Eighteen months ago I went through issues with very high blood pressure. I was put on BP meds, but my symptoms worsened. I was hospitalized three times in the space of six weeks with blood pressure at 218/115. Once the blood pressure came down I was sent home and nobody could explain it. In hospital I ate very little. In between I spent days in bed with chest pain, back and neck pain and breathlessness, brain fog and headaches or migraines. I could barely function. I had every scan and blood test, etc. but everything was normal. Then I decided to stop the blood pressure meds. Over the next few weeks my blood pressure went back to acceptable levels. I have food sensitivity so struggle with a wide range of foods and I now have to avoid all drugs. I manage to take a few separate supplements so dose up with magnesium, omega-3, vit. D, folic acid and liquid vit. B. Gluten, salicylates, sulphites and amines are still a big issue and I am eliminating as much as possible and for the past four weeks I have been feeling much better and can finally enjoy life again, though I still get headaches some evenings. I am still trying to find other triggers. A pity that doctors just don’t know how to deal with these issues. I did find an allergist early this year who confirmed my issues were caused by food sensitivity.
Dear Sarah, Your blood pressure was scarily high! And your other symptoms are each very distressing. I have had quite a few patients who report increases in pulse, and breathlessness, brain fog and headaches or migraines, as reactions, but the very high blood pressure is rare. Doctors still have yet to appreciate that symptoms in very different body systems can be part of food sensitivity. With all of your unusual symptoms you have to attend to all that is known about food sensitivity reactions at this time. So the detail of what can change in you to affect whether you react, and what can change in the environment, and especially what can change in the food itself, will be important for you. Tolerating Troublesome Foods is available from my site, and now also via Kindle. As well remember the old idea “there are no poisonous substances, only poisonous doses” to remind you to begin all food trials with very small doses, increasing over days, and carefully recording what symptoms seem to happen in you first. Then you can use your first symptom as a warning sign with future trials. This includes noting what happens at 2.00 am when you wake for some discomfort reason. Do also regard all supplements as ‘food trials’ for seven days before you are sure they are tolerated. They can have added salicylate, or flavour, without having to declare additives as ingredients. Gluten and sulphites are absent or present in a food, whereas salicylates and amines are much more variable, and you will find that you may still tolerate one food and not another in these groups, even when food tables say they fall into some grouping of absent, low medium or high content. Nothing natural is that neat! Use the Best Guess Food Guide to help you work through your own tolerances. Be assertive in your own care! Joan
I am so glad to see that I am not alone in having food related high blood pressure. I have found most medical doctors do not believe me. I have several sensitivities but ANY corn product sends my blood pressure soaring. This problem developed when I was 73 yrs old.
Dear Freida, I don’t mind medical doctors trying to find any what medical options can help, but it would be less frustrating, if after that, they will still not consider food sensitivity. I am pleased you feel supported here so do tell others about my site as what I, and others working in food sensitivity, have found over 40 years of clinical research, is still not as well accepted as it should now be. The likelihood of food sensitivity symptoms as our age increases is greater for no reason we know. I find it interesting that there is so much individual variation in what people react to. Corn is a common problem in US where it is a frequent food, whereas bread is more often suspect in Australia. Do continue your ‘diet detective work’. You may find it helpful to look at Tolerating Troublesome Foods, on this site, for hints on what factors can make reactions stronger or less likely. And you can look up hints on over 300 foods as a ‘best Guess’ food guide to how risky different foods are. Separately I suspect you should look at amines as part of this. Note the articles on this site. They can be complex but as you understand them more you learn what is important to you. See https://foodintolerancepro.com/category/amines/ All the best! Joan
Hi. I have been having alot of problems in the last 4 years. I can’t eat lemons or any citrus. I stay away from fruit. I can’t eat olives, tomatoes, as of late. I’ve cut out night shades completely. Peppers have been know to shoot the bp up. I had to call an ambulance about 2 weeks ago as I finished dinner and my bp started to go up. Face and chest were bright red. I ran to the phone and call an ambulance. Took 2 benedryl and waited for the ambulance. My bp was 224 over 114. I thought I wasn’t going to make it. Confusion, headache, shaking and red skin. I’ve been told I had sensitivities and sent home. I am seeing an internist now. Hoping she can help me. I’ve had to call an ambulance twice now. Nobody seems to know what is going on. I have a 24 hr bp machine on right now to see what the bp is doing. I can’t go out to eat anywhere as everything has to be made special. Even mayo has lemon in it. Frustrating for sure. Thanks for listening.
