Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health


Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 21, 2012

My husband has had a love affair with raw cashews for years and never had an allergic reaction to them. He’s also enjoyed mangoes and eats them with gusto whenever they’re in season. He’s nibbled on a couple of handfuls of cashews almost daily for years—that is, until now. Here’s an account of the surprising tale of the cashew allergy and the sneaky mango offender.

We traveled from our home in Los Angeles to the Philippines to visit our son who has been living and working there. Every day we feasted on the delicious and bountiful tropical fruits like longan, lanzones, jackfruit, pineapples, and the sweetest mangoes, ever.

Almost daily, we were enjoying those succulent mangoes with gusto and had them mainly for breakfast and occasionally for lunch. They were difficult to resist with their ultra silky smooth flesh and practically hairless texture. It was easy to cut into them and munch the flesh right off the mango seed.

One afternoon, my husband concluded his lunch with one of those irresistible mangoes, then, put on his socks and shoes for a fun outing that followed. Within an hour or two, he was scratching at his ankles that began to itch annoyingly. When he rolled his socks down to examine the cause of the itching, he saw a bright, red rashy area that practically encircled his ankles.

An internet search for mango allergy turned up a surprising bit of allergy information. Mangoes can, indeed, cause an itchy rash in sensitive people who handle the peel and eat the area directly under the skin. My husband remembered peeling the mango for lunch and made the connection that the mango residue on his hands came in direct contact with his ankles as he put on his socks. Fortunately, he was able to connect the mango to his itchy rash.

For several months our son had been suffering from an itchy rash that covered the upper portion of his body and his arms, but he could never find the cause. As the rash and itching worsened, he began taking medication to gain relief, but found little success. In an effort to trace the source of the problem, he began experimenting with different laundry detergents, lotions, and body-care items. He also began eliminating common foods known to be allergens, but nothing helped, until my husband’s dramatic mango reaction.

While we were together, our son also experienced a swelling and numb sensation in his lips and the area around his mouth. That symptom lasted for several days before subsiding. That, too, was mentioned in the research on mango allergy. The research was an aha moment for both my husband and our son who both swore off mangoes.

The rash on my husband’s ankles lasted for three weeks before subsiding. About a week after we returned from our Philippine visit, my husband resumed his handful of cashews and within an hour he began scratching his back. Sure enough, his back was broken out in a bright red rash that looked like slightly raised, individual red pimples–tons of them.

Then came another aha moment. That mango research mentioned the cashew family that includes cashews, pistachios, poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac. Now, both mangoes and cashews are off the menu for my husband and our son.

When we mentioned our mango experience to our other son, he told us he also experienced the numbness around his mouth and lips when eating mango. It appears there’s a heredity factor, so beware the cashew allergy and the hidden mango culprit.

Hopefully, my family’s rashy account may help solve a rashy mystery for others.


  1. I can add to your quest for information. Mango, cashew and poison oak, ivy and sumac are all in the family Anacardiaceae. Then poison oak, ivy and sumac join the genus Toxicodendron which contains the allergenic oil urushiol in its resin. But, mango and cashew also have allergenic oils. Mango has resorcinol, and cashew has anacardiol and cardol. All of these allergenic oils have enough similarity that if you are allergic to one, you are probably allergic to the others.

    Mangos’ allergenic oil is mostly in the resin canals in the skin (always peel first before eating), and is thought to be somewhat weaker than poison oak/ivys’ oil. Some people are extremely allergic to it, but a mango grower said his workers usually dont get much of a rash at the beginning of working with the plants. After a while, the sensitivity usually goes away. The oil can migrate from the skin into the flesh, so it is a good idea to stay away from all mango products, even juice if you know you are allergic.

    All cashews imported into the US (even those labeled raw) are shelled and cooked a bit beforehand, because that will destroy the allergenic potential of the cashew nut shell oil that is between the honeycombed layers of the shell. (the oil of the cashew itself is harmless). (Poison oak/ivy and sumac oil is highly resistant to heat by the way.

    Very seldom, cashews are accidentally imported without being cooked, and may have been contaminated from the shell cracking procedure, Rashes have been documented. This is a much smaller problem than that of mango rashes.

    My credentials: I wrote “The Poison Oak & Poison Ivy Survival Guide

    • Al said

      I discovered I have an allergy to cashews by accident. My body uese to get covered with an itchy raised red rash that lasted 1-2 weeks. I have gotten this rash around 10-15 times. I went to a dermatologist and allergist trying to figure out why I got these rashes. They said to eliminate severe laundry detergent. One night I ate a pizza and a tin of cashews with friends. The next morning the dreaded rash appeared. I pinpointed the cashews and have avoided eating cashews for 10-12 years now. A few years ago I ate a power bar and got a mild rash the next day. I read the ingredients on the label and saw trace amounts of cashews.

      • Hi Al,

        Quite often we are our own best detectives when it comes to figuring out what food may be creating the allergic reactions we suffer. You’re lucky to have figured it out yourself. My son suffered for about 2 years until my husband had a similar reaction and did the research. Certainly home products like detergents and body care products can cause nasty rashes in sensitive people. But the itchy raised rash you described is exactly what my son was dealing with. Now we know that cashews are in the same family as pistachios, mangoes, poison oak, and poison ivy, so beware of those as well. We’ve all become fanatic label readers.

        Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It may be helpful to others as well.


  2. mary said

    Hi – I have been experiencing this allergy for a few years, and all of this information is really helpful – thank you! I was wondering if you happen to know of any cures or relief to the symptoms? Thanks again.

    • Zel Allen's nutgourmet said

      Hi Mary, From the personal experience of my own family, we found avoiding cashews, mangoes, and pistachios and any products that contain these nuts is the best relief. My son, who lives in the Philippines, was feasting on mangoes for years and only recently discovered the cause of his red, sore, and itchy rash. After 3 1/2 months of avoiding these foods completely, he has slowly been healing. The intense itching is gone and only a tiny hint of rash remains. My husband, too, had a similar reaction and has stayed away from cashews, mangoes, and pistachios. It took him about 2 months to feel complete relief. I guess you could say that patience and avoidance is the best approach. Good luck with healing. Zel

  3. rjcarr said

    I just wanted to let you know that it is very unlikely you ever ate “raw” cashews because they are poisonous (like poison ivy, as you mention) before cooked.

    • Zel Allen's nutgourmet said

      Hi RJ,

      You’re right about my not ever having eaten “raw” cashews. And I’m aware that cashews right off the tree are very poisonous”raw” because that’s how they’re labeled on packages in the market. They’re either labeled raw or roasted. I hope this clarifies the state of the raw cashew. It’s certainly not my intention misinform anyone.


  4. Just a little fine tuning for the discussion. (I left a long post a while back). The word “poisonous does not apply here. A poison will hurt everyone. It is toxic chemical. The oils in the RESINS of plants such as poison ivy, mango, and cashew are ALLERGENIC. They are harmless chemicals that certain peoples bodies THINK are dangerous.
    The nut of the cashew are not full of the allergenic oil, only the shell. Only a little bit of the oil from the shell might migrate to a tiny part of the nut. All are lightly roasted before selling, as the cashew shell oil can be made harmless by heat (even those labled raw). (poison ivy oil though is not affected by heat).
    My credentials: I wrote the “Poison Oak & Poison Ivy Survival Guide

  5. amber said

    I had this awful rash all over my body. The DR. prescribed me SCABIES medicine and instructed me to apply the poison all over myself and my newborn!!!!!!!! I refused knowing I did not have scabies, did research and discovered i had been scrubbing my skin with mango body wash and I did the math….

    • Zel Allen's nutgourmet said

      Hi Amber,
      Isn’t it wonderful when you have that ahaa! moment and are able to put things together. The treatment for my son and my husband’s rash was simply to avoid the mango-cashew family altogether. Be patient. It took about 3 months for my husband’s rash to subside completely and several months for my son’s many rashes. However, the physical discomfort of the itching and soreness subsided much more quickly, though it was bit by bit. I wish you a quick return to rash-free good health.


    • Vera said

      How fortunate for you to have outfoxed the lame doctor’s diagnosis/ treatment plan. I unfortuanatetly had scabies 30 years ago..which took 3 doctors to correctly diagnosis. treated with toxic lindane (now banned). Then I developed allegies to things like cashews.. Doctors: often incorrect, yet they still want to overcharge for their ineptness. PS ..If you arrive on time for your apt and they keep you waiting…charge them back at their hourly rate for your wasted time. They’ve gotten away with this bs for way too long.

      • Hi Vera,

        Hope your health issues are resolved, now. Yes, it’s often unfortunate for the patient who develops a health issue that’s a bit out of the norm. Doctors have only one thing in their basket –and that’s prescription drugs. If they would study nutrition, they would solve a ton of health problems. Doctors would help so many more patients if they looked at a patient’s diet first. As for the cashew allergy, it may be best to do what my husband does–avoid them and side-step the allergy reaction.


  6. Jess said

    I just want to say that I too have experienced this rash when eating the mentioned items. However, I must say one thing about cashews: I never used to have a reaction to them (that I was aware of anyhow) until I became strict on “truly raw” cashews. Yes, there are places on the internet where you can buy them. There’s one site that sells them still in their skin (which I’ve purchased in the past)! From now on, I plan to buy raw cashews but not “truly” raw cashews to see if it helps.

    • Zel Allen's nutgourmet said

      Hi Jess,

      I have a really helpful suggestion for you and that is to purchase a book called The Poison Oak and Poison Ivy Survival Guide by Sandra J. Baker. She covers the subject of allergic reactions and causes thoroughly. In her book she discusses not only poison oak and poison ivy, but also related foods that cross react with those plants. When a person has an allergic reaction to one of them, it usually means they are allergic to the whole family. With cashews, heating them often neutralizes the toxic oils from the shell. Sometimes the resin from the shell enters the cashew and causes a reaction. You can experiment but may find the rash still occurs when you eat cashews. My husband now avoids the entire group of foods in this food allergy family: mango, cashews, pistachios, and ginko nuts. There are other plants in this family as well. Thanks for getting in touch. Here’s to no more rashes!


  7. tom said

    I found your page after recalling a connection between cashews and allergens. Recently, I opened a new container of cashews & have been very itchy with small bumps forming on my ankles, then many days later on my inner knees. They are as itchy as poison ivy rash. Now, it is all over my upper thighs, butt, and a few on other places below my neck. They look exactly like the ones on his back. My question is: most internet sources are citing upset stomach, affliction in the throat or mouth, and other symptoms I don’t have. Is what I’ve just described what your son/husband experienced – that is, they don’t have all the other cited symptoms?

