Have your lips ever tingled or become swollen after a meal – and you didn’t know why?
And do you suffer from seasonal allergies?
If so, this could be a common phenomenon called oral allergy syndrome.
What’s happening is that certain foods contain proteins that are similar enough to certain pollens, that the immune system misidentifies the food as being the same as the pollen and attacks – causing swelling and perhaps a rash, usually in the lips, mouth & throat area.
Ideally your immune system wouldn’t have identified the pollen as a threat in the first place – but that’s another story.
The interesting (and confusing) thing about oral allergy syndrome is that it comes and goes. If the food in question is cooked, it is less likely to cause the reaction because the proteins have been ‘denatured’ or changed and they sneak by the immune system.
Also, you are much more susceptible to reaction during the season that the corresponding pollen count is high. You may have no reaction out of season, or it may be quite diminished.
The syndrome is usually benign but uncomfortable. Sometimes the allergy can progress to systemic reactions especially if it involves nuts or any of the high allergen foods (dairy, egg, fish, soy, wheat, or shellfish). In any case, you should explore whether you have a more serious allergy that could develop into anaphylaxis (unable to breath, shock, life threatening) with an allergist.
Here is a list of the pollen allergens and the season they tend to be active:
Birch – spring
Grasses – spring and summer
Ragweed – summer and fall
Mugwort – summer and fall
Here is a list of the pollen allergens and a list of foods that they have been associated with. Foods may appear on multiple lists:
Birch – almond, apple, apricot, carrot, celery, cherry, chestnut, chicory, date, fennel, fig, grape, hazelnut, jackfruit, kiwi, melon, nectarine, orange, parsley, parsnip, peach, pear, peanut, pistachio, plum , potato, prune, soybean, spinach, walnut,
Grass – apple, carrot, celery, chamomile, chestnut, currant, date, eggplant, fennel, fig, grape, kiwi, melon, mushroom, nectarine, orange, peach, pistachio, tomato, watermelon
Ragweed – banana, cantaloupe, carrot, celery, chamomile, coriander, cucumber, dandelion, fennel, honeydew, kiwi, melon, peach, peppers, watermelon, zucchini
Mugwort – aniseed, apple, avocado, caraway seed, carrot, chamomile, celery, coriander, mango, mustard, parsley, peach, peppers, sunflower, watermelon
Does any of this sound familiar? Do you want to see if there is a way to reduce your reactivity?
My process for helping people with these issues includes:
• Identifying underlying systemic inflammation from food intolerances which cause digestive insufficiency and leads to immune system dysfunction including allergies
• Identifying the pollen allergies and the critical season and identifying natural remedies that modulate inflammation
• Desensitizing the immune system to benign pollens and foods using low dilution therapy
The best time to start desensitization therapy is outside of the season in which the allergy is active – not in the middle of hay fever season when you are suffering.
This is a great article on oral allergy syndrome.
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