spoons with spices

Isn’t it great to try something new? Give those tastebuds a workout? Many Canadian cities pride themselves on being a hub of many cultures. And with that, come many tastes.  That’s great. What’s not so great, is the rise in spice allergies doctors are now seeing. You name the spice, they are seeing people with allergies to it. 

Spices and allergies

So what’s behind all this? Allergy specialist Dr Mark Greenwald says no one knows for sure. It’s an area that needs a whole lot more study. But he has some ideas. “When we have many cultures around, we try different foods, we try different spices. And you’re getting exposure to some new spices later on in life. And oftentimes, this later exposure is considered by our immune systems as a foreigner coming in, as something strange to be defended against. So that’s when it mounts the allergic response.” That said, we still don’t know if earlier exposure to spices would offer any protection, he adds. 

What’s important, is putting two and two together, so to speak. Many people and doctors don’t suspect spices as the culprits for symptoms like hives, redness, itching, breathing difficulty and more serious skin reactions. And if you suffer from other allergies, like hayfever, you could be reacting to certain plant-derived foods or spices with the symptoms just mentioned. It’s nothing to ignore, because in some cases, the allergic reaction may be severe, and life-threatening. 

If you’re concerned, see your doctor right away. You will likely need allergy testing. This is an extremely busy time for allergists across the country, so the sooner you make the call, the better. And if you have other allergies, Dr Greenwald says, keep them under good control because that could help minimize the problem.  So happy eating. Just season with caution.

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