Pomegranates have an antioxidant content three times higher than either green tea or red wine, according to a study published in 2000 in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry." Along with other nutritional benefits, that study has contributed to the perception that pomegranate is a super fruit. However, as miraculous as anything may seem, there's almost always a downside. Consuming pomegranates can sometimes lead to dangerous allergic reactions.
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Allergies to pomegranates are rare. In fact, researchers reported the first known case in 1991 in the journal "Allergy." That instance involved an 85-year-old woman whose tongue swelled up after eating the fruit — which, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports, is more often seen as a food that can help fight off the symptoms of other allergies. Even so, an allergy to pomegranates can be life-threatening. As rare as it might be, always take the possibility of an allergy seriously.
The symptoms reported for pomegranate allergies are typical for allergic reactions to foods. Itching, hives, swelling, irritation in the throat and stomach pain are common symptoms, reports Dr. Ves Dimov, an allergist at the University of Chicago. Severe cases may involve shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat and anaphylactic shock. Skin contact with pomegranate may also cause an allergic reaction, possibly resulting in hives, swelling beneath the surface of the skin, a runny nose, itchy eyes or difficultly breathing.
Home remedies are no substitute for proper medical care, but until that time, you may be able to alleviate the symptoms. The MedlinePlus online medical encyclopedia recommends avoiding any further contact with food suspected of causing a reaction — in this case, the pomegranate. If the symptoms involve a skin condition, try not to irritate the area by scratching or scrubbing or with prolonged contact with soap and water. Apply skin lotion or ointment to maintain the moisture in the skin and wear loose-fitting clothing. Antihistamines, nasal sprays or decongestants may further relieve the symptoms.
In the case of severe reactions, get immediate medical attention. Breathing problems and anaphylactic shock can be fatal. Be on the lookout for dizziness, fainting, confusion, drowsiness, wheezing, subcutaneous swelling and chest pain. For less urgent symptoms, you should still consult your physician to get a proper diagnosis. If nothing else, simply knowing whether it is an allergy or not is worth the trouble.
- "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry"; Antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice and its relationship with phenolic composition and processing; M.I. Gil, et al.; October 2000
- "Allergy"; Adverse Reaction to Pomegranate Ingestion; J.M. Igea, et al.; August 1991
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Food Allergy
- AllergyCases.org; Allergy to pomegranate; Ves Dimov, M.D.; Jan. 12, 2011
- MedlinePlus: Allergies
- MedlinePlus: Atopic Eczema
- MedlinePlus: Hives
- MedlinePlus: Allergic Rhinitis