Wasabi, also called Japanese Horseradish, is a plant in the Brassicaceae
family, also called brassicas
. Other plants in this family include cabbage, broccoli, radish and cress.
Wasabi root contains isothiocyanates which cause the heat sensation you feel when you eat it - this is not to be mistaken with an allergic reaction. Isothiocyanate is also found in other horseradishes, garlic and mustard seeds.
There are a few case studies of allergic reactions to wasabi and the offending allergen has not yet been correctly identified due to the small amount of cases. The most likely candidates are defensin proteins
, profilin proteins
or PR-10 proteins, commonly referred to as Bet v 1 proteins
. The latter is the protein associated with Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome
which causes oral allergy type symptoms.
Although fresh wasabi does not contain sulphites when it is packaged and processed it will contain sulphites
as preservatives. Sulphites are inorganic salts 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.
Wasabi is a low FODMAP food. FODMAP 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.
Wasabi is a food high 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.
Wasabi is associated with contact allergic dermatitis from isothiocyanates if they come into contact with the skin.
Wasabi is also considered to be linked in some cases to Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome
Other plants in the Brassicaea
family are canola (rapeseed), broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, swede, turnip, cress, radish and mustard. If you are allergic to may of these foods then there is a possibility you will also be unable to eat wasabi.
Unlocking the science of wasabi
Science Direct - Wasabi
FODMAPedia - Wasabi
Articles and Journals
Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome Caused by Japanese Radish: A Case Report, 2023
Oral Allergy Syndrome Caused By Japanese Radish: A Case Report, 2021
A case of hand urticaria, lip angioedema, and oropharyngeal pruritus induced by Japanese radish through IgE-mediated immediate allergic reaction, 2021
Which Fruits and Vegetables Should Be Excluded from a Low-Salicylate Diet? An Analysis of Salicylic Acid in Foodstuffs in Taiwan, 2018
Contact allergy from latex in a patient with anaphylaxis due to wasabi and fruits, 1999
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