Flax Seed Allergy

Some time back I had written a series of posts on Flax Seed Allergy – a food allergy that is relatively rare but just as dangerous.

I was surprised with the number of readers who shared their experiences and in the process gave invaluable input. The comments section following each of these posts is a great resource for anyone with Flax Seed allergy. Do use this forum to add your unique insight or just connect with others.

62 thoughts on “Flax Seed Allergy

  1. I wonder if it is possible to have respiratory allergy symptoms to a flaxseed microwaveable neck pillow. I recently started using it a LOT and have developed a weird thickness in my throat when I swallow.

    1. It is absolutely possible. I had not been able to use those heated pillows for years before I became aware of my allergy to flax. My lips would swell and my face would get itchy. I had thought it was one of the scented oils they use in them. With the increased use of flax in food products, I found out the hard way that it was actually the flax. I have a severe reaction to flax. Take your reaction as a warning and be very cautious of digesting it! Also, I would suggest you find a different type of pillow.

    2. I was at a fair a while back where a man had a booth set up explaining the process of making linen using flax. (As far as I’m aware, I don’t have any reactions to linen, thank goodness.) As I was talking with him, I could feel my throat and mouth start to swell, making it difficult to swallow and breathe. That’s the main reaction I have when I eat something with flax seed. I don’t know how that works, but I guess whatever it is about flax seed that I’m allergic to can also be airborne. So I’d say it’s entirely possible that you’re having a reaction to your pillow. I’ll have to remember that, be cautious myself. Hope that helps!

    3. I realize this post was left quite awhile ago, but I had posted elsewhere on this site about a microwavable heat pack that I had to return due to the flax seed inside of it. Allergies come in many different forms, so yes, that is definitely an allergic reaction.

  2. I learned this year that I am allergic to flax seed. Just the smallest amount results in physical reactions…cold and hot sweats, pain throughout torso, headaches and violent vomiting. Does anyone know what causes a flax allergy or if there is anything that be done to remedy it?

    1. I don’t know what to do, but I have the same reaction. It is awful. Read all labels and do stay away from using flak or any thing with flax.

  3. I tried ground flaxseed in a homemade face mask and broke out in hives on my face. A year later I tried a tablespoon in my green smoothie and started getting a runny nose and weepy eye halfway through my glass. Its safe to say I’ll be avoiding this “superfood” supplement from now on!

  4. In the past 10 years, I have developed some sort of intolerance to “multi-grain” products, such as pasta & breads. So far the only common ingredient I can track (when I have a list of ingredients) is Flaxseed. It affects me immediately, often with a burning sensation in my throat, followed quickly by intense nausea and stomach pain. After an hour or two, I vomit violently. Once it’s all out of my system, 3 hours or more, I am fine. It does not take much, just a couple bites of something. Would be comforting to know I’m not the only one, as awful as it is!

    1. You’re definitely not the only one. I have reactions even when the label says “2% or less of” before it lists flax seed. My symptoms are similar to yours. My throat and mouth swell up, swallowing is difficult, my whole body hurts but especially my stomach, and I usually throw up within an hour or two, sometimes sooner. I’m usually fine a few hours after that, but last time, it took me almost 24 hours of fitful sleeping before I felt okay, and even then I wasn’t at 100%. I will always check labels from now on.

    2. You’re not alone, and I feel better knowing it isn’t just me. I finally figured out it must be flaxseed that makes my stomach bloat like crazy, have bad abdominal pain, and then at times violent vomiting to rid my system. Once it passes I’m fine again. It is frustrating as most allergies seem to be with nuts.

    3. Not the only one! It took three trips to the ER and two trips to the allergy doctor before I was able to completely determine that I have a flax seed allergy. I stay away from anything “multi-grain”.

      1. You should always read the labels. I am starting to see flax show up in “white bread” products that you would normally consider safe.

  5. I was just searching to see if such condition exists cause I`ve made myself some flaxseed meal tortillas yesterday and today, and I`ve been experiencing stomach pain and bloating. Yesterday i wasn`t sure if it`s the flax meal but today I am. I had intolerance to cucumber one year ago and I had the same symptomps. I took a break for 6 months and now I can eat cucumber again. And also this is not the first time I am making flax meal tortillas. I had this like 3 months ago (last time). And it has been fine. As I know from doctors it is possible for a condition like this to start at some point even though I didn`t have any problems before and to hopefully end if I take a break long enough.

