Mustard on the spotlight - Strefa Alergii
Strefa Alergii | ABC of allergies

Mustard on the spotlight

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One of our favourite additions to meat dishes is mustard. In almost every shop, we can choose from a variety of mustards and flavours. Does mustard have anything to do with allergies? It turns out that yes, mustard is to blame.

gorczyca, ziarenka trzymane w dłoniach

Mustard is a herbaceous plant belonging to the cabbage family, which also includes turnip, cabbage, rapeseed, and horseradish. The most common varieties of this plant include white, black, and saree mustard. They are common throughout Europe as well as on other continents. Mustard has many nutritional properties. It contains complete protein, fat and fibre, as well as vitamins: A, C and K, as well as iron, zinc, calcium, and copper. It exhibits anti-inflammatory, blood pressure-lowering, antibacterial and antifungal properties, among others [1].

Mustard, what’s allergenic about it?

Among the mustard allergens, we find several allergenic proteins. Among these, we can mention:

  • Sin a 1 – prolamine, belongs to the same family of proteins as sesame, walnuts, Brazil nuts and peanuts. This allergen is resistant to cooking and digestion. This means that its allergenic properties do not disappear during these processes.
  • Sin a 2 – legumina, is the main allergen of mustard.
  • Sin a 3 – LTP protein, is similar to that found in peach, and this means that it can cross-react with it.
  • Sin a 4 – profilin, has a similar structure to the protein found in melon. This means that allergic symptoms can also occur after eating the fruit [2].

It is worth mentioning that mustard also cross-reacts with mugwort pollen, latex and with cabbage, apple, and hazelnut [4,5].

Mustard allergy symptoms

musztarda, gorczyca

Eating mustard, or other products with mustard in them, can cause the following reactions:

  • Oral allergy syndrome – this is one of the most common manifestations of an allergic reaction to mustard. It manifests as itching and swelling of the lips, mouth, and throat. It usually occurs in people with a pollen allergy after eating certain vegetables and fruits [3]. In a study among 38 people with mustard allergy, 47.4% showed OAS symptoms after eating mustard [4].
  • Skin reactions – urticaria, pruritus and angioedema. In the 29 mustard-allergic patients studied, 55.2% had angioedema and 34.5% had urticaria after eating this spice.
  • Allergic rhinitis – sneezing, itching, and nasal discharge. In a study involving 29 people with mustard hypersensitivity in Spain, 10.3% of them had rhinitis.
  • Asthma – In France, of 49 children with an allergy to this plant, 4% of them developed asthma attacks after consuming mustard [5].
  • Atopic dermatitis – itching and dry and inflamed skin, skin lesions, eczema, and epidermal peeling [7]. In 49 children with a confirmed mustard allergy, 42.8% of them had symptoms of AD after eating mustard [5].

Mustard allergy – what’s next?

Spot skin tests and blood tests, as well as observation of one’s own symptoms, will be helpful in diagnosing mustard allergy. In addition, among the available studies, we also have a double-blind placebo-controlled provocation trial. This means that neither the person conducting the test nor the patient knows when a mustard meal will be given and when not. Only after the results of the tests can the doctor decide whether the patient should avoid mustard in their diet [2].

Mustard seed is the main ingredient in mustard. However, it can also be found in cheeses, spices, various types of sauces or marinades for meat. The plant is on the list of allergens that must be included on product labels. This obligation is imposed on manufacturers by the European Union regulation [6].

Natalia Gajek

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translation: Julia Majsiak

[1] Nawojowska P., Gorczyca – właściwości lecznicze, olej z gorczycy. Jak zrobić musztardę?, https://bonavita.pl/gorczyca-wlasciwosci-lecznicze-olej-z-gorczycy-jak-zrobic-musztarde [dostęp: 9.08.23].
[2] Buczyłko K., Nie tylko alergeny – gorczyca i inne kapustowate, Alergia, 2015, 3: 45-49.
[3] Mrówka-Kata K., Fira R., Namysłowski G., Scierski W., Zespół AMlot-Lessofa – zespół alergii jamy ustnej, Forum Medycyny Rodzinnej, 2007, tom 1, nr 4, 355-357.
[4] Sybilski A.J., Alergia krzyżowa, Medycyna po Dyplomie 2017.
[5] Caballero T, San-Martín MS, Padial MA, Contreras J, Cabañas R, Barranco P, et al. Clinical characteristics of patients with mustard hypersensitivity. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002;89(2):166-71
[6] Niezgódka-Kłósak A., Gorczyca biała, https://vitapedia.pl/gorczyca-biala [dostęp: 9.08.23].
[7] Nowicki R.J., Trzeciak m., Kaczkarski M., i wsp., Atopowe zapalenie skóry. Interdyscyplinarne rekomendacje diagnostyczno-terapeutyczne PTD, PTA, PTP oraz PTMR, Lekarz POZ, 5/2019.