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Allergic Reaction to Chia Seeds

by (742)
Updated about 6 hours ago
Created April 29, 2012 at 7:51 PM

I used chia seeds for the first time in a batch of homemade Kombucha on Thursday and by Friday morning I was having violent diarrhea, which lasted for two full days, approximately every 30 minutes. Other than the diarrhea, weakness from dehydration and nausea at the thought of eating, I had no other symptoms. My three-year old twins also sampled the kombucha Friday morning before I got sick, one of them was absolutely fine and the other broke out in itchy hives on his back and also had diarrhea, but thankfully not to the extent that I did. Has anyone seen this type of reaction before? I have had kombucha many times before and have never felt sick. My batch tasted really good, there was no mold or anything that would lead me to believe that it had been contaminated. I don't think there was anything else we came in contact with that could have caused this type of reaction, but I can't be 100% sure. The only new thing was the chia seeds.

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2668 · January 09, 2013 at 7:07 PM

same here! same thing.

Medium avatar
2913 · July 09, 2012 at 12:05 AM

Well Loren Cordain has been warning us against the various pseudo-grains like chia, amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa ...

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923 · May 27, 2012 at 10:15 PM

I also had a bad reaction to chia seed pudding. I have a lot of food allergies, and quite a few of them are to "new world" foods, like maca, chia, aloe, & cactus pear.

Medium avatar
19479 · April 29, 2012 at 9:10 PM

You could be experiencing some cross-reactivity or may even be specifically allergic. Also, eating them raw may have contributed to the response as "Historically, chia seeds were roasted and ground to form a meal called “pinole”, then mixed with water to form porridge or made into cakes." Cooking can reduce anti-nutrients and toxins in the seeds which are active in the raw state. For more info, check out this paper... http://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/343/efsa_opinion_on_chia_salvia_hispanica_l_seeds.pdf

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20411 · April 29, 2012 at 8:59 PM

Wow, I never got that eating at McDonalds...

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29 Answers

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370 · April 29, 2012 at 8:06 PM

You're not alone! For me it wasn't kombucha, it was chia seed pudding. While my reaction wasn't quite as strong as yours (thankfully), the general outline was the same. FYI: I've learned that I don't tolerate sesame seeds very well either.

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2668 · January 09, 2013 at 7:07 PM

same here! same thing.

45e51fee7d295e523ff4134f76c3ba05
923 · May 27, 2012 at 10:15 PM

I also had a bad reaction to chia seed pudding. I have a lot of food allergies, and quite a few of them are to "new world" foods, like maca, chia, aloe, & cactus pear.

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279 · May 24, 2013 at 3:37 PM

I shit my brains out after eating chia seeds. Neeeevverrr again.

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10 · November 15, 2012 at 10:36 PM

I had been taking chia seeds raw and in baked goods for about 4 weeks perfectly fine. They were fab! Suddenly I developed horrible abdominal pain, burping up horrible tasting gas and vomiting and diarrhoea.

I got over that, thinking it was a tummy bug, ate a very light diet for 2 days and then went back to my chia seeds. Same thing! I'm in the middle of it again. It is the same exact symptoms, only this time I've got a horrible sweat and mild fever.

Definently a bad reaction for me. I chucked them onto the front yard so hopefully the birds will benefit. Never trying chia again!

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10 · November 15, 2012 at 8:31 PM

I had a horrible experience with chia seeds. I bought them at Costco a little over a month ago and started with putting a tablespoon into my spinach smoothies in the morning. I tolerated them fine for about a month, then suddenly had a horrible reaction. I had eaten a dry tablespoon of chia, followed by my dinner (grilled chicken and potatoes). After dinner, my stomach started burning, I started sweating, and I vomited. I then suffered diarrhea about (sometimes every 30 minutes) for the next two days. I stopped taking chia for a few days and tried it again with my morning smoothie. I suffered again with horrible diarrhea for the rest of the day. I took another couple days off chia and decided to try it in a pudding, soaked in almond milk and honey. I had horrible diarrhea again. That night when I was in bed, my stomach was burning so bad that it was hardly bearable. That was exactly a week ago and I will never touch chia again. My stomach still does not feel quite right but is slowly getting better.
There is not a lot of information out there about the potential for negative effects of chia, and I have been a little worried about the possibility of an underlying condition causing the reactions. It is nice to see that I am not the only one who cannot tolerate chia seeds!

