Can you be allergic to cucumber?

Can you be allergic to cucumber? Surely not.

It’s just made of water and little bit of fibre, isn’t it?

Cucumbers are actually made up of about 96% water, have only 5 calories per ounce and a small amount of vitamin C and trace minerals.

Cucumbers are a healthy fruit from the marrow family which also includes pumpkin, courgette and other squashes which are also called gourds. They are creeping vines and grow low along the ground.

Cucumber100 grams of cucumber contains:

  • Vitamin A 180 I.U.
  • Niacin Trace
  • Vitamin C 9 mg.
  • Calcium 32 mg.
  • Iron 1.8 mg.
  • Phosphorus 27 mg.
  • Potassium 80 mg.
  • Carbohydrates 17 gm.
  • Calories 70

Bet you weren’t expecting the humble cuke to contain all that now were you?

Some of the reported health benefits include:

  • Cucumber is best natural diuretic known, secreting and promoting the flow of urine
  • Helps in kidney and urinary bladder disease, Liver disease and Pancreatic disease
  • The potassium content of cucumber makes it highly useful for conditions of high and low blood pressure.
  • Cucumber contains erepsin, the enzyme that helps to digest protein
  • The high silicon and sulphur content of the cucumber is said to promote the growth of hair, especially when the juice of the cucumber is added to the juice of carrot, lettuce and spinach.
  • A mixture of cucumber juice with carrot juice is said to be beneficial for rheumatic conditions resulting from excessive uric acid in the body.
  • Cucumber juice is also valuable for helping diseases of the teeth, gums, especially in cases of pyorrhea.
  • The high mineral content of this vegetable also helps to prevent splitting of nails of the fingers and toes.
  • Cucumber, radish and bitter gourd are beneficial in diabetes.

These fantastic cuke facts are from Deborah Mumm, The Allergy Queen

So what is it about cucumber that might cause an allergic reaction?

What is oral allergy syndrome?

Oral Allergy Sydrome (OAS) is an IgE-mediated immune response, which is sometimes called a “true allergy”. The body’s immune system produces IgE antibodies against pollen; in OAS, these antibodies also bind to (or cross-react with) other structurally similar proteins found in botanically related plants.

So basically, somebody with hay fever to certain pollen may also react to one or more fruits, herbs or vegetables which have a similar protein structure. The body recognises the food as an allergen and can cause tingling around the mouth, lips and tongue.

People with hay fever to ragweed pollen may also cross react with: banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, green pepper, paprika, sunflower seeds/oil, honeydew, watermelon, zucchini, echinacea, artichoke, dandelions, honey (if bees pollinate from wild flowers), hibiscus or chamomile tea.

This reaction may come and go and be more severe during the hay fever season.

So, basically, yes you can have an allergy type reaction to cucumber but it’s likely to be caused by oral allergy syndrome and not be a true, life threatening allergy.

However, it is possible for someone to be allergic to just about anything, so whilst it’s very rare, someone could be allergic to cucumber. It’s far more common in Far Eastern countries.

Salicylate in cucumber

Cucumbers also come under the umbrella of foods containing salicylates which are chemicals which occur naturally in many foods, the skin of some fruit, tea and aspirin. If you are sensitive to salicylate you may experience wheezing and urticaria. Different foods contain different levels of the chemical. Visit the Anaphylaxis Campaign website for a full list of foods that contain high levels of salicylates.

Further reading:

It seems that cucumber allergy is far more common in other countries. Read Alex Gazzola’s article, “Food Allergy in India and Asia”.

Read more about cucumbers or gherkins on Allergy Net

The 10 health benefits of cucumbers

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. http://www.whatallergy.com was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.

Comments

  1. I like your recent change from photos to sketches. Keep it up!

    • Are you sure? I just thought it would be a bit of fun and if I have nothing to photograph, what is there that’s more unique and fun than my awful drawings, that is until I can afford to get some proper cartoons done by an animator. I can dream.

  2. Hi
    Interesting reading. I have allergies that seem to flare up when I eat certain foods
    Listed in my food diary such as nuts watermelon apples cucumbers etc
    Reading your content explained the cucumber more in depth. I actually got symptoms just from applying cucumbers
    Around my eyes as a tired eye mask
    So now I know even that is unsuitable

    Cheers

    • Hi Steve, yes amazing that the humble cuke which appears to be just water can affect some of us like this. People can also react to lettuce which just seems so inocuous and harmless. You may also have oral allergy syndrome where certain fruits and vegetables cross react with hay fever pollens. You’ll just have to have an early night instead of the cucumber eye mask. Probably had the complete opposite effect if it made them all itchy and sore. I find cold/damp herbal tea bags on the eyes very refreshing. I use rooibosh. Thanks for the comment. It’s so nice to hear what people think. I thought I was the only crazy reacting to this.

