I’ve been POISONED!

Okay, not really.  This is a very short post today – drama in the modeling world yesterday and today and I’m a “grunt”, in the trenches making sure people get out alive with all their pieces-parts.

I attempt to eat healthy most of the time.  My breakfasts this week (and many previous days) consists of Low-Fat Maple Granola, non-fat Greek Yogurt, fruit and almonds.  This morning, I grabbed my alloted six almonds and tossed one into my mouth.  All systems go. Almond number two was tossed into my maw as I was grabbing my gear to head out the door for the day and my brain said, “Well that doesn’t taste right…”

Then as I began to chew, I said, “Why is my tongue going numb?”

“This is really awful!  WHY does this almond taste like… I don’t know what it tastes like other than awful!”

Dear Readers, I don’t often spit out food… but my stomach was clenched in preparation to reject this almond if I was going to swallow it.  I spit it out, rinsed my mouth out for about 5 minutes and still had a nasty chemical taste in my mouth.  I met Mr. Muse in the driveway, as he was waiting for me (we commute together), and I told him “Your assassin failed… I spit out that almond; but my tongue is still numb.  And I have a nasty taste in my mouth.”

Honestly, I don’t know WHAT was on that almond.  I gingerly tasted and then ate the remaining 4 – they were fine.  Oh, I feel fine now and the nasty taste is gone.

And for Mr. Muse’s plans to off me (kidding!!!  REALLY!  we joke about it all the time), he responded, “Well, then the assassin doesn’t get paid…”  😉

I’m guessing that the almond was rancid (though I squirrel away my nuts in the freezer) or  was soaking at the plant in something it shouldn’t have been soaking in.  Or… perhaps the squirrels are after me?

About The Amusing Muse

Deep thinker whose mind operates at warped speed. Philosopher pondering the big (and little) things in life. Storyteller. Office Ninja. Model. Teller of bad jokes. User of big words.
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165 Responses to I’ve been POISONED!

  1. No one has looked into the secret social night life of squirrels.This should be done! Think of it;Gangs of these nefarious creatures running through the tree tops and over houses up to God knows what sinister mission while we live our lives….never knowing. Beware!!!

  2. Jason says:

    I googled “almond tasted funny and now my mouth is going numb” and this page was the top link.

    This just happened to me. I was eating almonds, and then one almond started tasting funny, and then really bad. I struggled through and finished it. My mouth started becoming numb, like I’m getting a filling at the dentist, and now I’m eating other stuff just to try to get the awful taste out of my mouth. All the other almonds in the bag seem to be fine. I snack on almonds every day and this has never happened before. Hopefully, there will be no bad effects on my stomach.

    • Thankfully I had no other ill-effects other than the numbness – which thankfully went away. My guess is that the numbness is caused by a rancid nut, but I’m not sure. Curiously I have that search for almonds making mouths go numb in my stats every week! I find it difficult to believe I’m the only person who wrote anything about the phenomenon!

  3. this just happened to me, i googled “almond made my mouth numb” and this post came up, still looking for answers, but I spit it out, mouth is still numb.

    • I definitely do NOT wish this problem on anyone! Let me know if you come up with a satisfactory answer!

      • Cyanide is present in almonds and many other seeds. Bitter almonds contain much more than sweet almonds. A tiny amount like this is actually good for you. It is so toxic that it kills off quick growing cells. Taken to excess, your hair would eventually fall out. And all your tumours would die. ….. I currently eat Apricot kernels. Most of them dumb my tongue. High PSA reading….

        • Hey! Thanks for stopping by! I have been a horrible person and haven’t done a follow-up post on this subject, but from what others have left in their comments and what you have reiterated, there is a lot of information out there about the naturally occurring cyanide in the kernels. One of these days I really ought to go look up more about it and write another post.

  4. aarrbbee says:

    Pretty bizarre…this just happened to me too! Just bit into the worst-tasting almond, and now my mouth is slightly numbed even after rinsing it with water for awhile. I eat almonds all the time and this is the first time it’s happened to me…kind of scary actually, but at least you & the other commenters report no long-lasting effects 🙂

    • Oh NO!! I wouldn’t wish this occurrence upon anyone… okay, maybe my worst enemy? You are correct though – there appears to be no long-lasting effects, though the numbness was pretty annoying.

      I say we blame Monsanto.

      • I assume that if you ate a bunch of these bad almonds it may have some negative effect, I like the fact you can type random occurrences in to search engines and you will find people from all over experiencing the same thing, even if it is the weird numbing taste of a bad almond. 😉

        • HA! Sometimes the Internet is a wonderful thing! Sometimes. 😛

          I blame Monsanto! I think I shall blame them for everything going forward. Stub my toe? Blame Monsanto. Bite inside of my cheek? Blame Monsanto! Actually, they’re a pretty evil corporation so I don’t feel badly for placing blame on them.

      • Emma says:

        I’d love to blame Monsanto, but this happens often to me, more often, when I’m eating my super expensive, Co-Op purchased, organic, raw almonds. My theory is it’s just the special way almonds go rancid…and maybe only certain palates taste the rot this way. I don’t know, it sucks and I’ve also feared assassination.

        • I suppose that’s why it’s recommended to store your nuts in the freezer. Funny thing is that I’ve only gotten the bitter almond once – my other organic, free-range almonds have been tasty. 😀

  5. Jamie says:

    This just happened to me too! Not only did my mouth go numb but my nose started burning. There was also such an overwhelming chemical taste in my mouth. It was absolutely horrible!!!!

  6. Dawnald says:

    This just happened to me too–exactly how you said. Strange chemical taste, numb tongue, even my cheek on the chewing side is numb. And the taste—so gross! I eat 15 almonds per day minimum. I don’t know about any squirrels trying to poison me… but my cat always has a devious look in her eye!
    Anyway, so glad you posted this. Nice to know I am not crazy (at least when it comes to almonds!).

