Key Allergens

Garlic is a bulb from a plant in the Amaryllidaceae family of plants. Other plants in this family include chives, leeks and onions.

A recent 2022 study has shown that garlic contains genes for the allergen thaumatin. This is a stable protein, meaning it is not damaged by heat or freezing, it is responsible for giving a food its sweetness.

Garlic is a well recognised cause of allergic contact dermatitis and urticaria. Patch testing using neat garlic can cause false-positive reactions because of diallyl disulfide which is found in the raw garlic bulb which acts as an irritant on the skin.

Diallyl disulfide is used as a garlic flavouring in food and garlic oil.

An allergy to garlic after ingestion is more commonly linked to Non-IgE allergy than a true IgE allergy. It is important if you think you are allergic to complete a food diary to ensure you are not eliminating large groups of food unnecessarily. There are tips on how to make a Food Diary here.

Food Intolerances

Food is low in salicylates Food is moderate in sulphites Food is high in FODMAP

Garlic is one of the few fresh foods that contain a moderate amount of 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.

Garlic is 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.

Garlic is a food low in salicylates. Salicylates have the potential to cause gastrointestinal 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

There is no information on syndromes associated with garlic allergy.

Cross Reactivity

Garlic is a plant in the Amaryllidaceae family of plants. Other plants in this family include chives, leeks and onions. If your allergy is severe these plants may also cause allergic reactions.

Other foods which contain thaumatin include apple, banana, peppers, celery, cherry, chilli, kiwi and peaches.



Allergen Encyclopedia - Garlic

DermNet NZ - Garlic

Anaphylaxis Campaign - Onion and Garlic Allergy

Allergic Living - Is it possible to be allergic to garlic?

Allergy information for: Garlic (Allium sativum)

Healthline - FODMAP Foods

ATP Science - Salicylate Foods

Science Direct - Thaumatin

Articles and Journals

Food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis caused by leek and several allergens of the allium family, 2024

Garlic Allergy, 2023

Thaumatin-like Protein (TLP) Genes in Garlic (Allium sativum L.): Genome-Wide Identification, Characterization, and Expression in Response to Fusarium proliferatum Infection, 2022

Onion and garlic induction of severe allergic reactions: sparse reporting cases, 2021

Herbalism in wound care: A case of garlic burn, 2021

Garlic burn injuries- a systematic review of reported cases, 2021

Allergic hypersensitivity to garlic and onion in children and adults, 2020

Garlic Allergy: A rare cause of anaphylaxis in infants, 2020

A Case of Garlic Induced Irritant Contact Dermatitis, 2019

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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