Food Effects

The nature of the taste disturbance of the pine nut syndrome is evidently influenced by the types of foods and the patterns are not always consistent. Some foods taste horrid, while some foods are completely unaffected…. and these foods are not necessarily perceived the same way by all victims of PNS. For instance, coffee or ice cream could provide relief for one person, but could cause another person to gag.

According to the findings of the survey, there were however some general patterns and advice offered by victims. The chart below shows the frequency which each taste type was rated to have the most intense taste disturbance. The general consensus is that sweet and carbohydrate foods (e.g. bread and cakes) caused the greatest disturbance to taste.

In the survey, I had also asked respondents to name specific foods for each category of taste disturbance intensities, and I have included in the table below the list of specific foods that have been mentioned 10 times or more. The strongest consensus was on wines being the most unpalatable (my personal experience was that it tasted like a bloody raw chicken!), and salty / sour / spicy foods best masking the bad taste.

Do continue to share your experiences with the different foods in the comment fields below!

[Updated: 5 June 2011]

50 Responses to Food Effects

  1. Ingrid says:

    Grace, this is all so interesting!!

  2. Josefine says:

    Carrots are AWFUL!

    Ate some hummus with lots of garlic. I could not taste the metallic at all. Think it was the garlic.

    White chocolate tasted strange… like of nothing. The sweetness disappeared.

    Dried cranberries taste normal and sweet but afterwards it’s back to metallic taste -and you can not eat cranberries all day😉

  3. DaviLyn Morse says:

    Really sour hard candy (Warheads) is helping me get through this.

  4. I can’t eat anything. Everything I eat – Honey nut cheerios, salty chips, pizza, roast beef sandwich, strawberries, granola bars, ice cream, ice cream, roasted chicken, etc. sets off the horrible metallic/bitter taste in my mouth.

    The only things I’ve been able to consume without too much back lash is SoBe 0 calorie fruit punch and caffeine free diet coke.

    I’m only on day 4 of this and wondering how much more I can take.

  5. jennifer lyons says:

    I’m on day 3 of this. I have tried to eat a variety of the foods that are mentioned as ok, but found for me that only vinegar and lemon are ok. I put this on a bunch of spinach last night so I could eat something. This was still tough. Green olives were tolerable. Water is good. Sour apple chewing gum is what I go to after trying something and hating it, to get that bitter out as fast as possible.

    For me, the spicy foods do not work; hummus, dark stout beer, cheese, ice cream, cupcake, very sweet cookie, muffin, salty chips, were all bad.

    Peanut butter was tolerable, and peppermint tea is great.

    I have decided to take this opportunity to start the Master Cleanse diet today–it’s a liquid cleanse with ingredients of fresh lemon and grade B maple syrup. I’ve done the cleanse before and liked it. Since I can’t eat, this seems like a good time to do it and the drink is ok (lemons are the best relief I have found).

  6. Keong says:

    Day 3 and yes – almost everything has a bitter aftertaste. Peanuts are okay and yes – diet coke is okay. Anything bland is kind of okay. I’m looking forward to the end of this – and I’ll go out and have a really good meal at a fancy restaurant!

  7. Kathleen says:

    I have had the taste for about 4 days now and it really doesn’t matter what I eat, it all leaves this taste. I found it worse after chocolate and chilli, but after I ate a healthy salad with vinegar it wasn’t as bad…but then the taste came still after about an hour. It is very troubleing, I just want it to go away!!!

  8. Sharon says:

    I can taste the bitterness with red wine, but it is not unbearable for me; I suppose because I enjoy the very very dry characteristics of a cabernet. Ate pineapple and cantaloupe today – did not taste it then. Diet orange soda – bad. Sugar free DaVinci’s syrup & club soda (“Italian soda”) – bad.

  9. Michelle says:

    For me, the bitter taste is always there, and I keep trying different foods to see if I can find something that makes the taste go away. So far, Coke blocks the bad taste, but only as long as it’s actually in contact with my tongue. Somehow, I don’t think that will be a very viable plan.

