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Munk MD. Pine mouth (pine nut) syndrome: description of the toxidrome, preliminary case definition, and best evidence regarding an apparent etiology. Semin Neurol. 2012 Nov;32(5):525-7.
Pine mouth syndrome (PMS), otherwise known as pine nut syndrome, is a relatively new condition. At least several thousand cases have now been described in the literature. The author describes the PMS toxidrome, offers a preliminary case definition, and discusses current best evidence regarding the etiology and risk factors related to the development of PMS.A clinically compatible case of PMS must include taste disturbance, usually characterized as bitter or metallic, following the ingestion of affected pine nuts by 1 to 3 days. Affected nuts would appear to include all, or some portion, of nuts harvested from species Pinus armandii (Chinese white pine), but could include nuts from other species. The specific toxin that is apparently present in affected nuts has not yet been isolated, and the mechanism of toxicity and factors determining PMS susceptibility need to be further detailed. There are no proven therapies for PMS. The only treatment is to cease ingesting implicated nuts and to wait for symptoms to abate.
Redal-Baigorri AB. [Pine mouth syndrome: a global problem].[Article in Danish] Ugeskr Laeger. 2011 Dec 5;173(49):3184-6.
Pinemouth syndrome is characterised by the development of metallogeusia two days after the ingestion of Chinese pine nuts. The symptoms disappear 7-14 days later. The distribution of Chinese pine nuts not suitable for human consumption, is caused by an increasing demand due to price differences. The reason for the taste disturbances is unknown, some suggest turpentine-based products in its composition, and others have studied the fatty acid content of pine nuts and the properties of pinolenic acid. So far the presence of pesticides or mycotoxins is been ruled out, but the puzzle remains unsolved.
Evaristo I, Batista D, Correia I, Correia P, Costa R. Chemical profiling of Portuguese Pinus pinea L. nuts. J Sci Food Agric. 2010 Apr 30;90(6):1041-9.
BACKGROUND: The first detailed chemical characterisation of Portuguese pine nut (Pinus pinea L.) is reported concerning proximate composition, fatty acid, mineral and vitamin contents.
RESULTS: Based on the analysis of 27 different populations, pine nuts were characterised by high contents of fat (47.7 g per 100 g dry matter (DM)), protein (33.8 g per 100 g DM) and phosphorus (1130 mg per 100 g DM) and low contents of moisture (5.9 g per 100 g DM) and starch (3.5 g per 100 g DM). They were also found to be a good source of zinc, iron and manganese.
CONCLUSIONS: Mineral composition seemed to be most prone to variation, suggesting its potentially useful role in discriminating Mediterranean pine nuts. A significant variability was found in the nut composition of Portuguese P. pinea populations.
Destaillats F, Cruz-Hernandez C, Giuffrida F, Dionisi F. Identification of the Botanical Origin of Pine Nuts Found in Food Products by Gas-Liquid Chromatography Analysis of Fatty Acid Profile. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Feb 24;58(4):2082-7.
Pine nuts are traditionally used in various part of the world for the preparation of desserts or sauces or in salads. Local production is not sufficient to cope with the high demand of pine nuts around the world, and countries such as China or Pakistan are exporting much of their production to Western countries. Almost all the nuts that are traditionally consumed belong to the Pinus genus, but over the past years, the number of consumer complaints following consumption of commercial pine nuts increased. Some consumers experienced taste disturbance lasting for up to two weeks after consumption. Food safety agencies raised some concerns regarding pine nuts imported from Asia and their association with taste disturbance. However, even though a formal association has not been found to date, the Pinus genus comprises species that are not classified as edible and could be eventually used to adulterate edible species. Pinus spp. seed lipids are known to contain very specific polyunsaturated fatty acids know as Delta5-olefinic acids. Seed fatty acid profile of conifers had been used in the past as a taxonomic marker, and in the present study to identify the botanical origin of pine nut in nine commercial products. Fast gas-liquid chromatography (GLC) was used to resolve the complete fatty acid profile of Pinus spp. samples in less than 5 min. A diagnostic index based on the relative levels of the main fatty acids including distinctive Delta5-olefinic acids was used to identify botanical origins. Results revealed the occurrence of the following Pinus spp. in commercial products: P. pinea, P. koraiensis, P. gerardiana, P. armandii and P. massoniana. The later two species, known as Chinese white pine and Chinese red pine, are only cultivated in China and are not listed as common source of edible pine nuts by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The present study shows that the botanical origin of pine nuts can be identified in products based on the fatty acid profile.