Understanding Salicylate Sensitivity: Key Assessments & Approaches

Salicylate intolerance is a less common yet impactful condition that can significantly affect your health. It doesn’t seem to receive as much attention as histamine intolerance or oxalate overload, but understanding salicylate intolerance is crucial for those who experience its symptoms. In this article we’ll delve into the world of salicylate intolerance, discussing its symptoms, causes, and most importantly, two key evaluations and recommendations for managing this condition effectively.

Salicylates: Nature’s Defence Mechanism

Salicylates are plant chemicals that play a vital role in defending plants against various environmental threats, such as bacteria and fungi. These compounds are widely distributed in various plant-based foods, making them an integral part of many diets. However, some individuals develop an intolerance to salicylates, leading to a range of bizarre symptoms that can be hard to pin down. These symptoms can often overlap with other conditions like histamine intolerance and leaky gut, making diagnosis and management challenging.

They are found in a range of foods and herbs in differing levels. Top of the list here would be

Olives and olive oil
Coconut products
Capsicum (aka bell peppers)
Tomatoes
A ton of fruit
Almonds

As mentioned above there are salicylates on many more foods and herbs but let’s start here!

Common Symptoms of Salicylate Intolerance

Salicylate intolerance manifests through a diverse array of symptoms that can affect different parts of the body. Some of the typical symptoms include:

  1. Nausea
  2. Swelling, particularly in the hands and face
  3. Skin issues, such as rashes and dermatitis
  4. Earaches
  5. Dizziness
  6. Sinus congestion
  7. Headaches

Here you can see strong overlaps with other food triggers so testing for salicylate intolerance is key. I recommend the Great Plains (aka mosaic) Organic Acid Test to patients all the time in the Byron Herbalist clinic. For more information on working together simply click the banner below.

Beyond the OAT test (image below) I haven’t found a great way to test for salicylate intolerance. From here we go with the treatment being the test which is equally as helpful. How much better do you feel when we restrict salicylates and treat with some approaches below.

Testing Your Urinary pH – Salicylate Intolerance Approach #1

One of the primary evaluations and support for salicylate intolerance involves testing the urinary pH. Maintaining an alkaline urinary pH is essential for effectively eliminating salicylates through the kidneys and urine. To assess urinary pH, it’s recommended to use pH strips and regularly test your urinary pH over a week, at least two to four hours away from meals and not your first morning urine.

If your urinary pH consistently falls below 6.5, it indicates that your body is too acidic to efficiently eliminate salicylates. I call this re-toxifying yourself. If you can’t effectively eliminate then overtime you will build up an excess and develop symptoms.

In such cases, supplementation with alkalising minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium bound to citrates can help restore a more alkaline state, promoting better salicylate elimination and reducing symptoms.

The Sulphate Pathway: Salicylate Intolerance Approach #2

Another essential evaluation for salicylate intolerance and support revolves around the sulphate (or sulfate) metabolism pathway. Adequate sulphate levels in the body are required to power the phenyl sulfur transferase enzyme, which detoxifies phenols and salicylates. While direct testing for sulphate levels is challenging, a promising approach involves optimising sulphate availability through methods like Epsom salt baths. You can get these at an affordable price online as I like to dose high (as tolerated) and work back.

This approach involves a strong Epsom salt bath (up to four cups of magnesium sulphate) in hot water for approximately 10-15 minutes each night for a week. Epsom salt baths provide sulphate that can support the enzyme’s function, aiding the detoxification of salicylates. It’s important to start slowly and gradually increase the frequency and duration of Epsom salt baths, especially for individuals who are sensitive to changes.

Another Angle to Salicylate Intolerance

While salicylate intolerance presents with diverse symptoms and challenges, there are practical and effective ways to manage the condition.

Initially testing using the Great Plains OAT test then moving onto evaluating urinary pH and optimising sulphate metabolism which can significantly improve the body’s ability to process and eliminate salicylates. These evaluations, combined with addressing underlying factors like microbial imbalances, nutrient deficiencies and metabolic stress, can offer a comprehensive approach to managing salicylate intolerance.

Remember everyones response to these recommendations may vary, and a personalised approach, guided by healthcare professionals, is essential.

Interested in the complexities of salicylate intolerance and its management? Stay tuned for future articles where we’ll explore the glycine deficiency link, glucuronidation pathways, and more in-depth strategies to improve this condition.

Legal and Affiliate Disclosures: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you decide to make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here

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15 comments

    1. I would bet anything you are living in mold, even if unseen. Get the house tested using an ERMI test. Every one of his symptoms are triggered by mold. Especially the bedwetting and asthma. The food sensitivities too, b/c the mold affects the gut or he is already developing mast cell activation, which can also cause the food sensitivities and the salicylate sensitivity. I have MCAS and salicylate sensitivity (along with 100 other issues now) and my daughter had the regression into night time bedwetting. I was a neat freak and missed hidden mold. Took 5 inspectors and several tests to find it. Good Luck.

  1. Does glycine help ? What if I feel the vegetable cellulose is a problem? I’ve been dismissed for 4 years and now I can’t tolerate anything plant related –

    1. Look into Mast cell activation syndrome and make sure you are not living in mold. You need to test the home using an ERMI dust sample. I lost all of my food except chicken and carrots at one point and plants were the worst for me. If you are sensitive to all plants, you are probably also having an issue with oxalates and lectins, which many mast cell patients struggle with. Mast cell is most generally triggered by mold.

  2. Hi, thank you for this insightful article. I am salicylate intolerant and I am affected severely by some foods more than others. I will be 40 years this year but I’ve realized that some of the symptoms that I’ve experienced for years, such as eczema and bed wetting as a child, swelling of the fingers, rhinitis, tinnitus and panic attacks, confirm that I’ve had this for quite some time. I’m going to send this article to my health care provider to see if the approaches that you mentioned can be used to help me. Thank you again

    1. You need to look into WHY you have the intolerance. Your symptoms also describe mold toxicity to a tee, which is a major trigger for food intolerances. I have salicylate, lectin and oxalate intolerance along with histamine intolerance all starting AFTER major mold exposure but had probably been exposed early in life and struggling unknowingly throughout my entire life. I have or have had every single one of your symptoms. This indicates an issue detoxifying mold, which can also have a genetic cause. Treat the root cause (mold) and you can get rid of or significantly minimize all of the intolerances. Definitely related to detox pathways which can get clogged by mold, thus increasing issues with food. Probably have complete gut health destruction too, which mold is good at. Good Luck.

      1. ESF, I agree with you 100%. Mold is a phenol, salicylates are a type of phenol. And those who are the sickest from mold exposure and illness develope salicylate intolerance as well as phenol intolerance, so herbal treatments are not an option until this can be resolved (not easy to do).. And we are often those who are most the difficult to treat as often practitioners don’t know what to do with us. sals/phenol intolerance isn’t studied as in-depth as say histamine, Sals, phenols and mold are all detoxified via the same glucuronidation & sulphur pathways, which are plugged up with toxic metabolites and overload due to impact mold causes the body. Oxalates & sulphur intolerance join the spiral as well as many other intolerances.

  3. My name is Steven I’m 26 years old, I have a salisylate intolerance, how do I calm down a reaction if I consumed something with, the many things I like eating is fish,eggs,bread and meat, but I wanna avoid eating things like tomatoes, apples, plums, cherries, or any other type of fruit, I can only have bananas and pears. (Peeled), is fish oil, a good remedy, stopping a salisylate reaction?

    1. Hi Steven, thanks for the input. I haven’t seen fish oil to be particularly helpful for dealing with a salicylate intolerance. Treat any gut imbalances in the small bowel, improve detox substrates (sulphur mainly) and alkalise the urine if necessary too.

    2. I just found this trial where people pre-medicated with Capsaicin pills before ingesting Salicylate-containing foods and they had no adverse effects.

  4. I found on the Internet that salicylate is sensitive due to a malfunction of the second phase of liver detoxification. Grapefruit juice, cigarettes (tobacco), pomegranate juice, turmeric accelerate this process. I smoke and there are no problems.

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