    I just tried activated charcoal, and I’ll go out tomorrow to pick up some hard candies, mints and gum to try and cope. This is only the end of day 1 for me. >.<

  10. MC says:

    I am on day 4. I wouldn’t say food is unbearable…but it is pretty terrible. Somehow I keep forgetting and start eating and then remember when whatever it is tastes terrible, yet again. I found that blue orbit gum has been great to chew in between meals. My bitter taste is there pretty much always and gets worse when I eat. A salad was decent today with a vinaigrette and I had pork chops with a mustard cream sauce that was tolerable as I was eating. But the moment I swallow it seems to creep back in again. I have started drinking aloe juice today as someone else had recommended it. I gave my 20 month old daughter the same dish I had and I wish she could tell me if she tastes it too! I bought organic pine nuts in bulk from Whole Foods in Denver. I don’t know yet where they come from. Ugh.

  11. Maria B. says:

    Bread is, indeed, terrible. Jelly beans offer some temporary relief

  12. Amy says:

    Couscous and the cucumbers in my salad on day 2 were completely unbearable. Didn’t eat lunch yesterday because everything was just too gross. Now on day 4 and cheerios with almond milk this morning was ok.

  13. Ingrid Bengis Palei says:

    Keeping a single clove in your mouth all day or all night takes the metallic taste away. Replace the clove as needed for all day relief.
    Red wine is the worst, simply undrinkable.

  14. kate says:

    can anyone that has had it tell me how long this will last? i am on day 3 and frustrated with the jelly-bean and chewing gum thing that i’ve been doing- and worried because thanksgiving is a week away!!!😦😦

  15. jd says:

    this is my 2nd bout with this (i don’t think i’ll taste a pine nut again). Had it a year ago after eating quite a few pinenuts. Then a few days ago, ate one pine nut in a cup of sweet Korean after-dinner drink… and voila, yesterday everything started tasting bitter.

    Fruits and cereals are bad. Coffee does not taste right.

    I’m wondering what the effect of miracle berries would be
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synsepalum_dulcificum

  16. Dom O says:

    Day 3 and everything is bitter. The only thing that works is to nuke my tastebuds with chilli. Good job I like spicy food!

  17. RJ Kassis says:

    Milk is fine. Wine is horrible. Chicken garlic pizza was ok. I can’t wait for this to be over. Christmas is near.

  18. G Baker says:

    Day 2: My favourite coffee tastes terrible… Red wine is terrible… raisin toast is bearable.

    Can’t wait for this to go away!

  19. Phoebe says:

    I’m on day three, after eating pine nuts on Thursday night and noticing the bitterness when I woke up on Saturday morning. It seems I might be luckier than some, as I can still eat and not every food is turned sour. As it says in the table above, very sweet things seem to be OK, so I’ve been majoring on mince pies! I haven’t tried wine yet, but my tomato soup at lunch time was horrible. The only relief I’ve found so far is in drinking lots of water, and using mouthwash frequently, but I’m going to try lemon juice tonight, as well as ginger tea, which was suggested on another site I visited. I really hope this doesn’t last much longer, I don’t want my Christmas dinner to be ruined by the bitterness.

  20. Josephine Impola says:

    I have been reading many of the posts, glad to know I’m not alone. Do you still need the survey answered and samples still of the offending nuts ? I have some I can send. If you dopleaselet me know how/where to respond thanks

  21. Anke Molijn says:

    I’m at day 6 and it is getting a little bit better. Water is the only thing that is ok, the rest ….ieuh.. but to be honest i just stop trying….Brushing my teeth helps !

  22. Nina Parker says:

    I’ve had Pine Mouth since July, when I ordered a pound of PNs from Sun Organic Farms in California (turns out, they were from China). We had a bumper crop of basil, so I made big batches of pesto which we ate a couple of times a week. Just after Thanksgiving (had pine nuts in the stuffing), I finally Goggled “metallic taste in mouth” and learned what was causing the horrible taste in my mouth. Threw out the pine nuts, but the taste is still there, especially in the evening. My husband ate everything I did and hasn’t been affected. I’m suspecting that PM is an allergic reaction. I have other allergies (pollen, dust, dairy), and my husband doesn’t. Has anyone tried allergy medications? Also, isn’t there an Asian fruit that alters taste, so that everything tastes sweet for awhile after you eat it? Maybe the mechanism is similar with Chinese pine nuts, only everything tastes bitter?

  23. Nina Parker says:

    A little googling brings up the Miracle Fruit (Sideroxylon dulcificum), which numbs the sour and bitter taste buds for about 2 hrs. after eating, making everything sour taste sweet. So Chinese pine nuts, after about 2 days, make everything sweet taste bitter. Do they do this by numbing the sweet taste buds? Inquiring minds want to know!