  7. Michael says:

    This has happened to be for years, but only with Organic Raw almonds. However with a bag I got today of very fresh almonds (still soft) this has happened five or six times this morning. So I thought I would search for why. I am guessing that it is some naturally occurring compound, that is like a neurotoxin, and it doesn’t make it through the roasting process.

    • Neurotoxin!? SWEET! Wait. It doesn’t work like alcohol. Nevermind, I’m not that excited about it now.

      Seriously – we need to send this to Mythbusters or something!

    • Steven says:

      Good news. I figured what that thing you just incinerated did. It was a morality core they installed after I flooded the Enrichment Center with a deadly neurotoxin, to make me stop flooding the Enrichment Center with a deadly neurotoxin. So get comfortable while I warm up the neurotoxin emitters.

      In all seriousness, I just had one of these almonds too. Tasted funny, mouth a little numb, and it caused me to sneeze too.

      • LOL I think you get the award for most creative comment in response to this post!

        I also think you’re the first person to say it made them sneeze. Must have been reflexive, like looking at the sun.

  8. Nirad says:

    Another one here who came up with this post after a google search. I guess I’m strangely glad I’m not the only one. I’ve been working on a bag of raw organic almonds and I keep coming across some that taste like toilet cleaner and make my mouth go numb. I was just now eating them one-by-one and inspecting each one carefully after putting them in my mouth. I didn’t notice any difference in appearance between the good ones and the nasty ones. I’m going to throw the rest away.

    I do think I’ve come across this before with some organic musli. I think the culprit was the Brazil nuts in that case. I might stop eating organic nuts. It would be good to find out what this is all about.

    • Hmm, interesting. I haven’t come across the same thing with other nuts, just almonds, which I attributed to being “raw” and mostly likely, rancid. They weren’t “raw organic” either.

      Just glad you’re on the team!

  9. Alicia says:

    Just happened to me too! Organic raw almonds. My husband already thinks I’m a hypochondriac but this seems to be a real phenomena! How strange.

  10. Kate says:

    As many others above have stated THIS JUST HAPPENED TO ME!!… well earlier today, but still, recently enough that I am still traumatised! I am so glad to have found this blog and know I am not alone! And so I can stop fretting that I’m going to drop dead at any second from chemical poisoning! Isn’t it the WORST taste ever?!?! And SOOO hard to get out of your mouth.
    However, I don’t think my mouth went numb… though maybe it did and I didn’t realise, as I was driving at the time of ‘the almond attack’ I was in quite a panic situation, trying to keep my car on the road and trying to find something to spit my almond into….which unfortunately became my hand…desperate times call for desperate measures…
    I think it will be quite some time before I eat almonds..

    • Oh NO! Driving during the almond attack!? I imagine the drivers around you were wondering what on EARTH you were doing… “Honey? Do you think that woman is having a seizure? Should we call 911?”

      Glad you survived to comment!

  11. Brian says:

    Just to keep this thread alive…this happened to me as well with an organic raw almond. Terrible toilet cleaner taste, mouth went numb (and didnt feel normal again for almost 2 days!), etc…Thought Id been poisoned by some of my students for giving them too much homework. Glad I found this and know that Ive shared this wonderful experience with others. Im back on the baked almonds now….

  12. Slow Man says:

    This just happened to me with Essential raw organic almonds – only I chucked a whole handful down my neck. I definitely swallowed some. My whole tongue fizzed and went partly numb. I tried to spit/wash out what I could. Here’s hoping I don’t die.

  13. This has happened to me almost daily for the past few weeks but as I eat mixed nuts it took a few heart palpitating tests whilst gingerly holding each nut and slowly taking the teensiest nibble to discover the culprit! Suffice to say the nuts lured me into a false sense of security each time and then WHAM !! You just joyfully bit into the most vile, chemically induced evil health food imposter which then attacks you and you can’t get rid of the taste or numbness despite scraping your tongue with your nails and washing your mouth with the nearest fabric to hand!!! My little impostors come from a bag of organic almonds too… I think some worldwide pesticide company is infiltrating the organic orchards and sabotaging sections of almonds with toilet cleaner to make us think twice about going organic! Yep; it’s a conspiracy theory (every great almond story must have one!!)…

  14. I’ve just found this:

    What could hurt you: There are two variations of almonds, sweet almonds and bitter almonds. The bitter ones supposedly contain relatively large amounts of hydrogen cyanide.
    How much could kill you: It’s said that even eating just 7 – 10 raw bitter almonds can cause problems for adults, and could be fatal for children.

    Scary or what!!!

  15. Sabrina says:

    This has just happened to me too. Although it was coupled with and intake of Apple Cider Vinegar in a broth that has made me sick all week. Had a bad almond and had to spit it out it was so rancid. Had a bad metallic taste in mouth all week and numbness last night. Did anyone have a tightening of the throat or feeling like you have a sore throat. Just googled this stuff and found you guys. I related another search that mentioned pine nuts being a cause so just put two and two together.

    So people, any recommendations to get rid of said ‘metallic taste in mouth’. ps. just started my heavy metal detox with Zeolite Powder and Zell Oxygen Plus. I do also have a myriad of health issues, mainly gut parasite based now tackling candida so thought it was down to the GERD I was experiencing.

    Help with solutions please!!! And how long did it take to go away?


    • Hi Sabrina,

      For me the nasty taste and numbness went away during the course of the day. However, you have some other stuff going on (heavy metal detox) and that may have something to do with the length of time you’re dealing with the nastiness. Have you consulted your Doctor/Homeopath about this issue? It may be that you ate a bad almond just as the side effects of the detox were kicking in and you may have to ride it out.

      I’m not a medical expert, but I’d say a phone call is in order just to inquire.

