Super-Quick Allergy Update

I got a call from my doctor’s office today.

It wasn’t the shrimp.

It was the black pepper.

I am allergic to black pepper. Very weird.

They didn’t give me any more information than that, so I don’t know how strong of an allergy it is.

What I do know is that I made keema sookh the other night and as usual, put about 1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns into the Sumeet grinder along with all the other spices, and ground it up, and suffered no ill effect. I also used, in a restaurant, pre-ground pepper on my food to no ill effect.

The only thing I can think of was that the sauce at The Cheesecake Factory had so much freshly ground pepper in it, that it triggered a sensitivity. The next day, when I ground fresh pepper over a pasta salad and took a bite, a big piece of peppercorn got in my mouth and I had the same feeling of numbness begin on the back of my tongue.

But after that–no effect that I have noticed.

Very odd.

I am not sure what to do now, except mostly avoid pepper, at least, as much as I can.


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  1. Black Pepper? How much will that affect you in the long term?

    Comment by Kate — April 28, 2006 #

  2. *blink* …. what an odd thing to be allergic to.

    Comment by Bastlynn — April 28, 2006 #

  3. I have a similar reaction to scallops. Not anaphylactic, just… tingly. So I void scallops but I’m not afraid of them. I had some dried scallops (in a Chinese dish, obviously, I don’t know if anyone else in the world uses dried scallops) a month or so ago and they didn’t even cause tinglyness.

    Most of my food allergies actually just kick up gastral reflux (i.e. heartburn) and some of them are so quick/extreme they cause an asthma attack (I’m asthmatic). So far it’s only scallops that cause the tinglies in the back of the throat (as far as I know).

    Good luck with it.

    By the way, I found your excellent blog via various friends’ recommendations on LiveJournal. Keep it coming! :>

    Comment by Malcolm — April 28, 2006 #

  4. Do you react to white pepper? It may just be the husk of the peppercorn.

    Here’s hoping.

    Comment by barrett — April 28, 2006 #

  5. That is odd! But I have an officemate who had a severe reaction at a restaurant. He suspected a barbecue sauce they make – talked to the restaurant staff and found out it contains a certain (Turkish) red pepper called urfa.

    He took some of the sauce and some of the pepper to the allergist who confirmed the allergy. Luckily this is a pretty rare ingredient – seems like it would be hard to avoid black pepper!

    I’m allergic to shrimp, and recently determined that I’m also allergic to avocado. (Both of these allergies are self-diagnosed, so maybe it’s not a true allergy, but the symptoms are worth avoiding either way!) I went searching on the web for avocado allergy info, fully expecting to come up empty – imagine my surprise to learn it’s relatively common (as food allergies go), in part because it’s cross-reactive with latex, so people with latex allergies are often also allergic to avocado or banana or a few other items.

    Anyway, good luck avoiding a repeat of the reaction.

    Comment by Tricia — April 28, 2006 #

  6. Kate–I don’t know. I am really hoping that it is a temporary sensitivity brought on by pregnancy. This apparently happens, not infrequently.

    What is weird is that it is not consistent–previously ground black pepper, like you get in the big boxes at the store, don’t seem to cause problems in normal to moderate amounts. It seems to only be freshly ground black pepper in reasonably large amounts.

    I guess I will just have to play it by ear and see–but today, I had another small reaction from some salsa at a local restaurant. I suspect they used a good bit of black pepper in it, and my tongue started to tingle and the back of the throat started to feel swollen and puffy, so I took a shot of liquid Benedryl (which tastes awful, btw) and it calmed down in about twenty minutes or so.

    Bastlynn–not only is it odd–it is inconvenient–because in restaurants peppers is in everything. EVERYTHING.

    Think of how many recipes include the phrase, “salt and black pepper to taste.”

    Barrett–I haven’t tried it to find out. I may experiment later–not today. I see no reason to court a second reaction in one day, and in fact, I may wait a week or so–I really don’t want to push it and get a bad reaction.

    Tricia–avocado is unusual, but shrimp–much less so. I hadn’t known about the cross reaction with latex allergies–interesting.

    Malcolm–welcome! Glad you have stopped in and I hope you keep coming back.

    Technically, I am supposed to be allergic to many foods, including chocolate, tomatoes, green beans, ham and American cheese. The only one that still causes any reaction is the American cheese, which is no great loss. The other thing I discovered on my own, but which is not surprising are blue-veined cheeses–the blue-green molds in them I am allergic to. I am also allergic to pennicillin, so that makes sense.

    The black pepper just appeared out of nowhere, and it is really weird. Took me by surprise.

    Comment by Barbara — April 28, 2006 #

  7. This may be only an odd coincidence, but the one and only time I ever ate at the Cheesecake Factory, I had an asthma attack. Not so bad that I needed my inhaler, but I did feel my throat closing up in a most uncomfortable manner. I’ve never had an allergic reaction to food before in my life. I do remember, though, that I had added pepper to the food. Odd, no?

    Comment by Kate II — May 1, 2006 #

  8. Hello, KateII–that is an odd coincidence.

    I have since found that while allergy to black pepper is rare, I am not the only one who has it–I just found out about three other people who have the same allergy, all noted on an allergy website.

    I think I will call my doctor’s office and see if I should have an epipen to keep with me, and if it s safe to use during pregnancy, just because of the potential of running across black pepper in any food I eat out.

    I am just glad that I don’t have asthma, too. Then, I would be really miserable, I think.

    Comment by Barbara — May 1, 2006 #

  9. Hi

    My husband is alergic to black and white pepper, he had a test some years ago.Something was causing him very bad Dihoria (probaley spelt wrong. When ever we went out for a meal or occasionally when I cooked. He had a test with a postal service, since then we can be sure he is ok. We have to ask in every restaurant if food has been contaminated with either pepper.

    Regards Maureen

    Comment by Maureen Mellish — November 27, 2006 #

  10. I also have an allergy to pepper. It took me a long time and lots of denial (how can you be allergic to pepper?) but I am. I get pre-anaphylactic symptoms, my face turns bright red and the inside of my mouth tingles and swells a bit. The weird thing is that pepper doesn’t always affect me that way. Maybe its the amount or how it is ground.

    Comment by Katy — January 3, 2007 #

  11. I wound up in th ER yesterday with a severe rxn to what I think was pepper. Must see a good Dr. soon–I have reacted over several years now-to what I thought was some kind of pepper allergy-maybe cayenne ? never got tested-usually just hives-2 benadryl always work–however I use black pepper to cook with -from the box-and no problem–yesterday at work I had some salad dressing-looked like caeser-and felt a small explosion in my mouth-like I bit down on a piece of a peppercorn-immediately I felt the pepper sensation explode in my mouth-very spicy-10 minutes later–my face turned red-there was no hives this time-palms itchy, face, neck, torso-ears and head felt like they were swelling-luckily I work in a hospital–took 2 benadryl and then my throat started closing-they rushed me into the ER where they administered IV benadryl and steroids. Wow, was I ever scared. Never shortness of breath though. They hooked me up to all monitors and I was stable-went home several hours later. Better find a good Dr.

    Comment by joan — February 10, 2007 #

  12. Oh my goodness! I thought I was the oly person on the planet with a pepper allergy! My allergy is life threatening though. Any amount of pepper triggers an attack. It kinda sucks big time

    Comment by Michela — April 26, 2007 #

  13. I never knew there could be a “pepper allergy”, but have had trouble with it for years. In 1993, I developed small blisters on the outside of both lips after eating blackened fish. I have noticed swelling and burning/itching of my scalp, ears and tongue after salad dressings, and any time I eat at a restaurant, I suffer because there is some form of pepper in EVERYTHING. Just last week, I ate at Outback and began suffering from a swollen tongue and burning, as well as a rash on my arms and legs. I was wondering if anyone has also had swelling and burning of the genitals, as this seems to follow after eating out as well. I also suffer from reactions to apples and nuts, though in different ways from peppers…

    Comment by Valerie — April 30, 2007 #

  14. Valerie, go and get a blood test at your doctor. Ask them to specifically test for black pepper. And then see an allergist, and ask for advice. You need an epipen.