  24. sam says:

    Hi, great site – thanks!

    I’m on Day 2 I reckon.

    I’ve just found that nibbling ginger (root, if you can stand it, otherwise candied or even strong ginger biscuits) seems to ameliorate the vile taste for a while.

    I’m going to try sucking a clove per another sufferer’s suggestion previously.

    Also, I’ve noticed a sort of slight uncomfortableness in a gland under my jaw – wondering if this is a salivary gland acting up because of the PNS? Anyone experienced similar? (I don’t have a cold or anything, so the glandy feeling is not that).

    I’ll keep checking back to see if more ‘coping mechanisms’ have been posted – and to report on clove ‘treatment’.

    FYI
    The culprit is a bag of Tescos PN, sourced from China of course.

    I love PN and have eaten them frequently over many years straight from the bag. I’m ticked off but I’ve had this once before, years ago, and know it’ll probably wear off or whatever it does. I won’t stop snacking on PN but I’ll probably contact Tesco and be more careful in future.

  25. sam says:

    **update**

    Day 3:
    Well, I tried sucking a clove last night a couple of times for c.15mins at a time.It was a highly medicinal experience in itself!

    At other times I also took a small pinch of ginger powder and let that swirl around in my mouth for 20mins (like a long mouthwash) and then swallowed. I did this about 3x.

    This morning I woke with a fresher taste. First cup of tea was fine, just a vague hint of the PNS taste afterwards. Now eating a slice of fresh bread and butter which is definitely bringing out the bitter-metal taste – though not half as bad as first 2 days. Thank God.

    I still have a wee ache in a little gland under my jaw, and producing a slight excess of saliva.

    I’m going to keep on with the ‘ginger mouthwash’ every few hours. Something deep in my gut tells me that this is a good medication for this nasty problem.

    Nature very often provides the remedies against the toxins it produces, so it makes sense to me that there are herbal solutions. Is one of them ginger?

    I note that both ginger and cloves have several important and clinically proven and widely prescribed medicinal effects – cholesterol lowering, antiseptic, anti-nausea, even apparently anti-cancer and protective against heart disease.(see the Wiki pages for more info).

  26. sam says:

    **update

    Day 4:

    Great news! The vile PNS is about 99% gone.

    I’ve kept on with the ginger powder ‘mouthwash’ – a pinch every 3hrs or more. (I dropped the clove-sucking after I read of its possible connection re tumours😦

    Obviously, I have no idea whether the ginger did the trick – but I’d love to think that it did.

    Would love to hear others’ experiences with ginger.

    • Hillary says:

      Based on your comments about ginger, I started drinking ginger tea and eating crystillized ginger. It (and vinegar) has helped a lot! Lots of foods still taste a little odd but I am not miserable all day. If I get an annoying aftertaste, I just eat another piece of ginger.

  27. Kay says:

    Coffee was my first indication that something wasn’t right – I thought I must have made it too strong or something because it was so bitter. It was so bad, I went off coffee for quite a few days.

  28. Itay says:

    Magic solution!!!!!

    After having this syndrome for the third time!!! I found out that lately in few forums in Hebrew there are recommendations to drink a shot of Arak to solve the problem.
    In these forums there are a lot of happy responders that write this “magic” solution helped them.

    I tried it myself. I drank one shot before diner and the bitter taste was gone, The day after the bitter taste came back but less intense, this time another shot solve the all problem !!!

    Arak is an alcoholic drink that is based on Anise, it is original from Lebanon (I hope that Israeli ppl recommending Lebanese drink is a good sign for coming peace)

    There are other anise drinks like Raki (Turkish), Ouzo (Greek), Pastis (French)
    and Sambuca (Italy), but I didn’t try them …

    Also You can find an article about it, published on the website of a supermarket chain in Israel (you can try to read it using Google translate) :
    http://www.edenteva.co.il/SelectedArticle.aspx?artId=176

  29. Pat says:

    Day 2 (pine nuts from Trader Joes eaten exactly 2 days prior to horrible bitter followed by metalic taste. ( bitter immediately upon putting something in my mouth followed by awful metallic taste that goes on until the next time I put anything in my mouth – then disgustingly bitter taste again). Here hoping to find something I can eat. Right now water and herb tea (Tazo Calm Herb Tea) are the only 2 things I’ve found. Sugarless gum is good for a few minutes only. Anything else is unbearable – YUKKKK!

  30. Hillary says:

    Started Sunday evening with the feeling of something being a little off and by Monday evening I was miserable. For me the taste was constant, not just when I was eating I did a bunch of research (including here) and did the following:
    –Put 3 sugars in my coffee (instead of 1) following the chart above. It wasn’t too bad and I was caffeinated enough to start the day.
    –Drank ginger tea & ate crystallized ginger during the day (especially with meals!)
    –Ate foods with vinegar (salad with oil & lots of vinegar — and salt & vinegar chips)
    –spicy also seemed to help, though I don’t usually like spicy foods
    –garlic hummus was okay too
    The big takeaway was that ginger and vinegar (and possibly garlic?) helped me get through my meals.
    I’m at the end of day 4 and while not fully recovered, I am no longer miserable.

  31. Lulu says:

    I’m on day 2 and the bitterness is so intense that the inside of my mouth feels blistered and sore. I usually only drink water and tea but water tastes absolutely foul right now and while tea is OK at the time, the bitter after-taste is digusting. I drank a glass of water with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda this morning – that was better than plain water. But I’ve since tried peppermint tea and that is definitely good. I’ve also discovered that I can eat crystallized ginger and salted peanuts, so that’s what I’m going to be living on for the next few days.

  32. Rosalee says:

    Day 1:
    Yogurt – awful
    Coffee – awful
    bread – awful
    sweets – tolerable
    fruit – awful

    Will try spicy food next to see if that’s better!

  33. jennifer says:

    All of you going through this–check out the Master Cleanse. It’s a detox, and take this opportunity to do it! It clears the mind, the gut, and you feel so energized! I had done it before, and enjoyed it. While dealing with the pine nut thing, it was perfect. It’s a drink of lemons, grade B maple syrup, filtered water, and cayenne pepper. It is great for the pine nut mouth, the lemons are well tolerated. This detox is great to do any time (I did it a couple weeks ago), but really nice while dealing with pine nut mouth. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

  34. Stefan says:

    At Day 16 of having PNS. Horrible experience. In an attempt to warn others was on the front page of local (Vancouver Sun May 6th) newspaper standing helplessly, i.e., not drinking, in my wine cellar. Several friends have contacted me saying they had the same mysterious experience in the last year. In the last couple of days the bitterness/metalic taste has lessened somewhat. Wine is still bad and foods are bitter, but I have noticed that eating raw tuna slices (with no rice, soya sauce, or anything) seemed to have an instant relief and drinking wine immediately after tasted nearly normal. Later the PNS effect came back, but has anyone else tried raw (Big Eye) tuna?

  35. Erika says:

    I thought there was something seriously wrong with me until I googled and found this site. Thank you!! It’s been 3 days. Pinenuts were purchased at Trader Joes, I still have them if you want. I ate a banana and that seemed ok. Milk is ok. Everthing else is disgusting, especially beans and beer. Go figure! Although the bitterness subsides for the most part after eating, I can still taste it between meals.

  36. Jocipdx says:

    Although my symptoms were starting to depart (after 5 days and homemade ginger tea) I learned about Arak or Araq- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arak_%28drink%29 – I believe that Anise is the key. Ouzo may help also. I put an ounce in my mouth and held it for as long as I could. (it was during work so I spit it out) My eyes watered and my mouth was stinging but an hour later I had a sandwich and it tasted great!!!
    (I was told to do it every six hours until the disgust goes away)
    SAVED!!!!

  37. Dianne Vaughan says:

    I am chewing sugarless gum and that helps some. Eating frozen yogurt helps for as long as my mouth is really cold. Eating anything that is slightly bitter is horrible.This is the third time I have had this happen – I think. I didn’t know what it was before and this time I am on my 6th day!

  38. Christine says:

    I bought a bag of “Trophy” pine nuts at IGA in Langley, BC for a pesto recipe that I froze for winter snacking. I ate only 2 pine nuts out of the bag…My symptoms came on 2 days later and I’m on Day 3. I find I have a dull stomach ache and sporadic headaches. I’ve been taking lemon juice – especially right after a meal. I can drink coffee, even a cappucino, and eat ice cream sandwiches. Melons – honeydew and cantoloupe – for breakfast in the morning seem okay too. Crackers sort of okay. Bread – horrible. Spicy Foods horrible. Even some raw veggies are gross. I’m going to give the ginger mouthwash a try….and I’m throwing away the frozen pesto. I spoke with CFIA and encouraged them to consider an alert/recall…Please call the Food Inspection Agency; the more complaints that are made to them; the more they realize the importance of the issue.

