Mango Allergy

One very odd side effect that happened to me after eating raw foods for a long time is that I somehow developed an allergy to mango. This happened well over a year ago (in late 2008 I think), and I’ve been mostly avoiding mango ever since.

At some point in time, I started having strong adverse reactions to something I was eating, but it took a while to track it down. I was eating 100% raw at the time, and from time to time, I’d find myself suffering from intense stomach cramping and nausea. I would retch and vomit, and then for almost 24 hours afterwards, my whole body would break out in extremely itchy hives. After that I’d be fine. It seemed clear to me that this was some kind of allergic reaction, but to what?

This happened to me repeatedly over a period of weeks, but at the time I didn’t know what was causing it. By process of elimination I was eventually able to figure out what it was with certainty — mango.

This was a huge surprise to me because I never used to be allergic to mango. I was able to eat it in large quantities just fine. After I went raw it became one of my favorite foods. But eventually I had to do without it because it would make me terribly sick.

With some trial and error, I was eventually able to figure out the following:

If I ate just one small bite of mango, I wouldn’t notice any negative effects.

If I ate about a quarter of a mango, I’d get a mild upset stomach, which would last for an hour or two, but I’d be otherwise okay. So if there was a small amount of mango mixed into something (such as mango salsa), I could eat a little of it without serious negative consequences.

If I ate about half a mango, I’d get a bad upset stomach and some nausea for a couple hours, but I’d be able to keep it down.

If I ate as much as a whole mango, I’d get a severe upset stomach followed by vomiting, and then I’d break out in hives for about a day. The hives were the worst because I’d have itchy red spots all over my body — chest, arms, face, legs, back, groin, etc.

I was seriously miffed that this happened because I really love mango. I know there are lots of varieties of mangos, and I certainly haven’t tried them all, but every type I did try had the same negative effect on me. And due to the negative symptoms, I wasn’t particularly motivated to keep trying.

So for more than a year I basically stopped eating mango altogether. I had to completely drop it from my diet. Every now and then I’d have a little bit, like if someone put mango on their salad at a raw potluck I attended, but even when I ate a small amount, I’d get an upset stomach.

I talked to a number of raw food experts about this. Most had never heard of such a thing. A couple said they’d seen it before though and that it was most likely going to be permanent.

What a bizarre problem I thought. Am I supposed to spend the rest of my life being allergic to mango now?

Well, recently I decided to try some experimenting to see if perhaps I could rebuild a tolerance to mango and be able to eat it regularly again. I opted to start small and see what would happen if I consumed a little bit of mango each day, not enough to make me seriously ill but just enough to notice some symptoms.

I’m honestly not sure if this is a good idea, but I thought I’d give it a try to see what would happen. So earlier this week I bought a 12-pack of mango kombucha, a raw fermented drink that includes mango puree. Each bottle is 12 ounces.

The first one I drank gave me a pretty strong upset stomach and some mild nausea, but it passed after about 90 minutes.

The next day I drank another one, and that time I had a mild upset stomach for about an hour but no nausea.

On the third day, I drank another one. On that occasion I noticed some odd gurgling noises in my stomach, but there was no pain, discomfort, or nausea.

Today is the fourth day, and I drank another mango kombucha a few hours ago. I heard only some minor stomach gurgling but no other adverse symptoms.

So each day the results have been getting better and better. I still have 8 bottles to go, and once I’m done with them, I’ll probably graduate to small quantities of solid mango.

This seems like such an odd problem to have, so I’m sharing this info in case someone else has a similar weird reaction with a latent food allergy that develops over time. If anyone has heard about this sort of thing, I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences.

In the meantime, however, I’m takin’ it back! 🙂