    1. I had no problems with flax seed until about a year and a half ago. I don’t know if I had ever had flax seed before then, but surely I had. It’s in a lot of health food things, similar to what my mom loved to make us eat. But I had never had a true allergic reaction to anything until recently. I’ve had intolerances, like with gluten and lactose, but with this my throat swells up, along with other symptoms. I’d love to figure out how/why this allergy developed, but until then, I guess I’ll just avoid flaxseed at all costs.

  6. I am glad to come across this site. I just am now making a beef stew and using ground flax seed as a thickening agent instead of flour, starch, etc. While taste testing, I immediately got an itchy throat and now I have a terrible headache. Since it’s the ONLY variable in my stew, it’s got to be a reaction to it. I don’t think I’ll be having it for dinner tonight 😩

  7. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one out there with the SAME horrible symptoms of flaxseed. My first allergic reaction was in 2002 (I was 17) when I ate flaxseed waffles, I was so sick and had never experienced an allergic reaction before: extremely itchy mouth and throat, burning sensation in stomach with an increase in nauseas the longer it was in my system, swelling and finally violent vomiting, which then would result me going back to normal within an hour.
    I am now 30 and pregnant and am super cautious because of my many accidental flaxseed ingestions. I had to get an epi pen five years ago because I ate a Vegan chocolate macaroon (ground flax as an egg substitute for vegan products) and when I vomited, it got up my nose and everything instantly swelled and I couldn’t breathe or swallow to take another Benadryl and ran to my neighbor’s house who called EMS.
    Unfortunately, flaxseed is not listed under any of the known food allergies, so one must read each ingredient very carefully. I wish it would be added to allergy labels (Contains or made in faculty with dairy, soy etc.)
    Lastly, Starbuck’s cakes/breads have ground flaxseed, for all of you needing to avoid it, beware, it is typically in the least harmful looking things you think of.

  8. Flax (ground) kills my gut. Bloat makes my whole body out of sorts. Physillium does the same. True to use the flax in Dr. Davis Wheat Belly bread recipes. Have replaced with hemp seed. No problem.

    1. Any reactions to other seeds? Chia, fennel, hemp? Could this be a psyllium allergy? I can take flax oil but have the severe reactions to the seeds.

  9. I just found out (via a food allergy blood test) that I am VERY allergic to flaxseed. I’d never have figured this out by myself, as I don’t get a typical allergic reaction to it. I was having constant migraines, and once I got the blood test results and cut the flaxseed out — no more migraines! Food allergies can manifest themselves in different ways. So many migraines…

    1. I have had chest palpitations after eating wheat and gluten, so I had a blood test for food allergies. There are several foods that show up but wheat and gluten are the only ones I notice any symptoms from. I was trying to do low carb and gluten free, so I was eating a fair amount of flax products. Guess what food shows the highest allergy? Flax! But I don’t feel any reaction in any kind of way. I don’t understand that.

  10. I recently was informed about my flaxseed allergy (along with many other allergies which make it hard to decipher what is causing each reaction) and am curious if anyone knows of any foods that could contain flaxseed without me actually adding it in myself?

    1. Lots of bread products use it and some companies are adding it to existing products. I had fajitas this week and brought some wraps from the Coop instead of the Tesco ones I usually buy. I didn’t think to check the ingredients as I thought all white wraps were the same. The Coop wraps contain ground Flaxseed! I was extremely ill. What shocked me the most was the wraps had a small amount of flaxseed in them and they were only a small part of my meal but the reaction was just as bad if not worse than the first bad experience, when I consumed about 25g of flaxseed.

      I think maybe the reaction is a genetic thing as immature raw flaxseeds are poisonous so maybe over time some of us have become allergic to protect ourselves.

  11. I had a horrible reaction to Chick-fil-a’s wrap – so bad, an ambulance was called. My oxygen level ws very low, terrible diarrhea (sorry) and stomach cramps, asthma attack, hives, throat swelled, Etc. This food allergy was later confirmed with allergy testing. What is scary is flaxseed is becoming so popular but it does not have to be listed as an allergen ingredient. Subway multi grain rolls have flaxseed. Wendy’s flatbread has flaxseed. And it doesn’t stop at food. READ MOISTURIZER LABELS!!! Noxema has linseed oil (aka flaxseed). I’m sorry to hear there are others with this – but maybe we are only seeing this now because of the increase in flaxseed use. Maybe it is not that rare and maybe it should be labeled along with wheat, shellfish, etc.