  16. Jessica says:

    I just found this when googling “raw almonds taste funny”–but my funny was a very weird, strong artificial almond aftertaste–ate a handful and had bad, bad stomach cramps half an hour later. Never experienced that before–this was a store brand and the almonds look much smaller than the ones I used to buy–later tried one almond, still weird aftertaste but no ill effects. Still gonna toss the batch and hope it doesn’t mean I’m becoming allergic.

    • Well damn! That’s it – I think I need to research this almond thing.

      I didn’t have an artificial almond taste, just real chemical nastiness. I think if you were having an allergic reaction you’d have more trouble breathing or hives.

  17. michael00n says:

    I love how you started this post with “This is a very short post today”… I read a while back that you can tell which Almonds will be rancid by the color. It took a little practice (and pain) for me to discern them, but I am much happier now. If you split the almond open (or even break it in half, which is faster and easier) you should look for an uneven coloration. Sometimes this is just a yellowing on one side or in one spot, other times it is a complete browning.

    In any case I guess each person has their level of tolerance for freshness, and you can get to know yours by looking at them before you throw them in your mouth. (What a concept!)

    • Thanks! Considering I can bang out 1000+ words in what seems like no time at all, 329 words is short. 😛

      Splitting my almonds?! No way man – I like to live dangerously! That’s the one and only almond I’ve come across that was awful tasting in all the thousands of almonds I’ve eaten. I’d say my odds are pretty good at not getting another for a while, however, great advice to those less bold than I.

  18. Patty says:

    Well, the numb tongue and nasty taste just happened to me. I looked up “poisoning” first, but then saw this site and feel better now. I spit in the trashcan by my desk. That’s 2 firsts for me.

  19. Jess says:

    This just happened to me!!! Totally tastes like almond liquor so I’m assuming this is what rotten almonds taste like lol

  20. Scytale says:

    I’ve just has the same bizzarre reaction to one nut in a handful I swiped. Terrible taste – very nasty, lower lip and tongue partially numb. Taste is somewhat lingering, numbness wears off after about 30 mins for me. I don’t have any food allegies and I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone mention this before. Fingers crossed for an uneventful onward journey!

  21. Saiesh says:

    Damn ! It was like a nuclear explosion inside mouth with a chain reaction .I have a habit of eating an apricot(dried) with almond (tastes awesome) so blamed it on Apricot the first time until I ran out of Apricots and had to toss Almonds alone .

    • LOL “Nuclear explosion inside my mouth with a chain reaction” has to be the best description of what it’s like to taste that nastiness. Now… dried apricot and almonds you say…. Hmmmm. I may have to try that.

      Yes, I do still eat raw almonds.

  22. Björn says:

    This just happened to me, I bit a single almond while breathing out and I saw a cloud of powder coming out of my mouth, then I got the big shock and I refer to the comment above, with the nuclear explosion. Nasty!

  23. Lauren Marie says:

    This just happened to me too! I panicked and thought I was going to die of poisoning and when I searched “terrible almond taste” this post came up! I feel a lot better now.. I’m glad this is happened to a lot of people. Ah! Do almonds even GO bad?

    • Lauren Marie says:

      Also, I wanted to add after reading some more almond horror stories, I got the amaretto/chemical/poison taste too. I immediately rinsed with mouthwash and the taste is gone but my mouth is still a little numb :/

    • Hi, Lauren! Yes, almonds and any nut can go bad – the fats will turn rancid. However, I’m not sure that rancidity is what the issue is with these “chemical warfare” almonds that are leaving people’s tongues numb and giving them thoughts that they are about to die from poisoning.

      • This has happened to Mr for the second time. First time I went to the ER because along with the gross chemical flavour of bitter doom, I could smell cyanide (something I occasionally smell at work). Freaked the hell out. Got panicked so showed symptoms of poisoning, had to be monitored, but ultimately nothing happened. Second t
        time today, I knew what I was dealing with, a stray raw bitter almond in a normal pack (organic). Mild panic after spitting most if not all out and brushing teeth. I wish they’d stop letting those monsters into nice nut mixes. I’m off almonds again for a bit…

        • Oh no! I actually wrote to Blue Diamond about what people were experiencing and got back an explanation… for a similar issue. More research is needed – I think I need to talk to an actual almond farmer. Investigative blogging?

          Bitter almonds, however, give me a new lead and tangent to follow! I can certainly understand why you’d go off of almonds for a bit after a second “surprise”.

  24. ilovetea2 says:

    okay, and so, it happened to me. bitter as hell, tastes like what i imagine poison would taste like and then the mouth numbing…spit it out, yuck. next, rinse mouth… try to get taste out and feeling back…nada. then i figured that i needed to ‘trick’ my brain into sensing something else, so i put a bit of salt on my tongue…helped a bit to distract, but still there….rinse again, this time, sugar. put some on the tongue, distracting, but not completely gone. rinse, repeat. ate some chocolate, that also started to help and googled bad almond bitter numbing and here is your site! nice blog by the way….glad that this won’t be my demise… ‘poisoned by an almond’ card carrying member now. thanks for the assurance and entertainment!

  25. Heidi says:

    And yet another member of the “poisonous tasting” almond club. So glad I found you guys, was very worried but now calmed by reading through this thread. Has put me off raw almonds though…

    • Welcome to the club, Heidi! We have stickers*. It’s safer than trying to hand out candy or having a plate of cookies – mostly because I’m gluten free and people who don’t need to be turn their nose up at anything sans delicious gluten like I do to all things labeled “diet” or “sugar free”. 😀 However, I make some kick-ass GF chocolate chip cookies.

      I can still eat raw almonds without a worry – strangely I can’t do raw walnuts – too much tannin. Raw pecans are borderline for the same reason.

      *There aren’t really any stickers…. I made that up.

  26. Jenny says:

    Another one joining the club here 🙂

    Tasted like amaretto to me and numbness lasted only about 10 min. I now have a stomach ache but I think that might just be from overthinking it after realising this is clearly a common mishap!

    Damn Monsanto.

    • HA! Monsanto is the worst! Do you think this is their way of testing new chemicals?

