Pine Mouth, it’s a thing and I have it

I may have sensed it Saturday morning when I made protein shakes for breakfast, after my run. In the blender I tossed the protein powder, Almond milk, peanut butter and frozen bananas, a favorite combination and one I make often.

“I don’t like this new protein powder,” I said to Bill after my first sip. “It’s got a weird aftertaste.”

“Tastes good to me,” he said. We both finished our glasses but when Bill offered me more I declined with a shake of my head.

I didn’t notice anything strange with lunch. I burned the microwave popcorn that evening when we were getting ready to watch some TV; I ate it anyway but any aftertaste would have been obliterated by the blackened kernels of corn.

On Sunday, in between home improvements I baked cookies. I’d sample one from the different batches as they came out of the oven and, every time, would experience an unpleasant aftertaste. Nobody else tasted it, the ingredients were fresh, I was stumped (I still managed to eat too many cookies). For dinner we had pizza with garlic which had enough of its own pungent taste to mask the other, unwelcome, one.

Monday morning I ate two hard-boiled eggs at my desk and, you guessed it, was left with a foul taste in my mouth. This went on all day. I snacked on a handful of pita chips when I got home from work; all was well for the minute before the bitter taste invaded my mouth. I ate a banana with the same results.

I finally went online to google “why do I have a bad aftertaste in my mouth after eating,” I immediately read, from several sources, that eating pine nuts can cause Pine Mouth/Pine Nut Syndrome which manifests as a metallic or bitter aftertaste 12 – 48 hours after ingesting said nuts. I also read that sugar enhances the bitterness which would explain the results of the cookie experiment I performed on myself.

I’ve eaten my fair share of pesto and pignoli cookies and have never had a reaction like this but my symptoms matched the descriptions online. ‘It can’t be, I haven’t eaten pine nuts lately,’ I thought, ‘I must have something else, something dire.’ I kept scrolling through the results, saw it could be caused by medications, a sinus infection, pregnancy; none of those scenarios applied. I went to bed last night perplexed, hoped my symptoms would disappear overnight.


photo from LA Times

My symptoms persisted today. I was afraid to eat, didn’t want the lingering aftertaste, but kept testing it; I ate hard-boiled eggs again, had the same problem again. Mid morning I bit into an apple, same deal. I was frustrated and concerned, worried I might be ill.

I took to the internet again, re-read the same articles regarding pine nuts and racked my brain. I thought back to everything I had eaten on Saturday, no pine nuts. My diet during the week rarely wavers from oatmeal, eggs, salads and the occasional sandwich, none of which contain pine nuts.

And then I remembered. Bill’s office had had a corporate luncheon on Friday and he brought leftovers for our dinner.

“Did the tortellini salad have pesto in it?” I emailed him. I thought it did but wanted to double-check.

“Yes,” Bill replied within minutes. “Pesto tortellini salad with pine nuts.” And there it was.

I had escarole and beans for dinner tonight. After the first spoonful I waited. There was a distinct aftertaste but less intense than at lunch. If all goes according to plan my pine mouth should clear up in a couple of days, just in time for the Holiday party, where I’m sure to eat a cookie or five, this weekend.

Anyone else ever experience pine mouth?

11 replies

  1. WOW Ger that is the strangest thing. Thank goodness it passes, especially in time for those Christmas treats! I am sure very people have ever heard of this. xo

  2. Wow! That’s bizarre, Geralyn. I’ve never heard of that, but I’m remembering months ago, having a similar experience with a metallic taste in my mouth, but it only lasted for a day. Hum…now you have me wondering. I hope your taste buds are back to normal soon.
    By the way, you were the winner of Jolyse’s novella! You can go to my blog and follow her link. Congratulations!

    • Hi Renee, I don’t think it matters if they’re toasted or not but can’t be sure. You may want to google it….I was surprised to discover how much was written on pine mouth. As usual, I am not alone! 🙂

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