  3. Hi
    Thanks for replying . It’s odd I remember doing the cucumber slices before for puffy eyes and I had the same reaction where my eyes seemed worse later as the day progressed , red puffy and eye lid inflammation.
    I also found that my eyes seem to of worsened after I added blueberries strawberries or kiwi fruit to my whole grain cereal
    I’ve gone through over 200 shampoos in the last few years where I thought they were the cause alone
    Some of those being organic too but no luck. I found in those a common ingredient causing severe to mild eye lid watering or burning
    I have only one or two that worked like the sunsilk range and alba
    Even goats milk soap or olive oil soap didn’t help with all the added oils they added
    All either irritated my eyes or dried my scalp
    I even cut out walnuts almonds which I found belong to the causes of ragweed pollen allergies
    If you know of any shampoo for normal hair that wouldn’t be a trigger for my eye reaction or scalp dryness that I haven’t tried I’d appreciate
    I have combo skin t zone scalp dry nose oily
    Cheers

    • A lot of very lovely natural oils can cause irritation to sensitive skin so they are not always the best thing. As for shampoo, I use Nizoral and Neutrogena as i have a very dry scalp. What is the ingredient you need to avoid? You could visit your local health food shop and see if they stock Jason shampoo, an australian brand which is excellent. Also Health in Nature do some lovely shampoo with simple natural ingredients. Ask if they have samples you could try before buying a whole bottle. I also find washing my hair and not allowing any shampoo to wash over my face and eyes helps. All shampoos will irritate your eyes, especially if you’re sensitive there. Good luck! ps. Have you tried TreSemme? I find their shampoo surprisingly ok for me but I use the sensitive skin one as have very dry skin.

  4. Hi
    Thanks for replying
    I don’t know the common ingredients
    If I did , id be a genius 🙂
    I believe my allergies are stress related and the shampoo food and everything else are mere triggers
    I’ve been meditating more which is very effective
    Currently I’m using sunsilk color which seems to be good , slightly drying but not bad
    I haven’t tried Jason shampoos although I’ve read a lot about them.
    I tried tresemme shampoos they’re irritating and drying I’m afraid
    .
    Thanks
    Steve

    • Tina McCann says:

      I actually have an allergy to cucumbers it’s a rare condition but it’s possible I’ve had it my whole life and have never been able to handle them and I usually will have an oral reaction and hives when injesting them I also can’t have any type of squash, gourds, or peppers

  5. Thats tough. I’ve actually slowly
    Introduced in tiny amounts the foods I listed as allergic and have now incorporated it into my daily diet
    Such as nuts berries and peppers
    I found out I had chronic blepharitis
    Which was triggered by shampoos
    Now with ointments prescribed
    I am free to eat whatever

  6. Danielle says:

    Hi, I have been trying to decide if I am having an allergic reaction to cucumbers, melons of any kind, bananas, sometimes apples and corn. I don’t itch or break out when I try to eat it rather I get very nauseous. Its not even immediate, I eat like a few bites then the onset, I stop and try to keep eating. ( I figure it might be a mind thing). It wasn’t always like this. As a kid I had no problem but since late teens it seems to get worse. Any ideas? Would love to eat watermelon again?

  7. This was quite eye-opening. I have just recently been tested for allergies (not a lot, as I’m paying out of pocket) after I had a trip to the ER with anaphylaxis and had no idea I was dealing with food allergies, other than chocolate, prior to that day. I knew exactly what I ate before going to the ER – turkey ham on toast. I checked the turkey ham (didn’t think about the bread) and saw other than turkey, it contained four different sodium “blah blahs” as preservatives and artificial coloring. I guessed that the artificial ingredients were definitely the culprits and began eating all natural immediately. I had some relief but noticed I was still having lesser reactions (flushing skin around my face & neck, sinus on left side of my face swelling in a painful manner that pushed down to my teeth and jaw and mucus production – not fun, quite painful but less than closing off my windpipe!). I knew then that it had to have been more than artificial ingredients.

    My test came back with the 4 common trees, 4 common grasses and 2 common weeds as well as cats, dogs, molds all negative. On a hunch and hindsight, I added in corn, cucumber, strawberries and grapes. The corn was most prominently positive, then cucumber and mildly strawberries. Grapes were negative.

    This was just last Friday that I was tested, so it is all so new to me. I avoided the obvious, but was wondering what may be related to cucumber or corn. I just ate a chopped salad, no artificial anythings (and touted this on the bag), it was made up of cabbage, kale, carrots, red cabbage, green onions, sunflower seeds and a citrus dressing (also all natural). Darn if I didn’t have a reaction within minutes after eating it! I am sitting here in pain as I type 🙁

    Anyone have any helpful input or advice? I am soooo tired of dealing with this and willing to avoid foods – not without grudge mind you – but absolutely would prefer cravings over death or constantly having painful experiences like this. Thank you so much!

  8. When I was a child, up until around my teenage years, I was extremely allergic to cucumbers. But my symptoms were different from what is listed here. My eyes would swell almost completely shut to the point I could barely see, they would also be very res and extremely itchy. It was terrible. Luckily I grew out of that allergy somehow… I LOVE cucumbers now!!

  9. somehow am allergic to cucumbers, whenever i eat it i always get this spots all over my hands and those spots get liquid stuff in them, i don’t use anything but it takes almost a month before it clears off, its soooo embarrassing whenever somehow offers me a hand shake i will be ashamed to bring out my hand am tired of that already but i love cucumber. I just wonder if there is any thing i can apply to my hand to make it go away please anyone help me.

    • Hi Derby Timi, I’m not sure what will work for you but I find applying a hot compress, like a hot water bottle, and/or ice can help redue itching. Also I use aloe vera if I’ve scratched them and caused them to burst and scab. I also use Skin Salvation pure potions emollient to soothe and heal. Also try some epsom salt baths as this aids healing too and reduces inflammation. Not nice for you. And don’t worry about your hands. Most people have not noticed I’m sure. Get your skin out. Don’t worry what it looks like. It really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things and all these trials make you stronger in the long run.

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