More on ‘Flax Seed Allergy’


 

Flaxseed – the power house of Omega 3, an essential fatty acid that the body is incapable of synthesizing on its own! Yes, the very same Omega 3 fatty acid that is being touted as a possible deterrent to cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer, arthritis and a host of other health problems from ADHD and reduced inflammation to Bipolar disorder. Little wonder, this magic seed is fast becoming a part of everything from yogurt to bread! With that there has been an increase in the number of people discovering that they are severely allergic to Flax. I did not understand the full extent of this problem till I wrote a post on flax seed allergy – the reader response was tremendous and led to one of the readers writing a guest post on the very same issue. That article too had high readership!! The reason is simple – flax seed allergy is still relatively uncommon.  With its new found fame, there are zillions of articles dedicated to flax but hardly any talking about flax seed allergies.

Many of my readers had a lot of useful information for people with flax seed allergy – alternative names, food products containing flax, useful links, symptoms and more. This post is a compilation of this input and more…

Synonyms:

Allergic to flax? Your first step should be to recognize it under its various names. Here are some of the names that should be a red signal (Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/flaxseed/NS_patient-flaxseed/DSECTION=synonyms ):

1)    Linseed and Linseed oil

2)    Alashi

3)    Alpha-linolenic acid

4)    Barlean’s Flax Oil

5)    Barlean’s Vita-Flax

6)    Brazen

7)    Common flax

8)    Eicosapentaenoic acid

9)    Flachssamen

10)  Gamma-linolenic acid

11)  Graine de Lin

12)  Leinsamen

13)  Hu-ma-esze

14)  Linaceae

15)  Linen flax

16)  Lini semen

17)  Lino

18)  Lino usuale

19)  Lint bells

20)  Linum

21)  Linum catharticum

22)  Linum humile seeds

23)  Keten

24)  Omega-3 fatty acid

25)  Phytoestrogen

26)  Prebiotic bread

27)  Sufulsi

28)  Tesi-mosina, Type I Flaxseed/Flaxseed (51-55% alpha-linolenic acid), Type II Flaxseed/CDC-flaxseed (2-3% alpha-linolenic acid), winterlien.

Symptoms:

An allergic reaction may range from mild discomfort on ingestion to anaphylactic shock. Knowing what the symptoms could be is the first step in recognizing an allergic reaction. Here is a list of some of the reactions reported by readers who have had an allergic reaction to flax:

–          The reaction could occur as one is eating or even a few hours after ingestion.

–          Vomiting (could be severe, maybe in the form of projectile vomiting)

–          Feeling of throat closing up even before swallowing. Spit out the food immediately.

–          Flushed face

–          Hives

–          Severe headache

–          Increased blood pressure

–          Itchiness (in the throat or body)

–          Cold sweats

–          Increased heart rate

–          Nausea

–          Abdominal cramps

–          Diarrhea

–          Exhaustion

–          Fever and chills

Where could it be sneaked in?

With the multiple health benefits of flax, it is being sneaked into literally everything. My son has multiple food allergies but is okay with flax. To increase nutritional content, I add it all baked goods, soups, entrees and more. As many of my readers have mentioned – they discovered their allergy to flax when they started including increasing quantities of it in their foods. So, people with flax allergy should be aware that it can be used as a hidden ingredient in almost anything. Here are a few items partial list of foods that can contain flax:

–          Granola, granola bars

–          health bars, protein bars

–          Baked goods: Breads, Cakes, Crackers, pretzel, bagels, pizza, cookies

–          Cereals

–          Dairy products like Yogurt, butter

–          Many microwaveable neck /back/foot wraps are filled with flax seeds

–          Pasta

–          Flax chips

–          Oatmeal

–          Chicken nuggets

–          Health Drinks

–          Waffles, pancakes

–          Chap stick (Unbelievable but true)

Red Signals:

Most products have such a long list of ingredients that it is easy to miss a small word like ‘flax’. Watch out for the following words appearing in bold letters on the packaging:

–          Omega-3

–          Multi grain

–          High fiber

–          PUFA (poly unsaturated fatty acids)

–          ALA, EPA and DHA (the components of Omega 3 fatty acid.)

Other Sources of Omega 3:

If food is the only way to get Omega 3 fatty acids and it has such amazing health benefits, are there alternatives available to a person allergic to flax? Fatty fish like salmon and walnuts are also excellent sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. However, many of my blog visitors are allergic to fish and nuts, so I did a little more digging to find and discovered this gem thanks to http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=84 :

 

World’s Healthiest Foods ranked as quality sources of:
omega 3 fatty acids
Food Serving
Size
Cals Amount
(g)
DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World’s
Healthiest
Foods Rating
Flaxseeds 2 tbs 95.3 3.51 146.3 27.6 Excellent
Cloves, dried, ground 2 tsp 14.2 0.20 8.3 10.6 very good
Walnuts 0.25 cup 163.5 2.27 94.6 10.4 Excellent
Oregano, dried, ground 2 tsp 9.2 0.12 5.0 9.8 very good
  4 oz-wt 261.9 2.09 87.1 6.0 Excellent
Cauliflower, boiled 1 cup 28.5 0.21 8.8 5.5 very good
Sardines 3.25 oz can 191.4 1.36 56.7 5.3 very good
Mustard seeds 2 tsp 35.0 0.20 8.3 4.3 very good
Cabbage, shredded, boiled 1 cup 33.0 0.17 7.1 3.9 very good
Romaine lettuce 2 cup 15.7 0.08 3.3 3.8 Good
Broccoli, steamed 1 cup 43.7 0.20 8.3 3.4 very good
Brussel sprouts, boiled 1 cup 60.8 0.26 10.8 3.2 Good
Winter squash, baked, cubes 1 cup 80.0 0.34 14.2 3.2 Good
Tofu, raw 4 oz-wt 86.2 0.36 15.0 3.1 Good
Summer squash, cooked, slices 1 cup 36.0 0.15 6.3 3.1 Good
Halibut, baked/broiled 4 oz-wt 158.8 0.62 25.8 2.9 Good
Collard greens, boiled 1 cup 49.4 0.18 7.5 2.7 Good
Spinach, boiled 1 cup 41.4 0.15 6.3 2.7 Good
Kale, boiled 1 cup 36.4 0.13 5.4 2.7 Good
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 297.6 1.03 42.9 2.6 Good
Shrimp, steamed/boiled 4 oz-wt 112.3 0.37 15.4 2.5 Good
Turnip greens, cooked 1 cup 28.8 0.09 3.8 2.3 Good
Cod, baked/broiled 4 oz-wt 119.1 0.32 13.3 2.0 Good
Strawberries 1 cup 43.2 0.11 4.6 1.9 Good
Green beans, boiled 1 cup 43.8 0.11 4.6 1.9 Good
Snapper, baked/broiled 4 oz-wt 145.2 0.36 15.0 1.9 Good
Scallops, baked/broiled 4 oz-wt 151.7 0.35 14.6 1.7 Good
Tuna, yellowfin, baked/broiled 4 oz-wt 157.6 0.33 13.8 1.6 good
Raspberries 1 cup 60.3 0.12 5.0 1.5 good
Miso 1 oz 70.8 0.14 5.8 1.5 good

It was an eye-opener to discover that so many vegetables are good to very good sources of Omega 3s J

Some other commonly used items that are good sources of Omega 3s are canola oil (it is better for cooking than flax oil because flax oil is destroyed by heat.), hempseed and wheat germ oil.

Useful Links:

I found this websites especially useful to understand more about flax, omega 3s and related topics:

–          http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=84 (loved this website!)

–          http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/flaxseed/NS_patient-flaxseed/DSECTION=safety

–          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega-3_fatty_acid#Dietary_sources

–          http://www.suite101.com/content/foods-rich-in-omega3-fatty-acids-a143527

–          http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/questions/omega-3/index.html

Some of the unlikely products readers have seen to contain flax are Cliff bar,  Naked Brand health drinks, bars, Quaker Oatmeal, Isagenix Shake and MorningStar Farms Sesame Chik’n

Some Pointers:

1)    A skin-prick test may not show an allergy to flax

2)    People allergic to flax seed are not necessarily allergic to flax seed oil.

 

This blog post would not have been possible without reader contribution. Thanks  to all the readers who have enriched AllergyFoodie through their comments and helped many understand a little bit more about this uncommon food allergy!

 

86 thoughts on “More on ‘Flax Seed Allergy’

  1. Thank you for posting this information, it has been very helpful to me as I’ve learned this past year that my 6 year old daughter is very allergic to flaxseed.

  2. Thank you for this information. I am suspecting flax as a potential trigger for a severe food reaction. I didn’t consider it at first. I had some crackers made with flax but I’m not certain what exactly the cause of the reaction was.

    1. Hi Missy – I am glad that the information on AllergyFoodie helped you narrow down the potential allergen. Looks like with the increasing usage of Flax in the food industry, the number of people with flax allergies has also increased alarmingly. Please keep us posted on anything new you might learn about this allergy because it would be beneficial to many of our readers.

  3. Thank you for the very timely and valuable info. We just found out after a scary day in the ER that our one-year-old grandson is highly allergic to flax seed. As of today, no other food allergies have been identified or discovered thankfully.. I read labels, on occasion, looking for things like sodium as well as the usual calorie etc counts, but now I am reading everything! Thanks again for the very helpful information.

  4. Like so many who’ve written, I, too am extremely grateful to you fordoing the considerable research to make all of this information available, and for creating a place to communicate with other flax-allergy sufferers.

    I ate milled flax seed for the first time with some oatmeal on Wednesday, and my hives are still as bad now as they became that night. My digestive system is screwed up, and this raging headache hasn’t diminished, either.

    It’s extremely helpful to know that after your first reaction, future ones can become even worse. I’ll definitely be getting an Epi-Pen. Benadryl seems to take several doses to help.

    I’ve realized I’ll also need to check for flax in the “organic” treats we get for our dog, since I don’t want so much as to touch the stuff.

    I’m hoping my reaction wasn’t bad enough that I can no longer wear linen; almost all of my summer shirts are linen . . . . Has anyone had trouble with this?

    Thanks so much to Anu Rao, to Ali, and to everyone. It makes a world of difference to know you’re not alone, and to have access to this great support.

    1. Thanks Ann for visiting Allergy Foodie. So glad that you could find a community here that understands a rare allergy such as this one. Many readers have said that even their doctors could not believe that a person could be allergic to flax. At such moments we second-guess ourselves but allergies are real even if it is not common. A great pointer on how succeeding attacks could be more severe and Benadryl alone may not be enough to stem the reaction.

  5. Thank you so very much for this. I think I had a severe allergic reaction to flaxseed yesterday. Very strong forced heartbeat after consumption of foods I made with it. I added flax into my diet about a month before any symptoms arose but recently started upping the amount I was consuming. Thanks again for all your dedication in helping others in need when hardly any help is out there. Means so much!!!

  6. I am 32 and became increasingly ill with digestive “problems” after age 19. At 25 I had a anaphylactic reaction to flax seed and since cutting it out (albeit the skin prick test was inconclusive real life tells me otherwise!) All the other GI symptoms have disappeared. Guess it was a slow build up of sensitivity and eventually a very scary allergy. Most people still do not believe me……sad. I have so far only met one other person with this allergy. Why on earth would someone make that up?? That and when I say I have this allergy half the people look at me and stare blankly…….

