Q. I am searching for a remedy for “pine mouth syndrome.” Two days ago my husband and I made pesto and munched some fresh pine nuts. It turns out they were from China. Now we each have a bitter metallic taste in our mouths that won’t go away.
I did some research and came across information about the syndrome, but I could find no fixes for this miserable phenomenon. Can you help?

A. The nasty metallic taste that results from eating certain pine nuts has been dubbed “pine mouth syndrome.” It was first described a decade ago (European Journal of Emergency Medicine, March, 2001). The taste disappears after several days, and time is the only “fix” we could find.
There are at least 20 species of pine trees that make seeds that are harvested for human consumption. The pine nuts used in the Italian pasta condiment called pesto traditionally come from the stone pine, Pinus pinea. Seeds from Asian pines are often less expensive; the seeds from one particular Chinese species, Chinese white pine or Pinus armandii, appear to be responsible for pine mouth syndrome (Journal of Toxicology, in press).
Most pine nuts available in the US come from China. The offending seeds are often smaller and rounder than other pine nuts. Although pine mouth is unpleasant, it is temporary and does not seem to be dangerous.

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  1. A.T.
    Reply

    I have found that 24 hours after eating the small rounder pine nuts I have developed the bitter aftertaste. The food label on the packet did not state what country the pine nuts were from but now I would assume they were the Pinus armandii species from China which are seemingly associated with this condition. I’ve been wary of imported Chinese food quality standards ever since that Chinese milk scandal in 2008, now if I don’t see a specific ‘country of origin’ label on the food, I’m not touching it!

  2. Warwickian
    Reply

    Both my husband and I ate pine nuts from a popular chain grocery this last Sunday. On Tuesday we both began to experience the horrible bitter taste and nothing tastes good. I also developed muscle cramping, dizziness, and confusion.
    At the moment I am subsisting on Mint tea which is the only thing that doesn’t taste bad. This and other sites have proved to be very helpful in diagnosing the problem.
    Since little seems to be happening regarding research and the distributers are being recalcitrant about removing these products from the market I think it is imperative that we all contact the store(s) we got the nuts from and the FDA and make as much noise as possible. Yes, it is helpful to find out what you have via the internet but if we don’t say anything nothing will happen. Good Luck all!

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