08 July, 2011
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Allergy & the Kola Nut
If you're allergic to nuts, you may wonder if it's safe to eat kola nuts. The kola nut is used for medicinal purposes and in cooking. It's sold as an herbal supplement to help with depression, weight loss, fatigue, diarrhea and migraines. As with any supplement or herb used in cooking, you may develop an allergic reaction to the substance after ingesting it. The kola nut is a seed of the kola plant, primarily found in tropical parts of the world. If you experience adverse reactions after eating the kola nut, call your doctor.
Kola nut is not listed as a common food allergy, according to MayoClinic.com, but any food can cause an allergic reaction. A kola nut is actually a seed and not related to tree nut allergies. If you're allergic to the kola nut, after you ingest it your immune system mistakes the substance as harmful. The body reacts as if it's under attack and begins to defend itself by creating antibodies, histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals cause increased inflammation in soft tissue throughout the body, resulting in common food allergy symptoms.
Symptoms from a food allergy typically begin within a few minutes and can range from minor to severe, according to MayoClinic.com. You may develop one or more of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, cramping, abdominal pain, facial swelling, skin rashes, eczema, hives, nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, trouble breathing and wheezing. If any of these symptoms are severe, go to the emergency room. Food allergies can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis, which could result in death.
Not all adverse reactions from the kola nut are related to a food allergy. Common side effects unrelated to an allergy include stomach irritation, vomiting, nausea, increased heart rate, headaches, ringing in the ears, anxiety, insomnia, nervousness and restlessness. These symptoms are caused by the caffeine content of the kola nut. Don't use kola nut supplements if you develop chest pain or irregular heart beats. Many of these symptoms are similar to food allergy symptoms and should be evaluated by a physician.
Testing and Treatment
Make an appointment with an allergist for allergy testing to determine whether you're allergic to the kola nut. The allergist uses your blood and skin to observe how your immune system responds to the kola nut’s proteins. The allergist injects a tiny amount of herb under your skin to see whether inflammation and irritation occur. The blood sample is used to determine whether your blood creates antibodies when kola nut is introduced into your blood. If diagnosed with a kola nut allergy, you will be advised to avoid consuming it in supplement form. Kola nut may be used in certain ethic dishes. When eating out, disclose your food allergy to your server.
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