Hi Shirley, Since you have found some foods affect you, you are justified in investigating further with all the other foods that have a similar chemical structure and also produce reactions. Your reaction is severe but you are not alone in having a BP increase with foods. I have just noted that I have two articles where smells are the main culprit for increased BP. But the salicylates [nightshades], additives, amines [ these are important to some], and MSG and other glutamates are what I call “the usual suspects”. Other suspect foods includes additives and many of the more highly flavoured foods you would have when eating out. I am pleased to say there are enough foods left to make a manageable eating plan of home cooked foods. You could begin with my book Are You Food Sensitive? https://foodintolerancepro.com/buy-food-sensitivity-products/ and apply all the info to your symptom of increased blood pressure. Chapter 3 has all the Suspect chemicals to consider with an important summary page on each. As you go through the diet detective process you usually lower all the suspect foods for a four week diet trial. IMPORTANT: take two weeks to lower all suspect foods gradually so you do not have worsening of symptoms during the withdrawal period. Then allow 3 weeks before expecting to see much change. So your elimination diet trial time becomes six weeks. Then you can very gradually test foods you want to try, remembering that the more scared you are the smaller the amount of the challenge food you begin with and increase over 7 days. Remember that any big change is your challenge at that time. Examples include any medication your doctor suggests, any infection, any hormone therapy, or any big stress. All the detail is in Are You Food Sensitive? and later use the companion book Tolerating Troublesome Foods https://foodintolerancepro.com/tolerating-troublesome-foods/ with detail on why reactions change and info on over 300 foods with hints on careful testing as well as stories of what the many real food sensitive people have reported affects tolerance. My books are also available to read from AmazonKindle. You know some foods affect your blood pressure. believe in yourself and continue your diet detective work. Joan
Thankyou so much for your reply. Its a tough go. I am being extremely careful with the foods I eat. I’m sure the people at the emergency dept are getting sick of seeing me. I’ll read your books for sure. I’ve always been able to eat whatever I wanted. One thing that has helped is juicing straight celery every morning on an empty stomach. I’m drinking 16 ounces and am on day 17. I did it last year and felt so much better as well. Tons more energy and less brain fog. It has to be celery only. Not water or other veggies. Hope this help someone else as it has helped me tremendously.
Hi Shirley, Yes being careful with your foods is important so do learn which foods are wisest to be careful with from Are You Food Sensitive? and Tolerating. The celery juice was part of your being careful last year so keep it up until you have all else settled and your BP is better controlled. It is interesting that light mild flavoured celery is very low in salicylate, the night shade family of chemicals, but the strong bitter flavoured one is much higher so test that out later when you have your diet under control. Keep wandering around this site for all the articles that relate to high BP. See https://foodintolerancepro.com/very-high-blood-pressure-and-food-chemical-sensitivity/#comments All the best! Joan
Prednisone gave me 220/120 and chemical allergies (primarily lysol) triggered 170/110 and 90 bpm for days. I’m normally 120/80 and low 50s pbm.
It would be good to know how to attack this if it happens. I guess benedryl and sleep it off.
Dear Ed, your blood pressure changes are serious. Having high pressure after prednisone would be very unusual so do discuss with your doctor. I am interested in why you needed the prednisone as, whatever caused the symptom that made you need the medicine could also have produced the high blood pressure. Find out if you need to alter your usual treatment for that symptom. Another possibility is some ingredient in the medicine especially additive colour or flavour may have produced your reaction. You mention using an antihistamine to help recover after your reaction so all aspects of your medical care for allergic-type symptoms needs to be discussed with your doctor. There are new directions for allergy treatment being developed all the time.
