Gluten Free Guerrillas

Reaction to Tapioca

Morning all,

I'm recovering from 'the night before', no alcohol involved in this one though.

I cooked last night with tapioca from a gf source. Never had tapioca before, and didn't use too much. I must have eaten a tablespoon of it.

I woke at 2.30, dashed to the loo after 5 minutes and had the worst reaction I ever remember having. In fact, there's a whole bit of it I don't remember... I fainted on the loo, smashed my face on the shower and was out cold on the bathroom floor for a good half hour. All the usual culprit symptoms too.

Does anyone else react to tapioca? I'm sure I've had tapioca flour before in food and been ok.

13 Replies

Hi, are you sure it's the tapioca? You have almost certainly eaten tapioca starch in free from foods because tapioca starch is often used in GF baking because it starts to cook at a lower temperature than other wheatfree flours. It is also called manioc flour and Cassava flour. And Gari is coarse tapioca starch.

I hope that you feel better soon.


I do hope that you feel better soon. Are you sure it was tapioca. As Jerry says tapioca is used in a lot of gf foods & I used to buy an excellent tapioca bread mix from the US. In the late 90's it was probably one of the nicest around. Maybe it was just a little bit of a tummy bug which we do all still get even when we stick 100% to our diets.


my step-daughter can't eat my gf food because she has to dash to the loo. We decided it was probably the tapioca, though as the others say tapioca flour does turn up in lots of things. My standard flour mix has a lot of tapioca in - it gives a nice soft baked good.

at only a tablespoon and with all the other problems you may have had a bug, so check other things you eat that are likely to have it in without you noticing.


I'm also allergic to tapioca. Maybe when I was younger I ate too much of it. Problem is the starch is hidden in most food unless you told the chef not to add any starch. It can be replace with other flour like potato n maize. I will get itchy on my abdomen. Can last for more than a month


Definitely tapioca (from Sainsbury, not tapioca flour but the little balls) and definitely not a stomach bug. I know my reaction too well, although this is the first time that I have blacked out before getting to the floor.

Everything else I ate yesterday was GF, homemade, and from already open packets. Only the tapioca was new. I use Dove's Farm flours too, and I know they list tapioca flour as an ingredient - I'm fine with these.

My diet is soooooo restricted (gluten free, dairy free and fructose free) that I can't think it would be anything else I have eaten - just this one new product. My house is completely GF, and I haven't eaten out in 18 months, and my rule is if I haven't made it myself I don't eat it, everything is raw or cooked from scratch.

Thankfully I'm mostly recovered, apart from looking like I've had a fight with a frying pan!

I think I'll leave it a while then retest.

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You said you blacked out. Passing out (or being very close to it) the next morning after being contaminated is one of the reactions that my daughter and myself get. But this is the first time I've heard anyone else mention it. Does this happen to anyone else? Does anyone know why?


I went on a First Aid course a while ago and when I heard the explanation of shock my blood went cold...

If you lose too much fluid suddenly (blood, vomit, diorrhea) then your body can go into shock. Your body compensates for the loss by going into protection mode, moving heat and fluid to major organs. This affects heat and bloodflow to your extremities first, hands, feet, moving to arms and legs. Cold sweats can occur. Once violent shivering sets in the body restricts its heat and bloodflow to the heart and liver, restricting blood flow to the brain, hence blackout can occur.

Sounds exactly like what happens when I am glutened. I think this is the reason I black out or near black out, I always have the shivers first.


True circulatory shock is very different to what the OP experienced and definitely not the kind of thing that one just wakes up from. Circulatory shock is a medical emergency and you need hefty doses of IV fluids and/or to sort out the cause of the problem.

Blackouts caused by a gluten reaction are something cause a vasovagal response- basically a faint. Due to a variety of stimuli (dehydration, stress or generally feeling ill are some of them that might be applicable here), you get overstimulation of certain parts of the nervous system which causes a rapid but brief drop in cardiac output and blood pressure which causes the blood supply to your brain to be reduced, thereby causing a faint. As soon as you drop to the floor, the flow is restored and people generally wake up pretty quickly.

Before a vasovagal you get the characteristic prodome of lightheadness, nausea, becoming really hot and sweaty/chills and shivering, ringing in the ears, weakness and visual disturbance (often like a grey grainy haze clouding over the vision). Then you faint.

I've never fainted as a result of a glutening before but I have embarrassingly almost fainted in surgery (although after the patient was stitched up- no idea why I decided to do it then) and once just when I was sitting around observing a consultation at a GPs when was coming down with 'flu. I also know someone who once fainted during dissection. Into the specimen... Ergh!


>>you get the characteristic prodome of lightheadness, nausea, becoming really hot and sweaty/chills and shivering, ringing in the ears, weakness and visual disturbance (often like a grey grainy haze clouding over the vision).<<

Sounds like my normal Monday morning before going to work (nothing to do with gluten) :D


Thanks NorthernSoul,

Nice to know they're different things - one of the worries I've had being a single mum is 'what if I get glutened and I don't come round?'

I did have 30 minutes unaccounted for last night, but I'm guessing that's because I smashed my head too. Thankfully I got myself together and back to bed, then my son was a hero and got me a nice bag of frozen carrots for a cold compress!


This is called vasovagal IBS. I have suffered from this for about 15 years but only recently found out what it is. I found a forum with about 300 replies ( US forum). and was amazed to find so many people with similar symptoms. I have no idea what causes mine. Each attack last about an hour and then I am ok.



I know you wrote this a long time ago but it came up in a search. I get a horrible gut reaction to tapioca also. I thought it was chick pea flour but I've narrowed it down to tapioca as the main culprit.

Have you found any relief or do you just avoid?


I have fainted twice this week - tried to think of what might had triggered this, the only thing I can think of is Cadburys snowball chocolate sweets coated with a shell that contains tapioca.

I am shocked to see that this ingredient contains cyanide.

I did eat quite a few on both evenings.

Could this be the cause?


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