  12. I found out a few years ago I have a pretty bad flaxseed allergy. Even though I try so hard to avoid it they are sneaking it in everything now! I went to my brothers for supper just last night and he had picked up a McCain’s chocolate cake for desert. I was itchy everywhere after two bites and violently throwing up within 20 minutes. Turns out the company has added ground flax seed to alot of their products including cakes and pizza pockets! Who would ever think to look for flax seeds in products like that!

  13. My mom started this flaxseed kick so I joined I added it my yogurt, my cereal ate it in my toast! I started getting this severe pain right above my belly button as if someone stuck a knife in my gut and was twisting it! Severe nausea along with the pain only thing I could do was curl up I. Fetal position and pray for it to pass! Had upper and lower GIs, Drs told me that I was having panic attacks! Lol. I would go to the ER and the only thing to get it to subside was a morphine shot! Then they put me on lithium, so I started taking note when these attacks would happen! Overtime my symptoms got worse where I would just vomit seconds after eating anything with flax meal in it! Stopped eating anything that had flax in it haven’t had an attack in years till I went to a friends house for dinner and she used whole grain pasta in her chilli Mac and up it came 5 minutes after it went down! Definitely Allergic hope this helps someone, I’m not the panic attack type! But doctors will have you believing it when they can’t figure things out!

  14. I get the same allergic reaction from fish oils, walnuts and statins! Leg cramps, lethargy, itchy skin, brain fog, etc. I also suffer from Hashimotos.
    I have experimented by staying away from all those foods for a few months then adding one item. In about 3 days the symptoms come right back! I am not surprised by the foods that have
    The Omega 3’s but the statins?!

  15. I have been having severe stomach propblems, thought diary, eggs…allergy test just came back. Severe flaxseed allergery. Can’t figure out what I am eating with flaxseed. Maybe chickens are eating it and then eggs cause the problem. I do not eat bread, pasta…

  16. I have been itching on my head and upper back for about a month and it had been getting worse. Today I came home and took a second shower I was so miserable. My husband said it might be my shampoo and I started reading the ingredients and found that they both had linseed oil which I looked up to find out is another word for flaxseed oil. So people need to start looking in these kinds of products as well.

  17. My boyfriend and I were made smoothies last night and added a teaspoon of flaxseeds. Within three sips my mouth and throat were itchy and my lips started to swell and were numb. Afterwards, my throat swelled up and I started throwing up. When I tried to talk I couldn’t make any noise. I ended up going to the ER where I had to have an IV and an epi pen. It was so scary; I’ve never been allergic to anything in my life and now I’m really going to have to watch out for flaxseeds! That’s the only ingredient that was different from our usual smoothies. I’m still not great today…very weak, headache, throat hurts, etc. I’ve never been so happy to take a deep breath… I never want to go through that again. I will definitely be checking labels from now on.

  18. I have a severe flax allergy and suffer anaphylaxis after ingesting it and now carry epipens. You should be very serious about looking at labels because it is found in many foods.

    Each time I visit an ER due to the reaction the docs there do not believe that I am allergic. Flax should be listed with the FDA and USDA as an official allergen.

    My early symptoms are itchy gums, palms, face, then followed by serious stomach pain, and then I get very weak and my breathing starts to slow, followed by a swelling throat and chest pain. It is VERY serious. Flax is dangerous.

  19. I discovered my flax allergy while I was pregnant in 2004. I ate a “whole wheat” wrap at home, while my entire family, including my husband, was out of town. My sister stayed on the phone with me until my breathing and heart rate eased. I was blowing out both ends, shaking all over, and had the itchy throat swelling, stomach itching and hurting and bloated, and eustachion tube/ears felt like they were on fire. It was scary! I’ve probably had 4 or 5 exposures since then, and they have been progressively worse each time. The last one, my whole body itched and swelled and broke out in hives, my eyes swelled shut, I vomited and pooped violently, and the pain and internal itching were awful. My husband tried to take me to the ER, but I used my epi pen, took a bunch of benedryl, and refused to go. I probably wasn’t very rational at the time…

    I have recently discovered I’m starting to react to sesame seeds and raw cucumbers too, although not as severely. I’ve always been allergic to raw tree nuts (although they are fine if cooked), but that reaction is nothing compared to flax. Naproxen sodium (Aleve) does the same thing to me as flax, although it’s easier to avoid so I haven’t had as many exposures (2 was all it took).

