salicylate sensitivity... just when I thought I was on track!

19 January 2013

Well its been a few weeks now since I completed my 12 week detox
There is no doubt I changed a lot of my habits for good...
I almost never eat sugar...
I eat very little gluten and dairy...
and I have been consuming huge quantities of greens and both salads and smoothies...
my goto snack is almonds.

I've been feeling much better than my pre-detox days... far less fatigue...and almost zero body aches...
That is a vast improvement on where I was.
However....a few little issues have remained... and have actually worsened...
My skin has been a mess.... I've been covered in eczema constantly...
and I have had an upset and burning stomach more days than not!
So you can imagine how frustrating this is!
Here I am eating better than ever..
so surely I should be feeling better than ever??
Quite clearly something is still amiss.

Wind back the clock to my 'couldn't care less about what I ate days" and I always knew there were things I couldn't eat or be in contact with.
My chronic lifelong eczema  would flare at up at the mere sniff of capsicum...oranges were out...tomatoes were on and so ....
I got quite used to knowing what triggered me....and sticking to safe foods.

Over the years I visited various immunologist...a dietician....and even had food allergy skin prick testing.....each time I was told I had a salicylate sensitivity.
I accepted that.....I read the documents and diet sheets I was handed on every occasion....
and them didn't change a thing!
I figured I had a built in barometer for when my body had had enough.
I'd know because my skin would flare...
 Id just cut back on those foods for a bit....settle my skin....and carry on as normal.

I did this for years and years..... probably 25 years I have managed my skin problems that way...
So it would make you wonder why it would take me so long to click!

One thing I know for sure is that I'm not prepared to just give up on my search for that healthy feeling...
I know I should be able to not only feel well....but my skin and stomach issues should be fixed as well.

So I visited yet another Dr...I wanted someone who could work in with my Naturopath...
and who would get to the root cause....and not treat with steroids and an antacid.
After a lot of research I decided on the  Centre for Health and Wellbeing...
I loved that they worked holistically....with a focus on nutrition..this sat perfectly with my thoughts on health.
I phoned for an appointment only to find that the Dr I wanted to see did not take new patients...
 I was offered a spot on a waiting list...and told that this could take quite some time,
I had visions of having to wait until one of her current patients died....
or moved interstate...and was prepared for the long haul.
Imagine my surprise that only a month later I was offered a time slot....I snapped it up.

My first appointment was thorough....
We discussed my recent health issues...the tamoxifen....and my diet.
I came away with some diet sheets and a path form for a swag of blood tests and some supplements.
She had suggested I needed to cut gluten...dairy and salicylates from my diet.
Hmm....there is that darn salicylates again!

I came home.... had my bloods done....and continued on as per normal.....I ate very little gluten and very little dairy....but I still thought I knew best about the salicylates.
So when I went back for my follow up a month or so later...
nothing had changed.... call me in denial....or an idiot.... but really it was only at this next visit that the penny dropped....maybe these salicylates were responsible for more issues than I thought.

My blood test results were in .....and I was encouraged...
Almost everything was ship shape...
My vitamin levels were all adequate...
No problems with thyroid...liver....kidneys....yay!
I did however show a positive genetic marker to coeliac disease...
It means that I don't specifically have coeliac disease....but I guess you could say I am prone to it....
so I would not tolerate gluten well.... that's cool....I can work with that.

So we discussed my GI upset and skin flares in more detail....
I had been keeping a mental food diary...and so we jotted the trigger foods down....
One enormous pattern emerged....
I have a salicylate sensitivity!!

I wasn't aware that not only can salicylates upset my skin.....they also irritate the GI tract...
So by not reducing them .....I was keeping my body in a constant state of irritation and inflammation....
no wonder I am tired... covered in rash and burning in my stomach.

So .....I came home to once and for all  tackle the salicylates.

The first few days I could have cried.....
Here I have spent the last few months installing new habits....all based around what I believe to be the optimum way to fuel and nourish my body.
Only to find that the very same foods I've been nourishing myself with are detrimental to my health.....I have unknowingly been poisoning myself with salicylates at higher levels that ever before.

Here is a little snap shot of the high salicylate foods Ive been eating in huge quantities...
Almonds....and almond milk
Coconut oil (no wonder my skin didnt tolerate it as a moisturiser)
Olive oil..
Herbal teas
Silver beet
and the list goes on....

To be mainstay diet has been ridiculously loaded with salicylates....and I had no idea.
I was gobsmacked to see some of the foods at the very high end of the salicylate scale.

How am I going to live with out spinach and olive oil??
How am I going to maintain an optimum healthy diet when I cant eat an enormous amount of foods?? I do...or as we all do....
I have read....and read.....and compiled and exhaustive list of allowable and contraband foods.

Salicylate sensitivity is not like an allergy where there will be an immediate reaction to any one food....but I liked how one site I read explained it as a bucket sensitivity. body is a bucket....and I can trickle a certain amount of salicylate in...but if I fill it too much it overflows and the symptoms emerge.
My goal will be to eat foods mainly at the negligible / low end.... with a few at the moderate level....and very rarely the foods at the high end.

I have committed to yet another challenge...
I am going to spend at least the next 8 weeks clearing the salicyclates from my see if I can once and for all be back on track.
Its going to be a huge learning curve for me....and I could still cry when I look in my pantry and fridge at all my healthy foods....that I relish....but know I can no longer have.

I am still at the struggling stage....I stand looking in the pantry....hungry....but not sure what to I close the door and have a drink  of water.
I have instilled so many other food values into my head I just cant eat some of the safe foods....I cant swap olive oil for canola oil because I don't believe we should eat seed oils.
I hate the thought of swapping my mixed salad leaves for an iceberg lettuce....I hate iceberg.
I cant believe avocado is very!! I love avocado!!

So there we have it....
Hopefully this is my last little hurdle....and Im determined to give it a red hot go.

Wish me luck.....and if anyone has travelled this path and has any just wants any more information....please shout out...leave me a comment...I would love to chat salicylates with you.

PS: Sorry this turned into an essay..oops.


  1. Oh gosh Mardi... another health hurdle for you to jump... I can sympathize with you... after all your research and the enormous amount of work you have put in... there is now a new challenge to conquer... wishing you luck... but I know you can do it... and will be so interesting to see how the next eight weeks pan out... good on for persisting in your search for optimal health... I wish you well on this new leg of the journey...

    Jenny ♥

    1. I know Jenny....sometimes I shake my head at the ridiculousness of myself!
      I think what annoys me most with it all is....that I ignored it all for so long and it wasn't until everything went pear shaped that I actually got the shove to do something about it.
      I really hope....and believe that this is that little missing piece to the puzzle..
      Thanks for popping by and for taking the time to read the next instalment.
      Mardi x

    2. Hi Mardi
      I’m completely the same it’s been a rough couple of years . Our story is identical tho what I’ve found is what creams and oils I put on my skin have to be low salycilate as well ...

  2. oh mardi, they are all foods I love to eat and new foods like coconut oil that I have started eating.....finding food that you like must be nightmare and I wish you well..... sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we take action too....I know you can do it tho and say goodbye eczema forever...... good luck jenxo

    1. Thanks Jen.
      There is no doubt I'm in mourning for some of my favourite foods...all the foods I have been feeling so wholesome for eating....up until the penny dropped.

      It will be fine though.....Ill still make the very most of the healthy foods on the low sal list....and it will be all worth it in the end.

      The occasional little bit of my favourite foods wont matter so much once my bucket is empty so to speak.

      M x

  3. Wow've put so much effort into this you gotta keep going. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. So very interesting. Looking forward to this next battle and I'm sure you're gonna get on top of it. Good on you for your perseverance. You can do hard things. xxx Sue
    P.s. how is Alex?

    1. Thats how I feel point chucking in the towel so close to the finish
      Thanks for asking about Alex...she is doing well...she is 36 wks...and at home again to deliver locally now whenever bub decides to come.
      Mardi x

  4. Hi Mardi - not sure if you have heard of Sue Dengate but her website is - and she has recipe books and lots of info about salicylates. My cousin is the SA spokesperson for fed up so if you want more info let me know and I can get you her details. Sue usually tours around the country in July/August and usually speaks in Adelaide and often one or 2 country towns too. Her website will have more details about that. Hope this info is helpful - though really I hope you already know about her!