    Thank you for the list of “other names” to watch for. I have had a few scary moments where it has been snuck into breads/salad dressings/oil based vitamins and omega eggs (guess the hens are fed flax but its not on the label – it is however on their website though and I filed a complaint that they should have all things listed in both places!). I will make sure to revisit this page.

    Sad, its so healthy for you 😦 but hey at least I can have walnuts etc.

    Tara

  7. This information is incredible! I realized I was allergic to flax last year and am finding it more and more difficult to avoid. It has become an annoyingly “trendy” ingredient. I have only experienced the GI issues (sharp pains, nausea, etc), cold sweats, hives, and throat/ mouth itchiness, but I have not had trouble breathing. Does anyone know if this allergy can lead to something more severe, such as anaphylaxis?

    1. My 7 year old found out she was allergic to flax about 2 years ago, her doctor did prescribe an epi pen, although we have not had to use it. She did have a strong reaction of vomiting and said her “tongue was moving to the side of her mouth” (perception of a 5 yr. Old) I did not visibly see her tongue swelling- went by what she was telling me.They say the reaction gets worse each time you come in contact, so I would keep a close eye on it!

    2. Absolutely! As with any allergy. Any time can be THE time. Please get yourself an epi pen but more importantly stop ingesting it! (That is exactly how mine started…)

    3. Yes it can. I used to eat milled flaxseed as part of my normal diet and have recently started eating organic flaxseed waffles. I started noticing about a week ago that I was developing a weird abrasion inside of my cheeks and when I would brush my teeth it felt like my toothbrush was made out of metal. I though it had something to do with the new mouthwash I was using. The reaction went away for a couple of days and then one morning as I started eating a waffle I felt the abrasions in my mouth come up after about the second bite. I had used a different butter so I thought that was the problem so I pitched the new butter. Then a day later I made dinner rolls and added a packet of milled flaxseed to the dough. Within seconds of eating the first roll my tongue, gums, cheeks, face and throat began to swell and I went into anaphylaxis. It was a terrifying way to identify the allergen and it has taken four days for all of the symptoms to subside. It was a completely different reaction to a food allergy for me (and I have several less than common food allergies-tomatoes/cause hives-mushrooms cause a delayed anaphylaxis.) I used to eat flaxseed every day. Don’t know what triggered the sudden reaction and am not all about tempting fate to find out.

  8. yes, flax seed is causing delayed hives and itching. just started adding it to salad, a pretty good amount maybe 2 or more tablespoons, crushed from whole seeds by hand. it takes an hour or two but then it starts in my palms with burning/itching then ultimately spreads through my body with burning/itching/hives. felt in my groin, and almost everywhere(eyes, anal, etc) but not at once. interesting how it goes thru the body, taking and affecting specific places at given times. i have twice added the flax and twice had this after. i’m not allergic to eating things, but rolling in some grasses as a kid caused similar but worse symptoms. my symptoms go away within a day but do last for a few or more hours. i will try again with much less, would like to eat some for the benefits, too much is now not a good option, hard to scratch itchies/burning that start from the inside. Best wishes

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  10. I have not been allergic to anything in my life, but started getting short -lived bad headaches a few months ago. I started adding flaxseed meal to my smoothies. I wonder if that is causing the problem. I add 1-2 tablespoons each time. I am going to cut it out of my diet for a while and see if the headaches go away. I have no other symptoms. Strange. Anyone else had just headaches?

  11. Thank you all for the wealth of info here! I do not have allergies that I know of but do have some problems with regular bowel movements even though I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit. I found out I was allergic to the Quaker Oats Instant Oatmeal about a month ago and remembered the flax so substituted. Now I’m having the same problems with that. No wonder…I see the oatmeal may have flax in it! My symptoms increase very gradually. I am fine for a few weeks, then start with gas and bloating and bowel movements are not satisfactory although I have two or three a day. With the oatmeal, the bloating was so severe I could hardly eat and I had a lot of phlegm in the morning. My ankles and legs were so swollen and I had never had such a problem before. When I stopped the oatmeal everything was fine. Started flax, everything was fine til a few days ago. What I did not connect was the hives issue, itching in the groin area, and headaches. It comes and goes and I keep thinking I brushed up against a plant or something. Well, I guess I did! So, with me, it seems to be fine and then suddenly wallops me. I know these are all symptoms of allergies but since I don’t have other problems I didn’t make the connection.

    As for people not believing such a thing….take heart! I worked at a health food store and flax was sacred. It could not POSSIBLY be an allergen to anybody and the more you ate the better it was. It is just the symptom of mass marketing creating mass hypnotism on a certain product. Flax is wonderful, I know, and many things are. But not everything is good for every body and we must use our discernment to find out what is for us and what isn’t. I always told customers that but…yes…they looked at me with a blank stare. Hypnotized!

    Again, thank you all so much! Now to find another source of fiber!

    1. Hello, after having reactions to flax seeds, i thought of a possible connection. my son has peanut allergies, and it has recently been shown that vaccines have adjuvants that aren’t disclosed, such as peanut oil, but also flax seed oil.. so it is possible that we became allergic to flax seed(and my son to peanuts) because of vaccines. they are designed to create the response in the body and also bypass all normal body systems as they are injected past those.. the rise in prevalence of peanut allergy(once almost unheard of) whether by causation or coincidence, coincides with the rise of vaccines.. now if you were never given any vaccines that might be meaningful, but otherwise you might fall into my group of possibly another side effect of being vaccinated. Best wishes

  12. Thank you so much for this! I was able to identify my flaxseed allergy a few years ago (by horrible, horrible process of elimination) and at the time there was zero information on the internet about allergies and intolerances. I felt at times very alone and almost crazy because no one had ever heard of it yet the thought of ingesting flax accidentally was terrifying for me. I’ve only accidentally ingested it a few times since…and I have to say each time my reactions got worse than the last. I suffer from severe headaches, itchy throat, severe unrelenting abdominal pain, diarrhea and uncontrollable projectile vomiting. You don’t know how relieving it is to read that there are others out there that identify with me.

