Spices are the most attractive ingredients to confer an authentic taste to food. As they are derived from plants, they harbour allergenic potency and can induce symptoms ranging from mild local to severe systemic reactions. Due to the content of pharmacologically active substances of spices, the diagnosis of allergy and the differentiation from intolerance reactions may be difficult. Association with inhalative allergies via IgE cross-reactivity, but also direct gastrointestinal sensitization plays a role. This article is a botanical and allergological overview of the most important spices and molecules responsible for eliciting IgE-mediated reactions or cross-reactions. As no curative treatments are known at present, strict avoidance is recommended and, therefore, accurate labelling of pre-packed food is necessary.

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