Symptoms, what to avoid and more
A cilantro allergy — your immune system’s overreaction to what it suspects is a foreign substance — is rare, but it can happen. Anaphylaxis due to cilantro has also been identified.
Some people report that cilantro tastes like soap, but this is likely due to genetics, not allergies.
This article discusses the symptoms of a cilantro allergy, its complications, how to diagnose it, and what to do if a reaction occurs.
People allergic to cilantro may experience a variety of symptoms, including coughing, itching in the mouth, and rashes.
Like other food allergies, these symptoms usually occur seconds to minutes after consuming cilantro.
Other possible symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Tingling in the mouth
- Itching in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swelling in the mouth or throat
- To sneeze
- Itchy eyes
- Itching that may be red
- Feel dizzy
- Abdominal pain
In severe cases, a cilantro allergy can lead to anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can come on suddenly and cause a person to deteriorate rapidly.
This is considered a medical emergency. In case of anaphylaxis, immediately use an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) if available and call 911.
What if coriander tasted like soap?
Some people have reported that cilantro tastes like soap. This interesting taste difference is not related to allergies.
What to do in case of a severe allergic reaction to cilantro
There are a number of steps to take in the event of a severe allergic reaction.
It is helpful to understand how to distinguish between a mild and severe reaction.
A mild reaction will only cause mild symptoms that will affect only one body system.
A severe reaction is a reaction that:
- Involves any form of severe symptom (see below)
- Involves mild symptoms that are present but in more than one area of the body
Serious symptoms can include:
- Significant levels of tongue or throat swelling
- Hives or generalized redness on the body
- A repetitive cough
- Persistent vomiting
- Severe diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulties in breathing
- swallowing disorder
- Tightness in the throat
- A hoarse voice
- Pale or blue skin
- feeling of weakness
- A weak pulse
- Anxiety or confusion
- A feeling like something bad is about to happen
It is possible for a severe allergic reaction to develop into life-threatening anaphylaxis. Given this, it is important to treat severe reactions immediately with epinephrine.
Epinephrine is a life-saving treatment for anaphylaxis. If it appears that anaphylaxis is likely and a prescribed epinephrine auto-injector is available, it should be administered as directed.
Once the epinephrine has been administered, call 911.
When requesting an ambulance, explain that epinephrine was used to treat a suspected anaphylactic reaction. Ask for an ambulance that has epinephrine.
An allergist will be able to make a diagnosis of food allergy using a variety of tests and taking a medical history.
In some cases, a suspected food allergy may turn out to be a food intolerance, that is, difficulty digesting certain foods.
Tests ordered to diagnose a food allergy may include a skin test or a blood test.
There is no cure for food allergies. Treatment involves strict avoidance of a diagnosed allergen (such as cilantro).
There is no medicine to prevent reactions, but antihistamines can help with a mild reaction.
To manage allergies, it’s important to read food labels and ask questions about ingredients when dining out.
For people with severe allergies, it is essential to always carry a self-injectable EpiPen.
What to avoid
If a cilantro allergy is diagnosed, it is essential to strictly avoid consuming foods containing cilantro.
Cilantro is an ingredient in many Latin American and Asian dishes. If you dine at restaurants that serve this type of food, it may be beneficial to speak to the chef about cilantro allergies.
Cilantro can be present in a variety of Asian or Latin American dishes. It is sometimes called Mexican parsley or Chinese parsley.
Parsley and cilantro come from the same plant family, called Apiaceae.
Parsley can be a useful alternative for those who can’t eat or don’t like cilantro.
Other plants in the Apiaceae family include:
When to See a Health Care Provider
If you suspect a cilantro allergy, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. They will be able to refer you for tests to confirm if you have an allergy.
If you or someone near you has a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis, always call 911 immediately.
A cilantro allergy is not common, however, there have been reports of anaphylaxis due to cilantro.
Symptoms of a cilantro allergy can include itching, swelling in the mouth, coughing, and a rash.
Some people report that cilantro tastes like soap, but that has nothing to do with allergies. A cilantro allergy is diagnosed by an allergist. There is no treatment, but it is important to strictly exclude cilantro from the diet of allergy sufferers.
A word from Verywell
If you think you may be allergic to cilantro, consider making an appointment with a healthcare professional first. They will be able to refer you for tests and help you determine if you have an allergy.
Frequently Asked Questions
How common is a cilantro allergy?
It is believed that a cilantro allergy is rare. However, cases of anaphylaxis due to cilantro have been reported.
What causes a cilantro allergy?
The exact causes of food allergies are unknown. People who have an immediate family member with an allergic condition such as asthma, eczema, or a food allergy are at increased risk of developing their own food allergy.
Those who had eczema as children are also at an increased risk of developing a food allergy.
Is there a specific test to diagnose cilantro allergy?
A cilantro allergy is diagnosed the same way as other food allergies. This may involve a skin test, blood test, or food challenge in the presence of an allergist.
Does eating cilantro have any side effects?
Some people have reported feeling a taste of soap, dirt, bugs, or mold when eating cilantro. It is thought to be due to genetics.