Toothpaste for Peanut Allergies!


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – One in 50 children in the United States is allergic to peanuts, while one in 200 adults have the allergy, too. Peanut allergies have more than tripled over the past 20 years and nobody really knows why. But there are several breakthroughs when it comes to helping people with these allergies stay safe – maybe even one day, be able to eat whatever they like without the fear of an allergic reaction.

You could call five-year-old Kaleb Billeter somewhat of a Lego expert. Not much worries him, but his mother, on the other hand, worries a lot.

“When Kaleb was six months old, he broke out into hives all over his chest, torso, face,” Kaleb’s mother, Elizabeth Billiter says.

The hives were the first sign of a dangerous peanut allergy.

Kaleb tells Ivanhoe, “I had bumps all over my face.”

Kaleb was treated with a peanut patch – he wore it every day for several months – they hope in the end, it will help him tolerate a small amount of peanuts without having a reaction. Another treatment being used – oral immunotherapy – think of it as micro-dosing peanuts.

“The kids eat that peanut flour in small increasing amounts to try to retrain their immune system and make them less reactive,” explains pediatric allergist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Edwin Kim, MD.

(Read Full Interview)

Now, researchers are working with a toothpaste that could one day help prevent severe allergic reactions by triggering the immune cells in our mouths.

Dr. Kim adds, “Maybe if we take the peanut and then put it in a form of toothpaste that coats the whole inner side of the mouth, we can take advantage of those immune cells, get the benefit that we want.”

When people brush their teeth, the peanut protein gets absorbed into their mouth. None of the participants experienced any reaction – no trouble breathing, swelling of the throat, pale skin, blue lips, fainting or dizziness. Although it won’t cure the allergy, it will make the body’s response less life threatening.

“They taste really good,” Kaleb says.

Dr. Kim also found that putting a small amount of liquid peanut extract under the tongue desensitized young children to their peanut allergy. By the end of that trial, 80 percent of toddlers could tolerate 15 peanuts without any symptoms.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Matt Goldschmidt, Videographer & Editor.

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REPORT:        MB #5369

BACKGROUND: Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies worldwide, affecting millions of individuals. In the United States, peanut allergy is estimated to affect around 1-2% of the population. The prevalence of peanut allergy has been steadily increasing in recent years. Peanut allergy can develop at any age, but it often presents in early childhood. Many individuals develop peanut allergy in infancy or early childhood after initial exposure to peanuts. Peanut allergy can range from mild to severe, with reactions varying from mild skin irritation to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and even death if not treated promptly. Certain factors may increase the risk of developing peanut allergy, including a family history of food allergies, other allergic conditions such as eczema or asthma, and early introduction of peanuts into the diet.


DIAGNOSING: Diagnosing a peanut allergy involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, allergy testing, and sometimes oral food challenges. Given the potential severity of peanut allergy reactions, accurate diagnosis is essential for proper management and avoidance of allergic reactions. The first step in diagnosing a peanut allergy involves taking a detailed medical history where a doctor will ask about symptoms experienced after peanut exposure. A thorough physical examination may be conducted to assess for any signs of allergic reactions, such as skin rash, hives, or respiratory symptoms. Allergy tests such as skin picking, blood testing, and CRDs will be administered to see if allergic reactions are triggered.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: New technologies and advances in the recent research of T cells and T-cell epitope discoveries in food allergy research are paving the way for new treatments in food allergy testing. The comparison of different antigen-specific T-cell profiles and comparing them to specific individual allergies can help decipher similarities and differences in the T-cell phenotypes in different existing food allergies.



Brittany Phillips

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Edwin Kim, MD, Chief of Pediatric Allergy

Read the entire Q&A