Can you be intolerant to onion and garlic?

Answered by Jason Smith

It is possible to be intolerant or allergic to both onion and garlic. Both onion and garlic belong to the same botanical family, Allium, and they share similar proteins. These proteins can trigger an immune response in individuals who are sensitive to them.

When someone is allergic or intolerant to onion, their immune system recognizes the proteins in onion as harmful and produces an allergic reaction. This can manifest as symptoms such as itching, hives, swelling, digestive issues, or even anaphylaxis in severe cases.

Interestingly, because onion and garlic share similar proteins, some individuals who are allergic to onion may also experience a reaction when consuming garlic. This is known as cross-reactivity. Cross-reactivity occurs when the immune system reacts to proteins in one food and mistakenly identifies similar proteins in another food as harmful.

Cross-reactivity can vary from person to person. While some individuals with an onion allergy may also be allergic to garlic, others may not experience any adverse reactions to garlic. It is important to note that cross-reactivity is not limited to just onion and garlic. Other foods in the same family, such as leeks, asparagus, and chives, could also cause a similar allergic reaction in individuals with an onion or garlic allergy.

The best way to determine if you are intolerant or allergic to onion and garlic is to consult with an allergist or healthcare professional. They can perform tests such as skin prick tests or blood tests to identify specific food allergies or intolerances.

If you are diagnosed with an onion or garlic allergy, it is crucial to avoid consuming these foods and any other related foods that may trigger a reaction. Reading ingredient labels carefully and avoiding foods that contain onion or garlic is important to prevent accidental exposure.

It is possible to be intolerant or allergic to both onion and garlic due to the cross-reactivity of proteins present in these foods. If you suspect an allergy or intolerance, it is advisable to seek professional medical advice for proper diagnosis and guidance on managing your condition.