    The sneaking of flax products into foods is getting crazy. I recently went to a nice steakhouse in Dallas, and when I started chewing my first bite of bread realized there were seeds in it, so I spit them out before crushing them. The waiter confirmed it was flax, and the poor manager spazzed out. I was fine, but it kind of ruined the meal, waiting to see if I was going to start reacting or not.

  20. I’m also severely allergic to flaxseed. I agree that it’s becoming more and more common in food products, and that flaxseed should be included in allergy warning labels. Some progress though: for the first time the other day I saw flaxseed included in a list of allergy warnings on a bag of chips!

  21. Totally agree!!! And it should be one of the standards to test for in allergy testing. When I went for my test, the nurse had to go to a grocery store for flaxseed so they could test me. It wasn’t even on their list of allergens to test.

  22. I think it’s really interesting that someone else had a reaction to both Aleve and flax. I am VIOLENTLY allergic to flax, but I also can’t take any kind of ibuprofen because it makes my face swell, or Aleve because it makes me feel sick all over. Naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen are similar drugs, so maybe the allergen molecules are similar? I’m curious if anyone else has the same reactions.

  23. Wow…glad I found this site. I discovered my allergy to flax after about 3-4 times of getting the horrible itchy thorough, mouth, and cramping. Taste testing at Costco! Multi grain chips. Sara Lee started adding it to their while wheat bread….it’s everywhere. Hadn’t gotten sick,in almost 2 years,,but ate the chicken wrap,at Chick-fil-t this week and had to pull over and was violently sick. They are made with flax flour. What a strange allergy, wish it would get on the national allergen list.

  24. i had a violent reaction today after having ground flaxseed on steamed vegetables for lunch. within 30 minutes,i had explosive diarrhea and terrible stomach cramps .i felt my blood pressure drop too. very frightening !no more flaxseed for me!

  25. Be careful some “white” looking potato rolls bought at Safeway have flax in them. Be sure to read your labels and if labels are not available do without your breads.

  26. A few years back I was hosting friends for dinner and, knowing everyone was eating a ‘healthy’ diet, I served up whole grain pasta. After a couple of bites I had to dismiss myself to the bathroom with violent pain, so violent that I felt like I would die. I broke out in an intense sweat and, after it was out of my system, I was exhausted and it took several hours to fully recover. When this happened a second time after ingesting a whole grain bread, I realized the common factor was flax seed and now avoid it at all cost.

  27. I can no longer eat bread products from Chik-Fil-A or Burger King. I’m kind of sticking to Taco Bell at this point. Salads also may have flax seed sprinkled on them. I’ve been served bread pudding with flax seed, etc. Thanks for telling me to watch out for linseed oil in toiletry products as well. It gets worse every time…

  28. I am also highly allergic to artificial/zero calorie sweeteners – even stevia. Is this common to anyone else? I check on the menu, but found out the hard way that ‘everything’ at TGIFriday’s contains artificial sweetener. And, no, it is not even listed on their website as an ingredient.

  29. So happy to have found this forum! Really felt like I was the only one out there. Not fun to have folks including health professionals tell you it’s not possible and make you feel like a hypochondriac. I even went to an allergy specialist with no help there either. It took me forever to figure out what is was because I have taken flax oil for years. Apparently for me only the seed itself causes this reaction. Anyone else experience this or have any info they can share? Anyone else have any issues with other seeds i.e. Hemp, chia, fennel?

  30. Last Sunday at 1:00 p.m. I bought the Odwalla “100% Fruit Juice Smoothie” and without thinking about my extreme allergy to Flax seed drank about 1/4 cup – probably no more than 4 tablespoons. The list of extra ingredients is minusculely small, but of course ground flaxseed is how they thicken it, which I saw as soon as I felt symptoms and looked because within 5 minutes my throat tingled and itched and partially closed, my ears burned bright red as blood rushed to them.

    I drank a big glass of water hoping that would dilute it – not knowing that the water helps the flax to swell and then turn into a gel and maybe made the reaction worse. Within 15 minutes I threw up violently three times. Felt better for about 1/2 hour, then intense pain in my stomach followed eventually by more vomiting and then diarrhea began as well. This continued on and off all day, with only the vomiting to bring short periods of relief.

