oral allergy syndrome

Why Does My Tongue Itch When I Eat Fruit?

I’ve been meeting a lot more people lately who have either described the symptoms of this phenomenon to me, or have expressed that they’ve actually had a diagnosis for it.

My first time experiencing this type of allergy was in my late teens.
It was the first allergy that I developed.

Not very many people know about this type of allergy, but it seems to be getting more common all the time.

Okay, okay I’ll tell you what it is. It’s called the Oral Allergy Syndrome.

Intrigued? Read on for more…


The Oral Allergy Syndrome

Let me ask you this:  do you suffer from hay fever?

Or perhaps a better way to ask you that is: do you suffer from seasonal allergies?
You know like grass, trees and various plant pollen.

Those of us who suffer from the oral allergy syndrome all have allergies to pollens released seasonally, but not everyone who has seasonal allergies winds up developing the oral allergy syndrome..  Now, when I developed the oral allergy syndrome I only just started experiencing seasonal allergies. I had never had them before that.

There are 4 categories that have been established by the medical community.
They describe the types of cross-reactions between seasonal pollen allergies and certain foods.

The foods include fruit, nuts, and seeds. One trick to this bizarrely interesting allergy is that most of us can eat these foods if they are cooked.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Most of us only react to the cross-reactive foods if they are raw.

This might seem weird to you, but if you remember learning about the biochemistry of protein you’ll know that proteins lose their characteristic shape when exposed to high enough heat. Cooking our food always changes the shapes of the proteins in the food.

Allergies can be loosely defined as our immune system reacting to specific proteins in or on an agent that it has determined to be harmful.  


So food allergies can be described as our immune system reacting to specific protein in the food.  If the shape of this protein has changed, the immune system will no longer recognize it as the protein it wants to get rid of.

Below is a chart I created that you can click on and download. It shows the types of food allergies that are typically related to seasonal allergies.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

It is important to note that just because you have, say a birch allergy, and you’ve experienced allergic reactions to some of the foods listed, doesn’t mean you will experience reactions to all of the foods listed.

Personally, my oral allergy food symptoms all relate to birch, but there are lots of foods on the birch list that I do not react to.

Oral Allergy Symptoms

So how do you know if you’re having a reaction to one of those foods that are listed?

The most common symptoms include:

  • Itchy tongue, mouth, lips and throat
  • Swelling of the mouth area
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Swelling of the eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Skin rash, hives
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Asthma
  • Anaphylaxis

The symptoms can be quite alarming especially when there’s swelling around the face.  As a result, my allergist had prescribed an EpiPen for me years ago.  What I have found very useful in addition to that is to be sure that I carry Benadryl on me at all times.

Can You Heal These Allergies?

My short answer is yes.

The reason I say this is because I have healed some of these allergies.
I no longer experience seasonal allergies. While I do react sometimes to skin contact with some plants, for example while I’m gardening, I no longer have hay fever.

I have not healed all of my oral allergy food sensitivities – yet – , but I have healed some.  
I did this through the following key steps:

  • Strictly avoiding those foods until such a time as I am desensitized;
  • Eating a whole-foods, plant-based, anti-inflammatory diet (meaning very little packaged foods);
  • Reducing my consumption of sugar;
  • Trying desensitization methods with my health care providers;
  • Healing my intestinal tract using food, herbal medicine, prebiotic and probiotic foods,  and probiotic supplements;
  • Sorting out how I perceive and manage stress in my life.

In years past I was unable to eat carrots, pears and plums.  As a result of my efforts, today I can eat all of those foods.

I am endeavouring to continue to desensitize myself to the others that I react to and I help my clients do the same.

To learn more about allergies, desensitization methods, and herbs & supplements, please do download my free Allergies Fact Sheet below.