      Holy crap! If it is – they’re probably monitoring this blog post to see what people say about it? Well, Hello to both them and the NSA.

      Personally, I’m glad that your torture only lasted 10 minutes. The stomach ache is probably psychosomatic.

  27. Steve says:

    Is there some sort of global body which certifies webpages as THE support page for weird occurrences? Maybe the UN? Because this page is definitely the go-to for ‘holy crap, what is happening in my mouth’ whence eating a rancid almond!

    I didn’t even know what to Google when it happened to me. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t about to die haha. Funny how that’s always our first response. My almond realllyyyyy smelt too, almost like benzaldehyde (that imitation almond extract stuff) and brought back memories of a chemistry lab several years ago.

    Anyway, thanks for your post and all the comments to unravel this life event 😛

    • LOL Steve – I’m so glad that I could be here for you and between me and all of those who have commented, assured you that you are not alone. One of these days I plan on writing a follow-up to this post (it’s the most popular post I’ve ever written!) – which hopefully will be just as useful.

      Does some sort of sticker or badge come with being the go-to page for “Holy crap, what is happening in my mouth?!” If not, it should!

  28. tim oden says:

    So you thought it was an innocent almond. Instead it’s a metallic-mothball chemical eruption in slow-motion. Rising vapors of rancid amaretto burn your sinus tissues. Leeching bitters in your mouth trigger gushing salivation, numbing your lips and tongue. Which you’re spitting out in bucketsful to avoid throat constriction, anaphylactic suffocation or poisoning. If this has happened to you like it just happened to me, you’ve found the net’s most useful thread on the topic. Thanks to musingsoftheamusingmuse, who’s let it live here for more than two years, here you find out you’re not going to die or even get sick (unless, of course, you’re a hypochondriac). Just chew some gum to rid the taste, But if in doubt, see a doc.

  29. Emily says:

    Add me to the “ate a nasty almond, tongue got numb, googled it” club! Mine made my mouth feel “fizzy” and tasted horribly bitter, but with a kind of sickeningly sweet edge too, almost like cola. I spat it out and rinse my mouth fast, but my tongue is a little numb. I am so relieved to know this isn’t a virulent poison– many thanks to Amusing Muse and the commenters here! I’ll go get some mint gum now.

  30. James Miller says:

    The answer is here http://articles.latimes.com/2002/feb/20/food/fo-almond20


    A rrecessive gene causes bitter almond trees to produce in their shoots, leaves and kernels a toxic compound called amygdalin, which serves as a chemical defense against being eaten. When amygdalin is moistened, it splits into edible benzaldehyde, which provides an intense almond aroma and flavor, and deadly hydrocyanic acid, a fast-acting inhibitor of the respiratory system.

    The lethal dose of raw bitter almonds depends on the size of the nuts, their concentration of amygdalin and the consumer’s sensitivity. But scientists estimate that a 150-pound adult might die from eating between 10 and 70 raw nuts, and a child from ingesting just a few.

    In any case, although it may be safe for most adults to nibble a raw bitter almond to experience its intense flavor, that would be unpleasant to most people. The nuts are not meant to be eaten as a snack food like regular almonds: They’re used as a spice, like nutmeg or cinnamon.

    So in short, you basically ate a raw almond. One that you shouldn’t have eating and it basically is poison you just experienced.

    • Hey, thanks, James!

      So, what I’m getting from this comment is that those of us who have survived this bitter almond experience are immortal.

      The theme from Highlander is playing in my head and I feel as if I need to toss down the gauntlet and growl out in my best Christopher Lambert impression, “There can be only one!”

  31. Sandy says:

    This happened to me over the weekend while I was driving. I was afraid to spit it out the window fearing that it would just blow back on the backseat passenger. Instead I threw some more almonds in my mouth to try to mask the taste. It of course didn’t work. I complained the whole way home but no one seemed to believe how bad it was until I started reading some of the comments from this site. I guess our bodies are good at telling us when something is poisonous. I’ll have to listen to my taste buds better next time.

    • Sandy, I think you win the award for “first person to be poisoned by almond while driving a car”. I’d like to commend your driving abilities for not panicking and crashing (especially since you had a passenger).

      Congratulations on Surviving! And welcome to the club. 😀

  32. Karen says:

    Hi, i am so pleased i found this club :)..i just ate a few organic almonds and the taste was horrendous rather like the knock out taste in your mouth you have from an anesthetic.. my tongue so numb… i spat the nuts out and came straight online to find out why and i am feeling unworried after reading all the posts. I would of just thrown the packet away but now knowing i’m immortal i was brave enough to try out a few more..all normal so thankyou again for saving me my packet of almonds and knowing i’m not going to die ….
    I survived 🙂

    • Woo, Karen! Welcome to the Bitter Almond Poisoning Survivors Club! It’s good to be immortal… well, except for the sword fighting. Maybe Christopher Lambert will show up, cause you know… he was a good guy and didn’t take out the good immortals.

      I still don’t know what the club’s theme song should be: the title song to “The Highlander”… Gloria Gaynor’s, “I Will Survive”? I’m sure there are dozens more out there that would fit and they aren’t coming to mind.

  33. Brendan says:

    The “toxic explosion” just happened to me. The first trigger that something was wrong was actually the smell. I thought my phone charger or battery had blown up !! What a horrible stench it produced, but then the taste kicked in ! I even had some blood evident when rinsing, which is why I searched and ended up here. But no numbing.
    The almond must react with the saliva in the mouth as mentioned above, and then -WHAM- BANG – KA POW……….. Very Nasty. Would be interesting to get the Almond producers view of this
    Thanks for the blog.

  34. Pam says:

    I’m also another one of those whose mouths went numb and had a bit gassy stomach after a bad almond experience. However, my story is a bit tweaked in that it came from a my home-made raw almond milk. My first guess was that it was rancid too so I went back to smell the whole package of remaining almonds and bingo! I wonder how those people who make raw almond milk do it without this problem. Yuckk!!

