Justine Bold was diagnosed with sulphite sensitivity five years ago as a result of which she took up the study of nutrition, making sulphites the subject of her dissertation. She explains this very frustrating condition and how to cope with it.
In the UK sulphites are now one of the twelve potential allergens (along with the likes of peanuts, fish, crustaceans, gluten and milk) that have to be labelled on a food or drink product - where they appear at a certain concentration or above. Warnings are now common on products such as wine or cider - yet in practice there is still a huge amount of ignorance and misinformation about their use and the health problems they can cause.
Sadly, this level of ignorance seems all too typical amongst many health professionals and I wonder about the true consequences of this ignorance.
I believe that any chest and allergy doctor working at the time should have had an awareness of this - in fact, I believe that every doctor or asthma nurse should have some knowledge of the link.
So, what problems are associated with sulphites?
The most common symptom appears to be bronchoconstriction – causing wheezing and difficulty breathing.
A scientific paper published in 1987 (Gunnison et al) cites other signs and symptoms of sulphite sensitivity as wheezing, shortness of breath, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, itching, swelling, hives, laryngeal oedema, tingling sensations, flushing, low blood pressure, cyanosis, shock and loss of consciousness.
Recognition of sulphite sensitivity
The true prevalence of sulphite sensitivity in the general population is not known and the real causes are very complex.
Justine Bold is a nutritional therapist who runs practices in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and London as well as being a tutor and lecturer for the U.K. College of Nutrition and Health. She also works on community healthy eating initiatives for a London council and delivers corporate training for the Food Doctor and seminars for Lamberts. You can contact her at www.healingnutrition.co.uk. 01594 862676
First published in 2008