I have spent the last few months trying to figure out why my skin is sensitive to just about everything, including it appears, sunlight. Now that my garden and cottage seasons are winding down, I have more time to investigate. I’m getting desperate as my skin is still a mess, almost four months later. The prickly sensation on (just) one side of my neck is still driving me crazy, and most recently, my lips are always burning. The burn marks on my face have healed but have left (not so) lovely brown spots. Are these symptoms a result of salicylate sensitivity?
What is Salicylate and Why do Some People React to it?
You may recognize salicylate as salicylic acid, the main ingredient in the popular pain killer known as aspirin. It’s also a natural pesticide produced by plants for their protection. That explains why so many fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs contain high levels of salicylates, while meat and (unflavoured) dairy products are salicylate-free.
According to Healthline:
Salicylate sensitivity is thought to be caused by an overproduction of leukotrienes — inflammatory mediators that have been linked to a variety of conditions, including asthma, allergic rhinitis, anaphylaxis, rheumatoid arthritis, and interstitial lung diseasesHealthline.com
Symptoms of Salicylate Sensitivity
There are lots of symptoms of salicylate sensitivity, the one that set off warning bells for me was the skin reactions I have been plagued with recently. Here are a few other symptoms:
- asthma-like symptoms like wheezing or difficulty breathing
- stomach pain
- itching, skin rash, or hives
- nasal congestion
- swelling of hands, feet, and face
- changes in skin colour
- gassiness, nausea, diarrhea
- lack of energy
The Salicylate Handbook
I’ve just started reading a book by author Sharla Race titled The Salicylate Handbook; it’s fast becoming my favourite resource for all information about my possible salicylate sensitivity. You can purchase it at Amazon in Kindle or paperback format. My favourite piece of (very reassuring) information so far is this:
A key factor to remember is that it is impossible to 100% avoid all salicylates and it would be unadvisable to try. Your aim is always to reduce the level of salicylates in your body to the point at which unwanted symptoms reduce and, hopefully, completely stop. Then, the aim is to maintain the diet in such a way that symptoms do not reappear.
If you follow this blog, you will know I am addicted to my morning smoothies. Over the years, I have been eating healthier (and feeling much better) after learning of my sensitivity to wheat. That discovery eliminated so many foods. Then I became aware of destructive lectins in our foods so tried to eliminate (most of) them from my diet.
So why, all of a sudden, is my skin reacting?
Well, it turns out that most of the foods I currently consume, (mainly meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy fats, red wine) are all high in salicylates.
The book mentioned above explains the possibility of a buildup in my body, or more precisely, my liver. I started noticing the changes in my skin this past summer (mid-July). What I realized very recently is that I started adding rosemary, oregano and thyme as well as celery and more cucumbers to my daily concoctions this same summer. All of these (assumed to be healthy) ingredients just happen to be on the HIGH list of salicylate contents. Added to my long-time favourite ingredients, (avocado, blueberries, pineapple, and green tea) that also right up there high on the salicylate list, I may just be in salicylate overload.
Coincidence? We will see, as I slowly go through the process of revamping my smoothie recipe from scratch, starting with the food items that contain negligible amounts of salicylate. Perhaps I am over-analyzing (and slightly paranoid) but as I have not yet been able to find a new doctor since mine retired I don’t have much choice than to self-advocate and try to figure it out on my own.
I do believe that we can and should be aware of how foods affect our individual bodies. No one else can monitor our own bodies as well as we can. I also know that both the interior and exterior of my body have always been ultra-sensitive. From food and drinks to hygiene products, medicine, and makeup, I first became aware of these sensitivities when in my teens. (a few years ago)
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