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The Pine Nut Syndrome (PNS)

  1. Pine nuts are widely used in salads and meals. Many people like them, but there are those who get a bitter taste in their mouths a few days after eating pine nuts. This pine nut syndrome, also called PNS (from the English pine nut syndrome), can last from a few days to a few weeks.

  1. Pine nut syndrome develops after eating pine nuts. Not immediately, but usually after a day or two. People suffer from an overpowering bitter taste. Nothing tastes good anymore and a bitter metallic taste predominates. Nothing, absolutely nothing, helps to get rid of the bitter taste. Often it even gets worse when eating or drinking other foods. The condition is also referred to as 'cacogeusia' or 'metallogeusia'.


  1. PNS is mainly characterized by a bitter and metallic taste. This can be mild, but also intense. French research shows that the time between consumption of the pine nuts and the first symptoms varies between one to three days. These last between two and fifteen days and disappear on their own.


  1. Pine nuts have been eaten in Europe for years. Yet the first complaints about the bitter taste after eating pine nuts date back to 2001. The new Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (nVWA) thinks that this may be the key to the cause of the complaints. Due to the increasing demand for pine nuts in the world, production in China, Turkey and Pakistan has increased. The complaints seem to come mainly after eating Chinese pine nuts. Pine nuts from Europe do not appear to affect the taste. The country of origin is not indicated on the packaging of most pine nuts in the store. A Leiden geneticist, Ben Zonneveld, has studied pine nuts and says on the website of the Leiden University Weekly Mare how you can recognize 'wrong' pine nuts. According to him, if you are prone to pine nut syndrome, you should avoid the pine nuts called Pinus armandii. These pine nuts taste the same, but a day later you will notice the difference. The geneticist can distinguish them in the laboratory, but also with the naked eye. "If you look closely, you can see that the Pinus armandii is oval, smaller and greyish." You can safely take other pine nuts, even if you are sensitive to pine nut syndrome, without getting any complaints.

Taste stimulus

  1. Not much is known yet about the development of pine nut syndrome. An American toxicologist, Gregory Möller, has a hypothesis about it. He assumes that the metallic and bitter taste is caused by the interaction of certain receptors in the intestinal tract, which give a taste stimulus to the brain, bile and liver. . The taste stimulus of PNS only comes about in the intestines and therefore the deviating taste is also noticeable later and not immediately after eating the pine nuts.

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