    • Ugh! I can only imagine what it was like in almond milk form! I drink a lot of almond milk – but it’s one of those things that while I know I could make it myself – I’m willing to pay someone else (Blue Diamond) to do it.

      Thank you for the warning about almond milk!

  35. Jo Johnson says:

    Me too, it just happened. Organic raw almonds and one of them had a bitter taste and I think it was like perhaps an almond essential oil? Very very strong and then my tongue and nose went numb. My tongue’s okay now but my nose is still numb.

    • Hello, Jo, and welcome to the Almond Survivors Society or ASS (I just came up with that name and acronym… I’m feeling rather proud of myself). Hopefully, since you wrote your comment a week ago, the numbness in your nose has gone away!

  36. Denise says:

    I eat organic raw almonds all the time, and these dodgy ones do creep in. I don’t think they are off as they go brown and slimey when that happens. The dodgy ones remind me of being anesthitised at the dentist!

    • Thank you, Denise, for stopping by and dropping a comment. Dodgy… I like that word. Dodgy almonds indeed! I also agree with you that it is a bit like getting a shot of Novocaine at the dentist without the actual injection.

      • Ginger says:

        Thanks for the post. I had this happen just a few minutes ago. Thankfully I now now know I’m immortal and a proud member of ASS.

        • I am so glad you’re now a member! ASS is the best! I mean… being immortal is best. Yeah, that’s it.

          You’re welcome for the post – I dare say I better get my ass on writing a follow-up like I keep talking about.

  37. Thank you thank you thank you for leaving this blog and the excellent information up on the internet. The issue of tongue numbing has been bothersome for many years, and has led me to question my sanity on more than one occasion…I especially appreciate the link to the article from the LA Times printed in 2002…it was extremely informative. Now I feel that I can handle eating almonds again.

  38. Eva says:

    Just happened to me! Fun to find this thread. 🙂

  39. Suzanne says:

    Ugh! Just ran around my office gagging and making an “ASS” of myself. Of course my first thought was that I would immediately die of poisoning. I spit most in the trash and brushed my teeth. What an awful taste. Thankfully google lead me to this thread and now I know I won’t die.

    • Welcome to the club, Suzanne! I bet you’re happy to know that you’re immortal now. I hear Gloria Gaynor playing.

      • Juanita says:

        I am also very happy I saw this site. I started eating a flip up yogurt, took a bite of the yogurt then flipped the almonds and chocolate chips and took another bite. I almost threw it all up !
        Logically I thought maybe the yogurt was bad but of course it didn’t happen ( the chemical burning, bitter , horrible taste) until the almonds were added. And the expiration date was still a month away. Seriously thought I was poisoned, but feel it was bad almonds. I hope the manufacturer didn’t have this widespread, it scared me alot ! Reading this calms me alot !

        • Welcome to ASS (Almond Survivors Society), Juanita! If you haven’t already, please take time to read some of the MANY comments on this post – they will set your mind at ease and will make you proud to be a member of ASS. Of course, your situation will now cause paranoia among other readers who have that same yogurt with them for lunch today (or in their fridge). 😉 Live life dangerously!

  40. Susan says:

    I had this happen to me this morning and looked it up. I found a scientific paper researching bitterness in almonds. Reading through it I discovered that almonds (along with lots of other fruit) produce HCN. HCN is hydrogen cyanide! That means the disgusting taste is actually cyanide! Apparently the plants produce it in certain conditions and it is thought to stop animals eating the seeds. We’ll that would work then! Yuk!
    I guess it must be in a pretty small dose in a bitter almond but still… Thought I’d share! 🙂

    • Good Day to you, Susan, and welcome to ASS (Almond Survivors Society). You are an ambitious woman looking up scientific papers so early in the morning – but I like your gumption. I believe we’ve had one other ASS member (Steve, if I recall correctly), point out that we call survived cyanide. Nasty business that, but we’re all still here. 😉 Welcome to the Society!

  41. Alexis says:

    I just had this happen! I was eating an organic raw almond as I always do am bam!! When does the nasty taste go away ?

  42. shari says:

    i eaten 10 to 13 bitter almonds last night and 3 eaten today at morning but now my mind and tough is numb what i should do

  43. Amy says:

    I’m glad I found this page…I just ate some blue diamond almonds and like all of you I tasted a rancid, burning, rubbing alcohol taste in my mouth. It was just one of the almonds and it was dark colored and softer then the rest. My lips are still burning, the tip of my tongue is numb and I have burning in my throat..eeish. I feel better reading your posts!

  44. Ellibobs says:

    Yep I just chucked a few organic almonds in, started chewing and yuck a nasty bitterness filled my mouth. I spat out what was in my mouth and tried to get the rest up. I think there was only one, I had no numbness and the taste went quickly. Glad I found ths thread so it put my mind at rest, but just in case I don’t wake up tomorrow Monday morning I gave my husband the heads up so he can complain to Tesco 😀

    • It’s always good to have a plan in place in case things go awry, Ellen. Of course, the standard response in my household bringing up their untimely demise is, “It’s okay. My money will keep me warm.” Since this is a week later with my response, I hope you’re still among the living.

      And welcome to ASS (Almond Survivors Society)!

  45. SB says:

    This page is such a public service, thanks T.A.M.! I also arrived here after hitting a foul, chemical almond in a bag of raw organic almonds and then Googling ‘bitter almond numb tongue.’ So glad I’m not alone and that everyone seems to have survived just fine — I’m at work alone and was juuuust starting to freak out that I would die of cyanide poisoning alone at the office on a Saturday night and not be found til Monday morning.

    • Oooh! Could you imagine the headlines?! And the looks on the faces of your coworkers. Let’s not think about it. We’re glad you survived and welcome to ASS, the Almond Survivors Society!