    My general feeling is this–don’t eat out.

    Your reactions are worse than mine, and are not to be trifled with.

    Comment by Barbara — May 6, 2007 #

  15. I too have an allergy to Black pepper, especially cracked black pepper in its raw form. If it is ground and cooked in, it is no problem. But if not, It closes my throat some, I choke some and I have problems swallowing the rest of the meal. I normally avoid it, but sometimes in restaurants, they sneak it in there, and catches me off gaurd. Then the rest of my meal is ruined, because I can swallow well and have to try to clear my throat the whole meal.

    Comment by Pamela — May 9, 2007 #

  16. Barbara, thanks for the advice. It seems that you just can’t get away from pepper no matter what you do- unless you cook eveything from scratch and don’t use any spices. I’m not a salt eater anyway, so pepper restriction is no problem. How do you convince your doctor of something like this if he/she is skeptical? I’ve never had allergies before, and keep finding more things that I just can’t handle anymore… Thanks again. Valerie

    Comment by Valerie — May 18, 2007 #

  17. I do cook most of our food, and use lots of spices, just not black pepper. And, I have found that since I had Kat, my sensitivity isn’t as bad–but I still avoid it as much as possible just be safe, and carry around Benedryl. I am going to ask my doctor for a prescription for an epipen just in case.

    What you do is ask for a blood allergy test, specific to black pepper. What happened with me, is I reacted one night at a restaurant eating a shrimp dish highly seasoned with black pepper, so I asked for a blood test for both shrimp and pepper. I suspected shrimp, but alas–it was pepper instead.

    The nurse who took the blood had to call the lab to ask for the specific code to put on the sample for black pepper, and it took some time for them to find it–it is seldom tested for–but once they found it, and the sample was sent off, it took about a week to get confirmation via a written report that yes, indeed, I was allergic to pepper.

    At that point, my doctor is fully justified to give the epipen prescription.

    If your doctor is not so helpful, ask for a referral to an allergist. They are specialists and are well read on the new developments in the field, and will know to check you for other possible allergins, and will be able to help you with specific dietary advice as well. (I used to go to an allergist as a kid–I had horrible allergies all through childhood, but grew out of most of them. Black pepper is the only allergy I have had develop in adulthood. Very weird.)

    Good luck, and let me know how it turns out.

    Comment by Barbara — May 18, 2007 #

  18. Thanks, Barbara.

    I live in a very small town, but will see what I can do to find a doctor who is willing to listen to me. I will keep you posted as to the results. Good luck to you! Valerie

    Comment by Valerie — May 20, 2007 #

  19. I find it interesting to read about all the people that are allergic to ground pepper. I do cook with pepper – but only use the coarse ground pepper. If I eat fine ground pepper – I start coughing and feeling like I am going to choke. I have a hard time getting my breath. I recently had a horrible experience at a restaurant – when my husband gave me a small bite of his “pepper steak”. I took one little bite and literally thought I was going to choke to death. I coughed and gasped and coughed and gasped. This lasted about ten minutes – when finally I was back to normal. I have never had such an immediate reaction to pepper – one little bite put me in orbit! I have no problem eating horseradish or the very hot chinese mustard. After reading similar stories here – I think I will go to an allergist and find out if there is something I can take in case this happens to me again. It was rather frightening since my reaction was so fast.

    Comment by Irene McPheron — June 4, 2007 #

  20. Irene–do go see an allergist and until then, as with any sort of allergic reaction, it is best to keep an antihistamine like Benedryl with you at all times. I keep the children’s liquid–liquid medicines are absorbed faster than pills or capsules.

    Comment by Barbara — June 7, 2007 #

  21. I get serverely depressed everytime that I eat black pepper. After completely avoiding black pepper for a few years without getting depressed I retested it by eating black pepper with a severe depression attack the next day. I figured this out with a food diary that showed black pepper every time a day before a depression attack. My wife has the same reaction but so mildly (just a bit down) she only noticed it after we started avoiding black pepper. She also got the numbness in the mouth when she bit on a black pepper corn but she has a severy tree nut allery (anaphylactic).

    Comment by Phillip — July 9, 2007 #

  22. I have a pepper allergy, but to chili peppers, not black pepper. I do get an unpleasent burning from too much black pepper, but chili peppers are now becoming life threatening for me. Last night my son gave me something with green chili’s and jalepeno in it. As soon as I realized it was in there I took 2 benadryl, but still had severe reaction, swelling of tongue and throat and trouble breathing. we were on the way to ER when the benadryl finally kicked in and breathing got easier… so we went back home. However I will be on the phone to my Dr early Mon. morning! I have been trying to research this but finding nothing about allergy to chili peppers!

    Comment by Karen — August 12, 2007 #

  23. Have yourself tested specifically for both chilies and black pepper, Karen. They have different chemical compositions which both work as irritants to mucus membranes in the body. It is possible to be allergic to one and not the other. Chilies don’t bother me at all, and I can eat the really hot ones raw with no trouble, even if my nose runs!

    But black pepper–well, I can eat some now, but not a lot. My throat starts to close, so it is a no go for me.

    Good luck.

    Comment by Barbara — August 12, 2007 #

  24. I called the doctor’s office on Monday and am now the “proud owner” of 2 nice yellow epi-pens! lol I am also being set up with an appointment with an allergist. I will say this has me nervous. I do Not want to do any kind of food challenge with chili peppers! I understand skin tests for food allergies are not really reliable either so I am not sure what to expect. I will take DIL with me to the appt so she can describe what she saw to the doctor, I gather I looked almost as bad as I felt. Sounds like we are opposites with the peppers! lol… I find black pepper more annoying than anything else and I think that is because my mother used to over use it on many foods. The irritation I get from it is just mild burning, not anything like what the chili peppers do to me.

    Comment by Karen — August 14, 2007 #

  25. Funny, I can totally relate to the denial bit regarding the fresh ground black pepper. I love it, but until recently didn’t add up that it was causing an immediate and I might add embarassing reaction when in a quiet restaurant. I go into an uncontrollable coughing fit, tears, throat irritation, and am unable to speak for about five minutes. I guess it’s not so rare after all.

    Comment by angie — August 20, 2007 #

  26. Actually, I have a similar allergy. Mine’s to any possible type of pepper and sometimes tomatoes too.
    I don’t know if it’s the same thing, but I hope this helps.
    Pepper/tomato allergy is often caused by a deficiency that makes it so you can’t digest it, and the body treats it like its attacking the immune system. Or something like that.
    Pepper allergy can also cause/aggrivate arthritis, so if you sometimes get stiff joints it could be related.
    And, you can treat it by taking a vitamin supplement called “Royal Jelly” which contains 500 mg. Of Pantothenic Acid and 500 mg. Of Niacinamide.
    Or also the mineral treatment is Phosphorus and amino acid L’Glutamine.

    Well, that may or may not help any, but I hope it gives another view of the matter.

    Comment by M — August 30, 2007 #

  27. In the first part of July 2007 I had a tuna steak loaded with pepper corns. I had always enjoyed peppery food,the hotter the better. To my surprise I awoke in the middle of the night to an unpleasant burning sensation across my stomach. I thought I could neutralize it drinking a fair amount of water which I did. It seemed to go away but I then had some irritation in my lower intestines which has been intermittent. A week or so later I had salmon with black pepper in the sauce. That night my throat and sinuses became very irritated. I have since stayed away from black pepper as best I can with the thought that my sensitivity will return to normal with more rest.

    Comment by Bill Morse — September 8, 2007 #

  28. I’m allergic to black pepper as well. It first started as something that just irritated my stomach, and gave me tummy aches after eating. Now, if I taste it, I get really itchy, and get a rash.
    It actually happened today!! It doesn’t seem like a common reaction though, my mouth didn’t swell. Just got red in the face.
    Maybe I’m a freak?

