Everything You Need to Know About a Cilantro Allergy

A cilantro allergy—your immune system’s overreaction to what it suspects is a foreign substance—is rare, but it can happen. Anaphylaxis due to cilantro has also been identified.

Some people report that cilantro tastes like soap, but this is likely due to genetics and not allergies.

This article discusses the symptoms of a cilantro allergy, its complications, diagnosis, and what to do in the event of a reaction.


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Those with an allergy to cilantro may experience a variety of symptoms, including cough, itching in the mouth, and rashes.

Like other allergies to food, these symptoms typically occur within seconds to minutes of consuming cilantro.

Other possible symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Itching in the mouth
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Swelling in the mouth or throat
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Hives
  • Itchy rash that may be red
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea


In severe cases, an allergy to cilantro can result in anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can appear suddenly and can cause a person to rapidly deteriorate.

This is considered a medical emergency. In the event of anaphylaxis, use an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) immediately if available and call 911.

What If Cilantro Tastes Like Soap?

Some people have reported that cilantro tastes like soap. This interesting taste discrepancy is not related to allergies.

What to Do in a Severe Allergic Reaction to Cilantro

There are a number of steps that should be taken if experiencing a severe allergic reaction.

It is helpful to understand how to distinguish between a mild and severe reaction.

A mild reaction will cause only mild symptoms that impact only one system of the body.

A severe reaction is one that:

  • Involves any form of severe symptom (see below)
  • Involves mild symptoms that are present but in more than one area of the body

Severe symptoms may include:

  • Significant levels of swelling to the tongue or throat
  • Hives or widespread redness on the body
  • Wheezing
  • A repetitive cough
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulties with breathing
  • Trouble with swallowing
  • Tightness in the throat
  • A hoarse voice
  • Pale or blue skin
  • Feeling faint
  • A weak pulse
  • Anxiety or confusion
  • A feeling like something bad is about to occur

It is possible that a severe allergic reaction can develop into life-threatening anaphylaxis. Given this, it is important to treat severe reactions straightaway with epinephrine.

Epinephrine is a life-saving treatment for anaphylaxis. If it seems like anaphylaxis is likely and a prescribed epinephrine auto-injector is available, it should be administered as directed.

Once the epinephrine has been administered, call 911.

When requesting an ambulance, explain that epinephrine has been used to treat a suspected anaphylactic reaction. Ask for an ambulance that has epinephrine.


An allergist will be able to make a diagnosis of food allergy using a variety of tests and taking a medical history.

In some cases, a suspected food allergy may actually turn out to be a food intolerance, which is a difficulty in digesting certain foods.

Tests ordered to diagnose a food allergy may include a skin prick test or blood test.



There is no cure for food allergies. Treatment involves strict avoidance of a diagnosed allergen (like cilantro).

There are no medications to prevent reactions, but antihistamines can help in the event of a mild reaction.

To manage allergies, it is important to read food labels and ask questions about ingredients when dining out.

For those with severe allergies, it is essential to carry an auto-injectable EpiPen at all times.

What to Avoid

If diagnosed with a cilantro allergy, it is essential to strictly avoid consuming any foods that contain cilantro.

Cilantro is an ingredient in many Latin American and Asian dishes. If dining out at restaurants that serve this kind of food, it may be beneficial to speak to the chef about cilantro allergies.

Food Alternatives

Cilantro may be featured in a variety of Asian or Latin American dishes. It is sometimes referred to as Mexican parsley or Chinese parsley.

Both parsley and cilantro come from the same plant family, called Apiaceae.

Parsley may be a useful alternative for those who can't eat or don't like cilantro.

Other plants in the Apiaceae family include:

  • Carrots
  • Anise
  • Cumin
  • Fennel
  • Celery

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you suspect you may have an allergy to cilantro, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. They will be able to refer you for testing to confirm if you do have an allergy.

If you or someone near you is experiencing a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis, always call 911 immediately.


An allergy to cilantro is not common, however, there have been reports of anaphylaxis due to cilantro.

Symptoms of an allergy to cilantro may include itching, swelling in the mouth, cough, and a rash.

Some people report that cilantro tastes like soap, but this is unrelated to allergies. An allergy to cilantro is diagnosed by an allergist. There is no treatment but strict exclusion of cilantro from the diet in those with an allergy is important.

A Word From Verywell

If you think you have an allergy to cilantro, consider making an appointment with a healthcare provider as a first step. They will be able to refer you for testing and help to determine if you have an allergy.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How common is a cilantro allergy?

    An allergy to cilantro is believed to be uncommon. However, cases of anaphylaxis due to cilantro have been reported.

  • What are the causes of an allergy to cilantro?

    Exactly what causes food allergies is unknown. Those with an immediate family member with an allergic condition like asthma, eczema, or food allergy are at an increased risk of developing a food allergy of their own.

    Those who had eczema as a child are also at an increased risk of developing a food allergy.

  • Is there a specific test to diagnose a cilantro allergy?

    An allergy to cilantro is diagnosed in the same way as other food allergies. This may involve a skin prick test, a blood test, or a food challenge in the presence of an allergist.

  • Does eating cilantro have side effects?

    Some people have reported experiencing a taste of soap, dirt, bugs, or mold when eating cilantro. This is believed to be due to genetics.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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