  46. Maria says:

    I brought back a bag of raw almonds from my trip to spain and decided to snack on them last night. I really should have followed my instincts to spit the horrid, bitter, inedible nut out! But, of course, I didn’t. I swallowed every last bit. What followed was the mouth numbing described by many. The right side of my face, which is the side I chewed with, became the most numb, my tongue and lips (both) swelled and the numbness spread to my right eye. I freaked out and called 911–nah, just kidding, I googled “death by almond”, because that’s more useful. 😛 I found reports on cyanide poisoning by bitter almond, I found out they still sell bitter almonds in Spain, I also found out that some normal almonds can be abnormally bitter. I feared for my life. While most said it takes a least 8 to kill an adult, I began worrying about the other good but still slightly bitter almonds in my packet. I had eaten at least 15. But all is not lost, I luckily found the Amusing Muse and you fellow survivors. Thanks for putting me at ease. We all survived one! I stayed up 3 hours to make sure nothing bad was happening (I get bad allergic reactions sometimes), took an antihistamine, and managed to sleep. Today the numbness on the right side of my face is still there, but I feel fine aside from that. Thanks for collecting all this hilarious goodness. This is where I determine to tell my unborn kids “If it’s too bitter, spit it out!” Keep blogging, and do write a follow up!

    • Hi, Maria! That is some long-lasting numbness! But, I’m glad you’ve survived and joined the rest of us at ASS, the Almond Survivors Society, and I’m glad we could put you at ease. I feel like besides a logo we all need t-shirts saying something like “Ate the Almond. Survived the Cyanide. I’m IMMORTAL!”

  47. This same occurrence has happened to me a number of too many times. I love, love, love almonds. Previously, I had only purchased Blue Diamond Whole Natural Raw Almonds — during the time of purchasing these (I had eaten at least 10 bags/yr) I had never encountered a bad almond as described above. However, I recently began purchasing organic raw almonds from a self-dispenser. This was the first time I experienced the bad almonds and I continue to experience this horribly, mouth destroying flavor (ONLY with the organic almonds). I’m wondering…do I revert back to the previous almonds which are not organic and not as environmentally secure or do I continue purchasing the organic and succumb myself to potential, unpredictable suffering…

    • Hmm. You bring up a good question, not to mention what can be viewed as an ethical dilemma: go back to “conventional” where consistency of product lack of cyanide is essentially guaranteed albeit at the expensive of environmental standards or take your chances at consuming a poisoned nugget but feel ethically good about it?

      What an interesting conundrum to ponder!!

      PS – Welcome to the Almond Survivors Society!

    • Steven says:

      I got a funny almond in a bag of Blue Diamond Whole Natural almonds, so it’s not just organic.

  48. SSid says:

    Had to leave my comment. I was happily chewing some almonds when suddenly a foul taste appeared in my mouth. Really bad, poisoned type of taste. Spat them out, washed my mouth with water and ethanol. Still bad. Ran to the computer and googled “almond awful taste”. Found this site, and others explaining the cyanide thing.

    After reading all the peoples comments i got a feeling i was just accepted into the poisonous almond club. I can totally relate to everyone’s comments. 😀

    Thanks for this and have fun!

    • You can now say that you’re a proud member of A.S.S. – the Almond Survivor’s Society! Glad to have you aboard.

      • Katie says:

        It continues into April now! I am the first member of the society to be inducted in April 2016. This is all very new to me. I am still alive as of this post and I hope not to be a very active member. Weirdest end to my day imaginable. I seem to be in such good company though!

        • Well, we welcome you aboard as another crew member of A.S.S., or the Almond Survivors Society. The requirements of membership are few… well, just one – that you’ve eaten a poisonous almond and survived. Congratulations!

  49. John says:

    Just joined an hour ago! That wasn’t too fun 😉

  50. Luana Hegglin says:

    Just made an ASS of myself. Yuck! Googled everything I could find and came to the conclusion that the organic store snuck bitter almonds into my bag of raw sweet almonds. Bitter almonds are still used here in Italy to make marzipan and are extremely poisonous. So after more googling to try to find out how long it would actually take me to die I came upon your site. So glad I found you and now know I’m not going to be eating greens from the underside just yet. Unless of course there is a conspiracy between my local organic store and the dreaded Monsanto. I’ll let you know if I don’t make it. Thanks!

  51. Jenny says:

    Just had the experience myself tonight after finely chopping and adding 1/2 cup activated raw almonds to a large and expensive batch of organic paleo ‘muesli’. Now I’m scared to eat it, and rethinking my plans for the other 4kg of raw almonds in my freezer which were smaller, rounder and darker than the almonds I usually get. Maybe I can use them for cooking? How much heat is needed to get rid of any cyanide?

    • Hi Jenny! I’m not able to answer your question because:

      A) I’m not an expert
      B) The internet is full of conflicting information
      C) I really don’t know.

      My guess is that you’ll be safe eating your muesli. Statistically speaking, unless you specifically purchased “Bitter Almonds”, it was just a random wild bitter one that snuck into the harvester in the orchard. I’d say taste a few random almonds from your bag (I used to “statistically sample” raw materials for nutritional supplements) – if they aren’t bitter – you’re good to go. If they ARE bitter – take them back to the store for a refund.

      Good Luck!

      • michael00n says:

        After coming to this post a few years ago, i have also found some useful information outside of the ARSS (I know, why should one gather information from the outside?) Still, some of the unwashed (ie, those outside this organization) have found that you can frequently detect almond rancidity by simply breaking them in half, and checking for discolouration along their natural split. I know, it is clearly absurd to suggest that one should test every almond they were to eat. Obviously in a group such as this, we would need to have a servant assigned specifically to the task, just to consume a reasonable quantity on a daily basis. Still, it is nice to know that it is at least possible to have confidence in the safety of meals that you have prepared for guests, even if the good members here are nigh immune to the full experience here.

