Is it Possible to Have an Allergy to Latakia?

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Skippy B. Coyote

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jun 19, 2023
275
3,166
St. Paul, MN
An odd update to the story! What at first seemed to be so obviously an allergic reaction to Latakia or some type of wood smoke that the Latakia was cured with may have not been that at all. A couple days ago I got a new tobacco order in the mail, including a good variety of VaPers to try (Escudo, Peterson Elizabethan Mixture, Peter Stokkebye Luxary Navy Flake, and Orlik Golden Sliced), and having found the tin aroma of Elizabethan Mixture to be the most to my liking I decided to give it a try tonight.

The flavor, and the nic hit for that matter, was pretty great but I ended up having to stop smoking about 1/3 of the way through the bowl because after 25 minutes or so I found myself having the same throat issues that I had when smoking Presbyterian Mixture or Kramer's Father Dempsey. My throat felt fine and totally normal before I started smoking the Elizabethan Mixture, but after smoking for just under half an hour my throat got really sore and the lymph nodes under my jaw on both sides swelled up and became quite tender to the touch.

The truly bizarre part is that as far as I can tell the only common ingredient between all the non-aromatic pipe tobaccos that have irritated my throat so badly is Virginia tobacco, but I smoke a dozen and a half hand rolled cigarettes of pure Virginia or Virginia mixed with a little Burley and Dark Fired Kentucky every day and they've never bothered my throat. I guess it's possible that Presbyterian Mixture, Father Dempsey, and Elizabethan Mixture could have all had the same type of casing that isn't agreeing with me but I've never had any issues with casings before.

I've never had a single aromatic pipe tobacco bother my throat, and I've smoked probably two dozen different ones. I've had a wide variety of aromatic blends from Sutliff, Peter Stokkebye, Erik Stokkebye, Middleton, Lane, Cult, and probably a few other companies I can't quite remember and never gotten any throat irritation or lymph node swelling from any of them; and yet all 3 of the non-aromatics I've smoked so far (aside from Haunted Bookshop and Old Joe Krantz, both of which I disliked the taste of so much that I stopped smoking and dumped the bowl out after 5 or 10 minutes) have just really irritated the heck out of my throat even though I don't inhale any pipe tobacco at all. Maybe there's something about the sweet casings on aromatics that make them less abrasive and more comfortable on the soft tissues at the back of my mouth? Or heck, I don't know, maybe I'm just a pussy! 🤷‍♂️

At this point I'm pretty stumped, but I will return to smoking aromatics for 2 or 3 days until my throat stops hurting then give Orlik Golden Sliced a try. Perhaps the lower Perique content will make it easier on my throat than Elizabethan Mixture.
 
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Nov 20, 2022
2,148
20,835
Wisconsin
An odd update to the story! What at first seemed to be so obviously an allergic reaction to Latakia or some type of wood smoke that the Latakia was cured with may have not been that at all. A couple days ago I got a new tobacco order in the mail, including a good variety of VaPers to try (Escudo, Peterson Elizabethan Mixture, Peter Stokkebye Luxary Navy Flake, and Orlik Golden Sliced), and having found the tin aroma of Elizabethan Mixture to be the most to my liking I decided to give it a try tonight.

The flavor, and the nic hit for that matter, was pretty great but I ended up having to stop smoking about 1/3 of the way through the bowl because after 25 minutes or so I found myself having the same throat issues that I had when smoking Presbyterian Mixture or Kramer's Father Dempsey. My throat felt fine and totally normal before I started smoking the Elizabethan Mixture, but after smoking for just under half an hour my throat got really sore and the lymph nodes under my jaw on both sides swelled up and became quite tender to the touch.

The truly bizarre part is that as far as I can tell the only common ingredient between all the non-aromatic pipe tobaccos that have irritated my throat so badly is Virginia tobacco, but I smoke a dozen and a half hand rolled cigarettes of pure Virginia or Virginia mixed with a little Burley and Dark Fired Kentucky every day and they've never bothered my throat. I guess it's possible that Presbyterian Mixture, Father Dempsey, and Elizabethan Mixture could have all had the same type of casing that isn't agreeing with me but I've never had any issues with casings before.

