Sulphite allergy

Sad isn’t it? Suffering from air-borne allergies is one thing, at least you can say that that is an act of nature, but suffering from an allergy to a man made additive is another.
However most are avoidable if you know what to look for and one of the most common additive groups that cause people problems is Sulphites and an amazing number of people do not even recognize the fact that it causing a problem.

Sulphites are added to processed foods to stop them spoiling and to keep them from browning or changing colour
. (Bright orange dried apricots are a good example).

The symptoms can vary from a stuffy/ runny nose, a mildly flushed face or a mild headache to abdominal pain, aching muscles, breathing difficulties, severe headache, irritability or anger and usually occur with in half an hour or so of consuming a sulphite additive. (Does this sound familiar?)

Because one of the major food groups that this additive appears in is wines and beers many people interpret these feelings as their being mildly (or majorly!) intoxicated and yet it is often not the alcohol causing the problem but the sulphite added.

Sulphites can also be the cause behind many asthma attacks.

Sulphites can be checked for in food products by simply checking the labels for the additive number code. Sulphur Dioxide (220) is in most wines, beers, many fruit juices and dried fruits as well as many other food products.

Look also for Sodium Sulphite (221), Sodium Hydrogen Sulphite (222), Sodium Metabisulphite (223) and Potassium Metabisulphite (224).
As a rule sulphites are found in higher levels in cask wines than bottled wine and at much higher concentrations in white wine than in red, where natural tannins help preserve the wine.

In some cases wine makers will state that they do not add sulphites to their wines but there will still be very low concentrations present due to the wine making process itself.
If you enjoy wines but find that you cannot drink them for this reason, try some of the European wines. Often the Sulphite level is less and your tolerance may be better, but be careful as not all the labels are accurate.

If you think you have been affected by a sulphite additive, often the symptoms can be alleviated by using a product containing Quercetin, which is a natural antihistamine. The effective dose will depend on the amount of sulphite consumed.
Available from on-line shop.

I have also seen a report some where that pointed to a deficiency of vitamin B12
being one of the reasons that some people can react worse than others to the ingestion of sulphites. This is because B12 has a part to play in the break down of sulphites into sulphates and excretion from the body. I tend to agree with this as I have seen an improvement in the tolerance of people taking B12 supplements.

I have also seen improvement where a good probiotic supplement is taken, preferably a very specific one made for inflammatory conditions of the gut.

Up-dated August 2014.