Lysol has a strong smell and very strong smells often produce migraine or high blood pressure. Each person is different in just which smells affect them. If you think about it there must be a threshold for the vascular change to produce the high blood pressure. If you want to lower that threshold you could investigate your diet by using the Diet Detective process described in Are You Food Sensitive? So you lower the foods that aggravate symptoms along with strong smells so lowering the Total Body Load of suspect substances. That means that the amount your blood pressure rises may be less. Do believe in yourself in being assertive in describing what happened to your doctor. All the best Joan
David Watkins says
Hello Joan; Yes, I have the same problems. Along with many other symptoms with foods I also have MCS and also am adversely reactive to ALL foods. I have to stay on a very strict rotation diet. If I eat out I have to know every single ingredient in the food and I cannot have anything cooked on a grill because of cross contamination from other foods on the grill. Once I got a reading of 229/125 from eating popcorn. And it doesn’t matter if it’s organic. Same thing happens. It is very common for me to get readings of 180/98 or so from some foods. I take tri salts or Alka Seltzer gold for foods if they hit me, but chemicals I have to just get away from them. Also I get immediate blood pressure elevation as high as 190/104 from chemicals. Back about four months ago I got these readings when my house filled with smoke from scented logs that neighbors were burning out in their back yard. I had to call the police to get it put out. They were warned by the fire dept. that it is illegal to burn outside. The only problem is that some people near here burn scented logs in their fireplaces. Living around other people is eventually going to kill me because there is nothing I can do about the constant lawn spraying and dryer vents putting out toxic fumes from fabric softener and dryer sheets. Unfortunately I am stuck here. Cannot afford to buy out in the country away from here. I also have a 7,500 volt power line about 40 feet away from where I sleep which keeps me electrically sensitive on top of all the other things. I had worked in communications systems at John F. Kennedy Space Center for 35 years, but had to take a medical retirement in 2003 because of these things. As a result there is no social life, no church, no theatre, and very little outside contact. I was very lucky in one respect though. I was granted Social Security Disability on all of the above back in 2005, retroactive to 2003. That is a very short synopsis of my situation. Thanks: Dave W.
Hello David, you certainly are very BP sensitive! And you have learned to cope with it. Congrats! The theory of rotation diets is that less contact with each food improves tolerance. That is one part of why rotation diets work. You can improve your tolerance knowing that some people are particularly sensitive to some chemicals in food, not just additives but natural salicylates and amines. This includes mint, such as in toothpaste, most fruits, spices, capsicums and all teas. This can sound like bad news because more foods are suspect. But the good news is that when you reduce the total body load by using the low chemical elimination diet you increase the likelihood of tolerating more of a food you particularly like. Where these are concerned just one serve can produce any of the food intolerance symptoms, including increased BP such as you have. I have met many people who have only one serve of tomato or a spice and have a bad reaction that takes days to recover from. And the third aspect to think about is your reaction to smells. Many other food sensitive people would sympathise! Note that the flavour in food provides compounds with similar shaped to all those smells you react to. You have used the rotation diet for many years now. You could give some thought to using the Low Chemical Diet developed from this site and see if it helps even more. Using it you reduce the Total Body Load of food aromatic compounds and that improves your tolerance of inhaled ones. This can really change your life! Do use the information in my book Tolerating Troublesome Foods available from AmazonKindle for $5 to understand how and why reactions change and see foods arranged in ascending order of likely to cause reactions. See https://www.amazon.com.au/Tolerating-Troublesome-Foods-Investigating-intolerance-ebook/dp/B00I7DS87O
You could gradually shift to foods with lower risk ratings and gain more benefit. I wish you well in your diet detective work! Joan
So it’s not me alone,who is battling this problem.Doctors say it’s just your stress ..which raises B.P suddenly.But having b.p of 118/70 with medicines and spiking to level 190/100 ,only bcoz of perfumes,odour sensitivity.
I got this problem after having my baby.Strange!!! I never had any allergy.
No you are not alone! But each of you is rare, even for me who sees only people who react to aromatic compounds! Each person has their own reactions and having an increased blood pressure is unusual but each one I looked after who had that reaction was so clear the connection was very strong.
The important idea is that your reactions are affected by what I call the Total Body Load of similar shaped compounds. That is aromas in the air (perfumes and any other strong smells) but it also includes aromas in food. You can’t do much about smells in the air, except stay away from where you know they are worst, and stay away from those you know you react to most. But you can reduce the aromatic compounds in food and that means you don’t react to the aromas in the air as much.
It is an effort to change your diet to investigate it for what you react to, but it is fantastic to feel normal when you are out an about!
I do meet many food sensitive people who get instant headaches, migraine or nausea from smells and have found that diet makes a huge difference. Do read the article “What’s smell go to do with it?” https://foodintolerancepro.com/category/food-intolerance/whats-smell-got-to-do-with-it/
And then help yourself by buying Are You Food Sensitive? which takes you through the process of getting to your own best diet. You can get it from this site, or to read for $5.50 from AmazonKindle
Getting your reaction after having a baby means it is probably related to hormone changes as well. Think how many women change in pregnancy to feeling nausea, and even vomiting as well with strong smells. You can use that idea to help others believe your rise in blood pressure symptom.