    1. Thanks for the info ...much appreciated.
      To be truthful I had heard of '' before....but it was only in the last few weeks I visited and spent some time familiarising myself.
      I will keep my eye out for anything upcoming in SA that I might possibly be able to get myself to.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment..
      Mardi x

  5. Oh Mardi what a bummer for you. My heart was sinking for you while i read this but i thought to myself that you will knock this bugger on its butt too. You are nothing if not persistent my dear friend!

    You have done the hard yards so far and that in itself will lead you to a shorter journey to find what is good for you right?, you have done all the hard work already, now to just turn it on its ear and get it working for you:)

    Another step towards you and your interest in holistic care and nutrition :)

    1. Yes my heart sank too when I realised all my lovely foods were out of bounds.
      I am still trying to settle into it....but I know Ill get there.
      The upside is I have noticed some improvements already.
      Mardi x

  6. Oh Mardi, that must have felt like a huge letdown (to put it mildly). You have worked so hard to fuel yourself with healthy foods and to find out that lots of them are causing your skin and gut issues must be so disappointing. Sending some hugs x

  7. Anonymous11:01 am

    OMG Mardi! Can't believe all these hoops & hurdles. Good luck warrior, you are amazing.
    Kate xo

  8. I Have a LOT of hope for you!!!! I am sensitive to salicylates, and, as it turns out, sulfites (you might want to look into that).

    My friends Becky and Sarah are helping me create delicious sulphite/salicylate free recipes! You can follow our culinary discoveries here:

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  10. Mardi, I am in the same boat. I've cried on and off for two days now. I have two small children that I suspect have the same problem as I do. We switched to mostly organic food, we have eliminated processed food and cut out added sugars. To my chagrin, I've realized that I've been eating highly salicylatic foods, and I'm paying for it big time. My eczema has gotten so bad...I can't really use my hands much for anything unless I have non-latex gloves on. It's been a nightmare that seems to be getting worse. This week it has shown up on my legs and face. The majority of my favorite foods are on the "Avoid At All Cost List." I'm trying to adjust to this new way of eating as I feel that I've come so far eating cleaner and healthier.

    Any advice? Any tips?

    1. Hi Tiffany...
      I feel so sad reading your sounds as though we are in exactly the same boat. and its tough and daunting.
      It seems unfair that by cleaning up out diet... feeding it all these beautiful nutrient rich foods that it would react so badly.

      I did find some useful sites (you may have already found these...but just in case)...
      these helped me to collate a list of foods and also to confirm in my own mind that salicylates had a role to play.

      I didn't find it easy though....I felt as though I was cutting out a whole lot of essential foods and I didn't like the overly restricted diet at all.

      So.... this is where I am at.... I almost totally cut out the foods that I know I am very intolerant too.... my main culprits are tomatoes...citrus... and capsicum / chilli.
      I printed and taped this chart to the inside of my pantry
      It refers to ADHD but is still a very complete and easy to read Salicylate chart.
      I find it very helpful and sometimes when I have an unexpected flare I refer to it and find an unknown culprit I hadn't thought a spice or herb.

      I mainly avoid only the foods listed as very high.....the others I seem to tolerate moderately.... my 'go to' foods are all in the negligible foods column. I eat a lot of bananas and

      I hope there may be something amongst this that helps.... I wish you all the best
      Hugs to you and your beautiful family.. xx

    2. OH My goodness, Tiffany! I could have written exactly what you just wrote. I am right where you are friend.

  11. So happy to have found this site. I am also in this boat. Lifelong eczema with "healthy eating" for the last 20 years. Tried every elimination diet out there. Low salicylate is the only one to make a difference. Hands so bad you can hardly use them and need to wear gloves for anything is my worst symptom. I used to love to cook, but not so much with this restricted diet.