    Comment by Lynn — September 26, 2007 #

  29. I’ve manifested the black pepper allergy almost all my life, along with a capsicum/capsciasin [seeds, oils, and fleshy ribs of pepper fruits] allergy. They’re two different things: the black pepper allergy is not to the berry so much as the fungus that grows on the “peppercorns” while they dry and ferment. It’s just not food; it’s poison. We’re just hip to that quicker than other folks! 😉
    Recently more and more restaurants have begun recognizing the seriousness of this – as much as any other food allergy – and it’s easier to get a real answer when you question the servers or kitchen staff about pepper and/or peppers. But you have to be really careful with some Indo / Mediterranean foods, where the very chemical foundation or essence of the dish is the thing that could kill you.

    Comment by Jessica — September 30, 2007 #

  30. I am allergic to ALL Peppers, even Paprika.

    White, yellow green red black, chile, etc.

    Yet I can eat horseradish, wasabe an other hot foods, etc

    My symtoms are immediate gastro-intestinal distress and can be sick for 2 or3 days if There was an excess in even ONE bite of any food with pepper.

    I get Red Rashy 1st, so sometimes when I say NO PEPPER in the restaurant, I immediately check the skin on the inside forearm, IF it is Turning RED I know there was soe form of pepper in something.
    Sometimes my stomach immediately starts to burn.

    Is anyone who is allergic to pepper also Allergic to MOLD???

    Thanks, Karen Hemingway

    Comment by Karen Hemingway — October 4, 2007 #

  31. Does anyone know if you have allergy or intolerance for black pepper, could it be possible to have a allergy or intolerance for white pepper? I was recently tested for food allergies, intolerance, and sensitivities, and black pepper was on the list. Ofcourse, I use black pepper for everything, but I don’t want to be sick. I call myself substituting black pepper with white pepper. Is it the same? Does anyone know?

    Comment by Keisha — October 22, 2007 #

  32. Keisha–white pepper is nothing more than black pepper which has had the seed coat–the black part removed.

    It is possible that the part of the pepper you are allergic to is in the seed coat, but that is not a risk I would take. If you use white pepper instead, go slowly, and keep Benadryl or an epipen handy.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Barbara — October 22, 2007 #

  33. I was just wondering if anyone else is also allergic to table salt everytime i eat food with salt sprinkled on it i seem to cough and cant stop i am not allergic to any seafood so that rules out iodine but as time goes by the severity of my coughing symptom to salt seems to becoming worse.

    Comment by Raymond — November 14, 2007 #

  34. I had an extreme reaction last week and was rushed to the ER. 1st my ears itched then seconds later between my legs and under my arm pits. Then my throat started closing and I could hardly get my breath by the time we arrived. My under arms looked like I had large mosquito bites and lying down made it more difficult to breath. The only thing that I ate differently before this started was Torillo Soup, which I later found out contains white pepper. I will see the allergist Monday and of course my DR. sent me with 2 Epi-pens!

    Comment by Carole George — December 1, 2007 #

  35. THANK YOU!!! I didn’t think I was alone and your blog proves it! I figured out by process of elimination years ago that every time I use black pepper I break out in blisters inside my mouth. Its almost like it burns my mouth. Recently we had dinner at a fast food place and I broke out in blisters plus a cold sore. A friend of mine and I recalled the last time I had black pepper at a friends house (she didn’t know) I broke out with a cold sore.

    Thank you again for making me feel better and knowing I’m not alone.

    Comment by Bri — December 5, 2007 #

  36. This black pepper allergy is sounding more common than I ever would have thought.

    Comment by Barbara — December 5, 2007 #

  37. Pepper allergy or any food allergy is serious business. Please don’t sit back and wonder if you think you have it; get tested! I am severely allergic to black and white pepper. I was eating some Campbells soup today at work after carefully reading the label three times checking for pepper. Keep in mind sometimes it isn’t listed individually; it is often part of a group of “spices” or “flavorings”. I called Campbells after feeling a reaction coming on and they confirmed that pepper is in the proprietary blend of “flavorings”. Of course by the time I reached Campbells I had already had to use my epi-pen. Also, each time your body reacts to the pepper it is adding more antibodies so your next autoimmune response to the offending food is likely to be worse than the previous one. Bing allergic to pepper really sucks because it is very hard to eat out or use prepared foods. But better safe than spending a few hours in the ER. Good luck to all my fellow pepper allergy sufferers out there.

    Comment by Christine — December 6, 2007 #

  38. My mom and I both have allergies to Malabar Black Pepper which we bought from Costco. My mom developed severe rashes and swelling of the lymph nodes. I, myself have had severe itching of the genitals as well as a minor rashes, and severe coughing, where my breathing has become restricted. Please caution!!

    Comment by Deb — January 10, 2008 #

  39. I,m not sure if I,m allergic to black pepper, but for about 20 years I,ve had rashes and very bad itching. But I,ve put this down to other foods that a blood test said I was allergic to. It,s taken me this long to go through the list, and exclude them all. But I have still been very bad with my skin…But just the other day I was thinking what food did I not have when I was a child, it was black pepper..I started to eat black pepper when I was about 16 when my brother introduced me to pizzas and as from today I will start to avoid it, I even had it this morning on my breakfast..and I itched..It s been a nightmare for years for me, I hope it is the black pepper thats causing my rashes and itchiness I will keep you imformed of my progress.

    Comment by david wesley cooper — January 13, 2008 #

  40. Hi! I chanced upon ur blog while looking for allergic reactions to pepper which my fiance suffered from. He usually breaks out in sweat no matter how tiny amount of pepper we put in our food. Tho he never experienced in form of swelling. My reaction to fresh seafood is worse than him. Have to try white pepper on him next time:P

    Comment by Sherxr — January 16, 2008 #

  41. I am so glad about this website. yesterday I ordered a pizza and I shook ground pepper all over the three slices. I had a migraine that night so bad I could not believe it. I thought could it be the pepper? So the next day I had 3 more slices and peppered them the same way, within an hour I had a migraine so bad I had to lay down. When I woke up I had a cluster of canker sores on the roof of my mouth, all located on the left side as if someone had drawn a line down the roof of my mouth and not one sore crossed the line. It was very bizzare. So I started researching online today. I won’t eat uncooked black pepper in a large amount every again!

    Comment by Lisa — January 25, 2008 #

  42. Hi, I found your site just searching around for information about whether pepper is harmful…

    Strange story…I’ve never had any trouble with black pepper before, I like it, but typically don’t eat very much of it at all.

    Recently to try to keep my weight down I started eating lunch at Subway a lot, four or five days in a row, always getting the same thing, a turkey sandwich with oil & vinegar and black pepper.

    After a few months of this I started noticing that my face—-not the inside of my mouth particularly, or my tongue, but my whole face—-feels sort of tingly after I eat at Subway, sort of like I am blushing, or like my face is starting to go to sleep, a kind of numbness. Also my eyes will hurt; I wouldn’t quite call it burning, but it’s close.

    I couldn’t figure this out, but eventually I connected it to pepper. I’m not sure that this is the cause, but it somehow seems like it fits to me. I’m going to stop getting pepper on my sandwiches and see if it stops.

    Anyway, my symptoms don’t quite seem to match what I’ve read here, but anyway, thanks for having information about this, I found precious little elsewhere.

    I was wondering whether anyone knew whether eating pepper regularly had any CUMULATIVE effects? Which would explain why it didn’t bother me for a long time and now seems to bother me fairly regularly?

    Comment by Chris — February 21, 2008 #

  43. Two nights ago my 20 year old daughter ate pasta with a creamy vodka sauce. Half and hour later she was in an ambulance with a severe reaction. Unable to breathe, hives, nausea, wheezing, swollen tongue, etc. We could not figure it out, but the sauce was full of red pepper flakes, we like spicy food, but this was off the charts, the only other thing she had was a salad and cranberry juice.

    We really think it was the peppers, but it is hard to figure out. Anyone else with red pepper allergy?

    Comment by Sallie — March 4, 2008 #

  44. Two nights ago my 20 year old daughter ate pasta with a creamy vodka sauce. Half and hour later she was in an ambulance with a severe reaction. Unable to breathe, hives, nausea, wheezing, swollen tongue, etc. We could not figure it out, but the sauce was full of red pepper flakes, we like spicy food, but this was off the charts, the only other thing she had was a salad and cranberry juice.

    We really think it was the peppers, but it is hard to figure out. Anyone else with red pepper allergy?

    Comment by Sallie — March 4, 2008 #

  45. Before reading all of these comments, I had never heard of anyone else with a pepper allergy. I am highly allergic to all forms of pepper, including black pepper, red pepper, and cayenne pepper. When I eat out, I ALWAYS request no pepper “or anything with the word pepper in it;” sometimes this means I get a custom dish, since most sauces are already prepared with pepper. My main symptoms are immediate joint pain and headache; I also get gastrointestinal distress. I really wish food manufacturers were required to put pepper on their labels. Pepper is a difficult allergy since it is in almost everything!

    Comment by Deanna — March 4, 2008 #

  46. This is incredible. A lot of these stories sound like me. I found after years of tummy aches & the runs, that I always had something with pepper in the food. I don’t like spicy, but even when buying frozen foods, spices are listed which always implies pepper with the tummy aches that follow. I can’t afford to do the doctor thing, so I am self-diagnosed. When I avoid all pepper, no problems. It is very hard to do though when going out to eat. It seems it is in everything. There are some restaurants that I now avoid all together, but cutting pizza out of my diet is never gonna happen. lol Some things are worth it. The problem is usually in the sauces that are preprepared. Nice to know I am not the only one.

    Comment by Melanie — March 24, 2008 #

  47. This is incredible. A lot of these stories sound like me. I found after years of tummy aches & the runs, that I always had something with pepper in the food. I don’t like spicy, but even when buying frozen foods, spices are listed which always implies pepper with the tummy aches that follow. I can’t afford to do the doctor thing, so I am self-diagnosed. When I avoid all pepper, no problems. It is very hard to do though when going out to eat. It seems it is in everything. There are some restaurants that I now avoid all together, but cutting pizza out of my diet is never gonna happen. lol Some things are worth it. The problem is usually in the sauces that are preprepared. Nice to know I am not the only one.

    Comment by Melanie — March 24, 2008 #

  48. I’m so glad that this was on here b/c my boyfriend didn’t believe that I could really be allergic to black pepper. At 17 I found out the hard way and ended up in the hospital not being able to breath. Luckily I have a warning sign if my tongue starts to go numb I spit it out and don’t eat anymore!! It works 95% of the time. And just like everyone else fresh cracked pepper is my worst enemy!!! But somethings like chicken nuggets that have been frozen with just a little in the seasoning seam to be ok….

    Comment by Jennifer — March 31, 2008 #

  49. I was vacationing in Hawaii and ate a 5 pepper steak, it was way to peppery for my liking but I ate a good portion of it anyway. Right after dinner I started breaking out in huge red, itchy welts that started in my arms and eventually my entire body. I have never in my life had a reaction to any foods.

    Comment by maria — April 10, 2008 #

  50. I have a pepper allergy after being someone that consumed it on everyone my whole life. Then after removing it for 2 weeks, and adding back, I reacted. It steadily got worse, but now it closes my throat if I even handle it!

    Comment by Shar — April 15, 2008 #

  51. I can’t believe so many people have this problem. My whole life I’ve suffered and have always felt like people thought I was just a big wimp about it.

    What’s weird is when I tell people that I can’t eat black pepper and then they assume that it’s a heat or spice thing, so they’ll say, “Oh, this is too spicy for you.” But, I have already eaten it and I won’t think that it was hot at all. But then USUALLY someone will say, “Oh, it’s not hot or spicy at all, I promise” (usually a waitress) and they’ll bring it to me and I’ll nearly die (exaggeratedly so, but it feels like it) the minute I take a bite.

    Instantly, I feel a sharp burn like it’s burning a hole right through my tongue. It will take my breath away and I’ll cough and sneeze. (Just handling pepper for my husband and 5-year old son who LOVE pepper I have a bad reaction–sneezing, tightness in my chest, watery eyes).

    My son has an appt tomorrow with an allergist and just for curiosity I was going to ask him about bp allergy, but now it’s going to be a serious question and I’ll be asking my PCM for a referral.

    Comment by Loran — May 19, 2008 #

  52. I think i suffer from an allergy to pepper I just had a bite for something and I got tingly feelings from my head to my stomach. Then my stomach was upset.
    Anyone else have these symptoms?

    Comment by Khris — June 14, 2008 #

  53. It’s nice to find that there are others have the same problem I have. I am allergic to black and white pepper and spices. In about 2004 I went to an allergy clinic for testing, they dismised me saying my simptoms were food poisoning to fish. One problem with that is I don’t eat fish. Then between 2005 and 2006 I had 4 anaphylactic shocks, the only good thing about these shocks is I had them at work. I work in a hospital and my collegues had to deal with me, so when I revisited the allergy clinic I was armed with the reports of the consultants and registras who I work with. The reaction of the allergy specilist was that they don’t have any tests they can do to find the exact things that are the trigers, but sugested I carry epi pens (which I already did) and take an antihistamine tablet every day. This I now do and my reactions haven’t been as bad. I only had 1 anaphylactic episode in 2007, and I can now enter spicy atmosphers without wheesing to badly, I still can’t stay there but a bad reaction is not triggered

    Comment by Sue — July 9, 2008 #

  54. I have a weird reaction to burns me. If I eat something with black or white or any other color of peppercorns, it burns like rinsing my mouth with scalding hot water. It can cause blistering and my gums peel afterwards. I can eat jalepenos and any peppers like that with no problem. Does anybody else have this reaction? Does anyone know what to do about it? It’s really hard to go out to eat!

    Comment by Diana — July 17, 2008 #

  55. Thank goodness, I found this blog

    I had eaten red pepper all my life and dis-regarded minor skin itchiness and rashes as incosequential.

    Back in 2002, we went out and I had a very hot vietnamese soup – next day there were red blotches on my faces.
    It took me nearly six months of experimentation to narrow down the list of possible suspects, including red and green pepper.

    I came to the conclusion that I had reached my life-time limit of tolerance to this spice.

    Since then I have remained symptom free mainly by avoiding (difficult for an Indian). Lately, I have started experimenting with pepper again and must have reached the limit again – last night I woke up with itchiness and one rash. Now I notice I have many rashes , mainly near and around my left under-arm and left back near my shoulder.

    Comment by jagdish — July 25, 2008 #

  56. I have had to deal with the embarrassment of an allergy to red pepper for many years. I have been in the emergency ward several times with a swollen face, itchy face and hands, rashes on my body after ingesting cayenne and red pepper. Back in the early 1970’s my doctor said that it was impossible to be allergic to red pepper and that I was just a nervous housewife and gave me Librium which I took for about two days and promptly realized that I needed to take responsibility for myself. After more negative reactions to red pepper ending up in the hospital, I just carefully monitor what I eat. It is such a common ingredient in many foods and the labels often list it as ambiguous(spices) and you can’t trust the waiter when he says the food “isn’t spicy”. A trip to the Thai restaurant could end up as a traumatic meal for me.

    Comment by Susan — September 7, 2008 #

  57. I developed an allergy to black pepper about 25 years ago. To start with the symptoms developed slowly and I didn’t really even consider I may be allergic to anything. Over time (2 years) the symptoms developed to the extent where I would be covered in hives after a meal – never thought about pepper. Other longer term effects seemed to be shaving rash and continuous itchiness.

    Then one day I ate a small piece of raw black pepper (don’t ask why) and was overwhelmed by a major anaphylatic event which lasted for about 36 hours.

    After that I was super-sensitive to pepper (white and black) until I worked out how to avoid it successfully. The intensity of reaction has receded and it can be controlled with antihistamines if absorption is through the stomach as the symptoms begin to appear a couple of hours after ingestion. Because I’m pretty careful my daughter calls it my fake allergy – she’s allergic to peanuts and competitive!

    Comment by Andrew — September 13, 2008 #

  58. I have not been diagnosed with an allergy (never been to an allergist), but I am fairly confident that I am allergic to pepper… or as I call it, “anything hot, or spicy.” That is so confusing in English, as we call things with flavor spicy as well… in Spanish, it is called “comida que pica.”

