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 Salicylate Information. Includes data bases of Sal-FreeTM Cosmetics, Supplements & Helpful Items.

Established in October 1997 as a non-profit enterprise the original, international Guai-Support Network offers access to 'self-help' health education and support. Discussion revolves around all renditions of the guaifenesin treatment for FMS, CFS, CFIDS, ME, IBS, EDS, IC, MCS, NMH, RLS, VV, MVP, MPS under the GUAI topic.  Many other health issues such as HG, IR, reflux, Thyroid, Toxicity & reference to other theories & treatments for FMS/Cfids are welcome without a topic keyword.  Members have access to extensive archives.

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Information & Assistance

Salicylates in Foods

Revised: August 28, 2005
Eating foods containing Salicylates is not a concern

NOTE: It is presumed that readers are familiar with the information contained in the About Salicylates listed in the Information & Assistance drop down box (DDB) above.  This page is not intended to replace any of that information, rather, it is a more detailed look at one particular area, SALICYLATES IN FOODS.

Between learning about cycling and titrating one's dose, avoiding salicylates, and perhaps a low-carb or low-GI diet, it can be very difficult for newbies starting a Guaifenesin protocol.

One of the most confusing areas is salicylates.  First of all, it's important to remember that the Guaifenesin Protocol and the HG-Diet are two different things entirely.  With the Guai, we are concerned about salicylates in topicals (i.e.,  things that go on the body) and in supplements & medications.  With the HG-Diet, we are concerned about restricting carbohydrates (sugars and starches) in those people who cannot tolerate them.  The diet does not apply to all people on guaifenesin, only to those who are intolerant of carbohydrates.

1)     Unless you are hypoglycaemic, you can eat anything you like while following the Guai Protocol including using herbs as seasoning in cooking, and oils.  The only things you need be concerned about going in your mouth are: Sal-FullTM supplements (all forms); Sal-FullTM medications; some teas (especially strong brews taken often. Tea is a A Complex Issue); oils in concentrated strengths; chewing tobacco; Sal-FullTM toothpastes, mouthwashes and gums, mints, or lozenges/troches that contain natural or artificial wintergreen and/or natural or artificial mint flavors; marijuana.  Any food product taken in concentrated levels or in 'therapeutic amounts is problematic.

Again, you need only restrict your intake of certain types of foods if you are on either a strict or liberal diet to control hypoglycemia or Insulin Resistance and this is because of carbs, not because of salicylates. 


Note on food preparation: Although the amount of contact that the average person has in the home usually doesn't block, some people contend that they have blocked.  Commercial food preparation is very problematic and could very likely block and wearing latex gloves is a good protection.  There are some especially problematic food preparations that one should beware of, e.g.,  picking berries, stripping rosemary and other such herbal preparations. 

2)     Plant foods IN TOPICALS AND SUPPLEMENTS do affect the Guai Protocol.

Plant foods do not block guai when eaten because the salicylates in them are processed by the digestive system and liver.  But in topicals these same plant foods are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and go to the kidneys where they block.  In supplements, the salicylates are in concentrations too high to be processed by the liver so they get to the kidneys and block the guai, e.g.,

Parsley, almond oil, citrus peel, olive oil
...don't block when eaten.
...block in topicals and supplements.

3)    Not all plant foods are Sal-FullTM and ones that are Sal-FreeTM can be included in the topicals and supplements we use.

Sal-FreeTM  examples include: barley, rye, arrowroot, buckwheat, millet, oats & rice. 

Things like corn starch, barley starch, rye flour, oatmeal, etc. are fine.

4)     A few low-sal food items have been okayed for use in topicals and supplements: safflower oil and vegetable oil. They aren't to be used alone in large amounts, like for a massage oil, but appear to be fine in the small amounts found in things like lotions and supplements.  Coconut, sesame, sunflower, safflower & vegetable oils are okay in lipsticks & in shampoos and soaps if rinsed of quickly.

5)     We've talked about the fact that almost all plant foods are blockers when used in topicals or supplements, however, CHEMICALS extracted from these foods are Sal-FreeTM and can be used in TOPICALS and SUPPLEMENTS.

A word about extracts: In general, a plant name followed by the word "extract"
(e. g. orange extract, rosemary extract, yeast extract, etc.) indicates a Sal-FullTM ingredient.  It is a concentrate of the plant and is a no-no in topicals and supplements. (The only exception to this guideline that I'm aware of at this time is grapefruit seed extract.  Not to be confused with "grape seed extract" which is a taboo.)

A chemical extracted from a plant is a whole different thing.  An example of a Sal-FreeTM chemical extracted from a Sal-FullTM plant food is coconut Oil.  It is Sal-FullTM whereas, the following chemical extracts, among others, are Sal-FreeTM: Coconut Acid, Cocamide Betaine, Cocamide DEA, Cocomine Oxide, Coceth-6.

Take glycerin for example.  You might think it mattered if it came from vegetable or animal sources.  Not so.  The fat is removed from either source by chemical processes which render it safe.  You can certainly find glycerine soaps that are Sal-FullTM because of added ingredients like apricot kernel oil, lavender extract, almond oil, etc., but the pure ingredient "glycerin" is Sal-FreeTM no matter the source.

6) Raw foods, dried foods, and juices contain higher levels of salicylates than cooked food.
The salicylate content in foods is highest in unripened fruit and decreases as the fruit ripens. Salicylates are often concentrated just under the skin of fruit and vegetables, and in the outer leaves of vegetables.



1) You can eat anything you like on the Guai Protocol (restrictions only apply if you are also on a low carbohydrate or low GI diet).
2) Plant foods (with just a few exceptions) are blockers in topicals and supplements.
3) Safflower oil and vegetable oil appear to be okay in small amounts in topicals, supplements and medications, & some other oils have been okayed for lipsticks, shampoos & soaps. If you think you block easily, avoid these to be safe.
5) Chemicals extracted from plant foods are generally Sal-FreeTM (click here for exceptions)

6) Cooked food is lower in sals that raw, dried & Juices, e.g., corn.

There are other bits and pieces of things to know about sals and foods (like royal jelly being Sal-FullTM, and honey being a no-no in topicals), but if you grasp the information in this post, you're well on your way to understanding salicylates in foods in relation to the guaifenesin protocol.

Sal Research Tips (Tips and Sources of information available for help in determining an ingredient's sal status)

Allergy site: Sal Content of Foods
Swain: A table of salicylate content in foods

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After 13 years of illness, some good things are happening, and I'm finally on my way to being totally well.  Books that set me on this path are:
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A unique book that gives sufferers and their families clear explanations and practical information on every type of treatment for these distressing and hard to manage disorders. It dispels the misconceptions, that lead some people to dismiss these conditions, with thoughtful explanations and reasoning. This book gives emphasis to eliminating the conditions by addressing their 'cause', with a commonly used 'over-the-counter' medication, guaifenesin and provides detailed, easy-to-follow guidelines.





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The information on this web site comes from many sources, including: Dr. R. Paul St. Amand, his assistant Claudia Marek, members past & present of the Guai-Support Group Mailing list and others consulted on various topics. It is not meant to be medical advice, but rather helpful hints on this journey. Please consult with your Health Care Professional.

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