    • Hi Tom,

      Sounds familiar. Neither my son nor my husband experienced an upset stomach or sore throat. My son had been suffering for about 2 years with rashes and itching. Then, shortly before we made the connection, he complained that his lips and area around the mouth were numb. When he stopped eating the mangoes (that was his challenge) the symptoms began to fade, but it took several months. For my husband, it took about 2 months before his rash faded. Now, whenever he eats something with cashews, his back turns red and rashy, but without itching. Remember, mangoes, cashews, pistachios, poison oak, and poison ivy are all in the same family. If you’re allergic to one, your most likely allergic to all. You had a rather severe reaction, and it might take some time for your symptoms to fade. Be patient. You’ll heal!


  8. Annio said

    No rashes but violent vomiting with anything cashew related. It only has to be the tiniest piece. Previous episodes include, fruit and nut chocolate, 4 times with Indian food ( supposedly cashew free ), elephant chocolate bouchée, baklava, small biscuit provided with coffee, pesto – sometimes chefs substitute cashew for pine nuts, home cooked choc brownies ( used mixed nuts ) . Needless to say I am very wary with food these days, but I still get caught. I would be interested to hear of other foods I should avoid. Mangoes are fine – so far! Pistachios are not good. Any other remedies suggested – apart from vomiting?

    • Hi Annio,

      Sounds like you have a super sensitivity to some of the typical foods considered allergens. The safest way to stay well is to cook meals from scratch. Even packaged prepared foods may have traces of ingredients that are not listed on the ingredient list because they contain less than .5 grams of those items. That’s why preparing your own meals with whole fresh foods allows you to avoid those allergy triggers. Usually people who are allergic to one of the foods in the cashew/mango family react to all of those foods. That family includes cashews, pistachios, mangoes, as well as poison oak and poison ivy. the key is to eat simply prepared fresh foods and hopefully you’ll avoid those nasty reactions.

      My son is also experiencing some food sensitivites. He now avoids the cashew and mango family and has yet to discover what is causing his constant sore throat and itchy red rashes. We suspect it may be chocolate or eggs, which he is now experimenting with avoiding.


  9. Thank for the great scientific information. Both of my children are allergic to cashew and I’ve begun a recent Mango craze, I will be careful to see if mango causes problems and I never new about the part of the mango just under the skin. I was wondering if anyone knew much about sumac–the kind that we eat. Is this also related to cashew?

    • Hi there grateful foodie, I don’t believe sumac is in the same family as cashew, mango, pistachio, poison oak, and poison ivy. But there is a direct connection with mango and cashew, so do be careful in order to avoid the unpleasant itchy and annoying rash that can result. That would be your telltale signal to avoid those foods.

      Here’s to good health. Zel

  10. Gratefulfoodle asked about “sumac—the kind that we eat. I don’t know about sumac you eat, but if there is, it is in the family Anacardiaceae, which poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac are in, but the sumac that has the allergenic oil that makes you get a rash is together with poison oak and poison ivy in the genus Toxicodendron. It has white, not berries like the real sumacs.

    Folks need to remember that there are different kinds of allergies. Poison oak/ivy, poison sumac, mango, cashew cause a “delayed” type contact dermatitis. It takes hours to days from contact to rash. You can be allergic to something in a different way. For example it might be possible for a person to have an “immediate” reaction like hives or anaphylaxis where the throat swells.

    You can get poison oak/ivy/mango etc in your mouth or throat if you eat the leaves or skin, or breath smoke with the oil droplets in it. I would go to an allergist to get diagnosed for what you are actually allergic to.

    Zel, thanks for giving my book “The Poison Oak & Poison Ivy Survival Guide” a good word. Sandra

    • Hi Sandra, you are a treasure and your book has been invaluable. Thanks a million for jumping in. I certainly haven’t done the research you have about this cashew, mango, poison oak and poison ivy family. I had no idea how common this allergy was until I posted my son’s and husband’s experience on the blog. As for the sumac you eat, ground sumac is a common seasoning used in the Middle East to sprinkle on foods like rice or bulgur wheat. It gives foods a pleasant lemony flavor.

  11. Opps, correction of my post above. Third line — poison sumac has white berries, not RED berries like the real sumac. Sandra

  12. It’s difficult to find educated people about this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  13. Dilkush said

    Hello Every One
    My dad develops the same Itchy Rash after having cashews but he is not allergic to Mangoes and other stuffs.
    Doctor has warned to completely avoid cashews as it may prove fatal.

    • Hi Dilkush,

      I hope your Dad is being cautious. Cashews might show up in prepared ingredients he might not suspect. Reading labels is very important. Because nuts of all kinds are rather expensive, they’re not often used in restaurant dishes, but it’s always safest to ask when eating out. He might also consider avoiding pistachios and mangoes, because they’re in the same family as cashews.


  14. Ellen Shinn said

    I share many of the symptoms here. I loved mangoes in my smoothie daily. I also enjoyed a handful of pistachios frequently. Over a period of months, first once a month, then several times, and finally every day I broke out in a bright rash from my ears to my toes. My body got bright red and very hot. Itching was severe. After seeing an allergist(I didn’t test positive) and using the elimination diet, and seeing my allergist for several weeks, we discovered it was mangoes. So I eliminated them and also pistachios. No more rash, but I do occasionally have itching bouts and have been diagnosed with eczema, especially on my left arm and both elbows. I always put SPF on my arms when going into the sun, even for a few minutes. I find that the sun rays exacerbates the itching. I also use a cream for dry skin, Cere Ve.

    • Hi Ellen,

      Thank you so much for commenting. You truly have my empathy. My husband, too, has avoided cashews, mangoes, and pistachios completely, even though he loves them. Still he has itching around the ankles and a mild rash on the chest. We often take walks in a nearby nature park that has lots of poison oak growing alongside the pathway. My husband always comments that he itches while we’re in the park. Do you have any contact with poison oak or poison ivy? They’re in the same family. Even though you many not handle either one, being near them may be all it takes to trigger a reaction. My son, who also has the same allergies, is plagued with eczema and itching, even though he’s avoided the cashews, mangoes, and pistachios. It’s a bit puzzling, but in his case, he found a doctor who tested him for fungal infection and was found to be positive. He went on some nasty medication for one week and felt relief, but the symptoms are now back. He doesn’t want to live on pills that damage his liver, so he makes the best of it.

      If you come up with any helpful remedies, please do share them. I’ll be happy to pass them on. So many people have suffered from this allergy.


  15. Shalimar McDougall said

    I have extremely sore jaw when I eat cashews, so bad I have to eat soft foods. Does anyone else experiencing this?

    • Hi Shalimar,

      So sorry to hear that cashews cause you such discomfort. So far, you are the first person I’ve encountered with this particular symptom. As you can see from the many comments this post has received, the cashew family (that includes mangoes, pistachios, poison oak, and poison ivy) can deliver a multitude of sensitivities and allergies to people who are suseptible. Considering the level of soreness you get from eating cashews, you may also have a reaction to the other items in the cashew family. It’s probably best to avoid them completely and read food labels carefully. Ask lots of questions about ingredients when eating in restaurants. Many vegetarian and vegan restaurants use cashews to make cashew cheese and sauces. Hope this helps.


  16. Scott said

    What is best way to treat these reactions? I just returned from Costa Rica, where I was eating mangos all week and did a very dumb thing at the beginning of our trip. I bit in half a cashew nut still attached to the outside of the fruit, to get to the nut and show my kids. I have had blistering mouth and lips since ( 5 days now) and these last three days I have a rash spreading all over my body (under chin, under arms, around genitals and feeling it start to go between my fingers. Any ideas to try to slow spreading and treat the rashes?

    • Hi Scott,

      So sorry to hear about your challenging encounter with mangoes. I am not a medical practitioner, so my suggestion is strictly from a layman’s view. Because you’ve had such a severe reaction to the mango exposure, it might be helpful to schedule a doctor visit. My guess is that the doctor will prescribe an antihistamine to counteract your body’s dramatic histamine reaction. The problem with antihistamines is that they may make you very drowsy. There are also over-the-counter antihistamines to consider at lower doses than prescription drugs. That may be a starting point, but I would definitely consult a doctor. As for the mangoes, you were probably reacting to the allergenic oils in the skin. Peeled mangoes usually don’t cause a reaction, except in very sensitive people who react to the very small amounts of allergenic oil in the fruit itself. The cashew nut is another issue. The allergenic oil is in the cashew shell, not the oils in the nut itself. Both the mangoes and cashews are in the same family as poison oak and poison ivy. Because of your reaction to mangoes and cashews, you may also find the poison oak and poison ivy problematic and avoid exposure to them whenever possible. I highly recommend reading the book The Poison Oak & Poison Ivy Survival Guide by Sandra J. Baker. Her book is extremely well researched and highly informative. She covers the whole family including mangoes and cashews and offers a host of remedies for itchy rashes you may want to consider. That is, if the rash you have is itchy. I hope this information is helpful to you and wish you a quick recovery. Since my husband’s allergic reaction to mangoes and cashews about two years ago, he has avoided them. Now, when he has occasionally eaten small amounts of them at a restaurant, he does not have any reaction. Even after long avoidance, he cannot eat a handful of cashews without getting a rash on his chest and back. My best to you –stay in good health and beware the cashew-mango allergy.


    • Ellen Shinn said

      Have given up mangoes and pistachios completely. I am thinking cashews might help too. My overall itching has improved but not my excema. Still struggling there, Cortisone helps but can’t use too long. Trying Manuka honey, jojoba and coconut oil. Any suggestions?

      • Hi Scott, So sorry for this tardy reply. I am back now. My husband’s experience clearly demonstrated that the cashews have to go, too. They’re in the same family as mangoes, pistachios, poison oak, and poison ivy. Quite often if one is allergic to one, they also react to the others. My husband avoided the whole family for about a year. Now, he is able to eat small quantities of mangoes, cashews, and pistachios once in a while. If he eats a large quantity, he will get the rash across his chest and back, but luckily no itching. Sometimes avoidance for a long period of time will allow you to eat small quantities occasionally. Hope this helps.


