on a skin prick test (SPT), serum-specific IgE (ssIgE) to peanut, and positive to Ara h1 component indicative of a very strong likelihood of clinical reaction during a challenge (as well as a later positive to Ara h8, a newer test). These results, along with a reaction to eating Bomba, ignited our fears of a lifelong peanut allergy.
Determined to find some way to tackle this, I read everything I could about peanut allergy, and stumbled onto some theoretical articles about how boiling and frying peanuts affects their structure and allergenicity. Interestingly, the prevalence of peanut allergy in China is much lower than that in the United States, despite a high rate of peanut consumption in China. In China, peanuts are commonly fried or boiled, whereas in the United States peanuts are typically dry roasted. In addition, there was significantly less IgE binding to specific peanut components in fried and boiled peanuts compared with that in roasted peanuts, even though the protein amounts were similar in all 3 preparations.
I mean it was a long shot, but why not try this? Luckily, our allergist agreed and we went to our allergists office for a boiled peanut challenge. However, when we got there they did a SPT prior to the challenge for both boiled peanut and raw peanut (which is what they had been doing previously, and what most SPTs are). Our son was now out of the range for what was considered safe for a challenge with the raw peanut and also positive for the boiled peanut, but to a lesser degree. We were understandably sent home out of fear of a failed food challenge. Again, this didn't sit well with us. This skin test appeared to show that we could be right, the reaction to the boiled peanut WAS less, at least on the SPT.
After a few weeks more of reading more about boiled peanuts, we pushed to try again worried that our son was getting close to the 1 year mark, an arbitrary line I came up with based on research I had done where allergies could potentially become more “stable”. We decided to try discussing this with the local children’s hospital. The Children’s hospital didn’t believe our theoretical, non-evidence based approach, but offered us a challenge for peanut butter instead, stating that there would likely be a reaction, but it would be in a hospital setting. Taking more comfort in the hospital setting we decided to go, but I kept reading. It appeared to us that the order of allergenticity went boiled, raw, and then roasted. After realizing his satellite reaction was to raw peanut, I was scared to even consider roasted peanut butter for challenge. We decided to bring our homemade boiled peanut butter to challenge it instead, and hope they’d allow it to be used. Fortunately, although they recommended against it, they allowed us to proceed.
Nobody thought we would, but we PASSED. Our son got 2 hives on the second dose of boiled peanuts, but we pushed through it and he passed! After a week of eating the boiled peanut butter, he never got hives from it again. My son continued to eat 1-2 teaspoons of boiled peanut butter every single day for one year. We believed that the introduction of those proteins would allow him to one day eat peanuts without restriction, and that unlike OIT, he won’t need to eat them every day because his immature immune system would get used to them through a form he could tolerate.
Just one year after eating our homemade boiled peanut butter daily; my now 2-year-old son has passed his oral food challenge (under the supervision of his allergist) for roasted peanut butter! We believe that the exposure to boiled peanut permited the ingestion of low amounts of proteins in a less allergic manner, which allowed sustained desensitization for his peanut allergy in a much safer way than even the current methods of OIT. He is currently eating 1 teaspoon of roasted peanut butter daily, and the occasional peanut butter & jelly sandwich!
Please don’t try it at home, and please don’t try it without your doctor's permission!
Read more about boiled peanuts for treating a peanut allergy here: