Monday, July 9, 2012
What is an Allium and could I be allergic?
According to numerous sources on the internet, 'The genus contains hundreds of distinct species; many have been harvested through human history, but only about a dozen are still economically important today as crops or garden vegetables. Many others are cultivated as ornamental plants......Allium is a genus of perennial bulbous plants that produce chemical compounds (mostly cysteine sulfoxide) that give them a characteristic onion or garlic taste and odor. Many are used as food plants, though not all members of the genus are equally flavorful. In most cases, both bulb and leaves are edible. Their taste may be strong or weaker, depending on the species.' There are actually over 700 species with 57 genera. Most commonly known species include garlic, onion, leeks, chives, shallots, and ramps. Related to these are flowering lilies!
Because they have a strong sulfate compound in them, if you are allergic to sulfa compounds you could very well be allergic to alliums! Ask me, I know first hand! Any allium makes me sick as well as sulfites. Whether it is in food or a flower it will make me sick. If you are allergic to sulfites you need to be aware of looking for it hidden in items you may not be aware that it could be in! I found out the hard way! It was in my toothpaste and my shampoo!! Once I eliminated it from those areas as well, things improved. So, what do I use for toothpaste? There are 'natural' products available without them, but they are hard to find! So, good ole' baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for me. I'm still trying to find something commercially available. As for shampoo, I have found one that is free of sulfites, artificial colors, and salacylic acid (aspirin)! It wasn't easy. I'm looking for a good recipe to make my own.
What kind of symptoms could you have if you're allergic? Everyone is different and it depends on how you are exposed. Some people have upset stomach, rash, wheezing, shortness of breath or worse including anaphylaxis. Others could have just mild symptoms including a headache or mild irritation to the scalp (if topically exposed). The best thing would be to monitor how you feel after eating it and keep a diary to take to your health care provider. If you have any life-threatening symptoms, call 911 immediately. It took me weeks to 'clear it' from my system once we figured out what it was and 'heal' my scalp and gut! Keeping it out of my diet was a whole different issue as garlic and onions are in EVERYTHING!!
Try picking up any bottle of 'sauce' in a grocery store, a bottle of salad dressing, a soup, a broth and see what I mean. Eating out became a nightmare!! But, it is possible to eat safely. Finding restaurants that will work with you is another thing but once you do, let them know you WILL frequent them! I have three to four restaurants that we go to all the time and we take all our friends there!! They appreciate the extra business and work with me very closely!! My two favorites are Red Robin and Harbor Inn Seafood. Fast Food wise, I can do Wendy's fairly well. We also go to O'Charley's on a regular basis and the Longhorn Steakhouse near us works with me pretty good. It's tough but we don't go out all that often anymore.
Lastly, sulfites are found in many other things including wine, some cheeses, some cured meats, certain processed foods including jams & jellies, condiments, certain fish & seafood, gelatins, puddings, grain products & pastas, nuts & nut products, dried fruits, and certain teas. If you have migraines, you want to avoid these as well as they will make them worse! So, what's one to do? Read the labels!! There is a movement going on about labeling and ensuring that things in our food are clearly identified. I would suggest that everyone sign the petition to ensure that it's clearly and plainly marked so you know it's there!! Garlic, onions, and 'alliums' as well as other 'spices' do NOT have to be labeled on anything nor does sulfites! If it is not in the 'Top 8' allergens it is NOT required to be listed!! Every Ingredient of Every Food by Change.org is working on changing this. YOU can help make a difference!! I hope this helps those of you that didn't understand what 'allium' meant or why many could be allergic to them!! An allergy is NOT a choice nor is it that we are trying to be 'difficult'. It can become life-threatening for many of us! To those family members, friends, restaurants, etc. that want to believe it is a choice, THINK AGAIN!!