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Garlic Allergies

Garlic is generally lauded as a health giving herb, however some people react badly to it. As with almost any food there are a number of people who are intolerant of or actively allergic to garlic, whether through skin contact an/or ingestion.

Symptoms

Even if you don't have an explicit allergy to garlic, too much exposure to allicin (the compound produced when raw garlic is crushed) can cause similar symptoms. These include skin irritation, reddening and even blistering. Low level intolerance or excessive intake can result in heartburn or flatulence.

A few unfortunate people do have an actual allergy to garlic. Symptoms vary but often include stomach problems after eating garlic and a skin rash from eating or from physical contact.

Garlic allergy has also been reported to exacerbate asthma symptoms, though this is more usually related to breathing in garlic dust from dry garlic and its skins.

Even if you are not normally allergic or sensitive to garlic, eating an unusually large amount can produce similar reactions. A large amount of raw garlic - with its high allicin content - could irritate and possibly even cause damage to the digestive tract. Garlic is a powerful substance and as with anything powerful it should be treated with respect.

All allergies can be potentially serious. If you suspect that you might be suffering from an allergy to garlic - or to anything else, food or otherwise - you should contact your doctor or a medically qualified clinic for advice and to arrange for testing if appropriate.

My personal rule of thumb for all foodstuff is simple: If in doubt, don't eat it.

Better safe than sorry.