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Asthma & Allergies Channel
Reported November 8, 2012

Spice Allergies Cramping Lifestyles

 

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Imagine going through life never being able to eat at a restaurant, buy the new Lady Gaga perfume, or even brush your teeth with certain kinds of toothpaste. That’s how 4% of the U.S population lives. Spice allergies are one of the most rare forms of allergy, and one of the hardest to diagnose. 
 
Spices are one of the most widely used products found in foods, cosmetics and dental products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate spices, meaning they often are not noted on food labels, making spices possibly the most difficult allergen to identify or avoid. According to rough estimates, spice allergy is responsible for 2 percent of food allergies. However it is under-diagnosed, particularly due to the lack of reliable allergy skin tests or blood tests.
 
"While spice allergy seems to be rare, with the constantly increasing use of spices in the American diet and a variety of cosmetics, we anticipate more and more Americans will develop this allergy," allergist Sami Bahna, M.D., was quoted saying.
 
"Patients with spice allergy often have to go through extreme measures to avoid the allergen. This can lead to strict dietary avoidance, low quality of life and sometimes malnutrition," Bahna continued. 
 
Dr. Bahna noted that due to the wide use of spice in cosmetics, women are more likely to develop spice allergy. Makeup, body oils, toothpaste and fragrances can all include one or more spices. Those with birch pollen or mugwort (a traditional herbal medicine used to relieve inflammatory conditions) allergy are also more prone to spice allergy.
 
Common spice allergy triggers include cinnamon and garlic, but can range from black pepper to vanilla. Several spice blends contain anywhere from three to 18 spices, and the hotter the spice, the greater the chance for allergy.
 
"Boiling, roasting, frying and other forms of applying heat to spices may reduce allergy causing agents, but can also enhance them depending on the spice," Dr. Bahna was quoted saying.
 
"Because of this allergy's complexity, allergists often recommend a treatment plan that includes strict avoidance which can be a major task," Bahna added.
 
An allergic reaction can be caused from breathing, eating or touching spices. Symptoms range from mild sneezing to a life-threating allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Spice allergy should be suspected in individuals that have multiple reactions to unrelated foods, or those that react to foods when commercially prepared but not when cooked at home.
 
Even someone who is allergic to only one known spice can have a reaction to several spice blends. According to Dr. Bahna's presentation, there are several unique characteristics about spice blends, including: a Five-Spice blend has seven spices, yet Allspice has one, the same blend name doesn't mean same components, and
there are several types of Curry, each is a different blend of many spices.
 
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting, November 2012
 

 

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