    Soon after vomiting, I again writhed with intense stomach pain. As late as 9:00 p.m., 9 hours after I had anything left in my stomach, I was still vomiting from both ends. When I went to bed at midnight, my stomach hurt a lot and it took a long time to fall asleep. By 8 a.m. in the morning when I woke up, I was normal again, at last.

    A note that I checked with Subway when I went to get a submarine sandwich there last week. The Whole Wheat and the 9 Grain Breads they serve both do contain flax. I had them check for me before I purchased. I went with one of the Italian breads and had no problem.

    I just have to remember with all processed foods to be vigilant. And yes, Flax should be listed as an allergen, for certain, and I wish it would be.

  31. I have all the same reactions regarding bloating stomach, violent vomiting, stomach pains. Luckily I do not suffer from the issues of airway swelling. However, to all readers, be careful also of LINSEED, as this is part of the same product. Unfortunately when getting tested for allergies they do NOT test for flaxseed/linseed. I had to take my own product for them to use in their testing.

  32. I had a terrible episode last year when I ate flaxseed oatmeal (twice) with severe stomach pains for a few days afterward. I quickly disposed of the rest of the package. I wasn’t quite sure that was it until yesterday and today when I ate a grainy bread and got the same severe stomach pain. I checked the ingredients, and sure enough, it contains some flaxseed! I now know I have to be very careful and read labels before eating stuff. It’s the worst stomach pain one can imagine!

  33. Anu, I found your site this afternoon when I was looking up “flaxseed allergy”.

    Yesterday, I decided that I’d try to add flax to my diet because it’s so healthy in several ways, so I looked up “flaxseed” on a search engine for a few hours and in all that reading, I didn’t see anything about a possible allergic reaction to it, except for the very last article I clicked on — it cautioned that some people do have an allergic reaction to flax, so if you are just starting out adding it to your diet, don’t go by the “serving size” on the package, but take a little bit and see how you go, adding more to your diet gradually if you are not having reactions.

    I do have long-standing contact and food allergies and/or sensitivities to several other things — shrimp, chamomile tea (and most other members of the ragweed family, including airborne plant pollen, marigold flowers, milk thistle herb, etc.), MSG/artificial flavors, tea tree oil, eucalyptus, all pine products (including pine-scented cleaning solutions, pine essential oil, pinecones, mastic gum), and so forth.

    My diet is pretty plain anyway, I live in an area where there isn’t much of a variety of retail stores/restaurants or healthy foods on offer, and I don’t go to fast food restaurants or eat many processed foods from the supermarket, so I expect that I haven’t been exposed to the great increase of foods in the typical American diet that have had flax added to them in recent years, as reported by your other commenters here (everything from Chick-fil-A and Subway breads to bottled fruit juices to packaged dry oatmeal to skin lotions).

    This morning I decided to open up the package of ground flaxseed I bought last week and give it a try. The serving size on the package said 2 tablespoons, and a text box on the side of the package suggested to add 1 tablespoon to a serving of morning oatmeal. I decided to be cautious and just add 1/2 tablespoon and see if I had any reaction after breakfast. (Now, after reading everyone else’s comments on Anu’s 4 posts about flax allergy, I realize that 1/2 tablespoon was a huge amount to start with if I was worried that I might have an allergic reaction to it, since people are reporting here that they are having terrible life-threatening, emergency-room-visit reactions when eating much, much less than 1/2 tablespoon at a time.)

    I had eaten about 3/4th of my bowl of oatmeal, and I was reading a newspaper and had actually even forgotten about the flax being in it, when I noticed that I was unconsciously scratching both my eyes and that they felt dry, uncomfortable, and hot. If it had happened to just one eye, I would have assumed that something irritating had blown into it from the air, but for it to happen simultaneously in both was odd. I looked in a mirror and noticed that my face had red patches in two lines down my face, from my eyes on either side of my nose, past my mouth, down to my jawline. This is one way that my body signals that it’s reacting negatively to something. I have just spent the last 4 years trying to get rid of recurrent perioral dermatitis, which has fortunately been about 90% clear in the last 6 months, but anything at all that my body does not like can wake up those reactive areas on my face and make them red, dry, itchy, with a rash of tiny red dots/bumps. I didn’t have full-on perioral dermatitis this morning, just 2 red lines about an inch wide from my lower eyelids, to my cheeks near the nose, around the sides of my mouth, to my jawline. Since my oatmeal was 100% dried oatmeal which I eat often and have never had a reaction to, and everything else I had with it I’ve had many times before (a few raisins, a teaspoon of maple syrup), I was probably reacting to the flaxseeds.
    …Maybe, maybe not — I occasionally get perioral dermatitis for no observable reason so it could have been chance.

