Allergies - Sage or Thyme
Answered by: Christine Dennis
Question from: Bonnie Fox
Posted on: November 18, 2007

Do you know if people could be allergic to sage or thyme and if so, what would the symptoms be?

Firstly, it is not unheard of for someone to be allergic to a herb especially if they have an allergy to a plant in the same family. Although uncommon, symptoms vary from your typical allergy symptoms of upset digestive system, trouble breathing, migraines and skin rashes to other irregular and obscure symptoms. However, if the herb is being used topically, the volatile oils in some herbs can be irritating if applied to sensitive areas, on sensitive skin or if applied in a highly concentrated form such as an essential oil. Caution should always be used when using essential oils as they should not be applied directly to the skin. Burning, itching and rashes can occur if not used properly but this is not the result of a true allergy.

Secondly, it is important to note that there are differences between an allergy, a sensitivity as well as an irritation. An allergy is an immune mediated response whereby the body has recognized an offending matter as being something on its "radar" and has been flagged for future detection. As such, every-time a person consumes said offending matter , the body mounts an allergic response. This is a common reaction for many people to pollen in the air. A sensitivity is something that the body has recognized as being irritating to a particular tissue. The result of a sensitivity is the body reacts by showing irritation symptoms to that particular system it has come in contact with. I.e. digestive system if the offending matter is ingested or a skin rash if it is applied topically. An irritation is much like a sensitivity but will often cause the same reaction in most individuals - for example, most individuals get a nettle rash if the nettle plant is brushed up against. Therefore, it is necessary to determine what type of reaction has occurred.

Lastly, one also needs to realize that often times it is the packaging and other additives that tend to cause an allergic reaction in a herbal product. It is important to read the labels carefully. See:

http://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=./QandA/Medicinal/19991022-5.html

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