2 Times When Peanut Butter May Give You Diarrhea

Peanut butter may give you diarrhea if you have an allergy.
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Peanut butter is a popular snack food that's eaten in all sorts of ways (think: PB&J sandwiches, peanut butter crackers or even just by the spoonful).


But can PB mess with your stomach? More specifically, can peanut butter give you diarrhea?

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Peanut butter is actually a good low-fiber food to enjoy while recovering from diarrhea, per the Mayo Clinic. And while it shouldn't typically ‌cause‌ diarrhea, there are two specific cases where it might.

Here, learn the reasons why peanut butter could cause diarrhea, if it could help diarrhea in certain cases and how to treat it.


If you have a serious allergic reaction after eating peanut butter, including symptoms of anaphylaxis such as face or throat swelling, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room, as these can be life-threatening.

2 Reasons Why Peanut Butter May Cause Diarrhea

There are a couple instances where peanut butter could cause diarrhea: a peanut allergy or contamination. Here's a breakdown of the two:

1. Peanut Allergy

A peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies, per the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). It happens when your immune system overreacts to the proteins in peanuts because it mistakenly thinks they're harmful.


Your body creates antibodies to "fight off" the peanut proteins as if they were a virus. During this process, certain cells in your body start releasing the chemical histamine, per the AAAAI.

Histamine helps to defend and protect your body, but it can cause inflammation in your soft tissues. This is what causes allergic reactions like hives, rash, swelling and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis, per the Cleveland Clinic.


Sometimes, a peanut allergy can happen out of nowhere. And so much as touching, inhaling or eating trace amounts of peanuts can cause an allergic reaction in people with a severe allergy. Other times, children develop an allergy when they're really young, but then outgrow it in adulthood, per the AAAAI.

Symptoms of a Peanut Allergy

Common symptoms of a peanut allergy are usually immediate, happening within minutes of contact. These can include the following, per the Mayo Clinic:



  • Skin reactions: hives, redness or swelling
  • Itching
  • Swelling around the mouth and throat
  • Digestive issues: diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea
  • Tightening of the chest
  • Sneezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny or blocked nose

When you get diarrhea from a peanut allergy, you may feel stomach pain and cramps, bloating and nausea. You will also get thin, loose and watery stools and a sense of urgency to go to the bathroom.


Severe, chronic diarrhea could also cause fever, weight loss and bloody stool. It can even cause dehydration, per Johns Hopkins Medicine.

How Long Will Diarrhea From a Peanut Allergy Last?

The length of time you have diarrhea from a peanut allergy will vary from person to person. But an average allergic reaction will typically happen almost immediately and can last for about two hours. Symptoms may even subside and return hours later, per Food Allergy Research and Education.

The diarrhea itself may go away once the peanuts are completely out of your digestive system. Either way, if your diarrhea continues beyond a few hours, or you get other severe allergic reaction symptoms, call your doctor immediately and go to the emergency room.

2. Peanut Butter Contamination

You may get diarrhea from peanut butter if the food has been contaminated with a bacteria, like salmonella.


There have been a few reported cases of salmonella-contaminated peanut butter jars in the U.S., with the most recent case in May 2022, per the FDA. Because these products often have a long shelf life, the salmonella can remain in the products for months, per the FDA.

Often, peanut butter that's contaminated will be recalled from grocery store shelves and recalls will be advertised, so the chances of eating contaminated peanut butter can be rare. In the off-chance you do get a bad batch, diarrhea could ensue.


Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Other symptoms of eating contaminated food can include the following, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever


If you have diarrhea from eating peanut butter, but do not suspect an allergy (or if everyone in your household that ate peanut butter is having the same symptoms), call your doctor. You may have salmonella or another bacterial infection, which may require antibiotics to treat, per the CDC.

How to Treat Diarrhea From a Peanut Allergy

Treating diarrhea from an allergic reaction to peanut butter or food poisoning takes patience. Often, you simply need to let the diarrhea run its course.


In the meantime, there are things you can do to feel better, including:

  • Drink plenty of water and other electrolyte-balanced fluids:‌ This can help cleanse your system and replenish fluids lost. Try water or diluted, pulp-free fruit juice, sports drinks, broth or caffeine-free soda, per the Cleveland Clinic. Children should drink water or lower-sugar electrolyte drinks like Pedialyte (high-sugar drinks could make diarrhea worse). For young children and babies, call your pediatrician for instructions on keeping them hydrated.
  • Drink 1 cup of liquid‌ every time you have a loose bowel movement, per Mount Sinai.
  • Avoid drinks like caffeine and alcohol‌, per the Cleveland Clinic.
  • Stick with soft, low-fiber foods‌ once you start feeling good enough to eat, like rice, yogurt, noodles, bananas, white bread, crackers, applesauce and baked chicken or turkey without the skin, per the Cleveland Clinic.
  • Avoid fried, fatty, spicy and acidic foods‌, per the Cleveland Clinic.

Peanut Allergy Treatment

The best way to treat an existing peanut allergy is by avoiding peanuts and foods with traces of peanuts, per the AAAAI. But sometimes, this can be difficult.

Make sure to read food product labels before eating anything, and ask restaurant employees about foods on the menu that may have peanuts. And of course, do not eat peanut butter if you're allergic to peanuts or tree nuts (unless under a doctor-supervised treatment).

If you accidentally eat peanuts, antihistamines (i.e., Benadryl) may help relieve a mild allergic reaction like itchiness or hives, per the National Health Service (NHS).

For severe reactions, an immediate injection of epinephrine (also known as an EpiPen) can help reverse symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe an EpiPen if you've had episodes of anaphylaxis in the past, or if there's potential to have an anaphylactic episode in the future. Make sure you carry your EpiPen with you at all times, per the NHS.


In 2020, the FDA approved another peanut allergy treatment called oral immunotherapy. This is when a food allergen is given to you in small doses over the course of several months at your allergists' office. Over time, this therapy can help reduce your risk of anaphylaxis associated with peanut exposure, per the AAAAI.

Can Peanut Butter Help Treat Existing Diarrhea?

While peanut butter won't necessarily ‌treat‌ pre-existing diarrhea, it is low in fiber, which could make it a good food to eat while recovering from diarrhea. Smooth peanut butter, specifically, is better than chunky peanut butter, per the Mayo Clinic.

For example, if you're trying a bland diet or BRAT diet for diarrhea, you could add some smooth peanut butter to apple slices, a banana or even a slice of toast, per the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. This can also help you get a bit of protein and healthy fats, instead of just carbs.

The Bottom Line

Peanut butter can give you diarrhea if you have a peanut allergy or if the food is contaminated with bacteria.

If either are the case for you, taking steps to manage your food allergy and to treat your diarrhea are suggested.

Call your doctor if you suspect you have a peanut allergy, or go to the nearest emergency room if you have severe symptoms like anaphylaxis, bloody diarrhea or a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit.