Science Questions

Sat, 8th Jul 2006

Part of the show Allergies, the Immune System and Parasites

Question

Jessica in Nayland asked:

I am 100% allergic to onion, garlic, leeks, chives and the rest of those allium-based things. What is it about this family of vegetables that causes allergies and is there anything I can do about it?

Answer

It's not a particularly common allergy and I wonder whether she's had formal testing against that. All those plants are quite irritating in their own right. If I peel an onion my eyes and nose start to water, which is a bit like what you get with an allergy, but it isn't really an allergy that is there. She may or may not have had this proven by a proper laboratory test or a skin test.

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