  39. prathima says:

    my doubt is…………why coffee doesn’t taste sweet after having any sweet like cake???
    i want a reasonable answer……can any1 help me out with dis????

  40. I got pine nut mouth after eating pine nuts (toasted) from Trader Joe’s. I’m wondering if the raw and toasted react the same. Also I noticed the bitter taste when I licked my skin! I wonder if something is oozing out my pores.

  41. janice says:

    I had this problem about 2 years ago. I had it all summer, being a chef i had it on the menu so i used to grab a handful when I used to cook them.All of us working in the kitchen had it, but none of us could understand what was happening, until one of us googled it!!

    Now this week it is happening again. I knew about this problem with pinenuts but i dont know for which reason i took 5 pinenuts and the horrible taste is back again.

    I can’t eat anything. and tried alot of foods, plain water biscuits, watermelon, bread, grissini, peppermint tea, fizzy drink, couscous, yogurt, rice, cheese sandwich, smoked turkey, noodles, pasta, tuna, chicken………….everything taste awful……..can’t take it anymore, i’m hungry and disgusted to eat plus since im a chef its effecting my cooking too!! hope for the best……….. tomorrow will be day 3!!

  42. Clint Churchill says:

    I am on day 15th. Thought it could have been caused by resorption (which causes a similarly bad taste) but since the horrible taste is most prominent with wine and coffee (and tannic tea) + we have had lots of pine nuts from China I suspect it is the dreaded pine mouth. Not evident at all when eating fruit and bread. in fact white wine is ok…the big killer is red wine. Since red wine drinking is my favorite hobby this is a bit of a problem. Seemed to get better a few days ago but re-appeared when I had an expresso a few hours ago. Heard from others that “super tasters” are most often impacted. What’s the longest anyone has every had this?

  43. Teffany says:

    I have to agree that peppermint is about the only thing that tasted good. The worst for me was watermelon, bananas, bread, and plain rice cakes. Even avocado tasted bad.

  44. Ruth Newman (@RooNew) says:

    Red wine is the worst. Yuck, And orange juice is pretty bad. Coffee and toast/bread seem ok…

  45. Bonnie says:

    Confession, I too have Pine Nut Mouth. It is vile. I had never heard of it but my dentist knew right away. I thought I had chewed an over abundance of sugarless gum which is full of chemicals that can leave a bad taste in your mouth & distort your taste. With in 48 hrs of eating a small amount of pine nuts, don’t know where they were from, but we were at a rather upscale “foodie” restaurant, I was totally overcome. Everything tasted metallic and I couldn’t eat. I also felt I was reeking bad breath, very embarrassing. My dentist recommended this mouthwash, it’ comes as 2 different bottles that you combine only for amount needed because they activate themselves that way. I have to tell you it really helped. It is called SMART MOUTH. over the counter, @ Walgreens. Tomorrow I am supposed to go out w friends, I hope wine will not be a problem. I read that it was!

  46. chris says:

    I experienced pine nut mouth after eating 3 nuts I brought from china two days ago. The bitterness is especially bad when I eat a banana . I also experienced diarrhoea. I gaggle a tablespoon of coconut oil two hours ago and the bitter taste seems to be gone!

  47. suzy says:

    Gargle with hydrogen peroxide (3% from the drug store) it worked immediately for me.

  48. Ben says:

    I recently started eating a lot of pesto over the last few months (my wife began growing basil so made some homemade and i put it on eggs every morning). About 3 weeks ago a sour, bitter taste began in my mouth. The taste starts as soon as I eat or drink in the morning and gets progressively worse throughout the day. Most things tast totally fine to me WHILE EATING THEM but immediately after (5-10 seconds), the bitter sour taste returns. DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR TO ANYONE WITH PINE SYNDROME? I just ate the pesto yesterday again because I hadn’t heard of this. To be honest, I’m praying its just pine syndrome and that this sounds familiar to someone. It sounds like everyone here is effected WHILE EATING though. PLEASE HELP!

  49. Paul says:

    Grace I think I might have come up with a way to detect them using Near Infra Red Spectroscopy. But to do that I will need to get hold of some samples of the offending pinus armandii. Do you know where these can be obtained?

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