How Cashews Almost Killed Me (and I Loved It)


That’s me, just seconds before I fumbled into the ER last Friday…

Heart pounding. Stomach in my throat.

“Don’t panic.”

“Everything is going to be OK.”

“Is my throat closing?”

Hospital. Emergency Room. IV. Steroids.

“What the hell just happened after that handful of cashews?”

I was at the beach swimming in the ocean with my son, just having a good time.

I haven’t had cashews in four years.

Hell, I haven’t had anything but meat, fruits, and veggies for over three years. But for some reason that day I decided to test cashews.

One handful of cashews… one morning… after three years of completely turning my health around.

Seems simple enough to test, right?

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We always talk about “testing like a mad scientist.” But more often than not, I’d rather stay inside my safe, secure box than test my boundaries.

Not Steve. He likes to push boundaries and explore (I admire that in him). He pushes me whenever I reach my comfort zone and settle. I like to reassure myself the box is the best with logic like: “I like to feel good instead of taking risks.”

I think there’s a happy medium and I struggle to stay in it.

I could almost see Steve with me on the beach that day going, “When’s the last time you tested something new, man?”

So I went for it.

I was nervous when the cashews fell into my palm. I felt like I was back in high school and peer pressure was pushing me into it. I smiled at that familiar feeling from so long ago.

They tasted crunchy. I liked it.

It was a crunch I haven’t experienced since Cool Ranch Doritos back in college.

And that was it. Back to the water with my son.

But 5 minutes later something went terribly wrong…

Sneeze. Sneeze. Sneeze. Sneeze. “That’s weird, what’s going on?”

Sneeze. Sneeze. Sneeze. Sneeze. Sneeze.

Then, I looked back over toward my wife on the beach and realized I couldn’t see very well. Everything was going in and out of focus.

Panic ripped through my chest.

“Something is really wrong. Go now, get out. Gotta go now!”

By the time we got to the car, I couldn’t see out of my left eye. I still wasn’t sure what was going on.

“My left eye is completely swelled shut. I need Benadryl. I have to get Benadryl right now.”

My wife got us to the pharmacy fast, but it wasn’t going to be enough. This was worse than Benadryl.

We rushed to the ER and I walked in just as my right eye was about to swell shut.

The guy manning the front desk looked up at me and said, “Oh Sh*t, come with me,” then he grabbed my arm and pulled me through the double doors.

That’s when I couldn’t see anymore…

In the next five minutes, I got two steroid IV’s and another steroid shot into my left shoulder that burned like hot fire. Questions came at me left and right…

Sir, what’s your name, where are you from?”

“Can you breathe OK?”

“Does your tongue feel like a brick?”

That’s when my breathing started to get wonky… but I was finally starting to freak out.

It took 3 hours before the swelling went down enough that I could open my right eye again… and they released me shortly after that.

The diagnosis?

Acute allergic reaction to cashews resulting in a potentially life threatening immune response.

Damn, didn’t see that coming.

I’ve never had anything like that happen before. No anaphylactic type immune responses before.

It was like my immune system was a sleeping giant ready to pounce on the next threat. Good job immune system… way to be aggressive.

It took 3 days of face-dunking ice baths and Methylprednisolone before the swelling was completely gone and my face was back to normal.

I was disappointed, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Yes, this could set me back. Yes, four courses of steroids could wreak havoc on my hormones and immune system.

But I wouldn’t take it back. No way. Not this choice.


Because, I chose to lean into the flinch that usually stops me. I chose to never stop testing. I chose to stay uncomfortable (within reason).

Despite the fact that it goes against everything inside me to do so…

I chose to tolerate the pain for the gain.

What I am saying is that I’m committed to continue to test my boundaries and see how I’m healing. See where the lines are… because they change all the time.

For example, I ate pureed fruits and veggies for 6 months before I could tolerate eating them whole. If I never took the risk and tested it, I might still be eating pureed fruits and veggies (and be mildly insane).

In fact, I could have tolerated them just fine at 2 months or 4 months, but I was too afraid to test it.

There’s always a risk, like the fallout from dealing with all these steroids.

Am I gun shy about testing right now? Yes, but that will fade over time.

I probably won’t be venturing near any nut products for the next 6 months.

Did this experience scare the hell out of me? Totally… I never saw it coming.

I thought my immune system and I were becoming best friends after all the work we’ve done together over the last three years. I figured worse case I would experience some post-nasal drip or brain fog. Maybe some loose stools… nothing like this.

But I’m not going to let this experience change how I approach my health and I wanted to share it with you in hopes that you’ll allow it to change yours.

– Jordan

Jordan Reasoner

About Jordan Reasoner

Jordan Reasoner is a health engineer and author. He was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 and almost gave up hope when a gluten-free diet didn’t work. Since then, he transformed his health using the SCD Diet and started to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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9 thoughts on “How Cashews Almost Killed Me (and I Loved It)

  1. Avatar

    I was thinking of introducing cashews today. I haven’t eaten a nut product in years. So I googled and found your story. I didn’t realize that roasting might be a safer way to introduce the cashew than raw and sprouted, which was what I wanted to do. I also like the idea of eating one, then waiting for a few days. Thanks for posting! Your story is incredibly helpful.

    • Avatar

      Thank you for your comment here, Sally!! I never thought about the difference between raw and roasted, but of course, that does change things. I had a reaction (I think) to raw cashews this weekend (not as bad as Jordan’s) where my eyelid has puffed up above and below my eye, but not swelled shut. Because I was doing an elimination diet at the time, cashews were the only new thing I’d eaten, so I am about positive it was the raw cashews. I don’t eat them much, but next time if I am tempted with any nuts, I’ll do roasted. I’ve never had a reaction to nuts before. While I don’t have leaky gut or GI problems, I do have rosacea and skin eruptions that are just LOVELY, so I have inflammation going on there. Everything goes to my skin! Thanks Jordan for this article!

  2. Avatar

    Jordan, thank you for posting your story and telling us about your experience. I agree, it is so important to keep testing, even when we want to just stay in our food safe zone. I tried walnuts a few months ago, and while I did not go into anaphylactic shock, I did re-experience all of my crohn’s symptoms for nearly a week. We all rely and learn so much from you and Steve and I appreciate your candor in telling us the story. It makes me realize, once again, that we are all on a healing journey. We all are learning and pushing our edges as we go….hope you are enjoying your Hawaiian life!!!!

  3. Avatar

    Amazing…Glad you are ok! I agree with you that we need to tests new foods and that it is really scary to do. Low and slow is a rule I try to stick with. Just a little bit of a new food eg one cashew or less, then wait four days. If no reaction then try 2 cashews then four days. It takes a lot of patience, but hopefully may avoid life threatening situations like you had. Imagine if your wife hadn’t been with you and your son at the beach. If you had been somewhere isolated with your son or even on your own. Good luck with testing new foods in the future.

    • Jordan Reasoner

      Thanks Roger, doing just fine now and off the meds 🙂

      I had never had any allergic reactions to nuts before, but I’ve been highly allergic to poison ivy my whole life from deer hunting in the Michigan woods, and now I know the cashews I ate were raw, sprouted cashews, which leaves more of the toxin behind… a toxin that’s in the same family as poison ivy (and mango trees). So now I’m making more sense of why this happened. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had cashews in my life that weren’t roasted, etc.


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