    The dry, itchy eyes and facial redness went away after about half an hour.

    I looked up “flaxseed allergy” online this afternoon to see if people were saying that this is a typical reaction to flaxseeds. It doesn’t seem to be that typical (most people seem to have had much more extreme reactions) — but maybe with those who have a more subtle reaction, most people never put 2 and 2 together about the flax, because given that the medical community seems not to think that flax allergy is as common as it seems to be, maybe the people who have a small initial reaction don’t think much of it, don’t connect it to what they’ve just eaten, or blame something else that they’ve eaten/come in contact with.

    I have read that some people react worse to uncooked, ground flax than they do to cooked ground flax, cooked whole flaxseeds, or flax oil. This morning, I stirred the half-tablespoon of flax into my pan of oatmeal when it was almost done on the stove, so it was probably mainly still uncooked when I ate it.

    I have considered trying flax oil, since my reason for adding flax to my diet is to address a few specific health concerns, but there seem to be a lot of cautions online about how it can go rancid so quickly (even when enclosed as a pill) and actually become negative for the body when taken as a supplement.

    I think what I will do is wait a few days and again try 1/2 tablespoon of flax in something else that is fully cooked, maybe follow the baked cracker recipe on the package of ground flax meal that I have. I am also going to get some antihistamine at the store to have on hand at home before I do that. And I’ll do my experiment when someone else is with me, so they can get me to the doctor if necessary. I realize that each exposure to an allergen can cause worsening symptoms, but I think that a second exposure will tell me if I should stay well away from flax or not, and that will be good to know.

    One reason that I’m posting a comment here is to explain one of the health reasons that I was interested in adding flax to my diet, because it seems to be something that a lot of people don’t know about yet, but it will probably become more known-about in time. In several of the comments here, I have noticed that people were recommending that those allergic to flax could get their Omega-3 oils with fish oil supplements instead of eating flaxseed. However — I have actually learned this week that this is not the case for about 25% of the U.S. population (the percentages differ in each country). There is a genetic “polymorphism” that relates to how the body processes fats, and it’s called APoe. There are several versions of APoe: 2, 3, and 4. Each of us inherits one from our father and one from our mother. If you have one instance of APoe4, you are from 2 to 4 times more likely to get Alzheimers than the general population. If you have two instances of APoe4 (if you got one from your mom and one from your dad), you are about **22** times more likely to get Alzheimers. It’s something that more and more people are being genetically tested for, especially if Alzheimers runs in their family.

    I have been genetically tested and I have one version of the APoe4. Not only am I 2 to 4 times more likely to get Alzheimers, but they also say that the average age of onset of the Alzheimers is about 3 years earlier for people with 1 copy of APoe4. I am now looking into research on the APoe4 polymorphism to see what steps I can take to try to keep my brain healthy and working well. It’s actually amazing how many “healthy” practices that we are all told to adopt do not work for people with APoe, or actually harm them instead of helping them. One of those is having a moderate intake of wine (such as one glass a few times a week) — apparently it’s very healthy for most people and part of the Mediterranean diet etc., but for people with APoe4, it seems from studies that any quantity of alcohol/wine at all, any more than 1 or so glasses per month, is a destructive thing for their chemistry. Another healthy practice that is supposed to be great is to take fish oil capsules for the Omega 3s — it’s great for the circulation, brain, skin, etc. BUT for people with APoe4, fish oil supplements often do not work! They can actually be harmful for these people. I have read on a dedicated website forum that was started for people with APoe4 that most of them have stopped taking all fish oil supplements. (Eating whole fish as a food is a different story — it has been shown to be healthy for people with APoe4.)

