Bitter taste after eating for days – caused by pine nuts?

Scots PineI started to get a bitter taste in my mouth after eating. At first I thought I was going to die so I Googled on it – how many people a minute go through that process! My scatter gun approach to diagnosis came up with a series of suggestions. I either had jaundice or I was diabetic or I had eaten pine nuts (possibly from China) in the last few days. My skin isn’t yellow and my pee isn’t orange and I am not thirsty all the time but I had eaten a new kind of pine nut in the last few days so the third option looks like it warrants attention. After Googling start blogging.

There is a very short scientific-like paper out there Taste disturbances after pine nut ingestion. In the initial case the pine nuts were oxidized and not fit for consumption but six other cases are mentioned and it is not clear if these were oxidized. A test subject also consumed two portions of nuts which I guess they wouldn’t do if they were oxidized. Importantly there was no fungal contamination, no pesticide contamination and they didn’t know what species of tree the nuts were from but they had come from China.

The wikipedia pine nut page currently summarises and has a few links to discussion groups where the effect is mentioned.

Now I eat pine nuts a lot (I am a veggie) and this is the first time this has happened. It is also the first time I have had ‘Baby’ pine nuts which were sold as being small. My theory is that these are actually a different species of pine nut. This would be fun to investigate.

What candidates do we have among commonly eaten pine nut species ( according to Wikipedia)

Pinus gerardiana, known as the Chilgoza Pine, ‘noosa’, or ‘neoza’, is a pine native to the northwestern Himalaya in eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northwest India, growing at elevations between 1800-3350 m. It often occurs in association with Blue Pine (Pinus wallichiana) and Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara).(Wikipedia) – This is a possible one. Are its seeds smaller than P. koraiensis I wonder?

Pinus koraiensis is Korean Pine. It is native to eastern Asia, Manchuria, far eastern Russia, Korea and central Japan. Korean Pine differs from the closely related Siberian Pine in having larger cones with reflexed scale tips, and longer needles. The seeds are extensively harvested and sold as pine nuts, particularly in northeastern China; it is the most widely traded pine nut in international commerce. – Very likely. (Wikipedia)

Pinus pinea Stone Pine (or Umbrella Pine) Native of Southern Europe in the Mediterranean region (Wikipedia) – not likely contender.

Pinus edulis Colorado Pinyon or Two-needle Pinyo is native to the United States and so not likely contender.

Pinus cembroides Mexican Pinyon – mexican so not likely to bother us.

Pinus monophylla Single-leaf Pinyon – USA native so not likely to bother us.

Looks like there are two contenders. Common things happen commonly so I have probably been eating P. koraiensis for years as it is the most commonly traded. Perhaps these new seeds are P. gerardiana?

I will investigate further.

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1,515 thoughts on “Bitter taste after eating for days – caused by pine nuts?

  1. Jane

    Thanks to all of you so much for these posts! I really thought I was headed back to the oncologist for this one, but ate the nuts last week (checked the bag: product of China), and have been tasting the worst taste for several days now. I take prilosec every day, but will try some Pepto and hope it subsides.
    I have eaten pine nuts for years, this never happened before. What a relief to know I am not alone here.
    Does anyone know when it stops?

  2. Barbara

    5/20/10- I have been having a bitter taste in my mouth for about 3 days now accompanied by a headache. I have searched the internet but did not find pinenuts listed as a cause. I have tossed and turned all night trying to figure out what it could be- mentioned this to a group of friends and one of my
    friends asked if I had any pinenuts. Yes !! She told me about “pine mouth” as someone she worked
    with had it. I got the pinenuts at Trader Joe’s and they are the small ones. I have never had this happen before and I have had a lot of pinenuts in my life.

  3. Jerry Hugo

    Well, I must say, you have made my day. I know I don’t have diabetes, I had a full check up just two weeks ago and my doc could not fault any of my blood test. And then, last week I go on a business trip to Russia and I noticed that everyone went pest-nuts-mad in Russia. Every restaurant seems to put pesto or pine nuts by the bucket in many dishes (at least those I tried – but i had a pretty random selection). And pine-nuts are generously sprinkled everywhere. Thinking back I did have a bit of indigestion after I had one pesto dish in particular. And now, two days later I am stuck with a bitter taste in my mouth every time I drink or eat anything. A real pain! This happened before to me in the past, but I could never connect it to pesto or pine nuts. So, i think I now have the answer: it must be what you say pine nuts (in pesto sauce) and of course not knowing where the pine nuts come from makes it likely to be the chinese variety that causes the problem as you highlighted. The only thing that seems a bit better when I eat is when go for sour things like a green apple or similar. I hope the bitter goes soon, I am getting fed up with it. But maybe it is a good excuse to go on a diet after all! Thanks for your help!

