Asthma caused by garlic dust, spices and aromatic herbs

  • Butcher
  • Cook
  • Farmer
  • Food industry
Alliumcepa seed, Aniseed, Asparagus, Bay leaf, Cinnamon, Clove, Garlic, Garlic dust, Mace, nutmeg, Rosemary.
Incidence: rare.
Subjects are usually atopic.
IgE-dependent mechanism.
The antigen is widespread throughout the lily family : cross reactions may occur with other members of the family, e.g. onion, asparagus or chives. However, different antigens are involved for the red onion and onion seeds (risk of asthma during packaging). A case of asthma has been described following inhalation of barley flour. A further report identified asthma caused by consumption of beer. There are partial cross-reactions between grass pollens and the chenopodes, particularly in the lily family.
Rhino-conjunctivitis, asthma and eczema. Anaphylactic reactions are possible in sensitive subjects following ingestion of raw garlic.
Diagnostic methods
Skin prick test with garlic extract: initial dose 1/100000 m/v
Immunological dosage: RAST/CAP RAST garlic and PTRIA. For other aromatic herbs, extracts should be prepared just prior to use.


  1. Allergy 1998,53:1216 Lopez Rubio A. et al.
  2. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 1997,100:734 - Añibarro Belén et al.
  3. Allergy 1996,51:647
  4. Allergy 1996,51:337
  5. Allergy 1995,98:690
  6. J. Allergy. Clin. Immunol. 1982,69:448
  7. J. Allergy. Clin. Immunol. 1981,68:156
  8. Rev. Fr. Allergol. 1980,20:145

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.