    One of the pieces of advice I’ve read for APoe4 people is that Omega-3s from plants are the best source for APoe4 people, and will help to keep their brain healthy. The brains of APoe4 people have a harder time incorporating and storing Omega-3s in the brain cells, apparently, so we need to pay attention to our diet sources and get enough, without relying on fish oil capsules. This is the main reason why I decided the other day to try to add flaxseed to my diet (I also had hopes that it would help with my facial skin and help me with my symptoms of peri-menopause).

    But in all (but one) of the internet articles I’ve read that are extolling the many benefits of flax, I didn’t see anything about being aware that you possibly could have an allergic reaction that could be very serious right from the first ingestion of flaxseed. I am already used to having allergies and I respect their seriousness, so when I saw the one mention of flax allergy last night right before I finished my research into the benefits of flax and turned off the computer to go to bed, I knew to be cautious with it.

    (By the way, if you are interested to know about your APoe polymorphisms that you have inherited, one relatively inexpensive way to get them tested without going through your medical doctor or health insurance, is to get the 23andme genetic test. It is simple, you just spit in a test tube and mail it off to their lab in California. When I got mine done it was under a hundred; I think now it’s a little more, but I’m not sure. I have found out a lot of very useful things about my health from my genetic results, including that I am compound-heterozygous for the MTHFR gene, which also has to do with how the body processes substances and uses nutrients, the health of the cardiovascular system, and hundreds more important things.)

    I empathize with people here who are having a hard time avoiding flax since it goes under the radar in so many products (even pillows and skin lotion!) I have long had to read every product label, ask tenaciously in restaurants, even gingerly ask people who invite me to their house for a meal, to see if there is a smidgen of seafood, MSG, or other things in food, and it’s hard to deprive yourself of many convenience foods, and many tasty foods, while others (even your own doctors and family members) don’t have to worry about what they eat and half-suspect that you are exaggerating or just making it up to get attention.

  34. Just wanted to add that I’ve been looking at an “allergenic food” website of the University of Manchester (England, UK), and under the Flax seed / Linseed listing they have got this:
    “Allergy to linseed was one of the first food allergies described in the modern literature (Black 1930 [576], Grant 1931 [577]).”
    source: http://www.inflammation-repair.manchester.ac.uk/informall/allergenic-food/?FoodId=26
    This (print out the whole page) might be something to show your GP if he/she finds it hard to believe that flax could cause an allergic reaction.

  35. I have found some interesting info on flaxseed on the following website:
    http://www.phadia.com/en/Products/Allergy-testing-products/ImmunoCAP-Allergen-Information/Food-of-Plant-Origin/Seeds–Nuts/Linseed-/

    “The oil in the seed contains 4% L-glutamic acid, or MSG, and therefore might cause MSG-type reactions.”

    “Linseed may be a source of cyanide exposure.”

    “In 102 patients initially diagnosed with idiopathic anaphylaxis and then evaluated with a battery of 79 food-antigen skin prick tests, 10 different antigens provoked anaphylaxis, including Linseed.”

    “Linseed may be “hidden” in cereals, milk from cows fed flax, laxatives (Flaxolyn, etc.), shampoo, hair tonic, infusions, depilatories, cattle feed, dog food, patent leather, insulating materials, carpets, cloth, cough remedies, breads, health shop muffins, and other “health food” products”

    “Linseed contains potent allergens”

  36. I ate a dozen organic flaxseed crackers containing safflower oil and shortly thereafter started sneezing, had a runny nose, had painful abdominal bloating, and pain in my back. I felt really bad and took a baby aspirin as I wondered if I was having a heart attack. I then took a Zyrtek and got on line to look up Safflower allergies. I wasn’t convinced that oil in the crackers could cause my symptoms, so I looked up flaxseed allergies and found this blog. Two hours later, I am feeling better and am convinced that it was the flaxseed. I will be avoiding flaxseed from now on. I am also allergic to soy and many legumes and am allergic to MSG.

  37. I had my first reaction in over a year on Saturday from a frozen pizza, of all things. My son had cooked it the day before, and I was going to eat a leftover piece for breakfast. Got about 3 bites in when the itching started. I spit out what was in my mouth, and found another one of the same kind in the freezer to see if it was what it felt like. There was no indication on the front that it would contain flax, but on the ingredient list was multi grain crust with flaxseed. So stay away from Newman’s Own frozen pizza.

    I was ok, btw. I immediately drank warm salt water, successfully gagged myself and got it all up. This made my throat swelling worse, and I barely got the benedryl swallowed after but I was able to stop/prevent a severe reaction.

