Pine Nut Syndrome

pine nuts

I noticed something weird this week: just about everything I ate tasted odd. No matter what it was, from bland rice cakes to strong, dark coffee, a few minutes after I ate or drank it, there was an odd, bitter flavor lingering in my mouth.

Being me, naturally, I assumed the worst: That they were going to have to remove my mouth, or something.


Thankfully, before I scheduled an appointment for the removal, I read a few articles, such as Taste Disturbances After Pine Nut Ingestion, Pine Nuts Left a Bitter Taste in My Mouth, and The Pine Nut Menace and learned that it’s a phenomena that can happen after consuming certain pine nuts, naming Chinese pine nuts as a possible culprit.

Huh?

I’ve been eating pine nuts for decades seemingly without any problems. But after reading those articles and popping Vichy mints almost non-stop to get the taste out of my mouth, I’m now going to check the origin of the pine nuts I purchase, buying Italian ones just to be sure.

Because it’s been almost a week now and I’m thinking all these mints I’m eating might be burning a hole in my mouth. Then I’d really have something to see the doctor about.

And goodness knows, I wouldn’t want to lose my ability to freely speak. Although not everyone, I think, necessarily shares that opinion.



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Whining

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113 comments

  • I am from the UK, both myself and my partner have been suffering with pine mouth for over a week now. They are from Tesco and they are their own brand and originate from China. I’ve been eating pine nuts without any problems for years now but then a couple of days after cooking with them and now everything is inedible. Everything tastes like what I i,agine is a cross between washing liquid and sucking a copper coin, I have felt dizzy and sick and we can only eat extremely sweet things as otherwise it makes you want to vomit. Had a very disatisfactory response from Tesco they are taking no responsiblity for this whatsoever. Very unhappy and miserable if anyone has any recommendations for getting rid of eat please help!

  • Last week I bought a bag of toasted pine nuts at Trader Joes to make pesto and ate some. Day or 2 later ate almonds..bleh….threw whole bag out. Ate potato chips..bleh….threw whole bag out. Ate a banana…bleh bleh bleh and realized something was wrong with ME not every food and drink in my house!!!! I wondered maybe I overdosed on Spirulina since I recently started taking it like I ruined my liver or something! (Researched that for hours!) Drank gallons of water trying to detox myself. Why in the world doesn’t Trader Joes take it off the shelf instead of make customers suffer. That’s mean. At least put up a warning sign so people don’t think they are going to croak. I’m going to tell them that. :P It is kind of going away after 3 days thank goodess.

  • I thought for sure this bitter metal taste was a symptom of something horrible. Google overwhelmingly convinced me of the culprit – Whole Foods bulk pine nuts! I hope it doesn’t last long. As much as I have enjoyed pine nuts in salads and in a pesto sauce, I have eaten my last pine nut forever. Counting the days until the bitterness in gone…almost finished with day one.

  • Hi everyone, I’m a food scientist in the Netherlands and I wish to investigate this pine nut syndrome. I wish to get in touch with anyone who has experienced this problem and still have the problem seeds on hand! If you would kindly contact me at pinenutsyndrome@gmail.com, I would be very grateful!
    Thank you and best regards,
    Grace Tan

  • Regarding the ***nut allergies*** and pine nuts, please do not take a chance. My husband is very allergic to nuts and we, too, had always been told that pine nuts were actually seeds. At a catered event, after discussing with the chef to be certain no nuts were in anything he would eat, my husband decided to partake in an absolutely delicious dish ana was immediately rushed to the hospital and coded. He was hit with the paddles, is fine now, but spent 3 days in intensive care. As it turns out, pine nuts had been finely ground into the dish. Nut or seed…who cares….people with nut allergies, please be careful.
    ** Can anyone suggest something to add to a dish, in the place of pine nuts (or any nuts?) to impart/enhance flavor in the same way. I would really like to make the Swiss Chard tarte recipe. I would be most grateful.***

  • The pine mouth data is being collected by a University and to report a case of pine nut mouth please go to: http://pinenutsyndrome.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/the-ones-to-avoid/
    Grace Tan is using her blog and the internet to collect data on this condition and she is the only researcher to take a serious shot at trying to find the cause.
    Thank you,
    Penny Frazier
    http://www.pinenut.com