I've never had a single aromatic pipe tobacco bother my throat, and I've smoked probably two dozen different ones. I've had a wide variety of aromatic blends from Sutliff, Peter Stokkebye, Erik Stokkebye, Middleton, Lane, Cult, and probably a few other companies I can't quite remember and never gotten any throat irritation or lymph node swelling from any of them; and yet all 3 of the non-aromatics I've smoked so far (aside from Haunted Bookshop and Old Joe Krantz, both of which I disliked the taste of so much that I stopped smoking and dumped the bowl out after 5 or 10 minutes) have just really irritated the heck out of my throat even though I don't inhale any pipe tobacco at all. Maybe there's something about the sweet casings on aromatics that make them less abrasive and more comfortable on the soft tissues at the back of my mouth? Or heck, I don't know, maybe I'm just a pussy! 🤷‍♂️

At this point I'm pretty stumped, but I will return to smoking aromatics for 2 or 3 days until my throat stops hurting then give Orlik Golden Sliced a try. Perhaps the lower Perique content will make it easier on my throat than Elizabethan Mixture.
I told you it was not an allergy, but nobody listened. Its Just like being at home with the wife and kids. I would tell you again to slow down and it will go away, but you won't listen and have to learn on your own. :LOL:
 

PipeIT

Lifer
Nov 14, 2020
4,453
26,752
Hawaii
I’m not looking at this anymore, like this has to do with any particular blend, because this isn’t common.

The only thing common among pipe smoking is Bite, and the typical irritation that some get with smoking VAs because of the PH balance.

Sure, various casings, toppings, and leaf varieties can bother some, but again, it’s not common to the extent you are experiencing.

Let’s face it, smoke wasn’t meant to be put in our bodies, and you certainly have an irritation going on.

Go see an Otolaryngologist aka Ear Nose & Throat specialist, and quit messing around with it. ;)
 

mso489

Lifer
Feb 21, 2013
41,210
60,458
Allergies fit a certain niche of medical diagnosis. Not every reaction to an environmental factor fits the allergy model. I think asthma is usually thought of as a separate affliction, for example.

There's another category of chemical sensitivity that also doesn't quite fit the allergy category. Often it is experienced after a heavy exposure to some volatile chemical that doesn't necessarily become the one causing the symptoms.

Since these cases are hard to diagnose, they are often written off as psychological symptoms. But a lot of the folks who suffer from them aren't paranoid or otherwise hypochondriacs. They just didn't ventilate the garage when they were refinishing furniture or suffered some other exposure, and suddenly become light headed, emotional, or otherwise afflicted when they are overexposed to perfume, lawn treatments, new furniture, etc.

A peppery old scientist who was among those who developed the discipline of environmental health science said dryly that these afflictions will be recognized by the medical community as soon as it is figured out what the bio-mechanisms of them are. Until then, the psychologists and psychiatrists will do well.
 
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Skippy B. Coyote

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jun 19, 2023
275
3,166
St. Paul, MN
By this evening my throat felt all back to normal so I gave the Orlik Golden Sliced a try. I smoked a full bowl in my Savinelli Arcobaleno 606 KS, which took just over an hour, and experienced no throat irritation at all. Kept my cadence slow and didn't get any tongue bite either, which was a pleasant surprise for an almost entirely Virginia blend.

I'm beginning to suspect that my throat may just be easily irritated by any significant quantity of particularly strong tobaccos like Latakia and Perique. I'll try the the Peter Stokkebye Luxary Navy Flake and Escudo I have on hand, which should be much higher in Perique content than Orlik Golden Sliced, and evaluate from there.
 

OzPiper

Lifer
Nov 30, 2020
5,824
30,998
71
Sydney, Australia
By this evening my throat felt all back to normal so I gave the Orlik Golden Sliced a try. I smoked a full bowl in my Savinelli Arcobaleno 606 KS, which took just over an hour, and experienced no throat irritation at all. Kept my cadence slow and didn't get any tongue bite either, which was a pleasant surprise for an almost entirely Virginia blend.

I'm beginning to suspect that my throat may just be easily irritated by any significant quantity of particularly strong tobaccos like Latakia and Perique. I'll try the the Peter Stokkebye Luxary Navy Flake and Escudo I have on hand, which should be much higher in Perique content than Orlik Golden Sliced, and evaluate from there.
Seems to me that you’re evaluating different variables which is the way to go.

There are so many varieties of Virginias
Many have commented (in other threads) how they react negatively to one but not others

Hope you work out what it is eventually

Good news is there are so many other blends to enjoy, even if you have to give a few the miss.
 
