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Tannin Allergy

Updated on October 14, 2014

Millions of people around the globe suffer anywhere from one allergy to multiple allergies ranging in severity levels. The more common of these allergies are food (peanuts, milk), seasonal/airborne (pollen, ragweed, dust), and pets (cats, dogs).

Myself, I thought I got off lucky since I love animals and I'm not allergic to them. I also don't suffer from hay fever or pollen sensitivity and this is great because Spring is my favourite season. Well, my 'allergy' status recently changed. Or at least, my knowledge of said fact because I have always (since I was a kid) had an allergy. Just only recently figured out why I was such a sickly child. Only I couldn't have a common allergy, nooooo. : )I had to develop an allergy to 'tannin'.

Many of you reading this may never have heard of 'tannin'. Up until last year, neither had I.

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Now, for quite a number of years, I thought I had a food sensitivity towards caffeine and alcohol. Both made me quite ill almost instantly. Technically, I was correct in my own diagnosis, but this wasn't the complete picture. Yes, I had to diagnose myself. I'll get back to this in a moment. First, a little background.

When I was a kid, I spent 4 days in the hospital undergoing test after test. Now this was almost 30 yrs. ago. I have a very vivid recollection of the doctors, throughout the 4 days, one after the other coming into my room and telling me how healthy I was.

Well, I knew this wasn't right. Kids don't get nauseas and dizzy as frequently as I did without a cause. I was released from the hospital without definitive diagnosis or explanation. I went back home and continued getting sick frequently throughout each and every month.

I was in dance class but had to miss my recital because I was sick. I then left class because my undiagnosed llness was causing me to miss too many classes.

Now, skip ahead 25 years. I now had access to computers, the internet and all the research materials were now at my finger tips.

You may be thinking, great, she could now find out what was wrong with her (me). Not so fast. This didn't work. I still could not find out what was happening to me. The only thing I was to discover was that when I drank coffee, tea, hot chocolate, alcohol or ate chocolate, I would start feeling ill. So, I figured out the 'caffeine' sensitivity, but where did the alcohol come into play?

I continued to research on-line, ask others if they had any ideas and even called beer brewing companies as well as liquor stores. I was looking for anyone who knew enough about alcohol and everything that is incorporated in the processing of said alcohol. But couldn't and didn't find anyone that could help. Until I started locating the websites. There were several. Now, I don't know when they were put up, but I had been searching on-line for years and couldn't find any information on my search query's.

Well, no matter, I was finally getting somewhere.

And then, I figured it out. At first I hadn't realized just how much of a difference this was going to make in my life. Some good, some not so good.

First, the good. Now that I know what has been making me ill most of my life, I can now usually control it and therefore, no longer experience frequent illnesses. As a matter of fact, I've gone from getting sick several times a month down to only once every 2 or 3 months. I can certainly live with this.

Now, the bad. I'm allergic or sensitive to any products containing 'tannin'.

What are tannin's you may ask? Well, the following website can explain it better than I. - source: O Chef

If you answered yes to the previous question, what type of allergy do you suffer from?

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What this means is that basically, I'm allergic to food. Let me explain. It wasn't the caffeine specifically that I was allergic to in tea, coffee, chocolate, some pops. It was the tannin in these food items that was making me ill.

Tannin is in tea leaves, also the seeds, stem and skins of grapes. And, is a by product of preservatives and additives. Tannin's are found in many fruits and their skins. The list of foods containing 'tannin's' are too great to list here, so I am including links that, if interested to learn more, you could check out at your own leisure.

Foods With & Without Tannins

Symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening.

Mild symptoms might include: the jitters, anxiety or a mild headache

Moderate symptoms might include: more severe headaches, nausea, diarrhea and upset stomach

Life-threatening symptoms might include: a choking sensation, difficulty breathing, swollen tongue or some other obstruction blocking the air passageway

I, myself have a moderate reaction to 'tannin'. I don't suffer from headaches or diarrhea but I have a couple of reactions not mentioned above.

I get feeling really weak. I can hardly lift my arms or even hold my head up. I get dizzy and nauseas. Sometimes, my heart would feel like it was racing wildly that it might jump right out of my chest. I also experience such heat that even when I would be outside in the middle of January in 20 below temperatures, I would need to take my coat off because I was feeling too hot. This scenario had happened frequently before I found what was causing my symptoms and what I could do to help prevent another attack. Attack is also a good word for it because when you are having an allergic reaction, your body is essentially attacking itself.

