I have a complex problem regarding food sensitivity and I hope you have some insight as to what I might be able to do next…..
About three years ago during a prolonged period of stress I was exposed to a massive dose of pesticides and/or wheat dust being offloaded on a dock, right where I was staying in a motel. From that first day I got such bad hayfever, which I’d not had before. I also had penicillin for the first time in my life a few weeks prior. Not sure if this is relevant. Along with the hayfever I stared losing my hair.
Before I’d finish a cup of tea my hair would be shedding. Tea – green or black – is one of the worst substances for me now unfortunately. I later discovered via trial and error it’s the EGCG in the tea (and in carob and prunes) that was making my hair fall. I soon discovered that I was now sensitive to a host of other food chemicals and supplements. I could no longer take my multivitamin, for example, which I’d been taking for years (like my long cherished tea).
Except with the supplements, as with many foods, I also got a real burning on the crown of my head. Sometimes it would last for days, and my hair would also fall. With other foods such as flaxseed my head would feel bruised, not burning. So I had three symptoms – hair fall, head burn, head bruised. Sometimes more than one at a time. Now, three years later I have so many categories of foods and substance I cannot take that I have long suspected amines to be part of this limiting picture. Avocado and banana – no. Fermented foods and probiotics – diabolical.
Vanilla essence and flax seeds – No. But yet soy is fine? Go figure. Insomnia goes with all of this too, and depression. I take 5HTP every day and it helps some. I don’t lose as much hair. If I stop, the hair loss gets worse. Passionflower is the one herb that can calm the burning head a little. I take soy isoflavones and I don’t lose as much hair, in fact it is exceptionally stabilising, except it doesn’t stop the reactions to specific foods/supplements.
I take colloidal silver or cranberry and I can get back to sleep so I figure my gut biome is out of control and killing bacteria is helpful. When all these symptoms first started I couldn’t eat meat or my head would burn. That at least has stopped – yay! I am not one to take pharmaceutical drugs for the blues because they too will probably burn a hole in my head so painful it’s just not worth it.
I was also diagnosed with severe reactive gastritis around this time that the head burning started. I believe my sensitivity is in part due to amine intolerance that is somehow affecting my hair follicles/scalp. Have you ever heard of this symptom?
I feel that a drop in estrogen is also involved in all of this, yet flaxseed is also a trigger for a sore head and hair fall. I’ve seen endocrinologists, gastroenterologists and naturopaths. The endo wanted me on DHEA – day 1 of it was sublime, day 2 was hell as my body tried to get rid of it.
Gastro said not SIBO because I don’t get diarrhea, and I couldn’t take the preparation for a colonoscopy. Naturopaths wanted me on B6 which is possibly as bad as DHEA in terms of the burning. Vitamin D was also particularly bad in terms of burning and fall. Even homeopathics they gave me were harmful head burning. This makes me suspect that it might be an overactive immune system?????
According to my lab tests I have no food allergies! And my urine test showed a fairly OK gut bacteria, so I am confused, and broke! Now thinking of getting a stool test for parasites and microbiome – is it worth it? Can you think of anything else I could do that may be useful? If it is an overactive immune system, what can I do?
In great despair, Christina
You are unusual among food sensitive people, but so are many! I have heard many mothers say their children get hot cheeks or ears with a reaction. I once had a patient whose feet became hot whenever he had a reaction. Between excess wheat dust, pesticides, penicillin and reactive gastritis, you have lots to do diet detective work with! Your head symptoms are very very unusual. You do need a doctor who will look at all of your symptoms in you. Often your GP is the person who knows you best. You can discuss if particular foods produce symptoms in the gut and your head at the same time. Hair loss can be related to particular medicines, or to losing weight, as well.
You can show you are managing a researched diet such as the one I have written for people like you: the Diet Detective Diet. It excludes some of the foods you suspect: tea, vanilla and carob as well as amines and other food chemicals. Excluding all the suggestions means that you are more likely to react only to a single food you are testing after the diet trial time. Amines are tricky as some people get away with lady finger bananas or just just ripe Cavendish bananas, or a small amount of a plain perfect avocado, but they may not get away with home-made gravy, canned tuna, or fresh turkey. But you need a good place to start, so you should exclude both avocado and banana from your Baseline Low Chemical Diet. The whole process is explained in my book Are You Food Sensitive? which can be obtained from this site or via Amazon Kindle at
I have written my books for people such as you, Christina. They are the result of 40 years of work collecting findings in over 3000 people. The more unusual your symptoms are the more information you need! Do read all the information in the Articles on this site and use the Baseline diet for four whole weeks, excluding anything you suspect as well. Then you test any change you make by noting your symptoms, or when noting the effect of any change in your environment, including stress or particular smells, until you have a definite reaction or for a whole week. This includes any new treatment whether a medicine from your doctor or any treatment, or supplement, by a naturopath. Food sensitive people still react to natural treatments even though you may think they will be tolerated, and the naturopath may have said they have helped others with no side effects. The second book called Tolerating Troublesome Foods contains information on how complex the whole story is, with many factors affecting whether a reaction will be mild or severe, as well as the Best Guess Food Guide which provides a risk rating scale of over 300 foods providing information on the most likely way to minimise reactions, with each food.
It is very frustrating to know you have clear reactions to some foods yet not show any positive allergy tests! It will help when you use the diet detective process to learn as much as you can about yourself. This does mean you have to continue to be firmly assertive that you are sure of what you say when dealing with any health professionals, and your friends and family too!