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Symptoms of Salicylate Intolerance

Salicylate is the most widely distributed naturally occurring food, chemical capable of provoking reactions, although tartrazine and benzoic acid are also well recognised in susceptible individuals.
Salicylates occur naturally in many different foods, especially fruits, vegetables, and spices, herbs, nuts, juices, tea, wines, and coffee. Sensitive individuals also react to natural compounds such as amines, food additives, preservatives, colouring, emulsifiers and taste enhancers.

Salicylate sensitivity also causes reactions to not only aspirin, but also to painkillers (except paracetamol) - avoid non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Nurofen etc.

Salicylates Intolerance is not an allergic reaction (Non-IgE-mediated) but the symptoms can mimic pharmacological side effects in susceptible individuals.

Adverse reactions occur to natural chemicals in food, especially fruit and vegetables, which have an accumulative effect in the body, causing higher than normal levels of these chemicals in the blood, making sufferers toxic and cause severe symptoms.

You can react within 30 minutes of ingestion or 48 hours later and because of this it can be difficult to isolate the cause.


Most common symptoms of Salicylate Intolerance:



Asthma and other breathing difficulties
Angioedema-swelling of eyelids, face and lips
Changes in skin colour/skin discolouration
Difficulty in swallowing
Frequent need to urinate
Itchy skin, hives or rashes
Persistent cough
Memory loss and poor concentration
Stomach pain/indigestion
Sore, itchy, puffy or burning eyes
Sinusitis/Nasal polyps
Tinnitus-ringing in the ears




Difficulty concentrating
Difficulty waking up
Slurred speech


Food Intolerance symptoms  by Ann Swain & Robert Lobley


Salicylate contents of foods

Dr Anne Swain's did an analysis back in the eighties on the levels of salicylates in food. Download PDF file.

The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) Allergy Clinic Australia has continued her research. They have brought out new guidelines in 2013 in their book "The RPAH Elimination Diet Handbook with food & shopping guide "

Some foods have changed for examples, mangoes, fennel, avocados, were moderate but are now high. Even if you follow the chart correctly the amount of Salicylates in foods can vary depending how ripe the fruit was when picked and soil also plays a part. According to the RPAH organic fruit can be slightly higher. 



If you suspect that you are suffering from salicylate Intolerance seek medical advice.

The elimination diet should be under the guidance of a Dietician. It may take 4/6 weeks to eliminate all salicylates build-up of toxins in your system, but you should notice a gradual improvement. You may also experience withdrawal symptoms from the high levels of salicylates especially coffee. If you are unwell the process of elimination of salicylates from your system will be slower.

Once the diet is completed, you can SLOWLY start reintroducing more foods back into your diet. Keep a food diary to see what you tolerate. A well-balanced diet low in Salicylates can give you all the nutrients and vitamins that you need for example brussels' sprouts, potatoes and cabbage are all very good sources of vitamin C, you may need to become more creative in your recipes. !

Keeping a food diary is essentially an indefinite!
Unfortunately, salicylates are found in all areas of your environment, cosmetics, beauty creams (anti-wrinkle!), Shampoos, household chemicals, perfumes, air fresheners, mints, aloe Vera (very high), incense (very high in salicylates), medication, vitamins, coloured capsules and coatings on drugs,

Note down any adverse reaction symptoms to:
Foods you eat
Places you visit and any adverse reaction e.g. Shopping malls, hairdressers.
What cosmetics and toiletries you use
Household cleaners, laundry, washing up products
Take note of any smells or chemicals in your environment

It is worth noting that food, chemical intolerance can get worse or better over time, despite dietary intervention, due to hormonal influences beyond your control.


Other remedies available

        What I find helpful

Schweppes Soda Water (Sodium Bicarb) a glass with the main meal (some companies say Soda water, but it is only carbonated water!).

When I feel a build-up of salicylates or upset stomach, I take a glass of Enos also has Sodium Bicarbinate in it. Care should be with Sodium Bicarbonate as it can increase in the body's sodium levels this can cause swelling of both legs and feet (oedema) due to fluid retention, also can raise blood pressure. Anybody with kidney or heart problems is also discouraged from drinking baking soda solutions.


Other remedies I use

Adequate fluid intake: Keep well hydrated by having about 8 cups of total beverages a day as this helps to flush out your system. Remember taking too much water can end up flushing out essential nutrients.

Charcoal: When I am very bloated, I use charcoal tablets (charcoal is used for Aspirin poisoning). Activated charcoal is used to treat indigestion, flatulence, bloating, heartburn and poisonings. It is a highly effective natural adsorbent of gases, toxins and bacteria found in the large intestine that can lead to bloating. The excessive gas binds to the surface of the charcoal powder and is then excreted with the charcoal in the stools thus relieving discomfort.


Detoxifying Salt Baths for Salicylate Build up

Epsom Baths

Epsom Salt is also known as Magnesium Sulphate is a natural pure mineral. Salts are just molecules that form because the parts have opposite electrical charges that bind together. Magnesium has a positive charge and Sulphate has a negative charge.

Effects: Epsom Salt baths have been used for centuries and is a simple way to draw toxins out of the body to the skin's surface and reduce swelling and relax muscles. It boosts your body's magnesium and sulphate level, which is absorbed into the body through the skin more than from any other method.

Best to have the bath an hour so before bedtime for about thirty minutes or so.

Put into running bath water.

1 cup Epsom salt

1 cup of Sea salt

2 cups Baking soda

Relax in bath for up to 20 minutes or more.

Always check with your doctor before using Epsom salt if you are pregnant or have any serious medical conditions.



The RPAH Elimination Diet (Failsafe).

The Failsafe Diet Explained-An introduction to the failsafe diet, with diet charts, The RPAH Elimination Diet.

       Salicylate Chart-This link will bring you to a list of low/ moderate /high salicylates in foods.

Sue Dengate book "The Failsafe Cookbook" will help you keep to a failsafe diet. Her site has various articles on Salicylate Intolerance and has a list of dietitians that you can reach in the UK.

Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Clinics book "Friendly food".

Salicylate food charts.








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