  12. Hi, i am a 73 year old British lady who has just come to the conclusion that salicylates are my problem after years of suffering.I too was eating all the healthy foods and am feeling devastated. I am already very thin from restricting my diet due to avoiding the foods I react to and now find d i have to cut out even more! I suppose i should be grateful for the face treatment using aspirin that alerted me to this issue. I am glad to find i am not alone. J

  13. I just went through the same exact thing! I happened to stumble on the salicylate food Sensitivities I was thinking I am eating so healthy, but like you, still with issues, being gf/df all organic, and now this! Then I really started investigating...I can not take any aspirin orally, or even in a muscle patch.. immediate gastritis. Here I am drinking almond milk, eating almond yogurt and ice cream!Almonds contain salcin which is basically Salicylic Acid! Every vegetable I was eating was on the high list! I kinda flipped out...but I switched to soy milk, changed my fruits (not many to choose), as I do low fodmap yes this was a real shock...but I am glad to have found this out...doing it on my own, maybe since I found this I can really start feeling better! Cheri

  14. So happy to find your blog. This is me too! I try my best to eat healthy foods and then my skin just keeps getting worse and worse. I finally realized it's the citrus, coconut, avocado, pineapple and tomato! The list goes on of course. I don't know how to live without my my fave fruits and veggies. My journey is starting now and I am really hoping it helps with my asthma too.

  15. Read Salicylate Sensitivity. Com You can't cheat or win. People often think they are intolerant of bread/gluten because they blow up.In reality, they are eating bread that contains soya or broadbean flour...look closely at the details on the packaging of the loaf. Also, broadbean is high in you are going to have trouble!!
    If you liked bacon sandwiches and dare not nowadays, there is a way to enjoy again.Tell you later. Watch this space. PJ

  16. You're not alone in this. Having battled these types of issues for 9 years now I've struggled immensely.

    What I've found out recently is that Oxalates might be the culprit to salycilate sensitivities. Because they use the same pathways to detox, but Oxalates get stored in the body if it's burderened by more than the liver can filter out. So even if you eat "healthy" foods, you might end up with a salycilate issue. And then double that up with the more oxalate foods eaten the worse the problem gets. To push it further, you cannot just stop eating it and the problem goes away.

    The body has to get rid of the oxalates, and it happens in cycles. For some, daily, others weekly, or monthly. So the decreasing of these foods has to happen gradually (25% each week roughly) and then once the body clears up the salycilate bucket should be easier to keep a handle on. In return, it means being able to handle the foods again.

    Oxalates forms a tight binds with calcium in different forms. And the issue here is that once it transforms, it turns into a crystal form which can penetrate and damage tissue, membranes, cells etc. Believed to cause leaky gut, meaning more oxalate gets absorbed and compounding the problems.

    So if you want to learn more then there are many good sources of information.

    I have done a lot of reading and the subject is vastly complex, but I've found out that it can easily be tested and you'll see results quite quickly. I've compiled some lists for oxalates and salycilates. I usually cross reference both from different sources to see if they actually are in line with each other.

    My current list of foods

    Full list of foods

    Elliot Overton Oxalate Poisoning & dumping part 1

    Elliot Overton Oxalate Poisoning & dumping part 2
    Found on spotify etc

    "Are Salicylate Problems Really Just Oxalate Problems?"

    Supplements can be used to bind with the oxalates to make it less painful to "detox" it from the body. Aka, letting the body get rid of it by itself. Magnesium citrate is supposed to do so, but not much studies have been done.

    Another supplement is epsom salt baths which should help bind them from the blood so you can flush it out.

    I'm sorry this post is a bit messy, but I hope it can get you going on the path to see if there is something there. I had crazy oxalate dumping a few years back when I was drinking daily spinach smoothies etc. Going crazy not knowing why I was sure I'd pass away from the severe symptoms. Now I know what it was, and it has finally hit me what might be the underlaying cause of all my issues.

    1. Please listen to the podcast with Elliot Overton before trying to reduce oxalates. Dumping WILL cause flares in old wounds and where the body has weak points. You need to go slow. Best luck :)