  • I am on day 2 of this bizarre pine nut disturbance. We bought our pine nuts at a west coast American grocery store called QFC and they were from China. The odd thing is we made pesto with them and we were fine. Then a couple weeks later, I made rosemary pine nut cookies with the same batch of nuts. About 2 days later everything started tasting horrible. I had a banana for breakfast on the first day and thought it had gone bad. Then I thought something was wrong with me. My husband remains unaffected (lucky dog!). So far a vinaigrette salad has been the best to eat–everything else tastes bad while eating and even WORSE afterward. I’m truly relieved that it’s not a tumor or something, but at the same time VERY concerned that this is a fairly new phenomenon and therefore long-term effects are completely unknown.

  • I’ve been cooking Armenian and Mediterranean dishes with pine nuts since childhood, and for the first time ever am experiencing “Pine Mouth Syndrome”. Several days after sprinkling roasted pine nuts in a salad that I ate over a two-day time period for work lunches, I began to have a lingering, bitter aftertaste a week ago that can only be compared to tasting the way pesticide smells. It is not going away, and in fact today the vile taste is even more prominent.

    Similar to the above stories, as the experience began, I immediately thought I’d accidentally ingested something chemical and began to “Google” medical symptoms, fearing poisoning, brain tumor, liver failure — or even worse, pregnancy! Just as I was imagining an episode of “House” dedicated to my rare and incurable disease, what a relief to find out that it’s just the nuts! I usually use Italian pine nuts, but a recent move to Montana leaves me with fewer shopping choices in the way of exotic foods, so I settled for a tiny overpriced packet from China and roasted them. Never again! I have in the past substitute a combo of Macadamia, Walnut and blanched almonds chopped together as a suitable substitute, so I will stick to that in the future unless I can buy European pine nuts.

  • Thank goodness for the internet…or I would have scheduled an MRI!
    This is unbelievable. I gave my entire family Christmas guest list PINE MOUTH.
    Some were about to go on vacation and were looking forward to lots of yummy food experiences. What if you were about to go on a cruise or wine tasting adventure!
    This might be a break through in weight loss though!

  • I, too, served a pine nut dish on Christmas Eve, but luckily, only my husband and I have come down with pine mouth. We were eating palm fulls of toasted nuts before we tossed them into our vegetable dish. I noticed a slight bitter taste a day after and my husband 2 days later. It’s been unbearable for the last four days. Everything I eat tastes like I squirted nose spray into the back of my throat and when I drink, everything tastes like soap. Trying to cook for the holiday was impossible, needing my mother to taste what i was cooking to see if foods were ok to serve. We’ve been going crazy trying to figure out what it could be, as we both have the same symptoms. Thanks, Google! This is the first time this has ever happened to us and needless to say, will be staying away from pine nuts from now on.

  • Hello everyone, I am having the same thing but please can someone tell me if there is anything I can do to stop the bitter taste. I am going crazy

    Thank you

  • It really helps to know that I am not suffering alone! Like other people, I thought it was the food that was off and when I realised it must be me, thought the worst. I never usually eat pine nuts, except a few in fish dishes, but opened a packet (bought in Tesco and produced in China) the other day. As it was nearing the sell by date, I thought I might as well eat them up so left them on the side and kept helping myself to a handful. Would normally be sceptical about internet self-diagnosis, but this just cannot be a coincidence. I spoke to the pharmasist at Tesco who was very cynical and unhelpful and told me to see a doctor. Can’t get to see a doctor for over a week (the receptionist seemed very unimpressed) so will have to resort to some of the home remedies suggested. Really do feel that this needs proper investigation but not sure where to start to get things moving. Any ideas??

  • Thank goodness for everyone who posted comments. I was getting worried as this is day two of me experiencing this horrible metal taste in my throat and decided to do a Google search.

    I never had this problem with pine nuts before, but this is the first time that I purchased them from a different supermarket. Since I used the whole package and threw out the container I have no idea where the nuts came from, but I will we going back to that supermarket to find out. It may be a while before I eat pesto (which I LOVE) again:((