        Also, after suggesting that this might be a type of neurotoxin some time back, I wish to clarify that, while I still believe the mechanism to be similar, I do not have any experience with being poisoned beyond the mouth and throat. The experience is intense enough that one could easily imagine that it would spread to consume every ounce of one’s being, yet this is not the case; it only serves to strengthen our character, as a simple reminder of our own mortality.

        • Michael, I think you’re the first person to write that they check back. I’m incredibly flattered! (Also, it’s just another kick in the writing pants to write another post. Title already written in my head!)

          I was actually looking through a cookbook this morning of Swedish recipes, and bitter almonds (the purported evil, cyanide-filled nuts) are used in a great deal of Swedish dishes. Also, bitter almonds are used in a lot of other edibles that we think nothing of when we’re stuffing our faces.

          So, THANK YOU! Thank you for checking back, following, and giving me another kick in the pants to write a follow-up.

  52. will says:

    Another Bad Slmond Survivor here (I guess all the people that died never got to post here so the statistics may be skewed!) Sainsbury’s (UK) organic mixed nuts. Must be about the 5th time its happened to me. WIsh there was some way they could identifiy these and stop them getting in the packet.

    • Hi Will! Now that you’re a proud member of A(B)SS 😉 for the fifth time over – perhaps write the company? Since I “Googled that shit” this morning to attempt to respond to Jenny from New Zeelands question, it DOES appear that bitter almonds may be shorter in length and fatter than the far more palatable sweet almonds that people like to eat. Since eating a bitter almond has only happened to me once, I don’t know if I’ll remember to check almonds in future snacking for comparison.

      Stay safe out there!

      • ericalma says:

        I eat almonds every day and this has happened to me on multiple occasions. I always tentatively eat more afterwards and usually there are no ill effects. One day I was eating an apricot or a peach, some stone fruit. When I got to the pit I noticed the pit was partially broken. Inside I saw what looked to be an almond. I was shocked! All these years and I never knew! So I tried it. And to my surprise, it had that horrible, familiar taste that we all have experienced with bad almonds. I googled ‘eating apricot pit’ and found that they contain low levels of arsenic! Thankfully I had promptly spit out the little nut. Anyways, there’s my input. Arsenic eating almonds? I hope a food scientist chimes in.

        • Do you think that the almonds wander the groves at night seeking out arsenic? Like… little zombie almonds, but instead of brains, they want poison.

          Hmm, something to ponder. Welcome To ASS (Almond Survivors Society)!

  53. Bronagh says:

    As if this thread is real! it’s just happened to me and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. DISGUSTING! 3 years later… Where is the solution? C’mon science.

    • This thread is TOTALLY for real! It’s ASS-tounding! Wait, we’re all just member’s of ASS or the Almond Survivors Society.

      Yeah, why HASN’T Science come up with a solution yet?

      Welcome to ASS 😀

  54. chewy says:

    See the wikipedia entry on bitter almonds https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almond#Sweet_and_bitter_almonds

    You were eating an apricot pit. They are somewhat poisonous.

  55. Liz says:

    I just ate an almond that burned my mouth! I spit it out right away and rinsed my mouth several times and brushed my teeth. It tasted like toxic rubbing alcohol. Glad I googled it and found this site! And now I am an official ASS!!!

  56. Jane says:

    Am I the only one that this has happened to with something other than almonds?? I was eating turkey sausage at a restaurant and the last bite had a horrible chemical taste but I swallowed it anyways because I was so caught off guard. It numbed my mouth and I had to run to the bathroom and stick my finger down my throat in hopes of saving myself from being poisoned. I’m guessing the food was rotten?? Horrible experience! This page is the only place I can find anything similar!

  57. jossy says:

    It’s cyanide and eating 10 or less almonds of those can kill you.

    I ate about 2 or 3 bitter ones two hours ago, mixed in a raw (really raw, not american raw) almond bag. I’m still numb and my stomach is funny. I’m used to this russian roulette (happens almost every time i buy a bag), but it can be dangerous.


    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1273391/?page=3 (this woman nearly died because she took 12!)


  58. tvdp says:

    Just here to submit my application to join ASS.. I just swallowed 1 or 2 before realising that the bitter b*st*rd of an almond was a cyanide pill in disguise, so I spat the rest out.. it’s been about an hour and I’m doing fine.. *thumbs up*

  59. Mare says:

    Is ASS accepting new members? Found my way here like all the others. Googling “almonds numb tongue”. I, however was not eating health consciously. I was eating a Lindt Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel and Almond bar. I had barely nibbled on one square when I spit it into my hand because it tasted awful and then realized that the bottom front if my tongue and behind my front teeth were numb. I said to my husband that it feels like I just took Anbesol. I soaked my tongue in ginger ale. Soooo weird. Thankfully the numbness only lasted about half an hour but still…it was just a few bits of ground almond.
    Now I need to make myself a t-shirt. ” Proud to be an ASS”.

  60. Lana says:

    This just happened to me today! I guess you are still the only person out there talking about it because I don’t find much online. I’m not really sure it’s a bitter almond. I’m not not finding a symptom of mouth going numb from cyanide. I checked several sites and none list that as either a mild or severe symptom.

    • Lana! Welcome to the club, and honestly, I’m really surprised I’m the only person out there talking about this! But, then again, I know that I can ponder about some really strange things. Hopefully, despite my tardy response, you’re still with us! Welcome, to ASS!

  61. Mike Smith says:

    Just today – opened new batch of raw organic almonds from co-op bulk bin. First two were the freshest, strongest almond-tasting I may have ever had. Second, a mouth-full, started out the same, then suddenly the piercing, intense and lasting, strange bitter taste. Fortunately, I’d already heard of bitter almonds. so I didn’t swallow, but before I could spit it out it was making my tongue numb. The guy I spoke to at the poison control center knew nothing regarding numbness, denied even the possibility of any errant bitter almonds in our food stream, and wrote my experience off to rancidity. Well I know rancid; I can usually smell it long be fore it gets near my mouth; and it smells like furniture.* Nuts, grains, and most seeds – anything with natural or added oils – will eventually oxidize and become, what we call, rancid. This almond thing is something else.

