Seed Allergy

Table of Contents

What Is A Seed Allergy?

A seed allergy is any physical reaction after consuming seeds or their products. Seed allergies are increasing in the United States. Sesame, mustard, sunflower, and poppy seeds cause the most allergic reactions. While sesame allergy is the most common seed allergy, mustard seeds usually produce more severe allergic reactions. Those allergic to one seed have a high chance of being allergic to other seeds.

Symptoms of a seed allergy include:

  • Hives
  • Itchy mouth and skin
  • Swelling of the lips
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing

For severe allergies, it’s best to avoid all seeds.

Products You Should Avoid That May Contain Seeds

  • Breads
  • Sauces & Salad Dressings
  • Sesame Oil
  • Granola Products
  • Soups
  • Canola Oil
  • Cereals
  • Margarine
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Rice Cakes
  • Seed Oil Based Cosmetics
  • Pumpkin Seed Oil
  • Veggie Burgers
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Grapefruit Seed Oil

Seeds come in various forms, so it’s important to read the labels of products you consume. While this allergy is becoming more severe, the FDA doesn’t require seeds to be labeled as allergens on packaged goods. If you have this allergy, you should read every ingredient on the labels of foods you eat.

Also, beware of vegetable oils. Most vegetable oils come from seeds. Sunflower oil, canola oil, and sesame oil are common types of vegetable oils. As an alternative, use olive oil or peanut oil when cooking.

Diagnosing Seed Allergy

A food challenge or allergy provocation test is the most accurate way to diagnose seed allergy. A Board Certified allergist will administer the allergen in a clinical setting to see if a reaction occurs. In the event of a severe allergic reaction, your allergist will have emergency tools close by, such as an epinephrine injection.  

Seed Allergy Treatment

Allergy medications can treat symptoms related to seed allergy. Some antihistamines can help itching and swelling. Applying a cold compress to the skin can also help with hives and other skin irritations. Avoid scented products that irritate the skin more.

For breathing problems and other severe allergic reactions, a doctor can prescribe medications. An inhaled corticosteroid may be necessary to treat wheezing. If reactions cause anaphylaxis, an epinephrine injection can treat symptoms before medical personnel arrives.


For a seed allergy diagnosis, call the allergy specialists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers. We offer many convenient allergy and sinus clinics throughout Manhattan and Queens with the latest technology for diagnosing your allergies, asthma, and sinus problems. Our board-certified allergists are available six days a week. Call (212) 686-6321 to book your appointment today!

Seed Allergy Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Eat Sesame Oil If You Are Allergic to Sesame Seeds?

If you are allergic to sesame seeds, you will react to sesame products. It is essential that people with a sesame allergy avoid all sesame products including sesame oil and tahini.

Do I Need to Avoid Other Seeds or Plants in the Brassicaceae Family If I Have A Mustard Seed Allergy?

Mustard belongs to the Brassicaceae family which also includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and other plants. These plants are closely related to mustard as their seeds contain proteins that are very similar to the proteins in mustard seeds. People with a mustard seed allergy may react to these plants and should avoid them until a proper allergy test is done.

Do Seeds Cross-React With Nuts?

Seeds and nuts do not cross-react. However, individuals with seed allergies are at increased risk for other food allergies, including peanut and tree nut allergies.

How Is Seed Allergy Diagnosed?

Allergists use allergy testing to diagnose seed allergy. Allergy testing may include a skin prick test or food challenge done in a safe, clinical setting.

How Is Seed Allergy Treated?

There is currently no treatment for seed allergy. However, in cases of severe allergic reactions, epinephrine can treat anaphylaxis. Antihistamines may treat less severe symptoms. Contact an NYC allergist to learn how to manage your seed allergy.

If I Am Allergic to One seed, Does That Mean I Am Allergic to All of Them?

Some seed proteins are common to many seeds and could provide cross reactivity. Poppy, sesame, mustard, and sunflower seeds may cross react. However, we recommend getting allergy tested to determine which seeds you are allergic to.

Is Seed Allergy A Major Food Allergy?

Sesame seed is now a major allergen in the U.S. This means manufacturers must label sesame as a major allergen and highlight it on packaging.

Is Seed Allergy Curable?

Seed allergy is not curable. However, some individuals experience less severity of the allergy as they grow older.

What Are the Most Common Seed Allergies?

Mustard, sesame, sunflower, and poppy seed allergy are the most common seed allergies. Sesame seed allergy is the most common and severe.

What Causes Seed Allergy?

When a person with an allergy to seeds is exposed to them, proteins in the seed bind to specific IgE antibodies made by the person's immune system. This triggers the person's immune defenses, leading to reaction symptoms that can be mild or very severe.