Ingredients similar to aspirin were extracted from meadowsweet and willow bark centuries ago, but in 1899, salicin was altered into a patentable drug called aspirin.
Aspirin was approved for the treatment of gout and rheumatic fever, but today we know it as an anti-clotting agent and pain reliever. Around 100 billion aspirin tablets are produced every year.
Aspirin is a “salicylate” compound and millions of people are unknowingly allergic to salicylates, mainly because the foods that it occurs in naturally are not very similar. For example, broccoli, olives, Coca cola, breath mints, pistachios, mushrooms and coffee have nothing obvious in common, so you’d never trace a salicylate allergy to these foods. Yet they all contain salicylates, similar to aspirin. So if you’re reactive to any of those foods, it’s a clue you might have a salicylate allergy.
Salicylate are found in dozens of foods that aren’t similar. Symptoms that may occur include headaches, asthma, wheezing, nausea, diarrhea, stomach upset, itching, rash, swelling of your hands, feet, or your face or sinus symptoms. Your throat may get itchy, painful or swollen, or your lips may swell. If you experience these or other symptoms, it could very well be the ‘aspirin’ in your food, termed a salicylate allergy.
People who know they are allergic to aspirin know to avoid other over-the-counter medications which may contain aspirin such as cold or flu remedies, antacids, menstrual cycle pain-relievers, certain fizzy antacids, teething gel, or toothache remedies.
Some of you who are allergic to aspirin can actually eat some salicylate-rich foods without a problem. And then there’s a subset of people (maybe you) who eat foods and suffer, and don’t know why. And finally, there are some of you who need the benefits of aspirin, and want to eat salicylates through natural sources. So the following list of foods high in salicylate will serve a different purpose for all of you, depending on what category you fall into.
Natural Aspirin is found in the following:
**Note: Fruits and vegetables are higher in salicylates when not fully ripe**
- Chili peppers
- Dried herbs/spices
- Green peppers
- Licorice herb (candy is okay)
- Mint (gum, breath mints, toothpaste)
- Nuts, all of them, pistachios, pine nuts, almonds, etc.
You might be wondering why a handful of you can eat salicylate-rich foods when you are allergic to aspirin. It’s because aspirin contains an “acetyl” molecule on the compound because that acetyl group was attached to it in order to turn the natural herb into a drug. Naturally-occurring salicylates do not have this acetyl group and that’s what usually triggers the reaction.