The good news about having the symptom after having your baby is that changing your hormones, such as after you stop breastfeeding, or using a different contraceptive, may decrease your reaction, though not usually as much as diet. You don’t have to be allergic. Allergy means reacting to a protein; and smells in the air and smells in foods are not proteins. Reactions are part of your metabolic system not part of an allergy.
I wish you well in continuing the detective work you have begun to the point where you don’t have such scary reactions. All the best! Joan
Lynne Shrubb says
Try increasing your B6 + B12 along with increased folic acid. I am a person also intolerant to chemicals, especially sulphites I recently discovered, and within 4 months of taking Homeocysteine Factors and NAC my regularly raised hypertension has disappeared and now after sulphite exposure (its in many foods) I only get faster heartbeat (which prevents sleep) or a dull headache (occ. migraine) which are no longer connected with sensations and readings of high blood pressure. Conventional medics dont seem to be aware of the problems around raised homocysteine levels and so BP meds are given automatically when raising B vits and taking folic acid can normalise homocysteine levels and lower BP…good luck with all your endeavours :
Every change you make is part of diet detective work. For you the result was important. There is research happening with regard to homeocysteine that looks promising. It is wise to have any high blood pressure checked out medically in case there is a medical problem that needs attention. And each person is different so needs to test any supplements one at a time so you know which ones help and which ones contain something which you may be sensitive to. Continue to tell your doctor what you are trying so his or her blood pressure readings can show difference over time. And note any changes in your environment to your Total Body Load of everything in your environment so you learn what makes a difference. I wish you well in your own diet detective work.Joan
Heather Morris says
There is so much I wish to share about the food sensitivities my mother has. But what I want to share is her escalating issues with blood pressure problems after certain chemical exposures, mostly fragrance related, but also the anestia propofol. She becomes incoherent, she gets tremors and her blood pressure shoots to well over 200. She has been hospitalized a dozen times over the past year and a half. She gave the prescribed BP medications a chance for nearly a year, but they caused such terrible side effects and did nothing to keep the BP down after an exposure. Her BP stays at reasonable levels without the medications unless she gets an exposure. The hospital staff usually diagnose her with anxiety or hypertension because they refuse to believe her high BP is caused by a chemical exposure. It’s an exceedingly frustrating situation.
It would be very frustrating for your mum and you to have very high blood pressure as her symptom! It is rare compared to reactions to chocolate but even that reaction is not well accepted! And it is hard for your mum to stay away from environmental chemicals when she cannot be certain which are a problem, nor what will come into her environment.
Like other chemically sensitive people she is probably sensitive to her particular group of chemicals. The good news is that many environmental smells are chemically similar to smells in food. They both have what is called an aromatic structure chemically. So if she lowers the smells: aromatic substances in her environment and in her food –her system will cope better with the uncontrollable environmental ones. Aromatic structures includes food flavours, but also artificial colours and many preservatives, and chemicals called salicylates, and amines, and even MSG, which is a flavour enhancer.
As part of all diet investigation it is necessary to minimise all products that have any smells, such as nail polish remover, mint toothpaste and any perfumed flowers.
I developed the idea of the Total Body Load. It shows all the factors that food chemical sensitive people react to. [The detail is explained in my book Are You Food Sensitive?] The important outcome of this is the idea that the more she lowers suspect food chemicals the better she will cope with environmental ones. From a chemical point of view smells in food do not appear to be as strong as some environmental ones, but they have to go into her metabolic system and need to be broken down and the end products excreted. This is often called ‘detoxification’. While the body is managing aromatic food chemicals the extra load of environmental chemicals is just too much.
When your mum goes through the diet detective process which I have developed she will become good at knowing what foods and environmental smells are a right for her.
People’s symptoms to food vary greatly, so to see what I have found about the role of smells causing a wide variety of symptoms you can read the free Article ‘What’s smell go to do with it?’ https://foodintolerancepro.com/category/food-intolerance/whats-smell-got-to-do-with-it/
I wish you well in supporting your mother through this diet investigation process that may make a big difference to your lives.
Warm regards, Joan
I have read your blog with huge interest! What it means to me is that there is someone else with simalar problems to mine. This is the first time that I have used a blog so excuse me if I have used this blog incorectly.
My best (worst) blood pressure reading following a reaction to local aneasthetic was 249 / 142. Around this time my automune system collapsed. Very long story short – I now react to just about everything with a very long and growing list of medications included.
I have been on maximum doses of blood pressure medication, with nasty side affects, without controlling my blood pressure. I stopped all medication (against medical advice) and my blood pressure returned to readings within the high end of normal. My blood pressure continues to spike following exposure to stuff I react to.
