A Conversation for Edible Nuts

Allergies, adverse reactions and other unfortunate things

Post 1


I'm speaking as one of those unfortunates to whom nuts, or rather one specific type of nut, are permanently off-menu. Having said that, it isn't drastic for me - I'm infinitely lucky in that inadvertently consuming the wrong sort of nut will not kill me. I just feel very uncomfortable for a few hours and then life resumes.

And the bugger of it is, I used to love Battenberg cake, Bakewell tarts and non-outrageous amounts of marzipan - the common ingredient to all was something I could take or leave on its own and had no real views about one way or the other.

But oh, a decent Bakewell tart with its layers of frangipan pastry, jam and icing....

It took a little detective work, as to why foodstuffs as diverse as Bakewell Tart and peshwari naan bread should knock me out the way they do. to explain further - within two hour of eating something on the dodgy list, my visual field collapses into a display of flashing lights and lightning bolts which radiate out from a central point and occupy most of what I see. While I can still make out real life happening behind the light show, it is a shadowy, bleached-out perception, and I have been told that during an attack I am functionally blinded. Migraine suffers tell me this is what happens to them during an attack, so I'm just grateful I don't get the headaches.

A bit of thought and investigation isolated the key factor common in all the offending fodstuffs as being almonds. If I don't knowingly eat almonds, I don't get the light show.

An old girlfriend reminded me this used to be the way a medieval poisoner would extract enough cyanide to do an inhumation - crush and refine maybe a couple of hundred pounds of almonds and superconcentrate that infinitesimally tiny amount of prussic acid present in each nut. This is apparently so small that most people don't notice, it slips beneath their threshold. But, said my doctor of food chemistry, what if I personally am super-sensitive to cyanides, so that these super-tiny amounts trigger an adverse reaction in me... in which case I have to ask if anyone else out there shares this adverse reaction to almond and what they attribute it to?

no other nut gets me this way, btw, just this one.

Allergies, adverse reactions and other unfortunate things

Post 2

Milla, h2g2 Operations

I immediately get curious if artichokes trigger the same reaction? I heard somewhere that they might contain the merest hint of a whisper of cyanide.

Bitter almonds are dangerous enough that a couple of handfuls is dangerous, aren't they? That's what mum said, at least, only a few bitter almonds to a recipe, no more.

smiley - towel

Allergies, adverse reactions and other unfortunate things

Post 3


I get the same effect from fresh coconut, which has got my allergist absolutely stymied since coconut water (not milk) was used as blood transfusion since it's so neutral. In addition to the light show, I also get a curious rash from one corner of my mouth, down and over my chin and neck, and spreading across my chest.

All of this dissipates in eight hours or less, and it doesn't happen with cooked coconut or canned coconut milk.

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Allergies, adverse reactions and other unfortunate things

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