When I do have a tannin reaction, I have to go take a nap for a couple of hours. My symptoms will usually disappear by then, although, the symptoms take a lot out of me and I tend to feel weak (tired), like I just had a long bout of the flu.

In all my on-line research, I have also made the discovery that there could be a high number of people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, anxiety or some other form of mental illness, who may actually just be allergic to foods/drinks containing tannin's. Were this to be discovered, these patients removing these foods from their diet, would possibly see their symptoms disappear. The following page explains this much better than I am able. Caffeine Allergy

So, I found what was ailing me. Whoo hoo. It sure took me long enough. I'm working to change my diet to more friendly 'tannin free' food choices which isn't easy because most foods found in grocery stores have tannin's. Whether in the form of one of the fruits on the list or the innumerable processed foods that contain preservatives and additives.

But, knowing is half the battle.

Update - October 14th, 2014

I have started a Facebook group, titled: 'Living With A Tannin Allergy'. If you are interested in checking it out, we would be glad to have you join us.

The purpose of the group is to hear how one another is dealing with having a tannin allergy. To post / comment what works & doesn't work for you as each individual has different experiences / tolerances with this type of allergy. We're there to help & support one another. So, I hope you drop by and introduce yourself.


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    • jacquieshomebiz profile image

      Jacquie Wallis 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      I am sooo sorry I didn't see your comments before today. I had stopped blogging for quite some time and am only now getting back into it. I am so happy that I was able to help. I'm sorry that it is 'tannin' you're allergic to because it really is a drag at times, the foods/drinks you need to be cautious about ingesting. I have so much information I could give you, but since it's been 6 months, you may have found much of what I could tell you, so I will leave it up to you. If you would like to contact me, you may do so at my personal email address which is: I hope to receive an email from you. I hope you're managing okay with how much 'tannin' you can have before it causes a problem. And it sounds like you are at the same level as me. Which is somewhere in between. According to what I found on-line, there are 'mild', medium (me), and extreme - schizophrenic type symptoms (hearing voices & such).

    • jacquieshomebiz profile image

      Jacquie Wallis 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      I apologize for not seeing this 'til now, I disappeared from the 'blogging' community for quite awhile & am now just getting back into it. Thank you for your comment. I'll go back & re-read my article and change the wording. Because, yes, it's the coffee bean & the tea leaf etc., not the caffein per se.

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      Elysia 3 years ago

      Oh my gosh. You may have just diagnosed me. I am terribly allergic to alcohol and caffeine and have been since a child. Just tried to have some tea again today and it made me feel so weak and shaky. i have been trying to figure this out for years. Apparently tannin is in the leaves! Ironically the only tea I've resorted to for years isnt' really a tea at all, it's ''dandelion tea''. Go figure that's the one that doesn't affect me. Well, I will now explain this to people when they don't understand me. Thank you.

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      Gita 4 years ago

      Just wanted to mention that caffeine can not contain tannin. Perhaps you mean coffee may contain tannin. Caffeine is a chemical compound and can only contain itself. Tannin is another chemical compound.

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      Elnoss 5 years ago

      I have the same issue. Allergy to wine, beer, other alcohols, coffee, tea, chocolate. Basically a lot of the foods I love. I tend to get headaches and it also triggers asthma or at least shortness of breath. Not sure it's a tannin allergy but your blog ddefinitely gave me food for thought. Thanks.

    • jacquieshomebiz profile image

      Jacquie Wallis 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Your welcome. I appreciate your comment.

      I agree whole heartedly about natural products and holistic living. Actually, soon, I'm going to be trying the "raw" diet. If you haven't heard about this before, it's eating foods that haven't been cooked or processed etc. I'm getting a juicer (cheap to start) and giving this a chance. Even as a kid (I'm currently 44 yrs.)I could never stand "raw" veggies, so I'll see if I can come up with fruit juices that are palatable to me. And, if this works for me, I'll invest more in purchasing a dehydrator and any other equipment I'll need in order to prepare my own foods uncooked and unprocessed. Eating healthy is great, but one needs to enjoy what their eating as well. So, I'm going to give it a try to see if I can't reverse this 'tannin' allergy. When I start this, I'm planning on keeping a 'blog' detailing my experiences with the raw diet.

      Have a great weekend.

    • b2b-sales-europe profile image

      b2b-sales-europe 5 years ago from Berlin, Germany

      Sharing knowledge and experiences about allergies helps a lot people in the world! Thanks!

      From my experience sticking to natural products and remembering holistic living approaches from the ages helps to overcome a lot of allergies caused by refined products and modern living.