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.

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  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?

  19. Hi there, You’ve done a great job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally suggest to my friends.
    I am sure they will be benefited from this site.

  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.


  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.


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