      • Hi Ellen,

        I was just going through the comments section of my NutGourmet blog and realized I had not replied to your comment. Please do forgive me. Have you also eliminated pistachios along with the cashews and mangoes? That might help. For the eczema, you might try rubbing pure virgin coconut oil on the area. I’ve found it very beneficial for many skin issues. You can find pure coconut oil in natural food markets. It’s a bit pricy, but totally worth it. It’s also a great moisturizer for dry skin for the whole body and even the face. Hope this helps the eczema.


      • ellen said

        I gave up mangos, pistachios and cashews in that order. I stay away from poison ivy. I do have other allergies. Giving up those 3 foods helps with rash but not with dry skin or excema. I do use coconut oil and use coconut milk instead of milk.

      • Hi Ellen,

        I did a little looking around and found a website that had information that may be helpful to you to help with the eczema. Check out http://www.permaculture.co.uk/readers-solutions/5-natural-cures-eczema Hope this opens some new doors.


    • Hi Scott,

      So sorry to hear about your extreme reaction to the cashew nut. What you didn’t realize at the time is that the cashew nut itself contains toxic oils. In order to bring cashews to market, growers treat the whole nut with heat to destroy the toxic oils. You probably ought to consult a doctor for help. What you experienced is more than a simple allergic reaction. Sometimes an antihistamine will help, but you may need something more potent than an over-the-counter variety.


  17. James said

    very interesting discussion. I think I may have a cashew alergy. Today for the first time i noticed a tingling on my tongue and I have redness and itching on either side of my nose that goes down to the sides of my mouth. I have been eating raw cashew cookies, pastchios and roasted cashews for a couple of days. I also have some redness & swelling between my eyes. Thoughts?

    • Hi James,

      So sorry I was not able to get back to you sooner! I’d bet my bottom dollar you are highly allergic to the whole family of cashews, mangoes, pistachios, poison oak, and poison ivy. Your reaction is very similar to what two of my sons experienced with the tingling on the tongue. They also experienced a numbness around the mouth. Because this family of foods can have very serious consequences, like anaphylactic shock, it would be best to avoid these foods completely. Ask about ingredients when eating at restaurants, especially in Asian as well as vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Cashews are often added to Asian stir-fries and to creamy sauces, and cheese-like mixtures in vegan restaurants. I hope my blog has been helpful.


      • James said

        Thank you! I will certainly be careful. I am 61 years old and love pistachios. If i am sensitive to cashews then mangoes and pistachios will also affect me? I do get poison ivy but that is very common in the Westchester County, NY area. I am very careful when working in the yard and camping. “Technu” for Poison Ivy and Oak is a life saver.

      • Hi James,

        It sounds like to be safe and avoid health challenges, you would be best avoiding the whole family of cashews, pistachios, mangoes, and of course, poison ivy and poison oak. If you are in contact with poison ivy while working in the yard, consider wearing clothes that cover you completely as well as wearing gloves. Poison ivy is no fun and can be challenging to recover from.

  18. Lauren F. said

    I was diagnosed as an adult with multiple food allergies. I had my aha moment after eating pizza with pine nuts. For me, the symptoms were not hives. The pine nuts gave me an itchy throat. I also had congestion, repeated sinus infections, and sudden stomach aches in restaurants. The allergist tested me for numerous tree nuts and seeds. It turns out I’m allergic to numerous tree nuts, sesame, and sunflower. The sesame allergy is apparently related to tree nut allergy- the proteins are similar. I also have a significant tree pollen allergy (that one I knew about) and have a hard time staying in a park, especially around trees and tree mulch.
    All of the congestion and stomach problems have disappeared with strict avoidance of all tree nuts, sesame seeds, and sesame oil. If I ever mess up and have sesame by accident, I get immediately itchy and take Benadryl, which I always carry along with epipens.
    Anyway, I’m posting here because I just learned that “pink peppercorns” are not actually peppercorns. They are related to cashews and mangoes, and ingesting pink peppercorns can cause allergic reactions in people allergic to cashews or mangoes. I believe that they are berries in the cashew family. I’ve been trying to learn more about this and really have no idea how to avoid pink peppercorn in a restaurant. If anyone has any thoughts about this, I would love to hear it.

    • Hi Lauren,

      I can’t thank you enough for your invaluable comment. It’s such a helpful contribution to this blog and I plan to write a separate post just to feature pink peppercorns. I’m totally aware of how serious nut-based allergies are. It’s so important to inform people about the complete food families that cause life-threatening attacks. The pink peppercorns are such an unknown connection. Again, thank you so much for your contribution.

      Zel Allen

      • Lauren F. said

        You’re welcome! We can all help each other. I’m curious to learn what you find about pink peppercorns. I haven’t been able to locate much information. I emailed Trader Joes to ask if they would label pink peppercorns as a tree nut, given their relationship to cashew, and they replied saying no, it is not a nut so they would not put a nut warning on it. I imagine it’s up to the community to share the knowledge that this is potentially risky. Thanks for doing what you are doing!

      • Hi Lauren,

        Just a little heads up about the cashew/mango allergy. There is yet another culprit–pink peppercorns. Please do stay tuned to my blog https://nutgourmet.wordpress.com I’m getting ready to post an extensive article about pink peppercorn concerns for anyone with a nut allergy.


      • Ellen Shinn said

        Did you list pistachios?

      • Brenda said

        Thank you for your comment! I have known about my allergy to mango skins since 2009. I am in the midst of the same type of allergic reaction (I get blisters on my lips and an itchy mouth). I’ve been trying to figure out what I ate recently to cause this. I have had a huge number of cashews (shelled and roasted), but I also had a salad when I was out a few nights ago. It had a ton of pepper on it and even as I was eating it, I could feel my lips becoming irritated. I’m going to call the restaurant tomorrow to see if they seasoned it with any pink peppercorns. Thank you so much for informing me of this! It also explains why I have an allergic reaction to balsamic salad dressing.

      • Hi Brenda,

        Thank you so much for your comment. You have my empathy for the discomfort that comes with ingesting nut-containing foods that may be totally safe and unproblematic for others but very unkind to you and those who suffer from dramatic allergic reactions. Soon I’ll be posting an article I’ve been researching and writing about argon oil, shea butter, and nut oils used in beauty care products. From experience and from hearing from others, these allergies do not go away, so it takes continued vigilance to avoid them. It pays off.

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  20. Betsy said

    Recently, I developed a rash on the left side of my neck and a few on my left face cheek. I had not been in any area with poison ivy to which I am very allergic. I had cracked open some pistachios and am considering that I must have touched my neck and face with my hands after cracking open the nuts. I also ate a mango after this and some “raw cashews”.
    Years ago when I had a pretty good outbreak of poison ivy, I ate raw cashews which took the itching out immediately. I’m thinking that I applied a homeopathic treatment without knowing it!
    Also about a year or so ago I ate a lot of pistachios ( no rash), but vomited profusely within hours. Thought I had food poisoning. Then there was a recall of pistachios for some food born illness. Not sure if it actually was an allergic reaction.
    Consequently, I no longer eat any of theses nuts or fruits.

    Love this site!


    • Hi Betts,

      Considering your consistent history of unpleasant reactions whenever you came in contact with or ate anything in the anacardacia (cashew/mango) family, I think you’re wise in avoiding them completely. It’s pretty certain any future contact with these foods or plants will cause you some misery. By the way, that family includes cashews, pistachios, mangoes, poison oak, poison ivy, and pink peppercorns (See my most recent post about pink peppercorns.). Nut allergies can be very serious, even causing anaphylacis for some people. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I sincerely hope you don’t experience any more unpleasantries. When eating at restaurants or at friends’ homes, be sure to ask about ingredients so you can stay happy and healthy.


      • Betsy said

        Thanks for your reply. Think I learned my lesson and I appreciate your info. on pink peppercorns.

  21. wendy mom said

    A couple weeks ago my 16 year old daughter had a bad reaction to some cashew granola, throwing up almost immediately, with a sore throat and aching chest, center, and later ribs… and after an hour or two and a jr dose of epi pn at her doctor’s, and a trip to the hospital for observation, she got an itchy rash on her arms and head and had an adult dose epi pen. The itches went away, though red spots lasted some hours. She has been fine since, avoiding all nuts.

    Strangely, the night before she had this reaction, about 12 hours or more after I, her mom, had a small bowl of the cashew granola, in the middle of the night, i got an itchy rash that i thought were tons of chigger bites on my sides and legs. They were gone when i woke in the morning.

    Now, 2 weeks later i had a salad with 5-10 or so peanuts in it. 3 hours later after a swim in a pool, i got pink, itchy eyes and itchy wrists and arms. Half an hour later I felt aches across my chest, which later felt kind of like heartburn or food stuck in my throat that i couldn’t swallow. The rash spread to my legs and ankles, VERY ITCHY, and worse when scratched. I had diarrhea then and since a few times. But the chest pains and a head ache went away after a few hours. Later it was worst in my feet, and even my toes. I used benadryl cream and pills, but they helped little if at all. I went to bed that night with red splotches on my face and body and bumps on my head that i can still feel the remains of now 2 days later. A doctor gave me a few steroid pills, which didn’t stop the itching as far as i could tell….what seemed to help was to make myself stop scratching, and God answering my prayer!

    Still itchy, but better. The doctor didn’t think it was peanuts, as i am in my 40’s. But I think it was….but would that make sense? I was always fine with nuts of any sort. My daughter had had itch throat from pistachios when small, so avoided all nuts in general, though not strictly. Now she carries an epi pen and reads labels. I guess i must read labels too.

    I read all of this page’s article and the comments after it, but don’t think anyone had problems with peanuts after cashews. Have you heard of that? Also, I wonder if the cashew granola from David’s Natural Market in the granola bins was more potent than it should have been with its cashews…. Maybe some shells got in there or it was under cooked? I want to ask them if anyone else had problems. (I’ve been away and couldn’t yet) My son didn’t seem to react to the granola when he ate it.

    Interestingly, when my daughter was a baby she got a Ginko leaf in her mouth and chewed it. I gave her milk and saw no reaction then… but can one thing sensitize you to another? Never got poison ivy, (though we’ve been exposed) and we like mangoes…but will avoid them more now i think…

    Sorry so wordy. Thank you for your article!