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10 · November 12, 2012 at 8:46 PM

I also had severe reaction to chia. Took it as daily supplement for a month or so, felt fine- great actually. Then very suddenly, took it one day and had severe stomach pains and bloating. Took it again next day, thinkng problem was something else, since I had used it for over month with no problem. Severe pains again. Stopped taking it, eliminated every other possible source of problem and tried again a week later, most severe reaction. Vomiting , diarrhea, debilitating stomach pains. Fast foward 3 months, made some protein bars with chia in them for family. Wasn't thinking, ate small piece. Again, severe stomach pains, bloating. Chia not for me. Never had problems with sesame or any other food.

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0 · May 13, 2014 at 4:55 PM

I tried chia for the first time this morning. 1 tsp in my pumpkin smoothie. I make this smoothie almost everyday with the same ingredients. Chia was the new thing. Within two hours I had a rash over my body. I would recommend if you suffer food allergies as I do (dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, chicken and pork along with oranges,) that you skip trying chia. This is an intense on-going reaction. Benadryl is helping but I may need IV Benadryl to resolve it. Quite the expensive trial of chia and not worth it.

I bought the chia at Trader Joe's so it's the good stuff, not contaminated with anything else.

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0 · May 13, 2014 at 4:51 PM

I had 1 tsp of chia seeds two hours ago in a smoothie. Everthing else was the same in the drink as I always had. I broke out in a rash all over my body within the 2 hours of drinking the smoothie. Had to be the chia since it was the only new thing in there. If you suffer food allergies, skip trying chia. I have many food allergies to dairy, eggs, peanuts, oranges, soy, chicken and pork. This is a bad systemic reaction. Using Benadryl but may need IV Benadryl to resolve this since it keeps spreading.

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0 · April 20, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Friends at work recommended Chia seeds, and I have been putting a tablespoon in my yogurt each morning. For about 3 weeks, I felt great. This week, my fourth, I have been extremely ill. Intense abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and chronic diarrhea. I did some research to see if chia seeds could be the culprit. I feel like I really had to dig to find negative connections to chia seeds. They are highly recommended by many in the medical field. It surprised me to find that doctors have recommended them for Crohn's disease and IBS sufferers. I do have Crohn's disease, and have been in remission for many years. I thought my illness was coming back. Now that I'm cutting out chia seeds, I'm hoping for steady improvement of these symptoms. I'm glad I found this website.

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0 · October 01, 2013 at 9:40 PM

I have been taking 1TBL. of Chia Seeds every morning in my juice for about 1 1/2 wks. Friday I started with the worse headache. I stopped the seeds. I read were it lowers your blood pressure. My normal is 80/60. I thought that this must be what is causing my headache. I had the headache Fri. - Mon. Today it is very, very mild. I am running a low grade of fever and I feel like I have hit a wall. Sat. I was have the tingling in my legs. I did not relate this to the Chia Seeds; until I read others had the same problem. I have not had any since Fri. morning. I hope this goes away soon. Has anyone else had the headache? How long do you feel this way?

www.livingwaters.com

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0 · September 24, 2013 at 10:26 PM

I was on vacation in San Diego and had kale chips for the first time. They were great so my friend opened another bag except this bag had chia seeds. Within minutes I broke out with hives couldn't breath and my blood pressure dropped big time. I ended up staying three days at UCSD hospital. It was horrible.

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0 · August 08, 2013 at 1:09 AM

After eating Mila chia seeds for two weeks, and feeling great, I broke out in a red, itchy rash on my face, neck, chest and arms. Took an antihistamine and it left within in a hour. Since then, I have tried small amounts and get the same reaction. Obviously, I am allergic to it!

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0 · August 01, 2013 at 9:42 AM

I reckon chia must be high in salycilates. I get the same reaction to pineapple and aspirin - bad pain in my stomach followed by cramping.

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0 · June 26, 2013 at 11:04 AM

These stories have been so helpful. My husband has been eating my homemade granola for 15 years. Recently, I started adding Mila and we just fiqured out that it was making him feel so terrible after eating it. Within 20 minutes of eating the granola (we have tested this now 3 times), he would have symptoms of cramping, bloating, flushed body and face and it would last throughout the whole day. I eat the granola and feel great. Must be an allergy. No more Mila for him.

