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  1. #1
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    Allergic to sea salt??

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    Does this sound crazy?

    As mentioned elsewhere, I had a big problem with hives and dermatographia (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/Dermatographia/DS00755) back in July. I had crab cakes for lunch that day, so most likely it was an allergic reaction to the crab meat. The allergist did tests which were negative, but he also said that food allergy tests are more likely to return a false negative than tests for other allergens (like pollen), so I need to do a field test by actually eating a small bit of crab to see what happens. I have not done this yet, because I was waiting for winter to come so I don't wind up with another case of hives that keep me from enjoying good cycling weather. In fact, I have avoided all shellfish since that day.

    But, I have had three milder cases of the same allergic symptoms since then. The only unusual thing I ate before the first (and worst) of these three cases was Newman's Own pepperoni pizza. The second time, I had tried one of the new holiday Cliff bars (cranberry and orange). The third time, I had eaten Amy's organic frozen pizza rolls. All the other foods I ate on those days were things I eat frequently with no allergy symptoms.

    The common ingredient in all three foods is sea salt. I think the pizza had more of it than the other foods, based on the amount I ate and the fact that they use sea salt to naturally cure the pepperoni.

    I googled, and found some web sites where people say they are allergic to sea salt. But I know you can find pretty much anything on the internet, and it might not actually be true; there might be other things that really cause the symptoms that people have not been able to isolate. So does it sound crazy to be allergic to sea salt? I think the idea is that the salt itself is not the problem; rather it's microorganisms that remain on it after the sea water has evaporated. So the same proteins that cause a shellfish allergy might be involved.

    I have some other foods at home with sea salt in them (Kashi crackers, low-sodium soups, organic canned kidney beans) so I'm going to do more testing. But knowing there could be a placebo effect, I was wondering what you alls thought.

    Thanks as always for your wisdom!!

    p.s. the cranberry-orange Clif bar was tasty.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Interesting. Can't be of help since I don't have that type of allergy.

    But here's a question: If you ate seaweed, would you have same allergic reaction? I'm not sure if nori sheets for sushi qualify for this. But certainly any packaged seaweed, dried, then rehydrated for cooking, could be part of the test.

    I know, esoteric. But something to add to your arsenal of testing.

    So it sounds as if for restaurant eating, you have been and continue to be like a hawk in terms of what you order?

    I haven't even gotten around to buying any salt for home since I moved. That's nearly past 3 wks. I've been relying on abit of soy sauce to flavour savoury food dishes.
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  3. #3
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    Apr 2006
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    Could it be the higher levels of iodine?

    Contrast CT scans can get really exciting when the patient turns out to have an iodine allergy...
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Concord, MA
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    Oh yea, I have that allergy.
    I ate shellfish all of my life until, at age 35, we were on a vacation here, on Cape Cod, searching for a house in the Boston area, preparing for our move from AZ. I ate a lobster roll and within 10 minutes was having a serious reaction, lips tingling, etc. I took my allergy meds and inhaler and never touched shellfish again. This was at the time I was having a lot of asthma/allergy issues. For awhile, I couldn't drink wine, either (sulfites). I can eat scallops, though.
    Three years ago, when I was going through all of those medical tests, I had an abdominal CT scan. Within 10 seconds of the dye being injected, my right eye swelled shut and I had the hive the size of an egg on my wrist. Although I had no issues breathing, etc. I totally freaked out, so they shot me up with Benedryl and epinephrine and DH had to come get me at the ER. I kept telling them I didn't want the dye, as my mom had an iodine allergy. But no, they insisted.
    I hope I never need stress test where they need to see your arteries, or any of the other things my DH has had.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    I don't believe that sea salt has iodine. It is to added in commercial salt, but does not occur naturally in sea salt.

    Could it be MSG? I'd be surprised if Newman's and Amy's had MSG, but with all the huge company buy-outs, it would not surprise me if those companies have been bought be a larger company that did not stay true to the founders' philosphy of healthy food.

    Stay away from shellfish. I get slight tingling in my fingers and lips, but that's enough to keep me away.

  6. #6
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    Iodine does occur naturally in sea salt.

    It does not occur in NaCl commercial salt, which is why it is added during manufacture.

    Man-made table salt has standardized amounts of iodine. Sea salt iodine occurs in varying amounts.
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the clarification. It's no wonder that I nearly flunked chemistry in high school! My container of California Sea Salt states, "This salt does not supply iodide, a necessary nutrient." I guess iodide and iodine are different, huh?

    NYB, I hope you figure out what's going on so you can avoid those reactions. They sound quite uncomfortable.