  13. I have been allergic to flax seed for a good 12 years plus. I found this website to gain information on cross allergies since flax seed is becoming so popular. A few tips..watch out for certain salon hair products, pizza crusts, dog foods, some pre-menopausal supplements and most “healthy” breads! Glad to know I am not the only one with an uncommon allergy!!

  14. Thank you so much all of you for sharing. I thought I was the only one with a food intolerance to flax seed. I have had a reaction a few times in the past and flax seed has always been the common link. Today I ordered an acai bowl and had a reaction about three hours later. I called the acai shop to confirm the ingredients and sure enough, they used flax seed granola.

  15. I had flax for the first time in a flat bread that I bought. I ate it for dinner and the next day I woke up with hives all over my face, neck, chest, back, arm pits. I looked like a monster! I had to go get a steroid shot and be put on steroids for 6 days. I narrowed it down to Flax because everything else I ate or used such as shampoos and lotions are all things that I have had for years. I will watch out for it in the future!

  16. I have ended up in Intensive Care twice for anaphylactic shock reactions, and both times I came very close to dying. Flaxseed is such a “hidden” allergen and that’s what makes it so dangerous. When I ask waiters in restaurants if the bread or crackers on the table contain flaxseed, they’ll usually just peer at them and say, “Hmmm…I don’t see any.” When in doubt, I usually just don’t eat something that’s questionable. I’d love to try a gluten-free diet, but so many gluten-free products substitute flaxseed for wheat! (My dog is allergic to wheat and corn, and flaxseed is an ingredient in her dog treats! I make sure to wash my hands thoroughly after handling her treats.) I do take Omega 3 capsules, but mine are made from fish, not flax.

  17. Thanks for all the info. The first time I eat something that’s not labeled that I think is probably flaxless but might have flax, I take a tiny bite and chew for a long time. Usually just this causes my mouth and throat to start reacting and then I can spit it out and take some Benadryl. If it’s bread at a restaurant that has lots of stuff in it, I avoid it.

  18. Thanks so much for this info on flax! I really needed it. My daughter & I, both recently became Raw Vegan due to our gluten allergy but then we found out we’re also allergic to flax seeds. We kept getting awfully sick once we started eating flax crackers & flax wraps. Our doctor kept ruling it out until more testing provided indisputable proof because its true how uncommon an allergy to flax seed is. We have been successful in subbing chia seeds in place of flax for our dehydrator crackers & wraps.

  19. wow. thanks so much for this. I discovered i was allergic to flax about 5 years ago (again, afte a two year process of elimination), and it is true, every reaction becomes exponentially worse. And it is everywhere – salad dressings, innocent croutons on an otherwise safe looking salad, the l’occitane hand lotion at my very expensive hotel (which had linseed that i had no idea was in the flax family). RE: the lotion, this discovery was made only three months ago (five years in to my allergy). My first application of the lotion produced only minor itching (which i thought was superficial and related to something else), but by the third application in three days, the hives on both hands were so large i freaked out and tossed the bottle. Thanks to you, i now know that linseed was the culprit! Beware…..

    1. Theresa,
      It’s been so long since I’ve had an allergic reaction to flax that I’d forgotten the need to be aware of linseed, too. Thanks very much for this important reminder. Ann

  20. I have a flax allergy. Can I eat flax fed omega 3 chicken eggs? I’m scared to try, but my husband brought them home and now I’m curious. Not sure if all chickens are fed some flax.

  21. I wouldn’t ingest anything that had the word “flax” on the label, including the eggs. However, omega 3 capsules, etc. are fine, as long as the omega 3 oil comes from fish, and not from flax. Also be careful of the word “linseed,” as that’s another word for “flax.” Not all chickens are fed flax. Just buy the regular eggs (that don’t say “flax”), and eating them should be fine. Let your husband eat the ones that say “flax” on the carton!

  22. When you have a severe allergy (like I do to flax and other things), you have to read every label (including the detailed ingredient list) very carefully before buying (or eating) a product.

  23. Can you be allergic to just ground flaxseed and flaxseed flour but not be allergic to crackers containing flaxseeds and flaxseed oil capsules? I have taken the capsules for a few years as a supplement and eat crackers with flaxseeds and never had a reaction. Recently I added ground flaxseed to my cereal and immediately started sneezing along with extreme itching in my ears and throat. I didn’t think much of it. The next day I ate the same thing and experienced the same symptoms but with severe stomach pain. I then made the connection. The next morning I put a little ground flaxseed in my mouth and immediately started with itchy ears and throat…so then I knew it was indeed the ground flaxseed! Well today I ate some oatmeal. I took one bite and my symptoms started immediately. I read the oatmeal box and it was made with flaxseed flour! Would like to know if anyone else just reacts to the ground flaxseed and flaxseed flour yet is able to take the supplements and eat crackers with whole flaxseeds and not have an allergic reaction!

    1. I would stop eating it! Your allergy had evolved and now ANY time can be the big life threatening anaphylactic one. Stop taking it in all forms! (I’m a registered nurse btw). And get an epi-pen or at very least have Benadryl on you at all times

  24. I like the valuable information you provide in your
    articles. I will bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.
    I am quite certain I will learn many new stuff right here!
    Good luck for the next!