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0 · June 18, 2013 at 5:46 PM

I tried chia seeds in a Flat Belly Buster Smoothie last night. Today, I am having terrible diarrhea and no desire to eat. Maybe that's where the flat belly comes from-not eating! I used the chia seeds in place of flaxseeds due to an allergy, I guess I'll be adding chia seeds to that no go list! Good thing I didn't have anywhere to go today!

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0 · June 11, 2013 at 8:32 PM

Oh my goodness - wondered why I was 'suffering' last night - cheeky chia no more for me!!!!

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0 · May 27, 2013 at 12:53 PM

ye DO NOT TRY CHAI SEEDS. Even just the tiniest portion i felt like i was on drugs and hen coming down in a really bad way! I feel awful. Really really ill. They even affect my rain so i cant think propely and it takes a few day for them to properly leave your system! This has hapened to me twice now! wont be making the same mistake again! they are going in the bin! For the record dont try flaxseeds either...they also have terrible effects!

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0 · May 23, 2013 at 7:15 PM

delete delete delete delete delete delete

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742 · April 20, 2013 at 6:46 PM

So according to Loren Cordain, chia seeds contain saponins that can increase the reaction of other foods that we're eating them with, because they permeate the gut wall and take the other proteins/pathogens with them. Since writing this question, I discovered that I have a yeast intolerance. Kombucha is bacteria AND yeast, so the reaction was amplified in me. The yeast had a clear path right into my blood stream, which is why the reaction was so violent.

I haven't had chia seeds since, as they clearly permeate the gut wall and make me react violently to foods that I don't normally react to. The last thing I need now is to develop a new intolerance or autoimmune response to something I normally enjoy.

Thankfully, with saponins (also in quinoa, amaranth and other pseudo-grains), the reaction is dose dependent -- meaning the more you eat, the leakier your gut gets. This explains why some of you don't have a reaction until the 4th or 5th day. For those of you that react right away, I would take a real close look at what you're eating the chia seeds with. I would suspect you may have a slight intolerance to one of those ingredients.

Hooray! Since chia seeds are EVERYWHERE now, this is really something to be on the look out for. They're in gluten free crackers, energy bars, even in pureed fruit for kids.

37cc142fbb183f2758ef723a192e7a9d
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1353 · April 19, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Wow that sucks for all you people, they are so nutritious and versatile. I had never heard they are a potential allergen.

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0 · April 19, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Wow. I am amazed that there are so many others that are having a reaction to the chia seeds. My story is very similar. I had bought on bag of chia seeds and ate them off and on for a couple of months with no problem. bag #2 started putting 1 Tablespoon a day in my smoothies. Bag #3, noticed after suffering a stomach infection for 6 weeks with sensitivity to most of my normal foods, one day decided to make another smoothie and I had a horrible histamine reaction. when I say histamine, I mean it was a systemic, whole body reaction. First I had stomach cramps, and then diarrhea. My heart was pounding, my head was pounding, my face, chest, and arms, were hot and burning, kind of like a rash. I felt awful and panicky as I also had some respiratory symptoms such as rapid breathing and a completely stuffy nose, eventually it died down, but I had a terrible pounding headache and fatigue the rest of the day. This was last November 2012. Yesterday, April 18, 2013, I decided to try a small amount in my smoothie, I am talking maybe 3/4 teaspoon. I really thought the reaction before was due to my ongoing long lasting stomach infection, but I had a hunch the chia seeds were an aggravation at the time. Well, I was wrong. Within 30 minutes I felt some cramping, and an hour in I had all the same systemic histamine reactions as before. I also woke up this morning with the lingering effects of my pounding headache and my eyes look red and glazed. I am thinking of going to an allergist to see if there are any other foods related as I never ever want this to happen to me again. I have also had some stomach cramps with quinoa and amaranth, but not as a sever reaction like the chia. I am wondering if anyone else has noticed sensitivity to these other seeds? I used to eat quinoa and amaranth fine, but now I won't eat them or risk the same experience anymore. I am fine with flax, sesame, and al other seeds. As a matter of fact I am not allergic to anything else besides penicillin and have never had a reaction to foods in my entire life. I wonder if there could be some kind of mold in them? Thanks everyone for your input.