    It has always been painful for me whenever I’ve had really hot things, like salsa, or the like. But, I have also always avoided things that are hot in temperature. I am famous for putting ice in my soup, and never drink hot drinks. People laugh at me: “Your food is getting cold.” My first thought is “Good!”

    Someone at a table next to me in a restaurant was having Jalepenos. My eyes started burning and watering from just the smell!

    My pepper attacks have become dramatically worse in the last year. My heart races, and I get severe pounding in my head. Often it progresses into an intolerable migraine. Also, when I stand up, it feels like my blood pressure bottoms out, and I have to sit down again, or fall down. My mouth burns, as does my throat, and stomach. Often my ears, eyes and vulva burn, too. I sometimes get blisters inside my mouth, and I definitely have all the tingly type sensations that have been described here by you all.

    Think I’m gonna go get tested! Thanks to you all!!


    Comment by Jane — September 13, 2008 #

  59. Hello–I, like Karen (from sometime last year), was trying to search for information about a possible allergy to peppers (not black pepper), and found this site. Tonite, I was trying to make chili rellenos, and i handled both poblano peppers and one jalepeno pepper. I ate a small bit of the poblano, and a few small slices of the jalepeno on some chips, and noticed that my lips were on fire! This did not seem strange, as I have had both jalepenos and poblanos before plenty of times and often get this kind of fiery feeling. But a few minutes later I noticed that the skin above my upper lip was burning very badly, and then noticed that I had two small blisters forming there. A few minutes later, I notice that my forehead, too, was red and blotchy and burning, plus I was sweating all over. Using a kleenex to blot milk on my face for about fifteen minutes took care of the blisters and burning, and was only mildly embarassing! Obviously, I did not eat any more of the food. But then, my hands started burning, especially my thumbs, and they have been burning for hours, as if I actually burned them picking up a hot pan or something. I realize now that many people use gloves when they remove the pith and seeds from peppers, which I from now on will do. However, I am not sure if I should be wary of a pepper allergy from now on, due to the blisters. Which would be awful because I absolutely love chile rellenos! Maybe I should carry benedryl on my next trip to the mexican restaurant? I can’t afford to go get an allergy test. Any thoughts? Thanks for reading. AC

    Comment by Katie — September 24, 2008 #

  60. It sounds to me more like you got burned by the capsaicin, which is the active oil that causes the burning effect of chilies. You got it on the skin of your hands and then most likely touched your face. Some people have sensitive enough skin that it will blister when it comes into contact with the oil.

    You can try using benedryl to counteract this effect, but you should also wear latex gloves when you clean chilies, and be certain never to touch your face–or any other place on your body with the gloved hands while you work. If you do get the oil from chilies on your skin, wash it off with lots of soap and -cold- water–if you use hot water, you risk opening your pores and getting more of the painful stuff -into- your skin, not just on it.

    Be very careful–if your skin is so sensitive to chilies that relatively mild ones like jalapenos and poblanos cause such reactions, that you stay away from really, really hot ones like habeneros or Thai bird chilies. Those have so much more of the oil in them that they could cause considerable pain to you.

    So, yes, pack benedryl, but also just be very cautious when handling chilies.

    BTW–the active ingredient in black pepper is a totally different one–it is called piperine, and it tends not to cause blistering and the like in very many people. Capsaicin is more likely to cause chemical burns on skin and tissues than piperine.

    Just be careful!

    Comment by Barbara — September 24, 2008 #

  61. Just wondering if anyone has heard of pepper allergy in relation to skin allergies. I have had chicken pox like spots for about 4 years now and have just recently given up black pepper and they seem to be improving. Doctors have been no help diagnosing everthing from scabies, psorarsis, golden staph. they have no clue.

    Comment by laurelle — September 27, 2008 #

  62. Thank you so much, Barbara, for the information! Yes, I do have pretty sensitive skin, so I suppose that is what happened.

    Still, just to be safe, I think I will stay away from preparing peppers from now on, and keep benedryl handy.

    And, while I may order chile rellenos again, I can’t even imagine what a habanero or serrano pepper might do to me.

    Thanks again!

    Comment by Katie — September 30, 2008 #

  63. I am so glad I found this site. I have had a recurrent reaction to Hunan chicken at a local Chinese restaurant… coughing, teary eyes, choking… but as I didn’t eat there often I didn’t connect the events. Then I got the same dish again yesterday as a take-out. I usually remove the whole red and black peppers they add, but I inadvertently bit into one of the whole red peppers (I was watching TV while eating and didn’t notice it) and my throat immediately started closing up and I choked and couldn’t talk. I managed to get my husband to understand I needed some milk and I drank it and it helped. But I was quite ready to go to the emergency room if the symptoms had kept up. It took about 15 minutes for the symptoms to become less intense but I felt the heat and swelling passing through my whole body from the inside for the rest of the evening.

    I also now recall that I once tried a topical arthritis treatment that contained red pepper and had a severe burning and itching reaction. So I think I need to talk to my doctor, too.

    At least now I don’t feel I am crazy. Thanks.

    Comment by Mona — October 12, 2008 #

  64. I had a pepper allergy about 20 years ago when I was 40 and then ‘grew’ out of it until a few months ago. But I now have burning/itching blisters on the outside of my mouth and even though I’m avoiding black and white pepper and also green and red peppers (capsicums) I still have blisters occuring and don’t know why. What else could it be?

    Comment by Margaret — October 22, 2008 #

  65. I have had eczema all my life (I am 41) and am allergic to lots of different foods. It really is trial and error with some foods. 2 days ago I had white pepper on my beans on toast and suddenly had stomach cramps, itchy hands, large heat bumps covering my back, very red face, itchy eyes, tightening of my throat, I felt very hot. I took a big swig of piriton syrup and inhaled my puffer a few times. I then got into a freezing shower to cool my body down as I felt very faint. Half an hour later I was fine. It is very frightening thinking that some people die of allergic reactions.This is my third attack in 2 years each, the two previous occasions I was rushed to hospital because I had passed out and was given injections of steroid and antihistamine. I need another allergy test as it seems as I get older I am developing more allergies. 10 years ago I became allergic to latex and bananas. Anyone know of a good Allergist in the Medway Towns area of Kent, UK

    Comment by Tracey — November 12, 2008 #

  66. I have had a rash for the past several months. I went to a dermatoloist who gave me a prescription which helped but the rash kapt coming back. I deduced that it was something I was eating but my diet doesn’t deviate much and I remained confused until I eliminated most possibiities

    Comment by Gene — November 25, 2008 #

  67. I’m so glad to find this site! I am 33 & just found out I am allergic to black pepper (although thankfully not to red peppers, I need my thai food!) a few months ago I had a severe reaction after eating one of Campbell’s Homebaked Meals. I had really severe stomach cramps and nausea that lasted a whole night, on & off, & the pain was absolutely intense. My husband bought me pepto bismol pills & that helped a lot. this happened again when I ate triscuits a few months ago. they happened to be the “cracked pepper” variety. Since then I’ve been checking ingredients lists on the sides of the food items I buy. i no longer find pepper tolerable even sprinkled across my soup. as a general rule, no more black pepper for moi.

    Comment by Faith — December 22, 2008 #

  68. Thank goodness for this website! I have a severe allergy to tree nuts but have never had a problem with pepper… that is until today.

    I received a battery operated pepper mill for Christmas and got sick this afternoon after grinding peppercorns onto my pasta. I got an itchy throat right away and thought I was going to be sick to my stomach for hours. Fortunately 2 benadryl knocked me out and helped end the reaction.

    Turns out peppercorns are related to the Betel nut… so now I have something else to worry about when I eat out. My allergies seem to be getting worse as I get older (I’m 36) Anyone else with nut allergies have the same problem with peppercorn?

    Comment by Heather — December 29, 2008 #

  69. I first found this sight in May, right before my son’s allergist appointment. Since then, I have had my own appointment. After a thorough discussion with the doctor of my symptoms he said he was convinced I was allergic to black pepper whether the allergy test proved positive or not because I had so many classic symptoms. And he said that the black pepper allergy test was so inaccurate because it is so rare an allergy that it just can’t be a reliable test because it just isn’t used that often.