    • Hi Wendy,

      Sounds familiar. I sure looks like you and your daughter have an allergy to the cashew/mango family of foods and plants. Judging from your reactions, I would definitely avoid them and read all labels cautiously. When eating at restaurants, ask questions–very specific questions. If the servers says, “I don’t know,” ask that he or she check with the chef. Peanuts are in a different family altogether. Peanuts are legumes, not nuts, but they are also highly allergenic and can be life threatening to some. The thing that’s such a concern with nut allergies is that people tend to consider the itchy rash as a minor, pesty reaction they don’t take seriously. But just one more nut or handful of nuts could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and sends someone to the hospital in anaphylactic shock. I’m so glad you took the time to read all the comments. As you can see, this family of nuts can be life threatening to some people, while others merely have a rash. Also, when one person in the family has an allergic reaction, it doesn’t mean that the whole family is sensitive. In my own family, my husband and two of my sons are allergic to the cashew/mango family, while me, my daughter, and youngest son have no problem eating these foods. I wish you good health free of troubling nut and peanut allergies.


    • John Gust said

      I am not an expert, yet I seem to remember reading something about how one allergen, toxin or irritant could magnify an allergy to another substance by association. It’s kind of like a daisy chain effect, but it may be more theoretical than proven. If this daisy-chain allergy theory is correct then cashews mixed with nuts and peanut butter mixtures could be a catalyst for more severe allergic reactions. It may condition some people’s immune system to respond to similar proteins if they are exposed to both at the same time.

      To make matters even more confusing, even without speculation, the degree of reaction seems to vary greatly –even among those who know they are sensitive, so the lines and labels for “allergic VS. not-allergic” that people draw may not be as clear as we think. Not everyone will have a reaction that is visible on the exterior of our bodies. Who knows what we may actually be doing to our alimentary canal? Cashews may not be an instigator of an increase in peanut allergies, but there seem to be many digestive problems that are not understood enough by current science.

      This probably won’t make anyone feel any better.
      I’m sorry if my remark makes some feel uneasy with anxiety over the uncertainty; however, the uncertainty needs to be acknowledged if we are to make progress in nutrition -or anywhere.

  22. I am so glad to have found your post! I had my mango “aha” after a few allergic reactions (swelling, hives that actually break open and oozzz orange and dry as a crust. Soooo nasty.) I was first diagnosed as impetigo, I took many antibiotics for no reason. I was so happy when I realized it was Mango! Well, five years later, I had a very intense anaphalaxis reaction that put me into the ER with a cashew sauce! And also a few months ago, a more mild reaction to chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Thanks to your post, I’m going to avoid pistachios too! I need to make a list and pick up my Epi-pen.

    • Hi Jen,

      So sorry for this very tardy response to your comment. Food allergies can be a nasty struggle for many people, but nut allergies can have more serious consequences. In more recent years, cashews are often a hidden ingredient in creamy sauces, so it’s really important to ask a ton of questions when eating at a restaurant or even a friend’s house. Avoidance completely is your safest path. You might also want to read my recent post about pink peppercorns that are also in the same family as mango, cashew, pistachio, poison oak, and poison ivy. I wish you a healthy and happy future.


  23. THANK YOU! Thank you!! Thank you!!! Just read all your posts and got VITAL info! We were getting ready to visit my son this past week end and I suddenly felt what I thought was a zit putting in an appearance below my lower lip. It swelled up and was very tender. Then another one put in an appearance. Next day (of the actual visit) I was a mess!! Bright red, oozing skin on my nose; several more oozing bumps under lower lip. I thought my lips were very dry, but turns out they are numb. Even have a bump inside lower lip and bumps developing between my fingers, on my neck and chest and one behind my knee. I spent the whole week end dabbing the ooze (still am). Son had a dinnerparty Saturday night and I was very embarrassed. There was no hiding my condition. I’m sure the guests wondered what in the world was wrong with Ryan’s mom. I too thought it was perhaps impetigo but my son said no, I was probably allergic to something. Well, I am highly allergic to poison ivy. Manage to get a case every Spring. And I had considerable portions of cashews and pistachios recently. I’m using coconut oil, Manuka honey, MSM lotion and and anything else I can think of. I can’t go anywhere with a nose that looks like this!! Got to find something that returns my face to normal. Any suggestions out there???

    • Hi Marcia,

      I really feel for you. Poison ivy is nasty and simply has to run its course. Many doctors recommend calamine lotion to relieve the itching. One of the most helpful and informative things you can read is The Poison Oak and Poison Ivy Survival Guide by Sandra J. Baker. She covers everything from the immune system to the science to remedies and preventive measures. It’s well written and well worth investing in, since this is a regular occurence. It’s available on Amazon and will be a life savor for the future as well as a help for now. She says cucumber cam be soothing. Slice it and rub it on the rash. Epsom salts may be helpful. Dabbing hydrogen peroxide on the rash may help. Ice cubes may bring relief. A thin bath of baking soda and water may help. Ms. Baker offers a number of remedies using natural foods and ingredients. I wish you healing relief and hope the misery passes quickly.


    • I have the same allergic reaction!! Was first diagnosed as Impentigo…many wasted antibiotics. Then I found out it was mango (and now cashews). I am also highly sensitive to poison oak/ivy and had same oozing orange red spot that itches soooooo bad. And hot water feels good, but then it just spreads more. I have found Benadryl helps a LOT. Take some ASAP. My warning sign is that numb tingling feeling on my lips, especially the side crevices. I will take 2 Benadryl immediately and go home. This has prevented outbreaks. Sometimes if I eat dry seaweed snacks I get that feeling, but not when I have sushi. Best of luck and I am so sorry you are suffering. I know how it looks and feels. I just wanted to hide from the world and not let anyone see me. 😦

      • Hi Jen,

        It was my husbands dramatic reaction to mango that first triggered an itchy rash when we visited our son who lives in the Philippines. Mangoes are a common fruit and so available we were eating them every day. Before we arrived there our son was complaining about itchy rashes all over his body. Then it progressed to the numb feeling around the lips and mouth. When we returned home my husband snacked on a couple of handfuls of cashews. The next morning he had a bright red rash all over his chest and all over his back and legs. It itched like crazy. We read in an allergy book that mangoes, cashews, pistachios, poison oak, and poison ivy are in the same family. Then I recently learned that pink peppercorns are also related. The whole family can cause much more than just a rash in some people who are super sensitive. I did a post about the pink peppercorns that you can read on the homepage of this blog called Warning: Pink Peppercorns Can be Dangerous! The very best advice is to avoid all members of this family and read food labels carefully. Ask questions when eating out to make sure you completely avoid this family of foods. Some people have reacted with anaphylactic shock and luckily got to the hospital in time. I highly recommend you read the book by Sandra Baker called The Poison Oak & Poison Ivy Survival Guide. It’s very well researched and packed with information and helpful remedies.


  24. Josie said

    When I was a little girl, our mother would go out a get a few cans of cashews whenever they went on sale. I would eat them and thought nothing of it despite the rashes I would end up with. My parents would take me to the doctors who would simply state that I was likely allergic to my own sweat and to shower before bed everyday.

    Years later, I got to experience mangoes and again wound up with a similar rash like those in my childhood. Not long after that, my aunt and uncle moved us into an area where poison ivy, oak, and sumac all grew. I had no idea what these ‘poison’ plants looked like and wound up with a combination of at least two of the three or all three at the same time…I’m not too sure anymore.

    Fast forward to a few years ago, my step-mom’s sister and brother-in-law came to visit. We went out to enjoy a meal at a resort of sorts. While we waited for the dining room to open, we went to the small bar they had at this guest ranch. I saw the mixed nuts bowls and enjoyed the cashews from the bowls. Later I discovered the rash from my childhood and teenage years. I was so upset as I thought back to what I had eaten. I knew that it couldn’t have been the meat as I only ordered chicken. Drinks weren’t it as I had only water and a soda that day. Vegetables were safe. Then I realized my issue was with cashews! My favorite childhood snack was the cause of my misery.

    Coming across this site has aided me in my confusion of the relations between my allergic reactions to mangoes and cashews. At least now I know why the rash from the ‘poison’ plants looked similar to those of my consumption of the two foods that I loved so much and can no longer enjoy safely.

    My parents and I have discovered that I can eat other nuts with no problems as long as we buy them around the holidays, in-shell to eliminate any possibilities of their inner nut coming in contact with cashews. Now that I have read this article and a few others, I know that I have to be aware of pistachios possibly being added to my list of allergens.

    • Hi Josie,

      I’m so glad to hear my article on Beware the Cashew Allergy was helpful to you. Since I posted the article, I learned there are many people who suffered from rashes and other more severe allergic reactions without realizing what was causing their unpleasant symptoms until they read my post. In so many cases, prevention is the best medicine, and in this instance, avoidance is the best prevention. Hopefully, you can avoid eating or handling foods and plants of the cashew family that includes mango, pistachio, poison oak, poison ivy, and even pink peppercorns. Zel

    • bikingmaven said

      Also look into pistachios. Tea r in the same family. I love all three but stopped eating them

      • Hi there Biking Maven,

        Pat yourself on the back that you are recognizing all the members of this food family that can certainly be problematic for those who cannot tolerate them. Remember, the family includes cashews, pistachios, mangoes, poison oak, and poison ivy. Though not actually in the same family, pink peppercorns, found in mixtures called rainbow peppercorns, contain urushiol oil, the same oil found in mango skins, cashew shells, and poison oak and poison ivy.


  25. Claude said

    Thank you, Zel, for helping lots of people, including me. Argan oil is from a tree nut, very similar to Pistachio. Lots of people report rash with Argan oil (used for hair & skin). I have rash on my hands & body recently from eating cashew and pistachio. Then I was foolish to use Argan oil for the rash & bleeding skin. And it got TWICE WORSE. If you google pictures of Pistachio versus Argan nuts … the clusters are similar.

    Then I bought Cetaphil lotion (has Macadamia nut oil), and the rash got even worse !!! Thanks to your blog, I’ll stop eating cashew & pistachio. Will give away the Argan oil & Cetaphil lotion (recommended by dermatologists !!!)

