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Cashews related to Poison Ivy

Linda McLellan , Apr 19, 2011; 10:13 a.m.

If you are allergic to Poison Ivy, You may want to avoid mangos, cashews, and pistacios. They all have urushiol. I knew I couldn't eat mangos any more after a mango margarita broke me out in blisters. I have been eating cashews in my salads all weekend, and now my lips are swollen and blistery. I made the connection last night, looked it up and sure enough, cashews have urushiol. Didn't know about pistacios before, but will avoid them from here on out.


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Joseph Panico , Apr 19, 2011; 01:06 p.m.

I've heard about cashews before; the others are new to me. I hope you're aware that if a reaction begins to make your tongue or throat swell get medical attention!
My son has outgrown many of his allergies although overnight stays in the hospital - including every doctor standing-by with the pulmonary crash cart due to reactions to nuts - is enough to understand the serious nature of allergic reactions. So, we avoided just about everything 'nut'.
Also, watch for food processing allergens. These are used to prepare food but are not included as in ingredient.

Peter Simpson , Apr 19, 2011; 01:27 p.m.

Linda -
What Joseph said is very true. My wife is allergic to melon. It went from being a tingly sensation when she ate it, to hives, and finally to swelling of the throat. Originally, she'd treat it with an antihistamine. Until the time it landed her in the emergency room. You should talk to your doctor, now, and ask about getting a prescription for a self-injecting Epi-pen. I'm not saying *your* symptoms will get worse, but my wife's did, so it's possible that your next (unintentional) encounter with cashews will be more dramatic. Better prepared than not!

Oh, and good luck! Hopefully, you won't need it.

Zach Ritter , Apr 19, 2011; 01:31 p.m.

If you don't have an epi-pen handy, drink coffee. The caffeine will release endorphines (or some other chemical) that will help combat the reaction for a short time. It isn't a fix, but it could be enough to save your life.

George Carpenter , Apr 19, 2011; 01:33 p.m.

In theory, well roasted nuts will have the urishiol inactivated and that is mostly true. My dad was very sensitive to Poison Ivy in the wild, but ate cashews without problems. However, as you have discovered, that is not enough for some people. Raw cashews are seldom eaten, for just that reason.
If one cannot live without an occasional cashew, try buying relatively darkly roasted ones; that should destroy most of the urishiol.

Gerry Siegel (Honolulu) , Apr 19, 2011; 02:16 p.m.

Oh no. I love dry roasted low salt cashews sprinkled in salads. Mangoes are a succulent delicacy. I quick like check out bag of 'wholesome fruit and nut mix' from COSTCO. Phew. Almonds, walnuts and dry roasted pistachios only.... My health letter now says nuts are good for heart health while five years ago they were bad, cholesterol or something. Yesterday, Linda, the guy on NPR says some chemical in grapefruit is toxic to mosquitoes, so good for us and bad for bugs we think, but don't count on it.... Not a joke, I know that of course, and I don't scoff at allergy caveats. Just hard to get a grip on nutrition when taboos shift around. I am starting myself on fish oil but find you have to pick the right fish oil and read the small print, or eat three big salmon a day...and be careful of fish that are pellagic and full of environmental bad stuff.. White rice still safe, (knock wood.)

Linda McLellan , Apr 19, 2011; 02:51 p.m.

Thanks guys. I think I will take your advice and see about getting an epi-pen

JDM von Weinberg , Apr 19, 2011; 02:52 p.m.

Whether it is true or not, I have heard (and read on the internet, which amounts to the same thing) that the ripe cashews are pretty safe, but you should stay away from "spotted" cashews.
I have noticed that the higher priced cashews at the grocery store from the main producers seem clear. On the other hand, the 'house' brands not so much.

Rose-Marie B , Apr 19, 2011; 04:19 p.m.

Good to know, I'm extremely allergic to poison ivy, I just have to look at the darned stuff and I get a rash. Last dose I had I was photographing hepaticas and didn't realize I was kneeling on p.i. stems, one of them stuck up under the bottom of my jeans and I had a rash on my shin that took almost a year to stop itching. (Doctors + steroid creams, homeopathy and other voodoo nonsense that friends subjected me to, nothing but time would cure it.) I've never had a problem with mangoes or cashews or pistachios, love them all, but a bit of knowledge to tuck away with other things to keep in mind.

Walt Flanagan , Apr 19, 2011; 04:56 p.m.

I've had poison ivy rashes but I have zero food allergies. I used to be miserable during pollen season when I was a kid. Now it doesn't bother me at all.

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