  25. I found your wonderful article in search of an alternative to flax `seeds in homemade crackers. I have known about my flax allergy for years now, and it is amongst many other allergies that cause a host of symptoms related to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.I am a labor intensive healing cook that takes a wide variety of nutritional information into consideration.Love is always my first ingredient. If you know of any other alternatives to flax seed besides chia seeds please let me know. La Druidesa

  26. Nancy Baron, I have just found that to be the case for me– I have eaten many flax seeds, and oils, on crackers and what not. I decided to add them to a dehydrator energy bar mix. I didn’t think anything of it, having eaten them many times as a whole seed, when I ground it up into meal flour. I tasted a small bit, just a pinch, and had a bit of a reaction, but not enough to cause alarm.

    But then, after it had dried out, I ate a bit of the bars and started reacting right away– nose running, tingling in mouth, itchy throat. Wow, I am totally shocked. I must be allergic to raw flax seed ground up.

    It’s in a flower family. The flowering plant family Linaceae. It’s an isolated food. The antioxidite is lignan, shared with these foods:

    Flax seed and sesame seed contain higher levels of lignans than most other foods. The principal lignan precursor found in flaxseed is secoisolariciresinol diglucoside. Other sources of lignans include cereals (rye, wheat, oat and barley – rye being the richest source), soybeans, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, and some fruits, particularly apricots and strawberries.

    But it’s the Secoisolariciresinol that separates flax from all the others.

    What it comes down to is that if I wanted to eat them, I’d probably need to sprout them, make them a sprouted seed, or roast them.

  27. Please be aware that hair conditioner can contain flax as well. My sister left some at my house and I used it today without reading the label….Big mistake……

  28. Thank you for the information on this site! I discovered I have a terrible allergy to flax seed by eating just a tiny morsel of granola. I ended up in the ER. The reaction is immediate with the closing of the throat (a feeling of something sharp in my throat) that leads to severe abdominal pain, hot rash all over the body, then to trouble breathing. I have to carry an Epi pen but haven’t had to use it yet as if I take benedryl the instant I feel the sharpness in my throat, it seems to counter the effects. However, I did eat a whole seed when it was in a dressing of a salad and the effects where prolonged to over a month, as the seed takes time to break down to the tiniest of molecules in the body. It’s very scary that they are putting it in so many foods now. Even a cross contamination will negatively affect me.

    1. I wish so much that flax seed was always listed as an ingredient (if it’s there) in Allergy Information printed out on menu items in restaurants, etc. Because it’s not as common an allergen as dairy, nuts, eggs or even shellfish, it’s not considered important to always list it, even though there are those of us for whom ingesting it could mean sudden death. Maybe we should lobby for more awareness of flax seed allergy, especially now that flaxseeds are ingredients in so many different things.

  29. Thank you so much for this post — it’s been so helpful!

    I have been having several stomach pain, nausea, usually vomiting, and a tightness under my ribs off and on for years, but never knew the culprit. I knew I was reacting to something in Barilla Plus pasta (the yellow box) and the new Newton Thins cookies. This weekend a Chick-fil-A wrap did it. I researched their ingredients today and found flaxseed is common to all three, so I’m thinking that’s the culprit.

    However, I eat Eggland’s Best eggs almost daily (no more than two at a time, although I generally add just one to my lunch salad) and never experience a problem. Now I’m reading that these hens are fed flaxseed.

    Is it possible for me to react to direct consumption of flaxseed but be okay with consuming it indirectly via the eggs? If I’ve been eating these eggs for years without a problem is it safe to assume I can continue to do so?

  30. I can’t believe it took me so long to check online regarding flax allergy! I found out I’m allergic about 7 years ago. My Dr. sent me to a specialist who told me I needed to have my gallbladder out because I had one gallstone! That just didn’t seem right, and soon after that “diagnosis” I put some flax on my cereal (my husband told me it was healthy) and immediately had burning, swelling etc… in the mouth then the vomiting and diarrhea. I’ve also had run-ins with hidden flax – it was even in some gluten free bread that did not have it listed in its ingredients. Must have been cross contamination going on. Thank you all for sharing, and thank you Anu Rao for this blog!

  31. Most home bird seed is high in flax. Thought I was allergic to feathers until I realized that it was the flax dust in the air around bird cages that was making me sick.

  32. I have recently started to grind organic flax seeds and have added it to my diet since I’m a vegetarian and it offers a good source of omegas. Since then I’ve first noticed the itch on my arms and wrists, then ankles and now all over my body. No rash, just constantly itchy skin especially at night. The flax is the only thing I’ve really changed about my diet, could it be it? Has anyone had this before? its driving me absolutely insane.

    1. Dani, not sure if it could be the flax. The only other culprit I could think of would be laundry detergent or fabric softener, or maybe even lotion? My advice would be to cut out the flax for a couple of weeks (get your omegas from fish oil capsules, which do not contain flax, instead) and see if your itching goes away.

  33. My daughter has a severe allergy to flax. In fact it was our first anaphylactic reaction at 8 months we encountered while discovering her multiple food allergies. Allergist was mildly surprised when we confirmed it with a skin prick that turned into a welt the size of my palm. ‘Is it rare?’…..’you can be allergic to anything’ she replied.