    • Hi Claude,

      So sorry to hear about your nasty rash tribulations and thanks for writing. Your comment raised my curiosity, and after a little research I decided to delve more deeply into the argan oil challenge. I’m working on another article to post on the blog. I also wrote to the Cetaphil company because it was impossible to find product ingredients on their website. Luckily, I received a quick response and learned the Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion contains macadamia oil, as do some of their other products. Some of their products contain shea butter, which is an issue for very sensitive people. Because of your sensitivity to tree nuts, it’s understandable that the Cetaphil with macadamia oil would cause aggravation rather than offering comfort. Looks like you might benefit from intense label reading and avoiding the nut family. I hope to have the post ready some time next week. Hope you’re beginning to heal bit by bit. Zel Allen

      • Lauren F. said

        I’m so glad I’m still following this. I had used Cetaphil years ago, recommended by a dermatologist, before I was diagnosed. Never had a problem. I recently bought it again and it made my skin itchy and dry. I guessed there was something in it but couldn’t tell from the label. I also bought at Argan oil shampoo and my head is itchy. That explains that. (I’m tree nut and sesame allergic.). I really hate they cosmetics labels are hard to read. Had a rashy reaction to Neutrogena foundation as well. Not sure but I think there’s sesame in it.

      • Hi Lauren,

        I’m delighted you’ve added your comment–it just reinforces the need for me to write to the FDA to express the importance of clear labeling that gives people with tree nut allergies fair warning about ingredients in body care products. Both me and my husband have experienced itchy skin recently and didn’t realize it may have been our moisturizing lotion. Nut allergies can sometimes be quite subtle. Hope you found relief when you stopped using those problem products.


      • Lauren F. said

        I’m glad I can help! I’ve also found that specific formulations of Dove body wash are fine for me (I think it’s the Winter Care version that’s the best, but it’s hard to find.) I also follow a Facebook page for adults/children with sesame allergies. Because sesame isn’t one of the top eight allergens in the US, it is an even bigger challenge. The admins of that page maintain an ever-changing list of which companies voluntarily label for sesame. A problem I never thought of was brought up by parents of allergic kids with respect to cosmetics- young children will cozy up to moms wearing makeup that could have an allergen in it. So these moms of allergic kids are incredibly vigilant in what they put on themselves so as not to give the child a skin reaction. I look forward to supporting FDA legislation to label.

      • Hi Lauren,

        Can you give me the name of the Facebook page you mentioned, or give me the link to it. I will gladly share that when I post my article. The more we share, the better informed people will be–and maybe that will help to reduce the suffering people with allergies struggle with.


      • Lauren Freedman said

        Lauren Freedman, Ph.D. Sent from my iPhone


    • Ellen Shinn said

      Odd that you would mention Cetaphil. I used to use it and stopped. I just recently started using it again and my skin got dry and itchy. I just started using Cere Ve again. See how that works. I found a product, Branch Basics at branchbasics.com to use in my wash, cleaning products, etc. Seems to help. I am allergic to nickel (among other things ) and a preservative found in many, many products. Methylisothiazolinone Cl=ME-ISOTHIAZOLINONE. It is in shampoo, body wash, kitchen products. Still looking for a liquid hand soap for the sink and a dish detergent that cuts grease.(Dawn contains that product) Also, beware of ingredients listed on the package. Often only a few ingredients are listed. Pkg says to contact co. for all ingredients, because they frequently change!!!!!!! I have found eliminating most major manufacturers’ products since I switched to Branch Basics, things have improved. By the way, the dermatologist found the allergen by skin testing. ALSO, many cortisone creams have nickel in them. Two doctors told me this!!! Good luck.

      • HI Lauren,

        It’s so unfortunate you had to discover these miserable allergies the hard way. I’ll share a tip my dermatologist gave me. He suggested that instead of using liquid body soap when showering, use Dove soap because it isn’t a de-greasing agent like most other soaps such as Ivory or shower gels from a cosmetic company. De-greasing soaps tend to dry the skin and rob it of its natural oils, leaving the skin scaly, and perhaps, itchy. Something to consider. I wonder if pure avocado oil might work as a moisturizing agent for you, since it’s not a nut or a seed. Sometimes I look to nature for answers rather than seeking out another chemical-loaded product.

        I’ll let my followers know when I receive a response from the FDA. Thanks a bunch for your comment.


      • Ellen Shinn said

        Some good suggestions. Makes one aware of people with similar problems. I find many cortisone creams bother me, and two doctors (allergist, dermatologist) told me many cortisone creams contain nickel. I find the least ingredients the better, and NO chemicals! Two friends told me they use coconut bettwer or vinegar on their hair . Coconut butter leave on for an hour, then wash hair. Vinegar (white) is use as a rinse.

    • Diana said

      Thank you, Claude, for mentioning Argan Oil! I developed a skin rash after eating mangoes every day for 3 weeks in a row, which didn’t erupt till I ate “raw” cashews, which made my innards feel like I was on fire; then ate cayenne pepper a few days later (to warm me up on a cold morning), not realizing rashes mean “excess heat” in the body. The cayenne caused the rash to erupt through my skin which in turn causing horrible itching! (Now I now better.) I had also used a body cream by “Acure” that had mango in it and Argan Oil. I had a feeling the Argan Oil was a culprit too. I have eliminated all these foods, lotions, and other foods that cause further reaction (saw on a website). It’s been 6 weeks and rash still there and still itchy. I have to avoid letting my body get “heated” up by avoiding sun exposure, warm water, and physical activity that heats me up. I’m living off watermelon and cucumbers as they “cool” my system. Breathing to relax my nervous system when I itch has been very helpful too.

      • Hi Diana,

        Please do forgive me for this tardy reply. My husband and I were on vacation and couldn’t get access to our computers. I’m so sorry to hear about your really nasty reaction to the cashew-mango family. I know it’s miserable because my husband and son still react when they get caught unaware. Both have eruptions that itch like crazy and my son had the burning. In the next day or two I’ll be posting an article I’ve been writing and researching about cosmetic oils that have been an issue for people who struggle with tree nut allergies. These allergies don’t usually don’t go away–it means being on constant alert for ingesting nuts or nut oils or using body care products containing them. You may also may want to consider taking peppermint capsules available in natural food markets or health food stores.

      • Diana said

        Thank you, I’d like to know more about nut oils, etc.
        Today I gave myself a mud wrap at home, using bentonite clay mixed with water. I covered my whole body with it (as I have rashes all over) wrapped myself in celophane (large size than kitchen use), laid on a lounge chair on my back deck in the shade with towels and a down comforter over me (there was a cool breeze). I slept for an hour! Then took a bath in tepid water. I then put coconut oil on my body, then I wrapped my forearms and upper legs in celophane as I walked about my home. It kept the air away from the itchy spots. I took it off when I felt I was warming up. What a relief. I will repeat tomorrow if I have a hard time sleeping tonight. Fresh aloe vera from the plant is very helpful too.

      • Hi Diana,

        I would love to know if your treatment with bentonite clay was helpful. Were you able to get a good night’s sleep? I noticed you applied coconut oil. For some people that’s a help and for others it’s problematic. Although coconut oil doesn’t cause as many allergenic reactions, it can for some people who are very sensitive. Right now, with your body so broken out, I might avoid coconut oil–just to be sure it’s not contributing to the problem. I’ll be posting a long article tomorrow. Thanks for sharing your experience. Each posting helps me learn so i can research and share.


      • Diana said

        Hi Zel,

        I did sleep better last night. I am wondering about the coconut oil, myself. After I’ve applied it, about a couple hours later I wipe it off. I’ve been taking the coconut oil internally too. I’ve stopped all of that as of today. The homeopathic formula by Hyland for “Hives” has been helpful for the itching. I went to a Chinese Herbalist here in town and he gave me herbs to “pull out the heat”. They are working. He has me doing a “bucket bath” once a day with cool water. I fill a container with cool water, then I pour a little at a time over my shoulders and down my back and stomach and legs. This draws the heat out. I learned the hard way that ice packs push the heat deeper into the body. I didn’t sleep at all the nights I used ice packs. Drinking Hettles that are diffused in hot water for several hours helps to calm my nervous system, as the itching causes me to go into “reaction”. Deep breathing is helpful too. I’m on the verge of going to a dermatologist to get pregnazone. I haven’t taken Western medicine in over 23 years. I’m leary, yet desperate at this point. Has anyone mentioned if that drug is helpful or not?


  26. bikingmaven said

    Found dish detergent Dr.BONNER’S SAL SUDS.It is concentrated. It is NOT Dr Bonners regular liquid soap.

  27. Brie said

    Have you looked into a latex allergy? The elastic in socks could cause a reaction, as could clothing with latex. There are also cross-reactive foods which include exotic fruit. Do you sleep on a foam topped mattress or use a pillow with latex in it?

    • Hi Brie, I’m well aware that latex is an allergen for many people, but was unaware there was a cross-reaction with exotic fruits. I don’t sleep on a foam topped mattress or have a latex pillow, but for me and my husband, latex is not a problem. I’ll do a little research about latex and exotic fruit cross reaction and see what turns up.


  28. Pamela said

    I too have recently discovered what I believe to be a cashew allergy. I have eaten mixed nuts in the past with no problems but have never (that I remember) purchased and eaten strictly cashews until March of this year. I had eaten a can of cashews over the course of two days and woke up the third day with tiny blisters all over my lips. And it hurt so much! It felt like someone had held a lighter to my lips. Went to the doctor and they diagnosed me with impetigo which is a contagious bacterial infection and gave me an antibiotic ointment. I had no reason to believe otherwise. After about a week my lips were better. Then about a month ago I purchased another can of cashews because they were on sale again and the same thing happened again after eating them for two days. Went back to the doctor and asked if it was possible that this was not impetigo but maybe a cashew allergy instead because it was too much of a coincidence that both times I got “impetigo” was after eating cashews. The doctor said it was possible but didn’t seem to really believe that was what it was. Just suggested I stay away from cashews to be on the safe side.

    • Hi Pamela, I’m so sorry you had to experience such a nasty reaction from your cashew feast. Actually, to some cashews are a feast, while to others they are without a doubt a foe. Hope you’re healing well. Keep in mind, that since you’ve been able to replicate your reaction from eating cashews, you most definitely are allergic and need to avoid them. If you’ve read my post about the cashew-mango connection, you’re probably aware that cashews are in the same family as pistachios, mangoes, poison oak, and poison ivy and you may experience the same reaction from eating pistachios and mangoes. And you’ll most likely want to avoid poison oak and poison ivy–the outbreaks from the plants are really nasty. Unfortunately, doctors are seldom aware of the power of foods and how they can affect the human body. I’m of the belief that we each know our bodies better than the doctor, and when you had the same reaction the second time you ate cashews, you quickly made the association–same food–same reaction–hmmmm, must be allergic. It’s important to read labels on any prepared foods and ask questions when you go to restaurants in order to avoid another unpleasant outbreak. If you’ve read any of the comments, you’ll notice you’re not the only one with this kind of reaction. Hope my post has been helpful.