  8. #8
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    Sep 2005
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    You can hardly be allergic to two elements that are absolutely essential to basically all body functions.

    Maybe something IN sea salt, but not the Na or the Cl.


    rabbit - whose alpine origins may have something to do with an increasing intolerance to invertebrates. The last crab had its revenge on me.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by tulip View Post
    Thanks for the clarification. It's no wonder that I nearly flunked chemistry in high school! My container of California Sea Salt states, "This salt does not supply iodide, a necessary nutrient." I guess iodide and iodine are different, huh?
    Naw, they're pretty much the same thing. But since sea salt from that patch of California salt flat may not have the minimal required amount needed for proper thyroid function, they have to label it as being deficient. Salt from another patch of salt flat or from one salt mine or another may have the minimal amount, or may have much more than the minimal amount.

    Goiter hardly ever showed up in sea-shore cultures, so a lifetime of eating from the sea does supply enough iodine. But if all a person gets is sea salt (and not sea food) they may not get enough. Or, if they happen to be lucky enough to get sea salt with a lot of natural iodine they may get plenty.

    I read a really interesting book about early 1900's inland China, and the rampant goiter in the population. Meanwhile, up in the Himalaya there was less goiter because of the access to salt from the Himalayan salt deposits (and fossilized sea creatures, way up high in the mountains! its a very cool area geologically.)
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by alpinerabbit View Post
    You can hardly be allergic to two elements that are absolutely essential to basically all body functions.
    Maybe something IN sea salt, but not the Na or the Cl.
    That makes sense to me.
    Once when I was waitressing i had a woman customer who told me they were 'deathly allergic to salt' and they couldn't have anything on the menu with salt in it. i told her that pretty much eliminated everything except a salad with plain olive oil on it and herbs. She then asked about the chicken soup, and I said I was sure it had salt in it, though not overly huge amounts. She ordered it anyway, saying 'a little salt would be ok'.

    I got that kind of thing regularly while waitressing. I'm not saying some people aren't seriously and genuinely allergic to some things. But I too wonder how one can be allergic to a mineral or nutrient that we need in our bodies to survive? Like Alpinerabbit, I too would first suspect other ingredients like preservatives, dyes, texturizers, additives, etc.
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Here's more than you wanted to know about iodine allergy.

    http://www.ajronline.org/cgi/reprint/169/4/951
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 11-11-2010 at 09:28 AM.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    northern Virginia
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    I did a skin test last night. Put some sea salt in my hand, added a little water and rubbed it on my right wrist. Did the same thing with table salt on my left wrist. Sat down to watch tv. After a few minutes, my right wrist started to itch and some red bumps appeared. Left wrist was fine.

    This weekend I will try ingesting it.

    If this is a problem, I know it's not the salt. It's the "sea" aspect that is potentially the allergen. And fwiw, although I would like to find a cause for the allergy I do not want to be allergic to sea salt. It will be hard to avoid. Even Wendy's is starting to use it on their fries.

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  13. #13
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    Just read an article tonight about eating well for your thyroid, and making sure to get adequate iodine was one of the things mentioned. And yep, sea salt was one of the foods they listed that was a good source of iodine. Lemme see if I can find it.... Here t'is: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/foo...r-thyroid.html

    Sure sounds like you might have an iodine allergy, from your past flare-ups and the test you did on your arm!
    Emily

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  14. #14
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    Well, now I know why I get allergic symptoms when I eat things that I know I'm not allergic to. They must have sea salt with iodine in them...
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by BleeckerSt_Girl View Post
    That makes sense to me.
    Once when I was waitressing i had a woman customer who told me they were 'deathly allergic to salt' and they couldn't have anything on the menu with salt in it....... I'm not saying some people aren't seriously and genuinely allergic to some things. But I too wonder how one can be allergic to a mineral or nutrient that we need in our bodies to survive?
    I'll agree with that There are absolutely food allergies, dangerous ones, but there are definitely people who use "allergic to" instead of "don't like" or "don't want to"

    I had to go see the allergist so that I can have my prescriptions renewed (no food allergies for me, just pollen ones). He asked me if I'd had a flu shot and I told him yes, that I work in a hospital so its pretty much required. He told me that many local hospitals were sending people that claimed egg allergy or flu shot allergy to him these days to be tested to be sure they were actually allergic, rather than just not wanting to get their flu shot... oh ouch - calling their bluffs...
    The hospital I work at allows declinations for no reason, but I work with sick kids. Even though I've never had the flu, I'd feel like a total heel if I got sick and spread it around to little kids who already have health problems.
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