    1. keep in mind, flax oil is one of the potential ingredients in vaccines, as is peanut oil. they are adjuvants, and not even listed in any reference the doctors have at their disposal, since they(big business) managed to hide it as an ingredient that is generally considered safe(therefore does not need to be disclosed). not that it is safe but for the sake of business and making money and being allowed to keep secrets for the sake of profit, it is not listed even in the physician’s desk reference. in a court lawsuit this was discovered and shown, the way i confirmed it independently was to search the patent and it was listed there.. and yes, by coincidence or other, the rate of these allergies skyrocketed soon after the use of these oils as adjuvants. their attempt is to filter out/remove the proteins and just keep the oil but the reality is this is impossible and some proteins slip past and into the vaccines, that are then intended to teach the body to have a reaction to the substance injected into it.. if somebody has the allergy and has never been vaccinated, that would be information that might could contradict the above info, but it still wouldn’t rule out this causing allergic reactions for the rest of us who were vaccinated and now allergic to flax, or peanuts, or the other adjuvants listed. Best wishes

  34. Hi – I have a flaxseed allergy. Discovered it one night having an appetizer with a friend (flaxseed chips and hummus). I thought I just had a virus – had an itchy throat and a rock in my stomach – had to throw up later. A few days later I had jury duty and decided to eat a Luna bar – same symptoms. I checked the label and lo and behold – flaxseed. Put two and two together – have always had to watch it. It gets snuck into pizza dough, all kinds of products from the health food section of the grocery store, even my children’s vitamins. Luckily I think they didn’t inherit my allergy. Check those vitamins people! I recently had a grilled chicken wrap from Chick-fil-A – unbeknownst to me they have changed their recipe. The wrap itself is made with flax flour. I had terrible sharp abdominal pain and labored breathing for about an hour. Best of luck to everyone out there with this problem – it is very real.

  35. thanx God I found this! I think I might be allergic to flaxseed, but I’m not sure.

    I started to eat flaxseed with yogurt in breakfast, and it didn’t caused any problem, but the last two times I can remember I ate flaxseed it was blended in a banana smothie, and it caused me itchy throat, sore stomach and diarrea.

    Why it didn’t caused any problem with the yogurt?

  36. I have severe gastroparesis and started flaxseed oil capsules two months ago to help me in digestion. For two months I have been trying to figure out where the severe itching has been coming from. I just finally realized it was the flaxseed. I didn’t know because at the same time I had my carpets cleaned with a new cleaner and I had switched laundry detergents. Now I know we re washed all clothes, re did the carpets, and bathed the dogs numerous times for no reason!
    I upped my flaxseed intake because it was helping so well… that is when the itching has been even worse. What a shame for me. Nothing ever helps me and I’d found something I must quit. Even benadryl doesn’t stop the itching.

  37. My 1 year old son had an anaphylactic reaction when he accidently ate my oatmeal with flaxseed in it. When he was 5 he ate Barilla Plus and reacted to it because it had some form of flaxseed. It is really scary. I wish there is a cure for this.

  38. Breal,
    Thanks so much for your comment! I have been trying for ages now to figure out what foods are bothering me and if there are any connections. I have never had an allergy in my life (now 30), but recently I discovered that flax was causing me major problems. Well, I’ve just looked up other sources of lignans and many of them are also problem foods for me (although to a lesser extent than flax). So strange! I had never heard of anyone having problems with foods like sesame, berries and brown rice. I was starting to think I was making it up. I am going to try cutting out all foods with high lignan content and see if that makes a difference!

    1. Oh, also oats. Oats I think were what was causing me to feel sick for the last year. Since I cut out oats and flax I’m feeling much better!

  39. My reaction to flax seed is muscle weakness, fatigue, brain fog, extreme pain in the legs and fibromyalgia itching in parts of the body. I get bloated but so far do not experience vomiting, headaches or inflammation in the mouth. It took several months of eliminating flax to gradually get better.
    At the same time I experienced extreme hypothyroidism to where my endocrinologist had to increase my thyroid hormone intake considerably! When I suggested it may have to do with the flax she looked at me like I had three heads!
    I have a very similar reaction to fish oil supplements. I am questioning if my reaction is less of an allergy to flax and more of a sensitivity to the Omegas in both. An interesting side note: I react in a similar way to the statin cholesterol medicines but stop taking them as soon as I start to feel the leg pain! What could the relationship be? Again, doctors had no clue!

  40. Very useful information. The many names used and product in which flak is used. I have to be very careful.

  41. So great to find this website and comments! I have been allergic for last 9 years and am very careful. But today I had Earth Balance Cococut peanut butter that doesn’t have flax listed but they make a regular peanut butter with flax. I had a full on flax allergic reaction from the cross contamination. Probably best to stay away from all Earth Balance items since they use so much flax.

  42. THANK YOU! i am extremely allergic to flax and this article make me feel less alone. No one believed me either but I knew without a doubt. An allergy blood test confirmed it, and many more allergies 😦 I have had some other foods though without flax that I had the same reaction to (a peach and Raisinets candy-both of which I used to eat when I was younger) and it makes me nervous I will get to the point where I can eat only a couple of things.

  43. My reaction to flaxseed oil first began with the uvula filling with blood. I was at a restaurant and it suddenly felt as if I had swallowed a mouthful of crushed glass. My Dr. was baffled and had never seen this. Elimination food diet was suggested. I stopped eating anything I thought had caused this, but reactions were continuing for no apparent reason. Then one night, again, while out to dinner with some friends, felt a choking sensation in my throat although I wasn’t choking. I went into the restroom trying to figure out if something was caught in my throat. I intententionally start coughing, then saw blood in the sink. I’m thinking OMG, coughing up blood is not a good thing! That did it. I stopped eating practically everything and stopped all supplements. Great, no more problems. Then a few weeks later, I added back my flaxseed oil on my way out the door to work. Ten minutes later, 2 blocks from my work, looked down and saw some blood on my shirt, looked in my rear view mirror and blood was running out of both nostrils. Since figuring out it was flaxseed oil, I have had accidental contact with flax seed in food, but no serious bleeding issues. I still get a strange feeling and my mouth and throat after eating something with flax. I read every label, made sure everybody in my family knew, and ask alot of questions about the food I’m about to order. I can’t eat multi-grain bread, because flax is in big now in bread. Now I’m seeing cereal and other things with flax, sometimes listed only as omega 3.