  29. John Gust said

    In January of 2013, I learned the hard way that the cashew nut oil is in the same family as poison ivy. (I must have been having low level responses to cashew nuts without even knowing it for years because I’ve always enjoyed eating them.) One day, I wanted some extra protein for a bike ride, so I ate a couple of handfuls of cashews that I had bought in bulk from a national food chain. After a twenty mile ride (on a paved, city trail), my feet and hands started to itch much like a poison ivy reaction. I then did allergen patch tests for all the many different kinds of food that I had been eating. The cashew nuts were the only thing that registered a positive, and I had poison ivy like blisters for about a month afterwards on the spot of skin that the cashew patch was placed.

    In addition to what has already been noted on this website and according to the CDC: “…The cashew tree, Anacardium occidentale, belongs to the same family of plants (Anacardiaceae) as the Rhus species, which cause poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac (1)…-Cronin E. Contact dermatitis. New York: Churchill Livingstone 1980:475-87.” (“Dermatitis Associated with Cashew Nut Consumption — Pennsylvania” -MMWR, March 11, 1983 / 32(9);129-30. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001269.htm )

    As a side note, I had done a break job many years ago, and I had developed a similar itch on my hands. At the time, I had assumed that I was exposed to some sort of asbestos-like fibers in the break-pads –even though I had been careful about that. After my positive patch test with the cashews, I did a little research on the internet and discovered that cashew nut oil (CNO) is used for break parts or in the break grease that I had been using. (This oil seems to be concentrated in the shells of the cashew nuts.)

    I had eaten cashews for years, but apparently I had been irritating my digestive tract with low levels of something similar to poison ivy. For some reason, there was no obvious warning symptom, and I did not experience anything severe -like anaphylaxis.
    It seems that the degree of reaction varies greatly –even among those who know they are sensitive, so it’s probably not surprising that many people may be having low-level reactions or internal irritation without even being aware of possible scarring or chronic damage to the digestive tract.
    This might explain many other health problems and symptoms that people may be experiencing, such as Crohn’s and other IBD, etc. Cashews and / or similar substances may even influence pancreatic problems, appendicitis, colon cancers, etc. Symptoms could be subtle –until a large quantity is consumed, plus maybe combined with exercise, but the risk should seem obvious –even to someone who is not an expert.
    I am not calling for alarm bells, but I do not understand why cashew usage is being promoted and marketed so aggressively instead of shunned when CNO is a known irritant / allergen. Grocers are now selling cashew milk next to almond milk on store shelves. Am I missing something here? Maybe someone needs to take a closer look. Some studies should probably be done.
    Again, I could be wrong with my anecdotal observations, but I feel that this might be an issue worth investigating, researching, or studying –especially for those scientists with an interest in nutrition and digestive issues. Furthermore, if we have been this negligent with cashews, what other digestive allergens might be lurking in our refrigerators? (Cf. the already mentioned: mango skins that come into contact with mango tree resin, pistachios, and pink peppercorns, etc.)

    • Hi John,

      Thank you for writing on this topic. In hunting down information on nut allergies, I do remember reading something about some people experiencing cross-reactivity to nuts or nut products other than their primary challenge. In sensitive people it becomes imperative for them to avoid all contact with all nuts and nut products. For some it’s quite a challenge because nut oils and nut shells show up in unexpected places–like commercial products and even industrial products such as paints and paint products. So glad you shared your concerns. The more we learn and share the better it is for everyone. People who do not suffer from allergies but are aware of products containing nuts and nut oils can be a big help to those who do suffer.

      As for subtle allergic symptoms that do not manifest visibly–it’s altogether possible and even likely. I have no medical expertise and am aware that some doctors dismiss issues like this too easily. The only time the doctor really know we have a problem is when he or she can visibly see it or notice the patient is feeling pain or itching. But sometimes, we know our bodies better than any doctor. Some people can sense these very underlying issues before they come to the surface.

    • Hi John,

      Thank you for writing on this topic. In hunting down information on nut allergies, I do remember reading something about some people experiencing cross-reactivity to nuts or nut products other than their primary challenge. In sensitive people it becomes imperative for them to avoid all contact with all nuts and nut products. For some it’s quite a challenge because nut oils and nut shells show up in unexpected places–like commercial products and even industrial products such as paints and paint products. So glad you shared your concerns. The more we learn and share the better it is for everyone. People who do not suffer from allergies but are aware of products containing nuts and nut oils can be a big help to those who do suffer.

      As for subtle allergic symptoms that do not manifest visibly–it’s altogether possible and even likely. I have no medical expertise and am aware that some doctors dismiss issues like this too easily. The only time the doctor really know we have a problem is when he or she can visibly see it or notice the patient is feeling pain or itching. But sometimes, we know our bodies better than any doctor. Some people can sense these very underlying issues before they come to the surface.

  30. Ernie said

    Interesting messages. I do not have skin reactions to cashews. I noticed several times after eating a small can of all cashews that I had very pale stools for five days. [This also happens with Clamato juice.] Pale stools can be liver related, but doctors could find no issues or cause. I avoid both now but would like to know why this reaction.

    Walnuts have burned my mouth. Occasionally pecans do this. I have no issue with them in foods. I wondered if this has more to do with a reaction to the pulp that is sometimes not well cleared from their crevices. I do have a mild tongue pepper-like, but pleasant burning with pistachios but not cashews, almonds, or hazelnuts.

    I also get a throat swelling or swallowing problem sometimes when eating toasted bread, pizza, spaghetti, and some other unidentified foods. Doctors think this may be eosinophilic esophagitis and treat it with Prilosec type gastric pills, which has helped.

    I have wondered if all of these three issues may be nut related. I ‘googled’ cashew allergy and found this group.

    • Hi Ernie,

      Sounds like you may have more than one issue with some foods. First, nuts can cause a variety of reactions in people who are sensitive. I’m noticing that there is no single reaction for people who struggle with nut allergies–I’ve encountered everything from mild burning to hives to anaphylactic shock. I’m guessing you may have a mild allergy to some nuts, but not all. Some of the reactions, though mild, may be unpleasant or uncomfortable. Avoidance might be best. Sometimes nuts show up in prepared foods or beverages, so label reading may be helpful.

      The second issue may be digestive. I have no medical expertise, but it sounds like the medication you’re taking is helping quite a bit. Could you possibly have a wheat allergy? Most breads in the U.S. and Europe are made from wheat flour. It may explain why pizza and spaghetti causes a reaction. You might want to check out gluten-free breads and pastas. You can find them in natural food stores. Food allergies in general can be quite a challenge to nail down when people react to a number of items. It helps to look at ingredients that connects them. Hope this has been helpful. Here’s to healthy and comfortable dining!

  31. Sue said

    I’m allergic to cashews too. This article also explains why I felt ill after eating pistachios. Of course I was drinking cashew milk cause I’m allergic to dairy but now the cashew milk is out the window.

    • Hi Sue,

      It’s a shame that cashew allergy information isn’t well known. In place of diary, you might consider soy milk. That would take you completely away from the nut family. There are many varieties ranging from very sweet to completely unsweetened. If you’re not allergic to other nuts as well, you could consider almond milk. To make your own, put 1/2 cup whole almonds in a blender. Add 1 date and 2 1/2 cups water. Blend on high speed for a full minute and pour the milk through a strainer into a pitcher. Use it within 5 days or it will spoil. If the almond milk is too thin, add more water to taste. For a thick creamy almond milk, use less water. Here’s to discomfort-free good health.


  32. Ian Brock said

    My 4 year old daughter has a severe reaction to cashews and hazelnuts in which it effects her respiratory system and she has a hard time breathing, other than paying ridiculous prices for an EPI are there any natural remedies? I have read articles concerning natural remedies which help with the skin condition but not too much detail on helping with respiratory issues.

    • Hi Ian,

      There are no magic bullets when it comes to nut allergies. Because hazelnuts are not in the cashew-mango family, I have a hunch she may be allergic to all nuts. The most important thing is to be very watchful and avoid, avoid, avoid nuts completely to avoid a trip to the emergency room. This is a serious allergy and may be life threatening. It involves reading labels carefully to make sure your daughter’s diet contains no nuts, nut products, nut butters, including nut oils–possibly even nut oils in cosmetic and body care products. When eating in restaurants, ask again and again to make sure her foods contain no nuts. It would be important to include your daughter in discussions about the importance of avoiding nuts, and especially important when she’s at nursery school, day care, school, playing with friends, or at birthday parties. Teach her to ask if the cookies, cake, or candies contain nuts. Teach her how to tell others she has a serious nut allergy and must avoid them. I hope this is helpful. Raising a child with a nut allergy is a careful journey–take care.

      • ian brock said

        Thanks so much for the quick reply. My 4 year old has eaten regular peanuts, walnuts and almonds with no effects, but we will definitely continue monitoring and teaching her concerning the nuts she needs to avoid. Thanks again

  33. Perry said

    I want to echo Ernie’s comment (#30), “I do not have skin reactions to cashews. I noticed several times after eating a small can of all cashews that I had very pale stools for five days.” Please let me put added emphasis on ‘for FIVE DAYS.’ (I too at first feared liver disorder — which it may have been, temporarily induced by cashews — but my annual labs, months after, remain normal and my health remains excellent.)

    In addition, I experience bowel urgency and noteworthy stinging/burning upon elimination if and only if I eat a handful of cashews. These symptoms are precisely dose-related, and two cashews are superb for gentle but definite relief (within 10 hours) of any bowel sluggishness. Repeated experiments on myself have confirmed the association.

    I am puzzled as to “Why now?” For over 60 years I have been able to consume all the cashews I wanted, but since 2013 have become sensitive. I wonder if the nuts themselves have changed. So far I’ve noticed no problem with mangoes.