One thing that I have recently discovered, that you should consider, is that I now react to petro chemicals, and very badly. This would perhaps be the worst thing to happen as petro chemicals are all around us, even with traces in our foods. I beleive this may have been a underlying problem of mine for a while with the symtoms being treated rather than the cause. I have been told all sorts of things by different doctors and experts like that it was in my mind, “no one could be allergic to that”, “there is no evidence to support that”, “it would not be the medication we just gave you, it must have been something you ate”, “no one else reacts to this medication” etc etc etc…….
I have never had a anaphylaxis reaction. Most of my reactions have been delayed (about 12 to 24 hours) following eposure with the odd one with reactions within the hour.
At this stage I have no answers but to aviod the things that I react badly to and to stay on a very restricted diet that was worked out at The Royal Price Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia (RPAH). The good folk at the RPAH were the ones that pointed me in the right direction. Of course I can also thank my GP (who retired a few years ago) who was thinking outside the box with some very good sugestions.
I hope my response is able to help someone. A problem shared is a problem halved – so they say.
You are very welcome John! This is a site where you will be understood, no matter how unusual your food sensitivity symptoms are. Each food sensitive person has their own cluster of symptoms that affect them in a unique way. You are among those very sensitive people who have to watch everything you eat, breath and smell.
Additives, especially coal-tar derived colours, meant I researched all the foods people reacted to, and encouraged investigation of all smells, especially petrochemical ones.
You are not alone having doctors being unsympathetic. It is wise to describe your reaction as a “sensitivity reaction” so you avoid the doctor beginning a discussion about “allergy”. Discussing allergy means the discussion moves away from what is actually happening to you, and any role for diet, and you rightly feed unsupported. Having delayed reactions is not unusual in food sensitive people. You would all be believed if reactions occurred within 30 minutes, and I would not have had to spend thirty years doing careful research to help understand it all.
As well as being a blog site this site also has an Articles section with many reader-friendly articles on food intolerance, many symptoms, and all the interesting research I have done. See https://foodintolerancepro.com/articles/ You will be pleased when you read more, as petrochemicals have been among suspect chemical compounds excluded since the 70s using this Diet Detective Method.
You can add to what my colleagues have taught you by reading my book Tolerating Troublesome Foods which lists over 300 foods in ascending order of risk of reaction so you can test very low risk foods and work up to your own best diet. See http://www.foodintolerancepro.com/tolerating-troublesome-foods/
I like your idea that a problem shared is a problem halved. We can add that: a solution shared is a solution doubled, as more information can lead to better management.
All the best with managing your symptoms. Joan
Thanks for your response. I am still struggling with setbacks, so am investigating the possibility of Leaky Gut Syndrome. In the meantime I am having hypnotherapy to reduce my stress levels. Coping with each day as it comes.
Dear Sarah, It is hard being an unusual food sensitive person! And setbacks can make you feed less confidant about what you really know. Another problem is that you could have something else medical going on at the same time, but still affected by your food sensitivity. Leaky Gut Syndrome is a way of thinking about why your system is not handling food chemicals that others can manage. It hypothesises that the problem is that chemicals in your food are being absorbed more easily into the bloodstream. We do not have enough information about what is really going on in the gut wall or, unfortunately, what can usefully change it. We could think that in this day and age this sort of information should be available! The problem is that in this day and age the thing we are learning is that the gut is very complicated and everyone is different. If you try any treatment, do keep your diet steady while trying it so you know if your symptoms are better, unchanged or worse over 7 days. I have listened to many people try things eg probiotics without useful change. However, since I emphasize that everyone is different you should test what you wish, but carefully. My hypothesis is that food sensitive people are slow metabolisers of aromatic compounds, so they metabolise [read ‘detox’] food chemicals at slower rates. This explains the withdrawal symptoms in the detox phase, and why it takes four weeks to clear the body on the initial diet, and up to maybe 10 days to clear after a reaction. We know which enzymes are involved and that they do vary in food sensitive people.
The other help you can get is to understand all aspects of being food sensitive. You can learn much about why reactions very, due to changes in you, changes in your environment, and in the food itself. You can use lists of foods going from very low risk to very high [over 300 of them]. You can feel supported from what other food sensitive people have found, from my research, now over 40 years. I also feel frustrated that this complex issue is not more recognized by the medical profession, but I have documented all that I have found so people like you can use Tolerating Troublesome Foods to think about all the detail and apply all the findings to yourself and so make your diet more applicable, just for you. I wish you well! Joan