  44. I am so glad to find this website! My experience with flax allergy covers not just makeup and skin care (which contain linseed oil) but I can’t even eat beef and other meats if the cattle have been fed flax in their feed. The same holds true for fish and sea food that is farm raised (since flax may be a part of their feed). I had to realize that in food production facilities the same equipment that grinds flax also processes other seeds and grains! This gi es me flax allergy reactions because of cross contamination from flax residue on food processing equipment. For that reason, store bought salad dressings, cereals, sauces etc are suspect. My symptoms are consistently: large itchy painful lumps all over my feet, legs, hands and wrists, and swollen lips.

    1. Hi Jean, Thanks for much for this thorough and clear information. I had no idea that I need to be aware of meats and seafood, too. I get the same allergic symptoms you do. Take care, Ann

  45. I was given an Isogenix shake from a friend who said it didn’t have flax. So, here I am, nauseous, vomiting, lying on my bathroom floor with the most painful stomach pains ever. It seems I can’t drink any liquids or eat anything without the stomach pains coming on full force. Have you heard of this happening? I mean, I can’t even drink water after I’ve thrown up consistently from 10am-3pm. Any advice or knowledge would beSO appreciated.

    1. My reaction to flax is exactly like yours. I can almost set a timer. 6 hours of intense pain, nausea etc. I sympathizing with you and I stay away from all shakes. I’ve become the annoying person that doesn’t eat bread,etc out because I don’t trust that there isn’t flax.

  46. Same here. The worst pain ever. Get some Benadryl in you. (Take gravol first if you need too, can get suppositories). A doc told me to take Zantac with the Benadryl as well (before I had anaphylactic reactions that included airway troubles). It seemed to help a little more than just Benadryl. If it’s horrible go to the hospital, just because you’re still breathing doesn’t make it any less of anaphylactic reaction. They can give you steroids etc if needed. (I’m a nurse also)

    Good luck. Will be better tomorrow. And read your labels!

  47. Hi All – I wanted everyone to know that a friend of mine offered me a snack from her Nature Box and although it didn’t have flax listed on the ingredients (peanut butter non non), there was cross contamination and I got very sick. Just wanted to make you aware! Also I took Benadryl, Zantac and about half of cup of apple cider vinegar right after it happened. Although I still had the mouth reaction and breathing reaction, the stomach cramps were not as bad as they have been. Something to try!

  48. Several months ago I got sick after eating a sandwich that my boss had gotten for us for lunch. I’m not sure what kind of bread it was, but some kind of healthy whole grain something. I noticed a slight tingling in my mouth and throat while eating it and after lunch, but passed it off as something else. Within 15 minutes I had to run to the restroom because I was so nauseated. I’m one that absolutely hates to vomit, but it was inevitable. I had to leave work after because it made me feel so bad. I didn’t link it to the flaxseed until just a couple days ago I got some ground flaxseed meal to add to my diet for fiber benefits and what not. I mixed it with yogurt and tried it first. I wanted to add to my kids diets as well, so I figured I’d try it first to make sure they would even eat it. Within minutes of eating the yogurt, I felt horrible; mouth and throat tingled, stomach hurt, head started feeling flushed. I once again raced to the restroom and could not keep it down. I felt some relief once again after vomiting, but still felt very weak and ill. All I could do was go to bed and hope to feel better in the morning. This is when I connected this reaction to what I knew was the ground flaxseed to the sandwich of healthy bread from the previous incident. I have no known allergies to anything; medicines, food, insects, etc. This is my only experience with any kind of food reaction in my life. I never realized it could make me so sick and ill so quickly. Glad I found out I’m not the only one with this, everything you find on the internet talks about how good this stuff is, but no where is there any warning for an allergic reaction to it.

  49. Hi,

    Thank you for the article and all the comments.

    I believe I’ve just discovered that I’m allergic to flaxseed and I’ve just had to go to the doctor’s with a nasty reaction – very sudden hot flush, red patches on skin, racing hart, faintness… Because a relative has a very severe nut allegy that has put them in hospital a couple of time I rather panicked too.

    I’m to have some blood tests. I had eaten muesli and put a much larger amount than usual of flaxseed on it. I’ve had a mild allergic reaction to nuts since childhood – just an itchy mouth – so it’s possible that it was something else in the muesli (now I understand that allergies can occur to something you’ve eaten safely previously), but flaxseed is the main variable.

    I notice some people are asking why they are reacting to some flaxseed products but not others. I was looking around and I noticed that the same confusion sometimes occurs with sesame allergy because the seeds are so small that we don’t always break them open when eating them, releasing the proteins that cause the reaction. So I guess it would be possible to eat whole flaxseeds and not react if you didn’t happen to crunch them, but react instantly to ground flaxseed.

    It would seem you’re one of the top Google results for “flaxseed allergy”, Anu! Thank you for your work and I wish you well with the blog.

  50. My son, who is 18 months old, was just diagnosed with a flaxseed allergy. He had had flaxseed in pancakes many times with no problems, but then reacted immediately with wheezing when I gave him some of my flax granola. I’m wondering why he had no problems with the pancakes? My daughter has an egg allergy, but can have them in baked goods, pancakes…etc because the protein in the egg changes when cooked. Could it be the same thing with flaxseed? My son was able to tolerate them when cooked? Any experience with this??