    • Hi Perry,

      Thank you for sharing your experience. You’re the second person to mention having bowel reactions to eating cashews. I understand your puzzlement about “Why now?” It may be that it’s the “straw that broke the camel’s back” sort of thing. You can a person can eat cashews every day over the years and never have a reaction. Then, one day the body says “I’ve had it.” That kind of reaction to the cashews, luckily, is not likely to trigger any serious health consequences. However, it may be best to give the body a rest of a few months from eating cashews. Then try a handful and see what happens. If the reaction is distressing, the body is telling you it’s not happy with this food and it would be best to avoid them. To my knowledge, nothing has changed in the composition of the cashews themselves, but it may be possible the processing method of removing them from the shells may have changed. The interesting thing is that you may have discovered a unique way to relieve constipation.

  34. Heather said

    I can’t believe this! My husband is covered head to toe in a rash, which I started developing in my face, on my lips, and wrists also. The only thing we could deduct that was different was that we bought a jar of organic cashew butter instead of peanut butter. I started googling and found this information. I am floored. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Hi Heather,

      Please do forgive my very tardy reply. I fell and threw my back into a nasty spasm. It’s just now beginning to feel like I’m in recovery mode. I’m so happy you found my cashew-mango article and that it was helpful. Allergic reactions can be pretty darned awful. Hope you’re feeling much better–sometimes it takes awhile for the symptoms to simmer down. Now that you’re aware of the cashew culprit, you may want to avoid the whole cashew family (cashews, mangoes, pistachios, poison oak, and poison ivy). Vegetarian restaurants often prepare sauces, soups, and desserts with cashews, because they contribute to a pleasing, creamy texture and great flavor. Most non-vegetarian restaurants don’t use cashews because they’re quite expensive–but surprises do happen. Just be aware, ask questions when eating out, and avoid those items when possible. Stay safe.

  35. Eve C said

    THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS. Years ago, I stumbled upon those same symptoms around mangoes that your husband and son have (contact dermatitis, essentially). But then out of the blue just a couple of weeks ago, I started having the those same symptoms. Process of elimination pointed at cashews, but there had never been a problem before…? But now, makes perfect sense, finding out that they’re related plants. Now I just have to wait for the roof of my mouth to stop itching, and find someone that wants the rest of the can of cashews. 🙂

    • Hi Eve,

      So sorry for this very tardy reply. Please do forgive me. I can imagine this dramatic reaction to cashew butter was surprising. What happens with allergies is that the body can tolerate a particular food day in and day out, then, one day it balks with symptoms that may be puzzling. You might say that last time was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Hopefully, by now you’re experiencing some relief. The other unique thing with allergies is that it may never happen again, or anything in the family of cashews, mangoes, pistachios, poison oak, and poison ivy will cause an allergic reaction with just one exposure. Luckily, this type of allergy is not life-threatening, but it is very uncomfortable. In my own household, my husband and two of my four children have allergic reactions to the cashew family. We simply avoid these foods as much as possible. Eating in restaurants means asking lots of questions about sauces, soups, and desserts that often contain cashews. Stay well!

  36. I have absorbed all the comments above about the mentioned allergies. I too had an interesting thing happen recently. I have no allergies that I am aware of. For years I have been enjoying Kirkland fancy dried mixed nuts without any reaction. Most recently, after babysitting my grandchildren for the day, I took a shower and shortly after drying off noticed that my neck and both arms had broken out in a horrible red rash. I put lotion on and then my pajamas. All evening the rash got worse and the itching was unbearable. The next morning my upper lip appeared swollen and burned much like a sunburn. The need to scratch has been horrible causing my arms to swell. Thinking the bath gel might be the culprit I switched to my husbands Dove soap. I did experience some relief but not much. Still looking for a cause.

    Time lapsed and I went back to babysitting on Thursday….same routine….the rash continued to get worse. Of course I started Googling symptoms and causes that night. Lucky for me I fell into your site a week later and started thinking back about my routine every day. No difference in laundry detergent, bath lotions all the same, no perfumes different, no fancy foods. Process of elimination! Guess what? When I thought about my routine while babysitting, I remembered that often I would pass by the pantry on my way to do laundry and grab a handful of Kirkland Dried Unsalted Cashews and eat them. I did this on Monday and Thursdays of this past week. Because I had little else in my system except morning coffee the cashews in a concentrated amount could very well be the culprit. I hate to think that I’ve got weeks more of discomfort to endure but I certainly won’t be grabbing cashews to munch on when I return this coming Monday.

    What I have found to truly soothe the burning and itching is a product called Aquaphor by Eucerin. I put a heavy layer on my arms and within a few hours could feel relief. During the healing process keep the rash area out of the sun — I was in so much pain attempting to do yard work in a short sleeved t-shirt.

    Thanks so much for all your information and everyone’s comments. By the way, I’m almost 65 years old and who would have thought that NOW I would be developing an allergy to something. I will keep monitoring my recovery and be very mindful of what I am ingesting.

    • Hi Sherry,

      You did an excellent job of playing detective by process of elimination when you concluded it was the cashews that caused you such a miserable and itchy rash. So sorry you had to experience these awful symptoms. Both my husband and son found it sometimes takes months for the rash and symptoms to disappear, while the itching and burning leaves much sooner. I can understand your surprise that at age 65 you would experience an allergy like this. You might say it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. You may have been slowly building up a sensitivity to cashews for some time without realizing it. Then one day your body simply said “enough!” Keep in mind that you might experience the rash, itching, and burning when you eat mangoes or pistachios, which are in the same family. If you encounter poison oak or poison ivy, those, too, may cause a reaction. The best way to stay rash and itch-free is to do your best to avoid these items. One thing many people don’t realize is that sometimes these nut oils appear in cosmetic and body care products–so just be vigilant and you’ll heal.

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I’m so glad you found my post–it’s been a help to so many people. Here’s to clear, unrashy skin–and good health!


  37. Cheryl Wells said

    So relieved to find your site linking cashew allergy to mango and poison oak. I have known of my sensitivity to mango when my lips would swell. Poison oak produced obvious itching, weeping sore for weeks. I had been munching on Kirkland cashews quite unabashedly last week when I woke in the middle of the night with my tongue sore and swollen. It advanced to my lips so much that I went to the Dr.,concerned it may have been a contagious baste rial or viral infection. He didn’t know. It seemed to be subsiding and I ate 1 cashew before retiring to bed and when I awoke in the morning, it looked like my lips had been injected with collagen and my tongue was swollen again. Then I found your information and a light bulb went on. I can handle this as an allergy to all foods in the Anacardiaceae family. Fortunately I don’t have the itching rashes so many people have described. THANK YOU,

    • Hi Cheryl,

      So glad you found my blog post. As you might have noticed from the number of comments on the cashew/mango allergy, this is a rather common allergic reaction in people with the sensitivity you have. The best solution is avoidance. As for relief, it seems you’ve found your own comfort in frozen grapes that obviously offered cooling relief to your inflamed tongue. After several years of avoiding both mangoes and cashews, my husband tried a few cashews–like 3 or 4. That was just fine, but more than that brought his rash right back. His reaction to mango is much more dramatic, causing him to itch miserably from a huge rash on his chest, back, and legs. He knows he has to avoid mango completely. This takes careful questioning when eating at vegetarian restaurants where cashews and pistachios often appear on the menu as sauces and cheese spreads. Mangoes are easier to spot. Be patient, it may take some time for your body to simmer down. It may be helpful to drink some peppermint tea–it’s cooling. Peppermint gelcaps from the health food store may be helpful, too. You can take 2 or 3 at a time about 3 times a day for a couple of days to get some relief until your mouth feels more comfortable. Hopefully, your allergy is just limited to this Anacardiacaea family and not all nuts. Nuts are such a healthy source of good nutrition.

      Here’s to excellent health without those nasty allergic reactions!


  38. Robert said

    Thank you for your site.
    I bought a large container of cashews and ate them over two weeks. I got bloated, my stomach was very upset, I was VERY fatigued, and a sore developed on my lower lip at the site I usually get cold sores. The worst of the symptoms subsided, but TWO WEEKS later I’m still somewhat bloated, stomach still irritated, the sore is fading, I’m less tired but still easily fatigued, and my stools are pale. I’m amazed it’s taking this long to recover. Any suggestions for accelerating the recovery process?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Robert,

      I must admit your reaction to eating the cashews is quite different from what others have experienced. I’m also aware that everyone has a different body chemistry and reactions can vary greatly. Judging from my husband’s and my son’s challenge from eating cashews and mangoes, two weeks is not an unusual length of time for the body to calm down from an allergic response. You might drink some water with lemon squeezed into it to help alkalize the body–drink plenty of water to help flush out any toxins. Also, eat a daily salad of dark green leafy vegetables like kale, collards, bok choy, and spinach to help alkalize the body in a natural and gentle way. I’m wondering if the bag of cashews might have been poorly processed. With cashews it’s safest to buy them from a reputable market. The harvesting of cashews require very special handling in order to avoid health issues. Patience is the best suggestion I can offer–I know it can be frustrating to be patient when you’re body is not recovering quickly. If your symptoms persist without improvement, be sure to see your doctor. Hope you’ll be feeling better quickly.


      • Robert said

        Thank you.
        I read above that sesame and sunflower have a similar protein, and I’ve been eating them regularly. I’ll go off those as well.
        My Naturpath suggested Similase broad based plant enzyme and I’ll be trying that.

    • Perry said

      Hi Robert ~

      I’m sorry for your ordeal, but at the same time I’m delighted to hear from someone else who knows first-hand that cashews can indeed cause many days of (frightening) pale stools. My colon/rectum seemed to regard those pale stools as quite an irritant; you did not mention that aspect, but I’m curious whether more than your stomach felt irritated.

      Counting you, I think there are now three of us on this blog who have experienced many days of pale stools due to cashew consumption. My liver function tests were all normal when checked a few months later; I’ll bet yours will be too, but please report back if otherwise.

      I’d love to stumble across some research article which explains the ‘acholic feces’ but no luck so far!

