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Key Allergens

Fig is in the family Moraceae, other foods in this family are mulberry and jackfruit.

Fig is a less common food allergy, there are no recorded allergens for fig by the World Health Organization (WHO), because there have not been enough study into allergic effects from this food. If you are interested in what is needed by the WHO before they add an allergen to their allergen database you can check that out HERE.

Figs have been shown to contain Lipid Transfer Proteins (LTPs), these are panallergens with the potential to cause allergic reaction across different groups of foods.

Figs also contain plant profilin proteins. These are panallergens with the potential to cause allergic reactions over many groups of foods.

Other studied proteins in fig are Bet v 1 like proteins, which means that your body mistakes them for birch pollen allergens and can cause oral allergy type symptoms to them on ingestion.

Figs contain furanocoumarins on the fruit and leaves. These chemicals can get on the skin and in combination with ultraviolet light (sunlight) can cause a sunburn like rash. Furanocoumarins are found in higher concentrations in fresh herbs and are natural irritants which can cause allergic contact dermatitis. This is more common in occupations where you are frequently coming into contact with the food, like chefs, cooks, growers and pickers.

Food Intolerances

Food is high in histamine Food is high in sulphites Food is high in FODMAP Food is high in salicylates

Figs are a food high in histamine, so is not suitable for people following a low histamine diet.

Dried, preserved or overripe figs are high in sulphites. Sulphites are inorganic salts used in preservations and have the potential to cause symptoms of food intolerance to those sensitive to sulphites, this food intolerance is more common in asthmatics. An improvement in symptoms can be made with a change to a low sulphite diet.

Figs are a high FODMAP food. FODMAP stands for Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Foods high in FODMAPs can cause symptoms of food intolerance, affecting the gastro intestinal system and this can be mistaken for a true IgE food allergy.

Fresh figs are low in salicylates, but dried figs are high. Salicylates have the potential to cause worsening of asthma, swelling, itching and hives as well as food intolerance symptoms in people who are sensitive to salicylates.

You can read more about Food Intolerances on the dedicated Food Intolerance Page.

Associated Syndromes

Allergy to fig has been linked to Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome. You may have Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome if you suffer from dill allergy with oral allergy symptoms to 3 or more of the foods mentioned in the cross reactivity section.

Allergy to mango is linked to Celery-Mugwort-Spice Syndrome, which is a subtype of Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome. This syndrome affects individuals who have become sensitised to pollen and then have oral allergy type symptoms to foods with similarly shaped proteins. The most common form of Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome is the one caused by birch tree pollen. In Celery Mugwort Spice Syndrome the sensitising pollen is mugwort.

The plant involved in latex allergy Hevea brasiliensis , the rubber tree plant, has an allergen called Hev b 8 which is a profilin protein. Those very sensitised to latex may have a contact allergic reaction from other foods or plants containing profilin proteins, there is less evidence of this than sensitisation to other latex linked proteins like hevein and chitinases, but it still has an important role in Latex Food Syndrome.

You may be suffering from LTP Syndrome if you have reactions to various fruits, vegetables and nuts and your reactions continue to be severe after you have discarded the peel and have cooked the food.

Figs are also associated with photocontact dermatitis. This is a skin condition that occurs when a person gets the juice from the fruit or leaf sap on the skin and doesn't wash it off. The furocoumarins in the juice of the fruit are activated by the sun and cause an itchy rash on the skin.

Cross Reactivity

If sensitised to Birch pollen you may have Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome and may also react to apple, carrot, kiwi, pear, peach, plum, nectarine, apricots, cherries, tomato, celery, potato, parsnip, pepper, cumin, peas, dill, fennel, hazelnut, walnut, almonds, coriander, peanuts, lentils and beans.

Foods linked to Latex Food Syndrome may have linked allergies to foods which contain high levels of chitinase, like avocado, banana, corn (maize), kiwi, papaya, pomegranate and tomatoes.

Profilins are also found as food allergens in kiwi, celery, peanut, chilli, watermelon, orange, hazelnut, melon, carrot, strawberry, soya, walnut, lychee, lupin, apple, cherry, almond, peach, pear, mustard, tomato and aubergine.

Common foods involved in LTP allergy include kiwi, strawberries, sunflower seeds, walnut, apple, mulberry, banana, pea, apricot, cherry, plum, almond, peach pomegranate, raspberry, tomato, grape, celery, peanut, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, chestnut, lemon, tangerine, orange, hazelnut, lettuce, lentils, lupin, green bean, pear, mustard, wheat and maize.



Science Direct - Furocoumarin

Allergen Encyclopedia - Fig

DermNet NZ - Fig

Allergy information for: Fig (Ficus carica (Common fig))

Livestrong - Fig Allergies

Histamine Intolerance Food

Sulfite Foods

Healthline - FODMAP Foods

ATP Science - Salicylate Foods

Articles and Journals

Phytophotodermatitis Due to Fig Tree Sap Activated by Ultraviolet Light: A Case Report, 2024

Plant and Arthropod IgE-Binding Papain-like Cysteine Proteases: Multiple Contributions to Allergenicity, 2024

The Potential of Fig (Ficus carica) for New Products, 2023

Fig “Ficus carica L.” and its by-products: A decade evidence of their health-promoting benefits towards the development of novel food formulations, 2022

An Overview of Phytochemical and Biological Activities: Ficus deltoidea Jack and Other Ficus spp., 2021

Allergic reactions to genus Morus plants: a review, 2020

Adverse reaction to Ficus Carica: reported case of a possible cross-reactivity with Der p1, 2020

Identification of Bet v 1‐related allergens in fig and other Moraceae fruits, 2010

Sensitization to Ficus benjamina: relationship to natural rubber latex allergy and identification of foods implicated in the Ficus‐fruit syndrome, 2004

Oral allergy syndrome to fig, 2003

Fig and mulberry cross-allergy, 2003

Cross-reactivity between Ficus benjamina latex and fig fruit in patients with clinical fig allergy, 2003

Cross-reactivity between Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) and natural rubber latex, 1998

Let me know if you found any of these interesting or useful. If you spot an article or research that you think is interesting you can message me or tag me on Facebook or Twitter - links at the bottom of the page.

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