    For example, if you want to find out if you’re allergic to cats, dogs or peanuts three of the most common allergies, they could tell with almost 100% accuracy if you were or not, but because they rarely ever use the black pepper test, they don’t have a wide enough population base to know for sure if it’s really accurate or not, so they can’t say for sure with 100% accuracy if you are or if you aren’t allergic to black pepper.

    So, that being said. I had the 41 contaminants pricked onto my back plus the control histamine for a total of 42 pricks. There was zero activity on my back EXCEPT for the histamine AND the black pepper!

    Technically it wasn’t a hit for an allergy. It was a 2 and it has to be a 3 for it to have been a certified allergy. But he called it an allergy. Get that. Out of 41 compounds, only one; ONE item, black pepper had ANY reaction at all! Isn’t that amazing???

    For the official record, he couldn’t call it an allergy. but he prescribed an epipen with 6 refills. Made me watch a video on how to use it. At my follow-up appointment he made sure I had it with me.

    If you take notes on when things happen, what you were eating, what happened to you, how long it lasted, your doctor will listen to you.

    Comment by Loran — January 13, 2009 #

  70. I just found this site tonite! Last summer I started to really enjoy red peppers, so much that I was eating a whole pepper in one day. then I started to get a rash on my hands after consumming so much pepper. I also get the same rash when I eat parsnips (although these not in excess). So I began to just enjoy a handful of chopped pepper in my salad, that didn’t cause any problems for me.

    A few weeks ago I saw a recipe that had both red and yellow peppers in and it was delicious, so of course for the next couple of days thats what I ate for lunch. Then I began to have the rash on my hands again. Then the following day, I ordered a caesar salad (why would anyone think it woud have peppers in it?) and there were roasted red peppers in the salad, so I just picked them out, but just the juices left behind were enough for me to have another reaction again.

    A few nights later, I seasoned my potatoes, with black pepper and within a couple of hours, I had the rash again.

    Last night, after consuming pepper again, black pepper, the rash turned into hives, and in addition to the hives on my hands, I broke out in a rash on my face.

    I am soo dissapointed because I love pepper, black, red, green, yellow, and now not only do i react to it, but it is beginning to get worse. 🙁

    Comment by katherine — February 4, 2009 #

  71. I have always been allergic to black pepper, but didn’t isolate what it was until I ate blackened fish and got really sick. I didn’t have the normal reaction, but I get cold sores in the mouth and throat, and it also upsets my stomach. I am very careful when I go to restaurants. I always tell the wait staff about the allergy, and for the most part, they accomodate. I’ve also learned to carefully read the list of ingredients when I buy packaged food products, and avoid those that list black pepper and even those that list “spices” as I’ve learned that spices can include black pepper. I found it comforting to see I’m not alone in my unusual reaction! I’m also very sensitive to topical/general anesthetics and preservatives.

    Comment by Vickie — February 19, 2009 #

  72. I’m very happy to find this site. The discussions above have shed light on what may be the cause of one of my problems. 🙂

    Recently, I began to have more of the symptoms that various people have described here, i.e, throat closing, and itchy rashes and welts. The difference for me is that these symptoms generally don’t appear until 2 -3 hours after my evening meal. The symptoms rarely occur during the daytime even when I eat out. This delay has made it really difficult to pin point what is causing the reactions.

    I’d become suspicious of the dark chocolate I began eating recently, the Ibuprofen that I’ve been taking for a number of months, AND the “spicy” foods with tomato based sauces – made with lots of pepper – that I’ve been eating periodically for many years without any problems.

    Many years ago I learned not to accept cracked pepper in restaurants as I tended to “choke” on it but, since that was infrequent and manageable, I had not related the pepper to the new rashes until now.

    I am also latex sensitive which has been identified as a cross allergen to pepper.

    You’ve convinced me that I do need to see my doctor and get an epi-pen. And, to get allergy tested again!

    BTW: The last time I had allergy tests, the only reaction was to the adhesive on the band-aids. This is what led to the additional test that determined that I was latex sensitive.

    AS my mother one say, “this is just something else to take the joy out of living”.


    Comment by Carole — April 6, 2009 #

  73. Wow. I figured out on my own that I am allergic to black pepper. This is my third outbreak from it. My mouth swells up and has blisters, and then peels. Yuck. I am so glad that I am not alone. It happens when I use freshly grated pepper. Any help on how to quickly heal my lips?

    Comment by Sandi — April 20, 2009 #

  74. How interesting to discover so many others have pepper allergy. 20 years ago I was tested for food allergies and was allergic to 81 out of 85 foods. My allergist started me on “provacative skin testing and immune tnerapy” with excellent results. Now I have developed a severe allergy to all kinds of pepper.
    The allergist that helped me so much 20 years ago is deceased, and I have been unable to find another allergist that uses this technique. (It is not approved)
    On a recent 2 month trip to India, my diet consisted mostly of cheese sandwiches and omelets(when made without pepper). And eating at resturants in the US is almost as restrictive.
    Fortunately, I have an immediate reaction (burning and slight swelling) in my mouth when I take even a small taste of a food tnat has pepper in it.–and so am able to immediately reject it and thus avoid the full blown reaction of severe diarrhea and abdominal pain.
    I am also fortunate that I do not have any respiratory symptoms.–but keep a epi-pen just in case.
    My sympathy to all of you who share this problem.

    Comment by Nancy — May 4, 2009 #

  75. I have tired EVERYTHING to get rid of this horrible rash on both hands that itches so badly that, when scratched, weeps a yellowish ooz.
    I thought it was a candida thing so eliminated all milks and sugars and fruits. It’s been a month now.
    The rash comes and goes.

    Finally, on the way into work today I was thinking about what would cause such an awful reaction to my otherwise very healthy system. What also caused my nose to run with a burning drip that literally blistered my nose?

    I went through everything l I ate on a regular basis. I make all our food myself, so there are no weird chemicals thrown in to make it taste better, BUT I did get a pepper mill a while back that I use freely.

    I LOVE the taste of sea salt and pepper. Hmmm.

    I wonder, could it be?
    If so, you’ve all saved my life. I’ve been going crazy moving through my life in so much pain!
    I’ll keep you posted.

    Comment by Carolyn — May 9, 2009 #

  76. I find any taste of black or white pepper immediately causes sore mouth and throat, red blotches on my neck and throat. I’ve also found that ingredients that use the word “spices” usually include black/white pepper. Heinz ketchup for example causes my reactions. Luckily, no breathing problems. But this does severely limit my choices when eating out.

    I’ve found eating a few soda crackers, or plain bread, chips, something to soak up the pepper from my mouth can stop the irritation within ~ 10 min.

    My childhood girlfriend told me I would not play in the school yard in the back that had pepper trees…funny, that I do not remember.

    Good luck all, cindy

    Comment by cindy — May 31, 2009 #

  77. Wow, I can’t believe I found this! Tonight I made pizza with a few drops of hot sauce, and suddenley, after taking a few bites, a small part of my bottom lip had swollen up and the skin was raised in blotches on the back of my thigh! I immediately jumped into the bath and hosed myself down with cold water. I have excema, but I’ve never had swollen lips from it! I put steriod cream on the back of my thigh, as that’s all I could think of to do, then took one cetirizine tablet (from a pack that I bought for my hayfever) An hour later and my swollen lip and back of thigh have gone down considerably.
    So strange,.. I rarely have hot sauce, and I’ve had it twice in the past 5 days… could it be that my body has progressed to an allergic reaction????

    Comment by Emilia — September 2, 2009 #

  78. Emilia–it could be an allergy, or it could be that your body just reacts badly to the irritant that is in chili peppers that gives them the “heat.”

    Capsaicin is an irritant–that is the oil that is in chili peppers that gives them the sensation of heat–and some people are more sensitive to it than others.

    So–were I you, I would avoid using anything with chili peppers in it in the future.

    Comment by Barbara — September 2, 2009 #

  79. Welcome a club that is probably less exclusive than is generally known. I, too
    am allergic to black pepper. Anaphylactic shock, in within 30 minutes kind of allergic. Along with that one is a similar allergy to chile, but the reaction time is less than 30 seconds. I think I was always “sort of” allergic, when it became a shock reaction I wasn’t totally surprised, but I still tried use use denial as treatment. It didn’t work. I now carry epinephrine, as you should. These things can go away, or get MUCH worse!