  51. Can anyone comment if there is a relationship between flaxseed and psyllium seed? I see that the latter is recommended for. gluten-lfree pizza dough on the food show “America’s Test Kitchen” on PBS, and I’m wondering if I’d have a reaction if I made the recipe, as I am very allergic to flaxseed.

  52. Whoa! Thanks so much for this website and the comments. I’ve been researching Barilla Plus Pasta for a couple years because the reaction I have is really violent (for me). Nausea, violent vomiting while having diarrhea, then fatigue to the point of not being able to get off the floor and severe sweating. I haven’t been able to pinpoint what is in the pasta that effects me so I started researching one ingredient at a time. There’s another comment here about Barilla Plus Pasta, but then the person also reacts to a Chick Fil A wrap, which I also eat and love-with no problems. Perhaps it’s because the flax seed is ground into flour in the pasta. I have no such reaction to regular pasta.
    Anyway, hope I’m narrowing it down finally.

  53. I discovered my flaxseed allergy about five years ago. It started out as some slight nausea and stomach upset after eating whole wheat tortillas. I compared the ingredients with the regular flour tortillas I had eaten the previous day with no trouble and kept the list of different ingredients and kept it to compare to future attacks until I had it whittled down to flaxseed. For years, people thought I was mistaken, that it had to be something else, dairy, soy, eggs, something more common. That flaxseed just wasn’t an allergen. People are now coming around to the thought of a flaxseed allergy, unfortunately it has launched itself into superfood stardom in the past few years and is now in everything; things i’d never expect.

    My allergy has only gotten worse over the years. What started out as slight upset stomach has turned into anaphylaxis symptoms; throat swelling shut, flushed, nausea, short of breath, itchy eyes and ears, and horrible, horrible stomach pains that have me writhing for a solid six+ hours. And that’s after a hearty dose of Benadryl. I’ve just been recommended to carry an epipen in case of accidental ingestion. I’m wary of eating anything new. I read ingredient labels on everything twice. I don’t eat homemade baked goods unless I can ask the baker if flaxseed was used. Unfortunately, servers and cooks in restaurants are usually only aware of the eight common allergens, and can easily glaze over the various forms of flax on an ingredient label. I have to ask them to bring any relevant ingredient labels out to me because I’ve been let down by them before.

    I’m simultaneously glad that I am not the only one dealing with these things and also sad that others have to deal with this terrible allergy.

    I’ve never personally had an issue with the microwaveable flax seed bags (though it’s possible the bag I own does not contain flax but another grain or seed), and I had to handle flax oil with bare hands to mix in with animal diets and that seemed to have no negative effect on me. As far as I know, my allergy is only effective if I consume the allergen. That being said, I know my allergy has only gotten worse and worse, and I wouldn’t be surprised if inhalation or skin contact gave me a reaction the future.

    1. That sounds like me too. It’s around 6 hours of horrible, horrible stomach pains and vomiting and I literally can watch the clock and after 6 hours know it will eventually get better. Wondering if it takes that long to get through the system? I don’t know but it’s horrible when you know you’ve consumed it, because it’s a long 6+ hours. And after I vomit, it’s still a full 6 hours regardless of getting sick. Vomiting doesn’t help. I’m sorry you have this but glad I’m not going crazy. If enough people get this maybe it will stop being in so much!

  54. I had some gluten free bread recently while eating out, which had ground flaxseeds in. Over the next 24 hours developed very flushed cheeks and a fever with chills, as well as diarrhoea. I do get diverticulitis, and am wary of whole flaxseeds. It’s gone away with no treatment, but I just googled wondering if it could be a sensitivity instead and found my symptoms listed here. Still not sure whether it’s an allergic reaction or diverticulitis – but will be wary of flax seeds. Thanks for the information.

  55. I developed a anaphylactic allergy to flax seed in 2012. I believe it probably started in 2010 with a flax seed filled neck wrap. I have unfortunately become aware there is flax in every thing! So my recent problem is with dog food. Hoping for some suggestions? I have avoided brands with flax listed but recently have had issues that led me to your site and comparing all the “other names” flax hides in.

  56. BEWARE of Naked brand fruit juices! Not all but some flavors contain flax. i just experienced a major flaxccident after consuming just a few sips of ‘Red Boost’. I normally don’t think to check the labels of juices or any beverage. I will now be more careful after this hard lesson I learned today.j

    1. There’s also a few salad dressings out there now! (And even the “healthier” lunch meat at superstore for goodness shakes!) Read the label!

  57. On Monday, my 9 month old daughter was tested and diagnosed with a severe flaxseed allergy. According to the allergist, this is very rare (under tested for?) I have been unable to find a lot of research and information regarding flax allergies, why is this?

    Our journey began earlier this month when she put her mouth on my smoothie glass. She immediately got hives on her face and chest. I gave a dose of Benadryl right away and monitored her closely. We thought it was strawberries so our pediatrician referred us to an allergist. I brought all the ingredients from smoothie and she tested positive for flax.

    The allergist said he never saw such a severe response to it before. He actually stated before he tested that he highly doubted flax was a source. (In fact they don’t even offer it..thank goodness I brought my own). I think it’s probably more common but not routinely tested for.

    TIP: bring your own flax to allergy appointment (ground flax) it is not an allergen tested for.

    How do you all avoid ingestion/cross contamination when dining out?

    1. Let’s keep this conversation going! We need the public to understand the severity of this allergen.

    2. Flax is very fashionable it seems, it’s seen as so healthy, and is a source of plenty of fibre, so it’s being included in more and more foods and recipes. Now it’s being eaten so routinely, I imagine there will be more allergic reactions. What a good thing you took some with you.

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