      Good luck and much sympathy,

  39. Tammy said

    Thank you for posting this! I have been going insane trying to figure out what is on my skin. I was doing mission work a few weeks ago and developed a rash. At first I thought it was some sort of bites. I went to Dr and was told poison ivy. Could be since we worked outside a lot, but I never saw any. After a day or two after Dr. visit more and more bumps appeared. I started to doubt the poison ivy diagnosis and wonder if I did have some kind of mite! While I was on my mission trip my diet consisted of mostly cashews and fruit for breakfast and lunch. I did not eat them as much when I returned home, but did eat them some days. One day I did notice right after eating them I began to itch and break out right away on my arm. I also realized that I was wheezing and stopped eating cashews. I was ok for a couple of days until we went out to dinner and I ordered fish with mango salsa and a mango martini. Came home with a rash again and thought what now? Maybe it’s not an allergy until I found this. I’m just wondering if I ever even had poison ivy or if it was just a reaction to the cashews all along

    • Hi Tammy,

      So glad you finally solved the mystery of your skin break-outs. It sure can be maddening when you have to contend with food allergies and can’t figure out what what’s causing your body to react. Mangoes and cashews are actually healthful foods and seem so totally innocent few people would suspect them of causing such challenges. Both my husband and my son had severe skin reactions and broke out in large welts that drove them nuts with itching. After avoiding the whole family that included cashews, pistachios, mangoes, and of course, poison oak and poison ivy for about a year, they find they can tolerate a little mango occasionally, but only occasionally. But neither can handle the mango skin or eat the fruit off the skin without reactions because the skin is where the allergy-causing urushiol oil is. That urushiol oil is also in the shell of the cashew and shell of the pistachio. Unfortunately, few physicians are aware of this allergy-causing family and the many reactions they can cause. For now, you may have to read labels–some cosmetic and hair care products contain mango and cashews. At Asian restaurants, be sure to ask about items that have cashews, a common ingredient in some Chinese and Thai dishes. Here’s to clear, itch-free skin!!!!

  40. Chippy said

    Can you have a reaction without the rash? I have been eating a handful of cashews with breakfast every day for almost 3 weeks, and sometimes lunch and dinner. Now for the past 4 or so days, my mouth lips have felt dry, and later a little itchy. Also have had some gas and mild diarrhea, (and itchiness) a few days. There has been no rash, and no itching anywhere else on my body. I have eaten cashews before, and have never had any allergies to any foods. It seems that if there were any sensitivity, any reaction ought to have occurred at most within a few days of starting to eat cashews, not 2 and a half weeks. There couldn’t be any relation, could there?

    • Hi Katie,

      Yes, there could very likely be a relation. Your experience was similar to one of my boys experience with mangoes. In some people, the body can tolerate a small amount of cashews now and then, but a daily dose over a 2 to 3-week period can likely build up to a reaction. It’s like the straw that broke the camel’s back–everything was fine until that last cashew was digested. It’s probably best to back off consuming cashews for at least a month. After that, maybe try some one day and see if you have a reaction. For sensitive people, the rotation approach may be helpful–that involves consuming the nuts only every 4th day, not day after day. If you still have a reaction, you may have to consider cashews something to avoid. Keep in mind, that you may find that mangoes (which are in the same family) may bring on a reaction, the dryness and itchiness, or even a rash, especially if you eat the mangoes off the skin. The mango skins and cashew shells both contain urushiol oil, the culprit that causes these nasty reactions. It’s different for everyone, so it’s a bit of trial and error. For your information, pistachios, poison oak, and poison ivy are also in the same family as cashews and mangoes. Go with caution and you’ll most likely be fine with cashews eaten occasionally.



  41. Joy said

    I am extremely allergic to poison ivy. When I was a teenager we discovered I was allergic to cashews and that it was connected to my sensitivity with poison ivy. Since then I’ve learned I am allergic to mango skins as well as basil pesto. And I am not sure if this is related but I am also allergic to kiwi. Hope this helps. It takes years to figure out what is causing allergic reactions sometimes and I don’t want anyone to go through what I’ve had to if they don’t have to.

    • Hi Joy,

      Thank you for sharing your allergy issues. If you’ve had an opportunity to look at several of the other comments, you’ll notice you have plenty of company. It surprises many people that cashews, mangoes, pistachios, poison oak, and poison ivy are in the same family. It a person is allergic to one of those items, it’s likely there might be an allergic reaction to the other members of this family. If you’ve read any of my posts about the cashew-mango allergy, you now know that its the urushiol oil in the skins of mangos, shells of cashews and pistachios, and the leaves of the poison ivy and poison oak that causes such distressing discomfort for those who are allergic to them. Of course, the best thing is to avoid them. Sometimes, those items show up in cosmetic and body care products. Be sure to read labels. At restaurants, it’s important to ask questions if you’re not sure about ingredients. To avoid a nasty allergic reaction, never hesitate to ask questions about ingredients–it’s your best course for a happy, healthy, future.


  42. Thanks for another informative web site. Where else could I get that kind of information written in such a perfect way? I’ve a project that I am just now working on, and I’ve been on the look out for such information.

  43. Just had an interesting and probably related problem. I have a secret recipe for nut butter fudge, and recently (for the first time) made a batch using cashew butter. My wife liked it so much that she ate the whole batch in a day. She now has a red itchy rash on her lower arms, neck and chin. She has never showed any sign of allergy to mangoes, pistachios or cashews, but has never consumed so much in such a short time either. Is it possible/likely the the nut butter is more likely to be allergenic than the nuts? It is very oily.

    • Hi Murray,

      Reading the account of your wife’s enthusiasm for your secret nut butter fudge, leads me to believe that because she has never reacted to cashews in the past, it may have been the large quantity of cashews in the nut butter that overwhelmed her. No doubt, it will take several days to simmer down and the rash may take a couple of weeks or more to disappear. The real test will be if she reacts in the future to mangoes, cashews, or pistachios in small quantities. Since her present reaction is so dramatic, it may trigger the body to react to even small amounts in the future. Then again, it may never happen again. Allergies can puzzling some times.

  44. New question. Once the rash is present can other nuts/nut oils make things worse? My wife ate some almonds on Sunday, and uses coconut oil daily, and her rash had spread to her back and sides by this morning. Murray

    • Hi Murray,

      Judging from my husband’s experience with reactions to cashews and mangos, I have a hunch that your wife is still reacting to the initial heavy dose of cashews. Sometimes the rash and itching continue to develop even two or three days after eating the cashews. I would suggest she not eat any nuts for at least a couple of weeks or longer and give her body a chance to heal from the heavy dose of cashews. Almonds and coconuts and their oils are not in the same family as cashews, mangoes, and pistachios, but by refraining from nuts altogether for a period of time, the body can recover. After the rash and itching have completely healed, then try other nuts like almonds, walnuts, etc. If she reacts with a rash, then consider taking nuts off the menu, completely.

  45. Found this blog researching my own symptoms. I never had issues with cashews or mangoes before, but after a reactive episode to poison oak, eating cashews or mangoes off the peel causes and itchy rash on my lips and face. I’m sad I can’t eat cashews anymore, but all other nuts (including pistachios) seem to be fine. Also I can eat mango flesh if it’s already peeled and cut, I just have to stay away from the peel.

    • Hi Shelly,

      Your experience is very common among those who share the cashew-mango allergy challenge. Sometimes, if you avoid cashews for a long period of time, you might be able to tolerate a small serving occasionally. That’s something you can experiment with if you’re inclined. However, that itchy rash is pretty darned distressing and usually discourages people from wanting to eat foods in. this family. Some people are so sensitive, they cannot even eat mangos that have been peeled. It varies for everyone, but eventually, you learn what your body can tolerate and what to avoid. As you probably noted in some of my postings, it’s the mango skin that harbors the allergenic oils. For some, even tiny traces of the urushiol oil on the mango fruit creates the itchy rash. If you need to peel mangoes, you might try putting on rubber gloves. Then wash your hands thoroughly . Hope this helps.


  46. I often browse the internet these days looking solutions to my alergies. I like to research about new ideas, techniques that I may not have tried before. I really enjoyed reading the posts on your site. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Talk Hay Fever,

      So glad you dropped in for a visit and enjoyed the browse. Thank you so much for the kind words–they’re so appreciated. So sorry my info was not helpful for your hay fever. The challenge with so many allergies, especially hay fever, is narrowing it down to the actual culprit. Then, the next challenge is how best to remedy the issue when the allergenic trees or plants are all around you. Here’s to success in winning the hay fever battle!


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  48. pp said

    Mango allergy is a made up western concept as best mangoes are grown in India and they want to hurt indian exports , cannot trust stories of western cultures who always have commercial interests at the back of their mind.

    • I understand how you might be viewing the import issue, but the mango allergy is real. It’s also not extremely common. Most people do not have an allergy to mangos and enjoy them when they’re in season. It’s true that we don’t commonly see the Indian mango in every market, but they do show up in many of the specialty markets we have where we live in Los Angeles.

  49. Rita Fairbairn said

    Hi, My husband broke out in a rash that is exactly described, and photos. He has been eating Lara Lara bars (cashews) on a regular basis for a few years now w/no problem. About 6 months ago he began eating de-shelled pistachios like crazy, and that’s when he noticed breaking out in a rash, (little red bumps, on his chest, back, and a few on his limbs). He has discontinued eating both pistachio & cashew nuts. And mangos he dislikes, and does not eat. How long should he expect the rash to go away? He’s drinking celery juice to assist his liver, and applying aloe vera, and comfrey balm to sooth. Thank you so much for all the information, you are so amazing!! Rita

    • Hi Rita,

      How frustrating this must be for your husband. As for when the rash will go away, it’s such an individual thing. As long as he stays away from the cashew, pistachio, mango family, the rash ought to fade within a week or two. Read food labels to make sure those items are not present in the foods you purchase. Keep in mind that summer is just around the corner and poison oak and poison ivy will be thriving in wooded areas and on hiking trails. Those are in the same family and can be pretty pesky if he comes in contact with them. Avoidance is the best medicine for those who are sensitive to this family of foods and plants. Have a wonderful summer season.


    • Hi Rita,

      How frustrating this must be for your husband. I’m so glad my website was able to help a bit. As for how long the rash will last, it’s such an individual thing. It may disappear in a day or two or it might take up to two weeks. The important thing is that now that you both know the cause, you know what to avoid. Pay attention to food labels that might also contain cashews, pistachios, and mangos. Poison oak and poison ivy are also in the same family that can bring on the rash. As spring and summer arrive, those plants will be very prolific in wooded areas and on some hiking trails. Avoid direct contact with the leaves. They contain urushiol oil as well and can bring on the itchy rash. Some very sensitive people may even react when near those plants–not even touching them, and break out in a nasty rash that oozes pus and might need a doctor visit. It’s not serious–just pesty. Avoidance is the best bet. Here’s to saying goodbye to the rash–have a great summer!


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