So, this past week I had the weirdest experience. Every time that I ate or drank something, I had a bitter taste in the back of my mouth. At first I dismissed the problem as a one-off but as the bitterness persisted over several days, it was clear that something wasn’t right and I began to get a little worried…
After finishing work last Saturday, I got home and decided to do a little internet research before my concern turned into full-blown paranoia. I Googled the following search terms “symptom” and “bitter taste in the back of mouth.” The first hit I had did not prove to be terribly enlightening (I suspected that I was not experiencing liver failure). However, my second hit was a question forum started by someone who described themselves as experiencing exactly the same bitterness problem and asking if anyone knew what could be the cause. The first two people who responded did not have much to contribute but the third respondent simply stated that pine nuts might be the source of the problem. Sure enough, the fellow who originally posted the question responded to say that he had indeed had pine nuts in the past week. And, I had had pine nuts in the past week as well. Question answered!
I must confess to having been quite surprised at the source of my bitterness problem and was curious to learn more. It turns out, however, that there does not yet seem to be a concrete answer as to why people are experiencing this reaction that can last for days or weeks. There doesn’t seem to be any chemical difference between the offending pine nuts and those that do not cause a bitter aftertaste. As well, even though not everyone will get “pine mouth” from a bad bag of pine nuts, it has been determined that the phenomenon is not an allergic reaction. The only common thread seems to be that the pine nuts causing the problem are coming from China. “Pine mouth” has, however, only been identified as a problem relatively recently – perhaps about a year ago – so we may yet see some news on what is causing the problem. In the meantime, if you would like more information, check out the following articles:
Epicurious.com – http://tinyurl.com/lnu6z4
The Baltimore Sun – http://tinyurl.com/yzprpzk
Daily Mail (UK) - http://tinyurl.com/o62sws
I was relieved to have an explanation for my tastebuds going bananas and hopefully this post will help others who might be as puzzled as I was!
Update (June, 2010): we have found a source for pine nuts in Portugal!