Sulphites, the silent killer

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12Linus17
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Date Joined Feb 2014
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   Posted 4/27/2015 10:17 PM (GMT -7)   
We need to make more people aware of the danger in sulphites. I have a friend who is severely allergic to sulphites, sulfates, sulfur and affiliated preservative chemicals. There is no know antidote yet, just having to stay away from such foods containing certain ingredients. Her reactions vary from a swelling in her hands to full blown swelling of her face, throat and tongue(very scary). There are other symptoms for people; like bloating, upset stomach or even diarrhea. The worst is a chemically induced sleep. Should you wish to know more or just need a little help in dealing with it, please leave a note. Or should you have found some foods safe to eat or a restaurant that is willing to cook a special dish for you, let us know too. We are not doctors but we have done a lot of research on the topic.

Alcie
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Date Joined Oct 2009
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   Posted 4/28/2015 6:52 AM (GMT -7)   
Welcome to the forum.

There is literally a ton of information on this forum about sulfite (sulphite) sensitivity and allergy. If you have a question, the place to start is the search box at the top of the page. It will keep you reading for several days, at least.

Your friend sounds like she has the actual allergy. I don't, but some here do have it.

You are right, avoidance is the only "treatment."

You have one mistaken thing - sulfates are not the problem, except possibly in soaps and shampoos. It's the sulfite group that causes the reaction. We can't live without certain sulfates. There are some links in the archives with great information.

There are plenty of foods we can eat. We mostly just have to avoid processed and preserved things. I can't eat deli meats because of the artificial coloring but am fine with meats, other than pork, if I cook it myself without adding garlic or onions and mixed spices. Vegetables are mostly OK in my diet except for the ones in the onion or cruciferous groups. Individual spices are mostly fine, but avoid ones labeled with sulfite. Fruits are all good, but lemon and lime juice in plastic bottles are all sulfited unless they are frozen.

Some restaurants are just fine, some use processed foods, like canned or frozen potatoes. Eating out can be hazardous.

Bottom line is read labels!

If your friend has the "true" allergy, she needs to be under the care of a good allergist who has experience with sulfite patients. She can carry a pack of Epi pens in case she gets life-threatening swelling, but will need to get to a hospital if she has to use them, because those are preserved with sulfites too.

Tell her Best Wishes from us!

12Linus17
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Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 4/28/2015 8:16 AM (GMT -7)   
Thank you for the update. Unfortunately the epi pen contains sulphites. as does the IVs. The allergist had the same advise as the doctor, "stay away from Sulphites". Frozen vegetables have it as does sea food. Can't even pickup a salmon from the docks now. A lot of restaurants can't serve her because most of them don't know much about sulphites. Earls, in Richmond, BC is willing to help and there is nothing at the Spaghetti Factory. Dried fruits are out and deli meats as well as turkey breast or chicken in most places unless it is one complete with legs and wings. There are very few baked goods(from a bakery) she can have and only 2 kinds of bread she can get as well as my homemade bread. Did you know that molasses and vinegar as well as red 40 are in there too?

Alcie
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Date Joined Oct 2009
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   Posted 4/29/2015 8:30 AM (GMT -7)   
Yes, epi pen is sulfited, but it can stop a reaction to something else long enough to get to a hospital where one can get treated. Actually, they come in 2-packs, and it usually takes both of them to last long enough to get rescued.

IVs don't all contain sulfites. There's no preservative in a saline bag. Frozen veggies don't have sulfites unless they contain onions or garlic or sauces. Frozen juices are clean too, although bottled non-frozen lemon and lime juice are heavily sulfited.

Eating in an Italian restaurant is chancy because they use a lot of garlic. I have to avoid them too.
Bakeries today often buy their products frozen. If they cook from scratch you can ask if they use "dough conditioners" which do contain sulfites. Deli meats contain caramel color, which is sulfited, but it's OK in moeration if you only have the mild sensitivity. Yellow #5 is even worse than red. The Lake colors are OK. Rice vinegar is clean. Unsulfured molasses is OK for most people.

For more complete lists there are many good websites. Ignore the ones that just post copies.
www.learningtarget.com/nosulfites/index.htm is a good place to start.

12Linus17
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Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 4/30/2015 9:16 AM (GMT -7)   
How does this allergy affect people? What are the symptoms? What do they usually do at the hospital?

Alcie
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Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 4906
   Posted 4/30/2015 7:10 PM (GMT -7)   
Sulfites can affect people in many ways. Each person has their own symptoms.

Some people get horrible migraines.. These people can have this effect as much as 2 days after consuming their trigger level.

Some people, the ones with true allergy, can have the throat closing, difficulty breathing, etc - which why those people need to carry an epi pen. Those people may also have problems with sulfites on skin, as in detergents or skin creams or shampoos. There's a link, on the link I gave you, to Housemouse's story.

I get gastrointestinal issues which can go on to affect my heart. If I would go out to dinner and eat some delicious barbecued baby back ribs my stomach and esophagus become unhappy and I start heaving. If I eat more than a single bite I can plan on getting tachycardia because the vagus nerve runs to the major organs and what triggers one can trigger any or all. Often my large intestine gets moving and I can have diarrhea. The stomach-heart reaction is called cardioesophageal reflex. (That reaction can go the other way too. But that's another story.)

At the hospital all they can do is teat your symptoms. I can give myself heart meds, from my cardiologist. But if my tachycardia continues and I can't get it under control I have needed to have my heart reset. Once the reaction from just eating some cereal with dried fruit got my stomach going and then triggered a heart attack by causing the coronary arteries to spasm. I needed a couple of stents from that.

There is a lot more information on the readingtarget link, explanations, how to calculate the amount of sulfite in the foods you eat and how to figure your tolerance. I tolerate about 2000 micrograms.

Thinking of seafood, since the sulfite is on the surface, it's easy to wash it off. I get along fine with seafood if it's been cleaned well. Don't count on that though! I wash shrimp after I peel them, not just before. I take the skin off fish if I cook it myself and don't eat skin when eating out.

Here's how you find your tolerances and indeed, if in fact you have a sulfite problem in the first place:
Keep a food journal! It's easy and free to just keep a notebook on the kitchen counter and list all the foods, beverages, medicines I eat every day, along with the time. Then, if there's a reaction I note that with time too. There's lots more on that - see the archives - search box at the top of the page.

Happy reading!

12Linus17
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 5/2/2015 10:44 PM (GMT -7)   
So what is it the hospital can do to treat the symptoms? How can a suphited epi pen help with a sulphite reaction? So the sulphites that are added to seafood can be washed off? Is it not absorbed in to the flesh?

Alcie
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Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 4906
   Posted 5/3/2015 5:03 AM (GMT -7)   
Are there any particular reactions you are asking about?

Your friend's reaction is a "true allergic" reaction, not just the sensitivity most of us have. Even though epi pens have sulfite, this person should carry one to be able to make it to the hospital where they can support breathing. It might be that Benadryl or other antihistamine will be effective, but if the throat is closing it might not be possible to swallow them. The liquid forms of Benadryl contain sulfite. I don't know about the IV liquids, so research that!

All a hospital can do is treat symptoms. There is no "cure" other than avoidance. There is no specific treatment for sulfite reaction. For a throat closing allergic reaction there are IV antihistamines. If you have a migraine you may be able to get something for pain. In my case, with supraventricular tachycardia, I get heart meds to slow it. If that doesn't work I've had "chemical cardioversion." I've been lucky to avoid needing getting shocked. Some people may just get really bad stomach pain, vomiting and there are meds for that.

As far as I know you can wash off most of the sulfite that is sprayed on fish and shrimp on the boats. At least I've had no trouble with seafood. Of course, it's possible to have an allergy to some seafood that is not related to sulfite! If one has a reaction to seafood the person should get tested by an allergist! The allergist can't really tell if you have a reaction to sulfite, but can eliminate shrimp or some types of fish. I would not eat fish that is deep-fried with shrimp in a restaurant. I would not eat shrimp unless I was assured it was washed, peeled, and washed again, and I was tested for a regular shrimp allergy.

The only way to find your food intolerances and your reactions is to keep a food journal.

For more kinds of reactions please read Rick's book which is in the link I posted previously.

Razzle
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Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 4399
   Posted 5/5/2015 9:47 AM (GMT -7)   
Yes, some frozen and canned vegetables do contain sulfites. Some companies add sulfites to the cooking water to prevent rusting of the commercial cooking/canning & freezing equipment.

When I get anaphylaxis from exposure to sulfites, I find the best thing is to take oral Vitamin B12 (methylcobolamin) spray, an antihistamine (Claritin, Benadryl, etc. - but Benadryl actually works better than the nondrowsy kind), Molybdenum (a mineral supplement), and homeopathic medicine (Nux V and Ipecac - homeopathic treatment for the inevitable nausea, vomiting & diarrhea). I also try to get a Vitamin B12 shot, but can't always do that.

The Benadryl stops the swelling in my throat & airway, and also helps stop the sensation that I'm going to pass out. The Molybdenum & Vitamin B12 help my body's sulfite oxidase enzyme, needed for converting harmful sulfites into harmless sulfates, to work better (also need to be regularly getting enough Magnesium, Zinc & Iron to support this enzyme pathway).

I've also used the oral Vitamin B12 spray on my skin when I get a rash from topical exposure to sulfites (tap water often has sulfites in it).
-Razzle

Chronic Lyme, Bart., Gluten & Sulfite Sensitivity, Many Food/Inhalant/Medication/Chemical Allergies & Intolerances, Asthma, Gut dysmotility & non-specific inflammation, Lupus, Osteoporosis, etc.; G-Tube; TPN-dependent
Meds: Flagyl, Essential Oils, Homeopathy, Herbs, etc.

12Linus17
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Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 5/9/2015 9:20 AM (GMT -7)   
I am glad that that kind of Benadryl works for you. I would like to know where to get that kind to see if it is alright for my friend as well as that spray B12.

Razzle
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 4399
   Posted 5/9/2015 1:24 PM (GMT -7)   
I get the Pure Advantage Vitamin B12 spray from vitacost.com

The Benadryl is just the over-the-counter tablets from the drug store. I've also used IV Benadryl, but this is only available by prescription.
-Razzle

Chronic Lyme, Bart., Gluten & Sulfite Sensitivity, Many Food/Inhalant/Medication/Chemical Allergies & Intolerances, Asthma, Gut dysmotility & non-specific inflammation, Lupus, Osteoporosis, etc.; G-Tube; TPN-dependent
Meds: Flagyl, Essential Oils, Homeopathy, Herbs, etc.

12Linus17
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 5/11/2015 5:30 AM (GMT -7)   
So Razzle, how bad is your sulfur, sulfa, sulphite(sulfite), sulfate allergy?

Razzle
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 4399
   Posted 5/12/2015 6:13 AM (GMT -7)   
12Linus17,

I go into anaphylaxis if I ingest sulfites (throat swelling, difficulty breathing (airway spasms), heartburn/acid reflux & esophagus spasms, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, shaking chills, etc.).

Topical exposure (e.g., lotions, etc.) causes a very itchy rash. If I inhale sulfites (e.g., car exhaust, etc.), I get Asthma, and sometimes also heartburn/acid reflux (because inhaled substances can sometimes get swallowed a little bit too).
-Razzle

Chronic Lyme, Bart., Gluten & Sulfite Sensitivity, Many Food/Inhalant/Medication/Chemical Allergies & Intolerances, Asthma, Gut dysmotility & non-specific inflammation, Lupus, Osteoporosis, etc.; G-Tube; TPN-dependent
Meds: Flagyl, Essential Oils, Homeopathy, Herbs, etc.

12Linus17
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 5/12/2015 9:59 AM (GMT -7)   
If this is your reaction, why to you ingest so many sulphites when you can stay away from them? If my friend was to take these products, she would be dead!!! Your comments are not making sense to us.

achievinggrace
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Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 3266
   Posted 5/12/2015 10:51 AM (GMT -7)   
12Linus17, I don't think Razzle actually ingests those foods. That was just a way of showing how extreme Razzle's allergy reaction is. It is encouraging that Razzle has found a way to control such an extreme allergy, isn't it?
Forum Moderator

12Linus17
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Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 5/12/2015 11:27 AM (GMT -7)   
I am sorry but Razzle mentions that Benadryl helps and that the need for Magnesium, iron and zinc could be needed. All of those contain sulphites, most in the form of cellulose which you may know is made from wood fiber broken down with the use of Sulfur. I too am trying to help people by use of the knowledge and research we have done. I just want to make sure that we are on the same page as she has found, from a Doctor at the hospital, (she went in when she was in a bad state), and the Doctor went through this book and said there was nothing they could do for her. Everything they had contained sulphites. We are reading the ingredient list of everything we may buy to see what it contains and 90+% of products contains some form of sulphites, as does most medicine, in the non-medicinal ingredients. Thank you for your concern.

12Linus17
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 5/12/2015 11:31 AM (GMT -7)   
I am sorry Razzle. Maybe you were not aware of the sulphites in those products.

achievinggrace
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Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 3266
   Posted 5/12/2015 3:33 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks for clearing that up, 12Linus17!
Forum Moderator

Razzle
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Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 4399
   Posted 5/12/2015 3:40 PM (GMT -7)   
Yes, I'm aware of sulfites in those products. Sulfites are impossible to avoid completely. However, everyone's sensitivity level is different - each person can handle a certain amount of sulfite without symptoms.

I happen to have a very, very low threshold of tolerance to sulfites, so very small amounts of sulfites can trigger reactions for me. But when I regularly take the nutritional support for the CBS methylation gene SNP's I have, my tolerance increases to some degree despite the sulfites in those supplements. The Vitamin B12 injections help the most, followed by the Molybdenum supplements. I don't swallow the capsules, I open up the capsule and take the contents, so at least I'm avoiding the sulfites in the capsule itself.

Thanks for your concern Linus, I do appreciate what you're saying and I do wish this world would stop using sulfites in everything. But I don't know of any other alternatives for these products that would have less sulfites. If you know of such alternatives, please suggest them. Thanks,
-Razzle

Chronic Lyme, Bart., Gluten & Sulfite Sensitivity, Many Food/Inhalant/Medication/Chemical Allergies & Intolerances, Asthma, Gut dysmotility & non-specific inflammation, Lupus, Osteoporosis, etc.; G-Tube; TPN-dependent
Meds: Flagyl, Essential Oils, Homeopathy, Herbs, etc.

supermum
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Date Joined Aug 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 9/29/2017 12:22 PM (GMT -7)   
I need help please

12Linus17
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 9/29/2017 1:27 PM (GMT -7)   
I can try to see if I can help in respect to any sulfur, sulfa, sulfite, sulfate issues. I am not an expert but I have a friend that has a serve, almost deadly, reaction to these added to our food chemicals.

Alcie
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 4906
   Posted 9/30/2017 7:27 AM (GMT -7)   
Dear Supermum,
What is your problem? Lots of us on this forum have allergy/sensitivity to sulfites. If you put some keywords in the search box at the top of the page you can find just about any sort of reaction or food containing sulfites.

There is no cure and not many treatments for sulfite intolerance. Avoidance works well though.

BBH83
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2017
Total Posts : 14
   Posted 10/24/2017 8:23 AM (GMT -7)   
Just because your friend is allergic does not mean it is a silent killer. People are not dropping dead over sulfite allergies.

I am allergic to the antibiotics but I take a sulfa blood pressure pill for PMS bloat water weight retention and I have zero issues. The shape of thr molecule plays a role in thr allergies people have to sulfites. The sulfite is not thr allergen. It is how thr body metabolizes it and in that stage it can be an allergen to them...or go on wothout issue.

I would have a blood test if my face swelled after coming into things without assuming sulites were killing me. The best antibioics are sulfa drugs.

Judianne
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2017
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 10/25/2017 5:45 AM (GMT -7)   
I saw a comment earlier that Ventolin has SULFITE in.... this is incorrect it has SULFATE in it, which is not related to SULFITES (sulphites) it has an entirely different structure. If you are Asthmatic you need to stay away from SULFITES (SULPHITES) and carefully study SALICYLATE foods (eg: CORN and if you are GLUTEN FREE you need to be very careful as MOST GLUTEN FREE PRODUCTS CONTAIN CORN. I am Sulphite, Nitrate, Gluten and Corn free after lifelong struggles. Severe joint pain, Asthma, Diarrhea, chronic stomach pain and bloating.......very debilitating. Just recently decided to try Apple Cider Vinegar honey and warm water before meals because I was told I had IBS (Dietician and Gastrologist said it won't hurt you) and finished up in Emergency with Asthma. Very little off the shelf products are suitable if you are Gluten/Corn free, best to go all organic and cook your own foods, sadly no eating out as I have been sick many times having been accidentally Glutened ordering a so called Gluten Free meal due to the fact people aren't aware just how easy it is to cross contaminate. I do hope some of my information helps someone else.

Alcie
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Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 4906
   Posted 10/26/2017 6:21 AM (GMT -7)   
BBH83 - Thanks for your input. What is is about the shape of the molecule and what is the metabolite to which you refer?

As for dropping dead, unfortunately we can, and I very nearly did. I have had a number of trips to the ER for severe reaction, one time a heart attack, triggered by sulfites. My reaction is esophagus and stomach triggering the vagus nerve which causes my coronary arteries to spasm, causing supraventricular tachycardia.

Because I keep a food journal (see many posts on this subject in the archives) I have learned my trigger foods and my sulfite limit (2000 micrograms). My heart attack was triggered by a small bowl of cereal with dried fruit.

Example of food journal results: If I eat a slice of pumpkin pie, even my own, made with a normal pumpkin pie spice mix, I always react. If I use separate spices and leave out ginger or use fresh ginger, I do not react, as long as I limit my portion because sugar has sulfite too.

I have a rule of thumb now when shopping: If the ingredient list is longer than a half inch or a centimeter and a half, or 10 ingredients if it's small print, I simply don't buy it. I one time ate a store brand chicken pot pie, very delicious, with over 100 ingredients and ended up in the ER, of course.

Judianne - That apple cider vinegar would send me to the hospital too. It's loaded with sulfite, as are many fermented foods. Most of my doctors (gastroenterologist, cardiologist) don't believe in sulfite sensitivity, but my allergist (3rd one) does, and she got me started on the food journal.

I'm OK with corn, but everything made from it has sulfite.
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