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Skippy B. Coyote

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jun 19, 2023
275
3,166
St. Paul, MN
Seems to me that you’re evaluating different variables which is the way to go.

There are so many varieties of Virginias
Many have commented (in other threads) how they react negatively to one but not others

Hope you work out what it is eventually

Good news is there are so many other blends to enjoy, even if you have to give a few the miss.

Thanks much! At this point it's pretty much a guess and check process of eliminating variables as to why some tobaccos bother my throat and others do not, but I'm sure I'll get it all figured out in time and settle on some blends that I like. Pipe smoking is all about patience, after all.

I never thought of myself as sensitive when it comes to tobacco, since I've smoked cigarettes for much of my life and smoked a hookah for a good decade and a half, but it seems pipe tobaccos are a bit of a different animal altogether. At this point my one big hope is that I can find a blend my throat will tolerate that is as tasty as Presbyterian Mixture was, since I think that was easily the most thoroughly delightful pipe tobacco I've ever smoked.

Who knows though, maybe in time I can revisit Presbyterian and build up a tolerance to the abrasive qualities of the smoke. I'm now finding myself wishing I wouldn't have thrown out the tin of it I had, but you live and learn I suppose. For now I'll just keep experimenting with the tobaccos I have and figure out what works for me and what doesn't :)
 

MattRVA

Lifer
Feb 6, 2019
4,067
32,782
Richmond Virginia
Nicotine can cause a scratchy throat, especially when you’re not used to it. Make sure you don’t inhale the smoke. If I had your issues I’d probably quit for a while. I’m not sure if you were a smoker before the pipe but tobacco can be quite irritating on the mouth and throat.
 

Lucashly

Can't Leave
Jun 21, 2023
382
335
California
Thanks for all the replies and helpful insights everyone! I had a talk with my GP and after pondering the situation I think I'm going to play it safe and just not smoke any blends with Latakia in them anymore. The doctor's thought was that the most common wood allergy is cedar, and if Latakia is cured with cedar smoke then that would certainly explain why I'm having a reaction to it and not Dark Fired Kentucky; since DFK is generally cured with hickory wood instead.

I had considered the possibility of the allergy being to a casing on the Presbyterian Mixture, but if that was the case then it seems relatively unlikely that I'd be getting the same reaction from Kramer's Father Dempsey since they're manufactured by completely different companies half a world apart.

In any case, I really don't like having my lymph nodes swell up and hurt and my GP said that was a pretty alarmingly severe allergic reaction so no more Latakia for me. I'd still like to try more non-aromatic blends though and I've pretty well determined that I don't much care for the flavor of plain Burley (I had a couple ounces of Haunted Bookshop and Old Joe Krantz that I ended up throwing out because they both smelled and tasted like a barnyard to me), so I've got some Mac Baren HH Old Dark Fired and a handful of VaPers on the way from SmokingPipes to try out. I picked up tins of Escudo Navy De Luxe, Elizabethan Mixture, and Orlik Golden Sliced as well some bulk Peter Stokkebye Luxary Navy Flake. I also snagged a tin of GH Ennerdale, since I've never had a Lakeland blend before and I was feeling brave lol
If you are swelling this could potentially be serious. It’s probably nothing but as a physician see an allergist and don’t play around with this.
 
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Lucashly

Can't Leave
Jun 21, 2023
382
335
California
It's an easy experiment to run. Just make sure not to smoke any blends with Latakia for a month or more. If the problem goes away, there you have it.

You do have to be aware that Latakia and Perique are almost default condiments. Plenty of blends don't have them, but an amazing number do, so be sure to check on the tins and on online tobacco pages that what you are smoking doesn't have any Latakia.
In the mean time you’re dead. Please see an allergist.
 

Skippy B. Coyote

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jun 19, 2023
275
3,166
St. Paul, MN
In the mean time you’re dead. Please see an allergist.
Thats a little dramatic. I guarantee that if you see an allergist and tell them you may be allergic to pipe smoke..... they may advise you to quit smoking??? Call me weird.