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170 · April 01, 2013 at 5:08 AM

I'm severely allergic to so many nuts/seeds (anaphylaxis, itching, stomach pain, diarrhea, coughing, vomit, nosebleeds). I don't touch the stuff nor consider them to be food. Allergic reactions to them seem to be quite common...

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0 · April 01, 2013 at 3:41 AM

I also got itchy hives in the back, after taking chia seeds .

No issues for first 3-4 days and on 5th day I got the hives on back.

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0 · March 28, 2013 at 4:46 PM

A Violent reaction to chia seeds has occurred three times for me, severe vomiting to the extent that bile is released and dry wretching, diarrhea, a ringing in the ears and narrowing of vision. the last time was a result of eating multigrain chips that happened to have chia seeds in them.

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0 · March 04, 2013 at 12:42 AM

I've been eating 2 TBSP of soaked chia for the past week or so. Today, after eating it I noticed my stomach became immediately bloated and gassy, and my throat became sore. When I reviewed my food journal for the past week, I'd indicated sore throat and bloated each time after eating chia, I'd just been so busy I didn't connect the dots until today. No more chia!

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0 · March 03, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Same thing with me. Been having chia in morning smoothie for months, gradual tummy pains then massive cramps, nausea, diarhorea! Irritable bowel like symptoms. No more chia for me.

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20 · March 01, 2013 at 9:01 AM

This is crazy - why do you think everyone is fine for 3-4 weeks then whammo not fine . . ? But my experiences are very similar. Chia seeds in my breakfast smoothie all good for a few weeks then severe tummy bug (probably rotavirus - 12 hours vomiting then watery dark green diarrohea) and no breakfast smoothies for some time - not much food at all really. Then today back to my usual routine - 10 mins after drinking the smoothie was burping then 30 mins later up it all came and I've been feeling delicate all day :(

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0 · February 17, 2013 at 6:50 PM

I tried chia seeds on the recommendation of a good friend. I bought the packaged product at Trader Joe's, sprinkled a tablespoonful on my morning oatmeal. All seemed fine for about 3-4 weeks.

Then, I began having sharp or "electrified" pins&needles feeling on various sections of my body. Always different areas, always varying degrees of severity. The pain was never debilitating, it was more just very, very uncomfortable--not to mention scary as I didn't know what the heck was happening. In addition to the pins&needles was itching sensations, mainly on my back and legs. The itching sensations were not so severe as, say, a strong mosquito bite, and the sensation would vanish just as quickly as it appeared, but itching can be quite frustrating.

The symptoms almost all disappeared after a week-long trip out-of-state. Upon returning home I realized the negative symptoms had been fading. I was relieved, of course, but curious. I thought the symptoms were brought on by a soy product I had been drinking as a replacement for dairy milk. I began drinking the soy about the same time time (maybe a week or two sooner) than the chia seeds. I kept off the soy, but restarted with the chia on my morning oatmeal. The symptoms returned almost immediately.

I've continued to stay off the soy, and it's been three days off the chia. The symptoms are almost completely gone.
I will continue to remain off the chia and soy for another week. After one week I will try the soy. If no negative effects return, I will try the chia again. I will report my findings.

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0 · January 09, 2013 at 7:01 PM

same thing with me! I feel really hung over today, sick, hot then cold, gas and diarrhea! boooo.... I put a ton of chia seeds in a soup yesterday. I read somewhere that when they turn to gel, they help clean your digestive tract, and loosen anything that might be sticking to the walls. This could result in diarrhea, and also account for the "healing crisis" as they call it when you're doing a detox. Around day 5 you feel like this too, especially if you do hydrotherapy. When toxins are all shaken up, you feel sweaty, sick and barfy. I'm not a doctor, and that's just my loose theory. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of information about the side effects. Anyway, thanks for sharing everyone!

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0 · October 22, 2012 at 3:50 PM

I'm horribly allergic to chia seeds, except the reactions are different: severe nausea and vomiting for at least a day or three. I went hone early from school once because my school lunch was chia seed pudding with organic cocoa. At first I thought it was hazelnut milk, but on the first day of school, there were chia seeds in my smoothie. My first day didn't end up really good. I had a severe allergy instead!

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