  38. I also have had an anaphylactic reaction to flax seed since 2002. After numerous trips to the ER and many accidental ingestions, I now carry an EpiPen and am extremely wary of foods I do not have ingredients for. I would encourage anyone who is experiencing allergy symptoms to go in and get checked by an allergist. Anaphylaxis symptoms can become worse with each occurrence. See this link: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anaphylaxis/basics/risk-factors/con-20014324
    Thank you for putting this blog together. I have only met one other person face to face who has an allergy to flax, but now after reading this, I know more people are out there experiencing the same allergy! Thank you!

  39. I learned about 5 years ago that I had a flax seed allergy. I somehow got this allergy after I gave birth to my first child. I was never allergic before as I would always eat anything multigrain. My allergy is so severe that just the smallest amount results affects my GI tract where I have uncontrollable vomit
cold and hot sweats, pain throughout torso, headaches and violent vomiting. It took years for doctors to diagnose but I’m alway so fearful of anything I eat they may come into contact with flax since it’s advertised to be so healthy for your body!

  40. Just had my second reaction to linseed/flaxseed. First time around I was pregnant 7 years ago and I was looking to be healthier so bought a bag of mixed seeds and added a spoonful to yoghurt. Violently sick and diarrhoea afterwards but it passed quickly. I mainly avoided linseed since then but I was never quite sure that the reaction wasn’t just down to being in the early stages of pregnancy. This morning, on a health kick I added 2 large teaspoonfuls of ground linseed to my cereal. Never ever again – less than three hours later i had chills with vomiting and diarrhoea all day so I am exhausted and feel awful!. I will obviously be strictly avoiding it from now on. I am glad I found this website to confirm it is a definite allergy, there isn’t much information on it out there.

    1. Most health professionals do not believe it. I had arguments with two docs about how to treat me and forced them to look it up on their intranet info sites.

  41. I had a similar experience. I had eaten flaxseed in the past with no reaction but then developed a severe allergic reaction to it. The first time I vomited up the ground flaxseed that we put in a cottage pie and that was pretty much it. The second reaction was much worse. I had hives, sickness and diarrhoea, cold sweats and felt extremely unwell. The reason I ate the flaxseed was due to a manufacturer changing their tortilla wraps to include ground flaxseed.
    I now check everything I eat. Unfortunately flaxseed is listed as a superfood so some food manufacturers are actively trying to put it in to foods!

  42. It started with a pin prick rash like hives – head to toe, I experienced it every year from age 10 – 14 years old; every year at summer camp!
    Fast forward…ten years, tried something new and it was not tasty! Had the same hive like reaction! So, I compared ingredients and the common denominator was, flax seed. Year 2000. So just like any young lady who knows everything, I took off to the health food store! Bought me a table spoon of ground flax seed. That didn’t dissolve in water, I remember it being very grainy! There’s a small gap in my memory – I remember drinking the water and flax seed in my kitchen…woke up in the hospital. (Glad my QuĂ©bĂ©cois roommate was home! – I couldn’t understand her at all (staff accommodation), but 911 understood her just fine!)
    Turns out I had an anaphylactic reaction. They brought me back from dead.
    I must carry an epinephrine pen due to the severity of my flax seed allergy now. They keep putting it (Flax) in everything.
    Just a head up for if you all didn’t know, and I only found out by mistake. They have alpha linolenic acid in meal replacement shakes. (The canned ones – ready to consume.) They were super apologetic to me, when I contacted their company. They even said, normally when a customer is unhappy they replace the product. But they can’t in my case, cause their additive although healthy for many nearly cost me my life.

    When Flax seed is added to a formula in someone’s recipe for a consumable product for public use, it should be noted on the label in advance. That error nearly cost me and my whole entire family our lives. For I was driving my minivan when I had another anaphylactic reaction due to flax seed. For had I been warned that it was ‘now’ in the meal replacement item, I wouldn’t have bought and or consumed it.

    I must let every restaurant that I eat at, know of my severe flax seed allergy. I also normally end up waiting “Hell’s Kitchen Long” for my meals. LOL – But at least the restaurant and I know that I am safe!

    Also, a lot of people do not know that Lin Seed is also found in paint. So, careful if you paint your house. I also found out the hard way.
    There are also over 25 different names for Flax seed.
    I agree, it should be a known allergen like peanuts.

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