Ginger is a plant in the Zingiberaceae
family of plants. Other plants in this family include cardamom and turmeric. The root of the plant is used to flavour food, teas and can be used as a fragrance.
Fresh ginger root contains sesquiterpenes which can cause allergic contact dermatitis and general skin irritation. It also contains eugenol which is a chemical compound which can also cause contact allergies - this is what gives the food flavour and fragrance. These contact reactions are sometimes mistaken for a true IgE food allergy.
Ginger is rarely linked to food allergy, to date there are no recorded allergens for ginger 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
Ginger also contains furanocoumarins
. 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.
Ginger is a low FODMAP food. FODMAP
stands for F
olyols. 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.
Ginger is a food high in salicylates
. 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.
Allergy to ginger has been linked to contact allergic dermatitis due to the sesquiterpenes it can contain.
As ginger also contains furanocoumarins it can cause phytophotodermatitis which causes a blister like sunburn rash.
If you are allergic to ginger you may want to avoid other foods in the Zingiberaceae
family of foods, including turmeric and cardamom.
AAAAI - Ginger Allergy
Allergen Encyclopedia - Ginger
Science Direct - Ginger
Science Direct - Sesquiterpenes
Articles and Journals
Phytochemical Screening of Ginger (Zingiber officinale), a Medicinal Plant, 2023
Antioxidant Activities and Chemical Composition of Essential Oil of Rhizomes of Zingiber officinale (Ginger) and Curcuma longa L. (Turmeric), 2022
Severe allergic reaction to allspice, a hidden food allergen, 2022
Anaphylaxis to ginger, 2021
Anaphylaxis to ginger induced by herbal medicine, 2020
Allergic rhinoconjunctivitis caused by occupational exposure to ginger, 2015
Allergy to ginger with cysteine proteinase GP-I as the relevant allergen, 2018
Food allergy and IgE sensitization caused by spices: CICBAA data (based on 589 cases of food allergy), 2002
Occupational allergic contact dermatitis from spices, 1996
Spice allergy evaluated by results of patch tests, 1993
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