    * Rancid flax smells like fish, not furniture.

    • Welcome to ASS, Mike! That’s Almond Survivors Society… not any other ass. You’re a survivor! I think you may be the first member to have called poison control and it doesn’t surprise me that they were unaware of bitter almonds. (Does poison control still pass out Mr. Yuck stickers?) Numb tongue aside, I’m glad that you survived to tell the tale!

  62. Cheyenne says:

    Wow! Year after year people become traumatized by almonds!
    I never would’ve realized I wasn’t alone. I bit into it and swallowed before I thought about it. It was a mix between poisoned anise and the dentist. The tip of my tongue is now numb.

  63. Michelle says:

    There are two kinds of almonds- bittwr and sweet. Sweet almonds are low in cyanide, about 25mg per kg. Bitter almonds, which are intentionally sold in the U.S., have about 6.2 mg per almond. About 10 is a Lethal dose. The numb tongue feeling you described is very common, along with light headedness. Some people take them medicinally in small doses.

    • Michelle says:

      I forgot to mention… I know this now because I unknowingly ate a bitter almond in Turkey today. My mouth went numb and then I got a head rush I’m actually a bit nervous about it because I’m pregnant, so I’ll be calling my dr tomorrow

  64. Miss Piggy says:

    Add me to your involuntary A.S.S. list.
    Opened a bag of Prana organic mixed Maple Nuts, and the first almond I bit into released the Kraken into my mouth. (Now I know what a cyanide suicide tablet tastes like if you’re stupid enough to 1) take one and 2) bite into it.) Immediately ran to the sink, spat out the poison, and rinsed for five minutes with tap water and another five with spring water. Tongue went slightly numb, but it’s the taste that’s more of a bother. It’s been a few hours now since the attack and the bitterness still lingers despite my eating a bowl of homemade potato soup, some pate, a candy cane, a cherry chocolate, a watermelon candy and a handful of pretzels (don’t judge me — it’s Christmas!). I just read on the Internet that the bitterness is from the cyanide and that in small doses cyanide is actually health-enhancing (maybe), but it’s still cyanide and I wasn’t intending on eating any on Christmas Day.
    Merry Christmas to you, and thanks for making and maintaining this blog entry. I’ve spent the past two hours doing an Internet search on this topic and I’m wondering why involuntary mild cyanide poisoning via bitter almonds has only become a “thing” within the past 5 years. What has changed in the food supply chain that bitter almonds are now being mixed with sweet almonds?

    • It’s a Christmas MIRACLE! You were led to this story AND you survived! I think that’s a win for everyone involved. Welcome to A.S.S.!

      I’ve pondered why it seems that there are far more frequent issues with bitter almonds sneaked into the edible kind, but I think it probably has happened that way before, but through the magic of the internet, we can now go “Google that shit” and here we are. 😀 Sort of like diseases – there is something new every week that is announced, and I’m pretty sure it’s been around for eons, but now we have a very long, very important-sounding name for every “new” disease.

  65. Blarg says:

    I read a story today (I know, bringing up an ancient thread) where a consumer purchased bulk organic raw almonds which were imported from Spain, presumably for use in processing plants to make things like Marzipan. While in the US we have a lot of sweet almonds, in other areas the old school bitter almond trees can exist and they aid with pollination. Problem is, these bitter almonds have high levels of Amygdalyn which breaks down into an intense and safe almond flavor as well as a cyanide compound. They’re a bitter surprise for smackers and if eaten in bulk as few as tend of these bitter almonds can kill an average adult. Here is an excerpt (attributes to the LA Times) from the link I found, at https://theskepticalcardiologist.com/2017/03/01/beware-the-bitter-almond/

    I hope this helps, as it surely piqued my interest today as I had the same reaction.

    Warm wishes,

    John aka Blarg

    “Until recent decades, most Mediterranean almond orchards were grown from seed, and the shuffling of genes resulted in a mix of bitter almond trees among the sweet. Growers liked to keep a few bitter trees around because they helped to pollinize the sweet varieties. The inclusion of bitter nuts gave snackers occasional unpleasant surprises, but they deepened the flavor of marzipan, almond milk and glazes for cakes. In Italy, bitter almond paste was traditionally used to make crisp amaretti cookies, and bitter almond extract flavored amaretto liqueur. In Greece, bitter almonds are used in soumada, a sweet syrup. (apparently cooking or adding alcohol eliminates the toxic cyanide)

    There’s little large-scale cultivation of bitter almonds left in Spain and Italy, mostly just scattered trees remain, but it is still possible to buy raw bitter almonds at European specialty markets. Morocco and Iran now lead in commercial production of bitter almonds.“

  66. Wauw, you wrote this post 6 years ago and still bad almonds get into packages. I bit in the almond, my tongue went numb, but it went further than that, my heart rate slowed down to 49. By now we got those fancy watches telling your heart rate. I drank out a half a bottle of juice and started looking in a panic for my phone. I genuinely thought I was going to die. I only checked my heart rate because my entire body started glowing. Right when I found my phone my heart rate started rising again. Maybe I got a so much severe reaction because I am taking Methadone for chronic pain. My tongue is still numb, so is my throat slightly, note to self if this ever happens again, spit it out, don’t swallow it. But my heart rate is back on track, keeping a eye on it though.
    Honestly, I’m not hungry anymore now… Don’t really want to eat almonds anymore either…

    • Dang, Katrien! That’s one heck of an initiation into A.S.S.! You’re also the first one to write of such a severe reaction. Is it the methadone? Could be! I’m glad I wrote about this and that you found us!

  67. Eli says:

    I know this is a very old blog but that was most likely a bitter almond

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