It is important to note that cabbage allergy is considered rare, yet serious reactions can occur. In just a span of a few minutes up to an hour after the ingestion of cabbage or foods that contain cabbage, the immune system will start to produce IgE antibodies that target the proteins present in cabbage. The common symptoms are usually mild but there are cases in which anaphylaxis might occur. This is a life-threatening reaction that involves the entire body. Once the individual experiences breathing difficulty after consumption of cabbage, it is important to seek emergency care.
What you can gain by eating cabbage?
Cabbage is a well-known source of antioxidants and utilized as an alternative medicine when treating rheumatism, constipation, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease. Cabbage is a good source of vitamins A, C, B1 and B2 as well as potassium, sulfur, calcium, folate and magnesium.
The increased level of antioxidants in cabbage can prevent the damaging effect caused by free radicals. It can also promote cardiovascular health as well as minimizing the risk for growth and development of tumors, particularly in the form of breast, ovarian, bladder and colon cancer.
Allergens of cabbage
The protein enzyme extracted from the roots and stems of cabbage is chitinase. This protein has been proven to trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals. The immune system of a sensitive individual will recognize the protein as a threat and triggers the production of IgE antibodies. These antibodies will activate the release of histamine that will trigger the manifestation of the signs and symptoms of an allergic response.
What are the symptoms of cabbage allergy?
In just a matter of minutes up to a few hours of ingesting cabbage, the allergy symptoms can occur. The release of histamine into the bloodstream can cause tingling, swelling and itching of the lips, mouth, tongue and face. The redness, swelling and inflammation of the skin commonly occur and can eventually lead to skin rashes and lesions.
As for the gastrointestinal symptoms, it includes nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. The respiratory tract is also affected and symptoms such as constriction of the airways, wheezing, bronchospasms, coughing, tightening of the chest and difficulty breathing can occur. In rare circumstances, the individual can develop anaphylaxis which is a dangerous reaction that causes nausea, heart palpitations, lightheadedness and loss of consciousness. If it is left untreated, it can progress to coma and even death.
Treatment for cabbage allergy
If the individual is diagnosed with cabbage allergy, the ideal way to avoid an allergic reaction is to completely avoid cooked or raw cabbage. Coleslaw and salads usually contain cabbage and must be avoided. Take note that Brussels sprouts and broccoli belong to the same family as cabbage, thus they contain the same proteins.
In case the individual accidentally ingests cabbage and experiences a mild reaction, you can provide over-the-counter antihistamines and corticosteroids as a first aid measure to help minimize the discomfort. As for a severe reaction, an injectable epinephrine or EpiPen must be used.