    Be careful and keep adrenaline handy!

    Comment by matt — November 14, 2009 #

  80. I have the same problem. Black pepper, taken in any quantity, numbs the back of my tongue. Another weird occurance is that, when I touch it, my fingertips go numb as well.

    How did you go about getting diagnosed, officially? And what should I do, other than avoid black pepper?

    Comment by Audra — November 23, 2009 #

  81. I’ve been living with an allergy to black pepper for almost ten years, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one. I realized that I was allergic when my mom boiled the potatoes for mashed potatoes with pepper in the water so I wouldn’t know she had used it, and I could still taste it. My reactions have steadily gotten worse over the years, it started out as just my mouth burning when I’d eat something with pepper (and boy did I love Ceaser dressing.) Then the swelling started, first just a little on my tongue, and now my tongue swells as well as the insides of my lips and cheeks. I’ve read that a pepper allergy is cumulative, the more you are exposed the worse it gets. The last few weeks my allergy has gotten even worse were I can’t eat things I always have such as dill pickles and ketchup. I have also started swelling when eating celery. I looked up celery allergy and read that there seems to be a connection between being allergic to pepper and celery. Weird I know, but I wonder if anyone else has had any issues like this.

    Comment by Annie — December 7, 2009 #

  82. I think I am allergic to cracked black pepper. I was eating sausage the other day and upon eating a pepper corn particle, I felt like I was choking. I started wheezing and I felt better after drinking some water. After this I was shaken from the episode for a few minutes. Today I ate a slice of salami found a piece of pepper corn but spit it out. Not sure if it was my imagination, but I started feeling sort of weak and my whole face turned red, but unsure if it was all from fear or a real reaction.
    Does anyone know if the sensation of choking after eating pepper is really an allergic reaction? Can it be just an over reaction to the intense flavor? It all cleared after drinking water, so can it be just a reaction to its flavor? Wouldn’t an anaphylactic shock last longer?

    Comment by Adry — January 3, 2010 #

  83. I was so glad to find this website.It is good to see that there are others out there that suffer from this. My husband suffers terribly if he gets any black pepper by mistake. Vomitting, stomach cramps, diarhea. The wierd thing is that he got tested by an allergist and it didn’t show up in his skin prick test or bloodwork. He dosen’t get the skin or respiratory symptoms.

    We get so frustrated with restaurants that don’t seem to care that it is a serious problem. I don’t understand why they think that black pepper needs to be on everything. I always have to test things for him. We are always sending food back to the kitchen. We have just stopped eating out as much and only go to places where we know they will fix his food with no pepper contamination.

    Here is a tip when ordering steak; have them wrap it in tinfoil before putting it on the grill. That way the steak dosen’t get contaminated by the grill where thousands of items have been doused in pepper.

    Comment by Tanya — March 18, 2010 #

  84. POBLANO chile caused sore, red skin after I prepared it, so I figured my previous allergy to red pepper had spread. Then, carefully cleaning kitchen corners later, with dish towel and sponge, my hand swelled up suddenly after just a tiny scrap of polano touched skin!No breathing problems, and benadryl worked both times, but I am careful now. Think I will avoid black pepper to be safe, carry meds…other ideas? Thanks!

    Comment by Lilli — April 14, 2010 #

  85. I know I have a problem with fresh ground pepper and never use at restaurants.
    Yesterday was with clients and my soup got peppered when I wasn’t looking. Instead of sending it back, I took the first bite. Immediate reaction. Could not cough, could not breathe at all.
    Restaurant called 911, but I was able to breathe a little within a few minutes and after about 15 min. I could breathe pretty well.
    Complete closure of my windpipe had never happened and it really scared me.
    I will go to the doctor and see if I need to carry an Epipen and definitely stay away from fresh ground pepper.

    Comment by Julie — April 29, 2010 #

  86. Julie, what I have found worked for me before I was prescribed with an epipen (which you should probably do–go to your doctor, describe what happens and they will give you an epipen prescription right away. You never know when an allergy will cause your windpipe to close completely) was I kept liquid children’s Benedryl with me at all times. It is an antihistamine and because it is liquid, it is absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream, so it will stop an allergy reaction more quickly.

    I generally took about 70 mgs of it as soon as the reaction started and it would cause it to subside really quickly. It worked on the shellfish allergy that I developed a few years ago…..

    But you should certainly see a doctor. Just in case.

    Comment by Barbara — April 29, 2010 #

  87. OMG! I thought I was alone with my weird allergy to pepper! In 1998 I had my first life threatening encounter with a banana pepper that made its way into a salad I ate. My throat closed, couldn’t breathe and almost passed out.
    Since then I’ve paid close attention to what peppers cause what degree of reaction, and I found out that you can be allergic to only certain ones or all of them.

    Black pepper makes my face tingle and hives, I can’t go near a certain local restaurant because of its use of banana peppers, I can mildly tolerate jalepeno and green chilies, but they cause a lot of indigestion. but i can eat green and red bell peppers. I recommend to anyone who suspects they allergic to pepper of any kind to wear a bracelet and carry an epipen. I’m still discovering peppers i can and cant have (risky i know, but i love international food) So glad I’m not the only “crazy” one out there!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Amykathleen — May 26, 2010 #

  88. This site is so much useful then others out there and I am so glad I am not the only one. I am intolerant to gluten which I have eliminated from my diet but for months I have been wondering what could be causing the rashes or burning sensations on my skin. Through process of elimination I have finally got down to pepper. I can’t believe that I am allergic to pepper especially being an Indian and having had chillies all my life. I still haven’t been able to figure out if it is black pepper or red or green or any other type. I didn’t know that spices or flavorings meant chillies or pepper too so will be looking out for that from now onwards.
    I am testing the red chillies today 🙁

    Comment by Shanel — May 28, 2010 #

  89. I also have a severe allergy to black pepper. Thankfully, I can still have other types of pepper without any ill effect. Eating out is a bear most of the time especially in the South. I’ve found that just telling the restaurant staff that I’m allergic to black pepper isn’t enough. I have to emphasize that we will have an ambulance there if I get black pepper before they take me seriously. I carry an Epi-pen with me as well. My biggest problem is that listed ingredients many times just state “spices”. I’ve been dealing with this allergy for almost 2 decades now. It’s not fun but at least I was able to identify the problem quickly.

    Comment by Alicia — June 17, 2010 #

  90. I have a severe pepper allergy as well. I’ve avoided pepper for a number of years because I don’t like it. Then one day had a dish with white pepper in it. I had the hives, swollen face and lips that a lot of people have written about. I also had severe muscle cramps in my arms. Has anyone else had that reaction?

    Comment by Jan — June 22, 2010 #

  91. I am also allergic to black pepper. I was tested when I was very young, so I have been aware of it most of my life…but, I have never met anyone else with the allergy. I avoid pepper in large amounts and when I cook at home, but, it’s almost impossible to avoid completely. I ingest small doses semi regularly. When I overdo it I get bad stomach cramps and diarrhea, I have difficulty breathing, and, I also experience joint stiffness.
    It’s interesting to see all the symptoms that people have experienced. I didn’t realize that the allergy could cause skin reactions. One doctor told me that I had eczema because I will occasionally have itchy dry skin and hives. I’ll bet that the allergy is causing my skin problems. I also experience bad migraines that I haven’t been able to explain….probably the pepper. I get swollen eyelids and (eyelid) cysts fairly often. I know the pepper causes the swelling, but does anyone else get cysts…or is that completely unrelated?

    Comment by Lorna — June 25, 2010 #

  92. Thank you to Barbara Fisher for starting and maintaining this blog.

    Thank you all for validating my challenge.

    Until I started visibly swelling up, not even those who loved me took my reaction at face value – no pun intended 🙂 It was just impossible for them to believe that innocuous black pepper could cause the escalating level of pain I complained of. And it was years before the pain advanced to swelling.

