Tamarind is a spice that is commonly used to make cumin. It has its origins in the Far East and is made from a brown bean-pod of the tamarind tree, according to the Epicentre Encyclopedia of Spices. Because the spice is made from a legume, you should consult your allergist before using it if you are allergic to other legumes. Legumes include beans, peanuts, lentils and peas. Not everyone who is allergic to a legume will develop an allergic reaction to tamarind. Your allergist can perform an allergy test to determine whether or not you have an allergy to this spice.
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To be diagnosed with an allergy to tamarind, you will need to undergo certain tests to determine whether or not your body creates immunoglobulin E antibodies when the spice is introduced into your body. Immunoglobulin E antibodies are only released when your body experiences an allergic reaction. The presence of these disease-fighting agents is what causes most symptoms to develop because of a chemical chain-reaction that occurs. If your allergist does not observe the presence of immunoglobulin E antibodies, your symptoms are not caused by an allergy but by another condition.
You can develop an allergic reaction to any substance you ingest in your body. The immune system reacts to the proteins found in tamarind as if they are going to harm your body. This mistake is what causes the immune system to create IgE antibodies to fight against the proteins. IgE antibodies cause mast cells, located in soft tissues, to create histamine, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Histamine is a hormone in the body that helps protect the body from infection, but too much histamine causes swelling. Most allergy symptoms are caused by increased levels of histamine in the body.
Symptoms of a food-related allergy may include hives, eczema, itching, tingling in the mouth, dizziness, fainting, lightheadedness, swelling of the face, throat, tongue or lips, nasal congestion, trouble breathing, wheezing, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and nausea, according to MayoClinic.com. Some symptoms may appear within minutes of ingesting tamarind, while others may develop an hour or two after consuming the product.
Once clinically diagnosed with an allergy to tamarind, you will need to avoid the spice. It is commonly found in cumin, Asian and Middle Eastern dishes. If you suspect the use of this spice when eating out, ask your server if a dish contains tamarind. Consuming even a tiny amount of the substance can cause a severe allergic reaction.