Mace Allergy Test
Latin name: Myristica fragrans
Common names: Mace
Mace is a spice which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.
NB: Mace is made from the shell of nutmeg. The following information should be read in conjunction with the page on nutmeg (f282).
Mace Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure
The Nutmeg tree is a large evergreen originally native to the Spice Islands but now also cultivated in the Caribbean islands and Mauritius. Two separate spices are obtained from this tree: nutmeg, which is the brown seed kernel found inside the fruit pit, and mace, which is the lacy covering of the pit.
Nutmeg and mace are very similar in aroma and flavour, with mace being somewhat more aromatic and nutmeg slightly sweeter. As the yield of mace from single harvest is smaller than the yield of nutmeg, it commands a correspondingly higher price.
Mace is dried and ground to a powder before being packaged for sale. It is used in a variety of recipes, including curries, soups, meat stews, cakes, crackers and stewed fruits. It is also used in the production of sausages and other processed meat products.
In traditional European cuisine, nutmeg and mace are used in potato dishes, as well as in rice pudding. Mace is also an ingredient in the Scottish dish haggis.
Excessive ingestion of mace, and also nutmeg, can produce hallucinogenic or toxic effects.
Oil of mace is used for a variety of applications, including as a condiment, and as a scent agent in soaps, perfumes and other cosmetic products.
An ointment produced using oil of mace is employed as a treatment for topical irritations and rheumatism, and mace has also traditionally been used to relieve digestive ailments.
Mace Allergy Test: Allergen Description
No allergens present in mace have yet been fully characterised, although several protein bands have been identified.
Mace Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity
An extensive cross-reactivity among the different individual species of the genus could be expected, and particularly between mace and nutmeg.
Mace Allergy Test: Clinical Experience
Mace may uncommonly induce symptoms of food allergy or cutaneous hypersensitivity reactions in sensitised individuals.
Few studies have investigated or reported adverse reactions to spices, including mace.
The composition of mace may depend upon its country of origin and also on the quality of the mace harvest. Therefore, the occurrence of antigens and the incidence of mace allergy may vary among different mace preparations, which may influence the prevalence and severity of allergic reactions.
In one case, occupational asthma and rhinitis was documented in a 27-year-old subject who developed rhinitis and asthma symptoms 1 year after starting to prepare a certain kind of sausage. This was demonstrated by positive immediate skin-specific IgE tests for paprika, coriander, and mace.
Occupational asthma and rhinitis to licorice (dust), mace, aniseed, coriander and iris root in an anise liqueur factory worker were reported.
An individual working with spices in the food industry developed asthma on inhalation of dust from spices. Skin-specific IgE tests with curry, coriander, and mace were strongly positive.
It may well be that, similar to nutmeg, mace’s predominant pathogenesis involves delayed-hypersensitivity reactions.
Non-allergic, irritant reactions from this and other spices are common.