    I have a cutaneous reaction to fresh ground black and white pepper rather than a gastrointestinal one. So I don’t suffer from the additional challenges some of you are facing – my sympathies to you. Still the swelling of my tongue, lips, inner cheeks, and throat are frightening. That alone would make me avoid it, but the pain it causes is also highly motivating. My final motivator is that every new exposure seems to escalate the severity of my reaction. I work hard to avoid the next exposure.

    I agree that it is difficult to eat out because pepper is so universally used and because a pepper allergy is so uncommon that it doesn’t register with wait staff as a ‘serious’ problem. I use the same tactic an earlier comment suggested: I tell the wait staff if they bring me something with fresh pepper they might as well call the ambulance at the same time. I say it with sincerity and concern evident in my voice.

    I have had a few people suggest I should get an Epipen, but for some reason have delayed. I’m going to take the suggestion in earlier comments and go get (and carry) some Children’s Benydryl. I will book an appointment with my doctor and request a prescription for the Epipen.

    The other thing your comments have made me curious about is whether my exzema (particularly severe on my hands and wrists) might be related. Another thing to discuss with my doctor.

    I am bookmarking this site and will go through the links people have posted. I have a very limited diet because I stick with what’s safe. I am hopeful that the recipes here might help me expand that somewhat. My husband thanks you. 🙂

    And I thank you once again!

    Comment by Susan — September 19, 2010 #

  93. This sight is a blessing from God. I have been having increasingly worse anaphylactic responses to an “unknown” food. So much so, that I have begun a process of elimination and add things back until I find a trigger.

    I have been getting a numb tongue every time I ate meat for some reason. I couldn’t figure out why it kept happening since I had cut processed food out of my lifestyle. This would be followed by closing of my throat, heartburn and eventually painful areas around my body.

    Today I finally connected the dots and realized that I have been putting pepper on everything and just recently bought a peppercorn grinder. Ever since, I have been having near constant anaphylactic episodes after meals. it has been very painful, scary and frustrating all at the same time.

    This time, it was bad enough that I almost went to the hospital because I was very weak. Luckily, I had some benadryl in the cabinet. I have also had red spots on my neck constantly and bad eczema on my hands and neck. I can’t that you enough for this blog and post. You may have helped me more than you know. God Bless You!

    Comment by Anthony — October 26, 2010 #

  94. I had a reaction to green or red peppers on Sept. 15, 2010. I’d never had any trouble with them (that I know of) prior to that day. My throat started closing, I started wheezing, took all my asthma meds, loratidine, and other allergy meds, but nothing helped. Within minutes, my mouth was all swollen and felt hard as a rock, my hands, feet and groin area were burning, itching and felt like needles were being poked in them. I drove myself to the ER and was shot up with adrenaline and benydryl. I could feel it rushing all over my body and it felt really cold. My oxygen levels and blood pressure had really dropped. They said I almost didn’t make it because if you’re too late, they can’t even get a tube down your throat to keep you breathing. After they sent me home, I stayed on 60 mg of prednisone for almost a week and 50 mg of Benydryl almost a week, since they said it would be released back into my system after the adrenaline wore off. The next day, I had a rash on my sides and I felt a tingly, crawly feeling under my left back shoulder blade. I was afraid of shingles. I also had some knots develop under the skin on my arms, that move around when touched. I am also allergic to mold. I wonder if it is the way these peppers are being processed, or something they’re being sprayed with that is causing this. Isn’t that the reason people are reacting to peanuts now…the way they are being processed? I just found out a cousin’s daughter had a similar reaction to red peppers around October 1.

    Comment by suzane — November 2, 2010 #

  95. I got tested for food allergy and was surprised that black pepper was one. Another was a certain type of mold Didn’t think much of it. As the days and months went by, I kept feeling worse and worse. I get these weird skin sensations all over my body, mostly my arms, that can only be described as itchy, rash, burning feeling, with no visible rash.

    The rashes I do get is accompanied with a white hive blister, just a single one, on my chest. The skin irriations are the worst, making it awful to sleep

    Sometimes my back of the neck feels swollen, along with my head. Can only be described as being upside down type of pressure.

    I also get what I guess is shortness of breath, when you feel like you don’t get a satisying deep breath of air

    I have been eating a lot of fast-food which is loaded with it.

    I don’t get these symptoms right after, usually a few hours after and they linger for sometime.

    And not to forget, I’ve had what I call esophagus attacks, or stricters the docs call it where my esophagus swells up and it hurts like hell, coming in intervals. I have to spit my saliva out instead of swollowing cuz it hurts so bad. I also get red blotches under my left ribs when this happens.

    I got scoped and the idiot said nothing was wrong. Could this all be black pepper related? Any thoughts would be great

    Comment by Kenny — November 12, 2010 #

  96. My entire life I have had severe environmental allergies and mild asthma. I took allergy medication daily to keep them under control.

    In March of this year I did a detox diet, and for 10 days ate nothing but raw fruits and vegetables. My allergies completely went away. They came back as soon as I went back to normal food. I realized my allergies must be tied to food, not the environment.

    I started eliminating assorted foods to try to figure out the problem. It never occurred to me it could be black pepper. By mistake, I spilled pepper on my hand while cooking in August. My hand broke out in a rash. I realized pepper was my culprit.

    Since eliminating black pepper from my diet, both my allergies and asthma are completely gone. But the bad thing is I cannot eat out, because pepper really is in EVERYTHING. BTW, I have mild eczema issues, and those have not vanished by cutting out the pepper.

    Comment by Christi — November 19, 2010 #

  97. Oh, one more thing. Someone in the thread had asked if black pepper can build up in one’s system? According to a holistic medicine book I read (which, I have to admit is a little out there), black pepper does indeed build up in the system and when there is enough of it, it can be toxic. It recommends an annual detox diet to remove all toxins in the system, not just black pepper.

    Comment by Christi — November 19, 2010 #

  98. Never even thought about a problem with black pepper until I had symptoms after ordering Tellicherry peppercorns to use in a grinder. What was weird is that it was not an immediate reaction but took time to build up. Recently repeated exposure and the symptoms slowly reappeared, but then also took time to fade after the exposure. Definitely felt more like a slow toxic effect rather than the immediate reaction normally associated with food allergies. Think I’m convinced.

    Comment by Thomas — December 6, 2010 #

  99. I have always been allergic to Black Pepper and most spicy food. I am 53, and have known since I was 15. (mom and dad Rarely cooked with black pepper) After consuming even a small amount it was like having an Asthma attack. It happened allot when I was in the USMC. I get angry that ALL restaurants and ALL prepared food has black pepper, I see is at not fair. (still after all these years), there should be somewhere, somehow other spices that can be used that don’t burn out your insides.

    Comment by Hollyecho Montgomery — July 18, 2011 #

  100. I have allergies to all forms and types of pepper. Immediate burning of tongue, blistering inside my mouth, and then large hives on my neck and face, and if it progresses swelling in my throat and struggle for breath. Also intestinal problems the next day. a ‘fix’ for that burning on-fire sensation on my tongue. Those of you who have that symptom know that even if you can spit out the peppered food it’s already ruined your sense of taste and pleasure for any food after. For me, either chocolate ice cream or sour cream puts out the fire. I ask for sour cream with any meal. A couple of spoons full reallly helps. Last night the restaurant didn’t have any and I was in pain from the 1 spoonful of soup I tried. Now I’ll carry a packet of sour ream (from a fast food place.

    Comment by Donna — January 27, 2012 #

  101. I found out I was allergic to Black Pepper back in 1976 when I was in the Marine Corps. It is the most aggravating allergy to have.

    People don’t believe you, restaurants are impossible to navigate. Church and family gatherings always have pepper in them.

    The worst part is people really don’t believe you, you feel like just going ahead and having something with pepper in it, to prove the reaction (last time was to the hospital – could not breathe, throat was closed up).

    You get the reaction – “there is just a little in it, you won’t even taste it” – GESH.

    I use all the recipes that everyone else uses WITHOUT the pepper. I love beef, and love LAWRY’S® Seasoned Salt and Worcestershire.

    I am glad I found this post, for it seems no one else has this problem !

    Comment by Hollyecho Montgomery — June 1, 2012 #

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