I did ask my primary care doctor about whether or not I should see an allergist, but he basically told me that there's no way to test for allergies to specific varieties of tobacco so they wouldn't be able to tell me much more than I've found out on my own through trial and error. He also suggested that a lot of the throat irritation and allergy symptoms may simply be due to the fact that I live in Minnesota, and the past couple weeks we've had the absolute worst air quality of anywhere in the nation for the past 20 years on account of the Canadian wildfire smoke drifting down across the border. There's been a constant fog of smoke in the air for the last couple weeks, and some days the smoke is so heavy that it blocks out the sun.

And wouldn't you know it, as soon as we got some days with clear skies my throat started being noticably more tolerant of stronger non-aromatic tobaccos with Latakia or Perique. They still give me a bit of a sore throat, but no more lymph node swelling or watery eyes, and I've discovered that if I just have a tasty beverage while I'm smoking then I often don't get a sore throat afterwards at all. Iced coffee with a good bit of milk or mint iced tea seems particularly effective at preventing throat irritation.

So, at this point I'm fairly convinced that there never was any allergy at all and it was just a combination of the Canadian wildfire smoke and my throat being rather easily irritated by stronger tobacco blends. Thankfully the skies have been a bit less polluted lately and just doing something as simple as having a beverage to sip on while smoking seems to be going a long way towards preventing the sore throat from English blends and VaPers. puffy
 
Last edited:
Nov 20, 2022
2,148
20,835
Wisconsin
I did ask my primary care doctor about whether or not I should see an allergist, but he basically told me that there's no way to test for allergies to specific varieties of tobacco so they wouldn't be able to tell me much more than I've found out on my own through trial and error. He also suggested that a lot of the throat irritation and allergy symptoms may simply be due to the fact that I live in Minnesota, and the past couple weeks we've had the absolute worst air quality of anywhere in the nation for the past 20 years on account of the Canadian wildfire smoke drifting down across the border. There's been a constant fog of smoke in the air for the last couple weeks, and some days the smoke is so heavy that it blocks out the sun.

And wouldn't you know it, as soon as we got some days with clear skies my throat started being noticably more tolerant of stronger non-aromatic tobaccos with Latakia or Perique. They still give me a bit of a sore throat, but no more lymph node swelling or watery eyes, and I've discovered that if I just have a tasty beverage while I'm smoking then I often don't get a sore throat afterwards at all. Iced coffee with a good bit of milk or mint iced tea seems particularly effective at preventing throat irritation.

So, at this point I'm fairly convinced that there never was any allergy at all and it was just a combination of the Canadian wildfire smoke and my throat being rather easily irritated by stronger tobacco blends. Thankfully the skies have been a bit less polluted lately and just doing something as simple as having a beverage to sip on while smoking seems to be going a long way towards preventing the sore throat from English blends and VaPers. puffy
The smog here in Wisco has been crazy. So I stay indoors and sit in my own smoke, which smells much better. 🙃
 
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rstloup

Lurker
Jan 15, 2023
12
13
I’ve personally had my throat itch and tighten with latakias. I’ve just tended to avoid the leaf for a bit since I’ve had anaphylactic shocks before (to some food).
 
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elvishrunes

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jun 19, 2017
274
496
I think you’re on to something about forest fires…. As a Canadian I worked near the fires a couple weeks ago, not the important job fighting them, but you could smell the smoke strongly. Many of my colleagues had eye irritations and such, I didn’t surprisingly. Then a few days after I had some breathing trouble, then a plugged ear with wax, then ultimately an ear infection…. Lo and behold one of the causes on google is excess smoke inhalation for ear infections, who would have thought?

For almost a decade I got lost in the English wilderness, then got a bit tired, then recently Va’s and some aros, now I’m about even aros Va’s English, but I sure enjoy my English rotations now, wouldn’t want to give them up, I have a renewed appreciation.
 

Sigmund

Lifer
Sep 17, 2023
1,474
12,512
France
I think I may have a sensitivity to Lat which Im not happy about. It doesnt bother me when its a condiment but on heavy blends I am starting to suspect a bit of alergy. One evening i was even wheezing a little bit. I took a small does of an anti alergy med and it cleared right up. Im going to have to do some experimenting. I may have to give up heavy lat blends...I hope my theory is wrong.
 
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JOHN72

Lifer
Sep 12, 2020
5,139
51,656
51
Spain - Europe
At the moment I have no problems with latakia blends. I don't know its secret ingredients, but in the end, the mixtures with latakia, or just virginias, become the same thing, smoke and ashes. I hope you solve the health problem and the doctor shows you the correct path to follow.
 
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