Salicylates

Allergy, Digestion | February 4, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

allergy, Digestion

Salicylates

Salicylates are naturally occurring chemicals which are present in a wide-range of foods. In plants they act as a natural pesticide—providing protection against disease and infection from bacteria, viruses and fungi. Salicylates can also be created synthetically and are found in perfumes, cleaning products, washing powder, cosmetics, creams and medications such as aspirin. In sensitive people, salicylates in the diet can lead to headaches, eczema, hives, digestive problems, allergic rhinitis, nasal polyps, worsening asthma and in severe cases anaphylaxis. If this is the case, salicylate sensitivity is usually managed by following a low salicylate diet.

The symptoms of salicylate intolerance

Symptoms of salicylate intolerance vary but can include:The symptoms of salicylate intolerance

  • Headaches/migraines
  • Eczema
  • Hives
  • Gastro-intestinal irritation
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Nasal polyps
  • Exacerbation of asthma
  • Behavioural problems in children
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

In severe cases, a salicylate allergy can lead to anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening reaction needing immediate medical attention.

Why an intolerance occurs

Exactly why an intolerance to salicylates occurs is not known. It is believed there may be an underlying burden within the body that affects its ability to detoxify. It might also involve underlying issues with the immune and digestive system such as autoimmunity, leaky gut and dysbiosis.
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Diagnosing salicylate sensitivity

There are no reliable skin or blood tests for the diagnosis of food intolerance, especially to salicylates.

TDiagnosing salicylate sensitivityhe only way to accurately diagnose a salicylate sensitivity is through a process of dietary elimination and challenge testing. This should always be done under the supervision of a health professional.

Upon diagnosis, the easiest way to treat salicylate sensitivity is by limiting salicylate consumption with a low salicylate diet.

Low salicylate diet

The aim of a low salicylate diet is to keep the intake of salicylates to a minimum. Salicylates occur naturally in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, spices, jams, honey, yeast extracts, tea, coffee, juices, beer, wine and natural flavourings (e.g. peppermint). Salicylates are also frequently used in medications, perfumes, botanical oils, acne creams and toothpastes.

Important considerations when undertaking a diet low in salicylates:

  • Salicylate content is higher in unripe fruit and is lower in fruit that is ready to eat
  • Salicylate levels in fruits and vegetables are higher in the skin and the area just below
  • Salicylates are concentrated when foods are processed i.e. juices, sauces, pastes, powders, jams, flavourings and syrups
  • Genetically engineered plants have greater levels of salicylates do due their ability to resist disease

Foods low in salicylates

Here are some examples of foods that have ​low salicylate content.

Foods low in salicylatesFruits: peeled pear, banana, lime, paw paw, pomegranate

Vegetables: bamboo shoots, cabbage, celery, lentils, iceberg lettuce, swede, green peas, leek

Pulses: dried beans (excluding borlotti), or canned varieties with no added ingredients

Grains: barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, rice, rye, wheat

Nuts and seeds: poppy seeds, cashew nuts, sunflower seeds

Sweeteners: maple syrup

Meat: red meat, poultry, fish, prawns (not processed meats)

Herbs, spices and condiments: malt vinegar, saffron, sea salt, soy sauce, dried fennel, fresh parsley and coriander

Dairy: butter, cheese (not blue vein), natural yoghurt and milk

Beverages: decaffeinated coffee, dandelion root tea, soy milk, rice milk, water, home-made pear juice

Foods to avoid

There are many different foods high in salicylates including:

  • Fresh apricots, berries, dates, pineapple, sultanas, prunes, orange, grapes, guava
  • Zucchini, chili, green olives, capsicum, radish, gherkins, broccoli, cucumber, tinned tomatoes, corn
  • Almonds, peanuts, brazil nuts, pine nuts, pistachio, sesame seeds
  • Honey, peppermint tea, wine, cordial, fruit and vegetable juices, tea, cider vinegars, most herbs and spices, yeast extracts

Achieving a low salicylate diet can be complicated. Individuals with salicylate sensitivity are therefore recommended to seek the advice and guidance of a health professional.

Supplements to support people with salicylate intolerance

There are a range of supplements that may be helpful to increase a person’s tolerance to salicylates and to reduce the symptoms.

Fish oil

One small 2008 study found that fish supplementation in three patients with disabling salicylate-induced intolerance experienced complete resolution of their symptoms which included urticaria, severe asthma and anaphylactic reactions.

Supplements to support people with salicylate intoleranceParticipants supplemented with 10g a day of fish oil for 6-8 weeks and were able to discontinue their systemic corticosteroid therapy. Unfortunately, when the dose was reduced then they experienced a relapse of their symptoms.

In this case fish oil was believed to be effective due to it’s ability to reduce inflammation which is triggered in an allergic reaction.
 

Probiotics

Having healthy levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut is important in maintaining healthy digestive and immune function. They also provide protection against

  • intestinal permeability (leaky gut),
  • autoimmune disease, food intolerances,
  • inflammation and infection. Your medical history and presenting symptoms will determine what probiotic is ideal for you as there are specific strains for food allergies/intolerances, eczema, IBS and allergic rhinitis.

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Heal and seal

Many different reactions or imbalances in the body can be traced back to the gut. With food intolerances and allergies, it is important to restore the function of the digestive system. In naturopathy this is known as heal and seal—which involves protocols to repair leaky gut and to support digestive processes. It may involve making changes to your diet and taking supplements such as glutamine, slippery elm, goldenseal and zinc. After intensive gut repair, you may be able to better tolerate salicylates in the diet

Reduce reaction

Nutrients and herbs which help to dampen inflammation and reduce reactivity include quercetin, albizzia, vitamin C and zinc. They may be effective in reducing allergic reactions and support a healthy immune system.

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References

https://www.webmd.com/allergies/salicylate-allergy

https://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/RPA/Allergy/resources/foodintol/salicylates.html

Skypala IJ, et al. Sensitivity to food additives, vaso-active amines and salicylates: a review of the evidence. Clin Transl Allergy. 2015 Oct 13;5:34

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26468368

Baenkler HW. Salicylate intolerance: pathophysiology, clinical spectrum, diagnosis and treatment. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2008 Feb;105(8):137-42

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19633779

Raithel M, et al. Significance of salicylate intolerance in diseases of the lower gastrointestinal tract. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005 Sep;56 Suppl 5:89-102

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16247191

Healy E, et al. Control of salicylate intolerance with fish oils. Br J Dermatol. 2008 Dec;159(6):1368-9

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18795922

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