Latin name: Phoenix dactylifera
Source material: Fruit
Common names: Date, Date fruit, Soft date, Bread date, Dry date
Date Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure
Whilst the term “date palm” is used to refer to a wide variety of species, the true date palm is Phoenix dactylifera. This tree has been used by humans for more than 5,000 years, and is currently cultivated in hot, dry climates including those of the Middle East, Africa and the south west of the United States, principally in Arizona and California.
There are over 150 varieties in total, but these can be usefully divided into 2 main groups, the dry or bread dates which are self curing on the tree, and the soft dates which require sun drying after harvest to build sugar content.
Historically the date has been one of the only staple foods available to the inhabitants of aird regions and has traditionally been of particular importance to the populations of the Middle East and North Africa. Dates are eaten fresh, as well as dried and as a syrup. They are used as a sugar substitute and found in a variety of recipes such as baked goods, vingars, wines, chutneys and pickles. They provide an excellent source of protein, iron, fibre, potassium, and vitamin C.
Dates are also widely used in a number of folk remedies, which include respiratory complaints and diseases of the gentio-urinary system. The fruit has been variously regarded as an aphrodisiac, contraceptive, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, laxative, pectoral, purgative, and refrigerant.
Date Allergy Test: Allergen Description
Although no allergens from this plant have yet been characterised, a panallergen, a profilin, has been isolated from date pollen. The presence of another panallergen, a lipid transfer protein (LTP), has been inferred from a study assessing foods that may be regarded as safe for LTP-allergic patients.
Date Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity
Extensive cross-reactivity among the different individual species of the genus could be expected.
Date pollen has been shown to cross-react with antigens from Artemisia species, cultivated rye (Secale cereale), Timothy grass (Phleum pratense), Sydney golden wattle (Acacia longifolia), and Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) pollen.
A study was carried out to examine cross-reactivity between date palm protein and some common foods that have been implicated in oral allergy syndrome. Several antigens were shown to be cross-reactive among birch, date and Timothy grass profilin.
Cross-reactivity between date fruit and other foods containing LTPs is also possible.
Date Allergy Test: Clinical Experience
Date fruit may commonly induce symptoms of food allergy in sensitised individuals, in particular in communities where this fruit is commonly eaten.
Allergic reactions may include symptoms of immediate hypersensitivity: pharyngeal pruritis, oedema of the lips, dyspnoea, wheezing, dysphagia, dysphonia, oral allergy syndrome, and other symptoms of food allergy.
Dates contain tyramine, which may cause migraine in susceptible people. Since dates are high in sugar, they may cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Edible dates have been reported to contain the moulds Cladosporium cladosporioides and Sporobolomyces roseus which have been previously reported in opportunistic infections involving skin in immunocompromised patients.