  4. Shelley

    I have been suffering from pine mouth for the past 6 days and am happy to report that my tastebuds seem to be gradually returning to normal. Its a depressing affliction to say the least because I love my food and a glass of red with it. Red wine has been intolerable.
    Anyway I just want to share some tips with fellow sufferers. As I have less bitter taste reaction after eating sugary foods I’ve been choosing foods like Chinese sweet and sour. I’ve also found that smothering food in Thai sweet chilli sauce has made most things tolerable. This has led to some odd food combinations buy, hey, whatever works.
    Out for drinks with friends I tried Pernod on the rocks. It seems the strong sweet aniseed flavour overpowered any residual bitterness so, another winner.
    I’m looking forward to returning to a normal diet within the next few days but have given up on pine nuts for good. I just don’t want to risk this happening again.

  5. Mike

    Thanks for the info. I have had a strange taste in my mouth for the last 4 days- everything from water-beer-all foods taste like they have nutrasweet in them. I thought it was the chicken or mint I cooked with on Thursday- it never occurred to me that it could be the pine nuts I toasted with the chicken and mint. The pine nuts were purchased from Trader Joe’s. Thank goodness for this blog. I googled “everything I taste is sour” and it lead me here. Gracias again, I was about to email my doctor.

    MB

  6. Chris

    Tried Pepto and that did help for the most part, mostly with foods. Still a bitter aftertaste with some liquids. Way better then before the Pepto! Wine still has a hint of liquid metal taste to it. Bought pine nuts at TJ last week, made pesto last wednesday.

  7. Sherre Hartlage

    Thanks for the info. Last week I made a dish I have been making for years with pine nuts. The package was new and I ate a handfull while I was cooking and thought they tasted a little strange. I checked the date and they were good but I put them in the freezer. Two days later the worst metallic taste in my mouth. I thought it was from taking iron so I stopped taking it. Everyday since I have been searching the internet trying to figure out what was going on. Still have the taste but it has gotten better. Sure enough the pine nuts are Amport Foods, product of China. I have been checking products I buy and not buying the products from China, my sister-in-law purchased these for me for my b-day. I just got a fresh batch of basil and was going to make pesto! Guess that is out.

  8. WillS

    I am fairly certain I’ve just discovered in this post the cause of my mouth bitterness. Thank you all. It has lasted four days so far, and everything–even sweets and especially white wine!–tastes awful. The people who feed Wikipedia note that it could be from an allergy. I immediately wonder if anyone else suffering from the “pine nut bittertaste” is also allergic to gin, another consumable evergreen tree product, as I am?

    It took me a couple years of infrequent but periodic and oddly exceptional hangovers to realize that gin in my former favorite gin & tonic cocktail made me ill. Even just one. On many occasions I would have a few so I ususally wrote off my tolerable but acute discomfort to low alcohol tolerance. In the end, nope! Gin makes me sick–my stomach hurt, and my body ill. I also get a skin rash from touching juniper plants (from which come juniper berries that make gin). Much as I like the drink, I’ve had to forego it. May do the same with pine nuts. Anyone sympathize with this theory?

  9. AMC

    So glad I found these blogs!! I have had a bitter aftertaste in my mouth when eating all my meals today. Only when eating. I kept thinking the food was off, but it was my breakfast granola, to the lunch salad, to a chocolate shake! I googled and sure enough I had a salad with lots of pine nuts in it two days ago! I don’t know where they were from since the salad was pre-made in the shop. I just hope it’s not toxic since I’m pregnant!.

  10. Bev

    Amazing info – thanks to all – ate pine nuts in a salad yesterday or day before – about 9pm last night experienced horrid taste in mouth with all foods and it’s still there. A few minutes ago I searched Mayo cliniic site for”metallic taste in mouth” : they had 13 causes none of which seemed to apply to me(except maybe undiagnosed glaucoma?) Next I searched on google and found this site which seems to be right on target. I’ve never eaten pine nuts knowingly before (but maybe in a restaurant?).
    These particular nuts were purchased from a bin in Superstore here in Winnipeg a couple of days ago.
    Am encouraged that at least one of the writers says the taste seems to be diminishing after 6 days.

  11. Zuzana

    Omg, thanks so much everyone! I’ve had a bitter taste for the last two days, put it down to my cold. Everythink I eat tastes horrid! Now read this and remmembered I had a take out pizza on Sunday that had mini pine nuts on it. Never thought it might be it, as have been eating pine nuts for years! Now I know! :o)
    I hope it wont last too long!
    Thanks again!

  12. Paul

    My wife and I are on Day 5 now – symptoms have decreased to maybe 50% of the peak which occurred on Days 2 and 3. Symptoms at peak included stomach cramps, lethargy and diarrhea as well as the foul taste. Our daughter ate the same pine nuts at the same time but has no symptoms at all. So pleased to find this information – not so pleased to hear we may be in for another week of food misery. We’ve discovered that bread brings out the worst taste reaction and spicy food seems to mask it. We’ve just finished a dinner of Indian takeout which was reasonably palatable. Good luck everyone!!

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