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!!

14 comments:

  1. Thank you for this great post.. Very informative!

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  2. Im allergic to onions but not garlic... But I love onions! My cuz is too. She walks into a room where they are being cut up and instant headache. My sis too...a genetic allergy?

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    1. It is possible. If you're reacting to one, you can at a later time react to the other. They have similar proteins and it is best to avoid them altogether. Your body can continue to develop antibodies towards the proteins and worsen the allergy to them. If you haven't seen an allergist, I would recommend it. However know that some allergists have told people I know that it isn't 'possible' to be allergic to alliums! This is absolutely NOT true!! It is a protein from the food that you react to and possibly the sulfate compound. It also can run in families! Good luck!

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  3. I've had problems with onion and garlic for years. Even though I am diligent in trying to avoid them, I get them accidentally from time to time (usually at restaurants), and my body's response just keeps getting worse. Thanks very much for your post and putting your story out there. When I tell people I'm allergic to garlic and onion, they usually look at me like I have three heads, then say,"You can't have any? Really? I couldn't LIVE without onions and garlic!"

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  4. I am so glad I found these posts! Over the last few years I have become increasingly intolerant of onions and garlic. I have an allergy to sulfa meds that I've been aware of since my late teens (38 now), and when I started researching onion intolerance and found out about the sulfur component...well, things started making sense. Then I found the Allium family info., which was another "ah ha" moment; can't tolerate any common edible alliums. I also (despite reading that they're not related) stopped using anything with sulfites/sulfates in them after having a terrible bout with what looked like psoriasis on my scalp last year-never had any problems with psoriasis throughout my life. My scalp has healed since switching products. I also have problems when I drink high sulfite beverages, they range from stomach upset to hives to asthma symptoms. Lastly, I did see an allergist who didn't think it was possible to be allergic to onions or garlic and had never heard on the Allium family! Once I have better health insurance, I will see another, hopefully more competent allergist. Until then, I now have a supply of Zyrtec and benedryl on hand along with bentyl (from my gastro doc) for those times that I inadvertently consume anything from the allium family and/or high sulfites/sulfates.

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad this has helped! So many of us with this allergy have all heard the same thing! We've been told it's 'all in our heads' or that it just 'couldn't be possible'. Yeah, tell that to my body! LOL! I have a whole line of sulfite free products!! Check out our page for spice blends, dip mixes and body care products!! We're on facebook too!! I often post on facebook and here ways to help 'heal' your gut as well! Good luck!! And welcome to my page!!

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  5. Danke!
    I felt soo alone going through this.
    It is a nightmare to eat out.
    I get soo afraid to even eat.
    Last time i ate a tuna sub i specifically said no onions & asked if there were onions in it. The lady said no. I took a few bites & my face tongue & throat swelled... luckily it was slow.
    But i get scared to ask people now because some are too lazy to even look.
    It happened to me twice.

    I just do the best i can to avoid garlic & onions.
    I hate feeling like i cant breathe.
    & not being able to swallow.
    It sucks.

    Now i dont feel so alone.
    Im soo glad i came acrossed your post!

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    1. You are most definitely NOT alone! If you're on facebook there is a help page for those allergic to garlic, one for onions, and a site for 'alliums'. Everything on my site is FREE of ALL Alliums!! All the spices, products, etc! So, feel free to order from us as well! I don't know where you are, but if you're out of the country (USA), I can see what we can do to ship to you! Email me at LecuyersGourmet@gmail.com if you have any questions! I'm right there with you in the same boat!

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  6. This was very informative and things finally make sense! I have had an allergy to sulfa drugs for years and about 5 years ago developed a severe allergy to anything in the onion family ( so far garlic is okay...). Two trips to the ER and my doctor agreed - she'd never heard seen it, but didn't doubt it.

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  7. I'm so glad you found it helpful!! Yes, it can be very difficult to know for sure what the culprit is. I tested positive years ago for onion and garlic allergic and then started reacting to all the sulfites (backwards of yours). So, I started researching it heavily. I carry a line of garlic and onion free products! We also have all sulfite free body care products! This is why I started this site and business as so many have problems and don't know what to do about it. Have a great day!

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  8. It's taken me 50 years to make the connection to allium. My son and I are both sensitive to onion, and we've recently discovered garlic gives him indigestion. The only way I can eat onions without severe indigestion is to chop them finely, add a teaspoon of olive oil and cook in the microwave for 6 mins, stirring now and again.I also find bananas indigestible, and see they are also high in sufites.

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  9. I don't seem to have a problem with onions or garlic, but I have had a major reaction to shallots? Could it be they have a stronger sulfite content?

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