How do you Treat Salicylate Sensitivity?

by | Sep 11, 2022

Despite your best intentions, you’ve surpassed your salicylate threshold and now you’re suffering the consequences. Perhaps you indulged in a high salicylate meal, enjoyed a glass of bubbly or spent the evening sitting next to someone drenched to the nines in perfume. Now you’ve woken up with a myriad of symptoms and at a loss of what to do.

Fortunately there may be ways to temper the effects of salicylate sensitivity. The following outlines the most commonly reported treatments among sufferers, some backed by science and others based on anecdotal evidence, in which case, best to take it with a grain of salt.

As always, please consult with your doctor and/or dietitian before undertaking any of the following treatments for salicylate sensitivity. Medical experts will be able to ascertain whether the treatments are safe for you to use based on your individual health condition and/or medications you’re currently taking.

1. Adhere to a low salicylate diet

We do the best we can with the information we have at the time. Understanding where your salicylate threshold lies allows you to adjust your diet and lifestyle in order to reduce the chances of symptoms occurring in the future.

If your healthcare professional has diagnosed you with a salicylate sensitivity (usually after an elimination diet followed by a challenge phase), it’s generally recommended that you follow a low salicylate diet for a period of time to determine where your chemical threshold lies. Then you can begin to liberalise your diet, noting what and how much of a particular food/ingredient can be consumed before symptoms ensue.

For some people, this might mean eating foods low in salicylates throughout the week if they know they’re going to be dining out on the weekend. For others it may mean having to avoid any moderate to high salicylate foods all together. It really does come down to the individual and their tolerance level.

Another thing to be mindful of is that many everyday products contain salicylates (especially the strong scented ones), so you might want to look at purchasing salicylate-free cosmetics, salicylate-free hair care products and salicylate-free household products when you can.

2. Take an antihistamine

When a salicylate reaction is in full swing, antihistamines (1) can be a godsend, relieving you of symptoms such as hives and itching in a relatively short amount of time. Before using, it’s advisable to check with your healthcare provider that antihistamines are safe for you to use. And if you do purchase some, be sure to look for a dye-free version (e.g. White Zyrtec Rapid Acting Relief or Claritin).

3. Use Epsom salt

Nothing says relaxing like a bath or foot soak. Lucky for the salicylate sensitive, not only will the stress-relieving activity help with symptoms, but throwing in some Epsom salt may aid in your recovery too.

How does Epsom salt help you ask? Well the theory is that those with salicylate sensitivity have a problem with processing phenols (salicylates are classified as a phenol). One reason for this is a lack of sulfate in the body which is needed to transform unwanted phenols for safe elimination. Sulfate can be acquired via Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), which may be absorbed through the skin.

While reported benefits are more anecdotal than scientific, Epsom salt is considered safe when used correctly, so it may be worth a try for those finding it hard to keep their symptoms at bay.

Further reading: Epsom salt and Salicylate Sensitivity

4. Drink bicarbonate soda and water

Some people find they can alleviate their salicylate symptoms by drinking one teaspoon of bicarbonate soda mixed in a glass of water. The thought is that the bicarb soda helps excrete salicylates from the body faster (2). It’s not recommended to use this method frequently, just as an antidote to a particularly bad reaction.

5. Limit stressors

Listening to various people’s experience with salicylate sensitivity, it seems to be that symptoms can fluctuate in severity throughout life depending on what stressors the body is undergoing at the time (e.g. worry, fatigue, illness, hormonal changes, etc).

Easier said than done, try as much as possible to eat a balanced a diet, move your body, get sufficient sleep and find gentle ways to relax throughout the day.

Final thoughts

I hope the above information has given you a few ideas of how you may be able to combat the symptoms of salicylate sensitivity. While no evidence-based cures exist at present, the ability to treat the often painful and unpleasant symptoms of salicylate sensitivity is a welcome step in the right direction.

Brigid xx



(1) Kęszycka PK, Lange E, Gajewska D. Effectiveness of Personalized Low Salicylate Diet in the Management of Salicylates Hypersensitive Patients: Interventional Study. Nutrients. 2021; 13(3):991.

(2) Godfrey, Eugene E. “Sodium bicarbonate therapy for salicylate poisoning.” AOA Journal, vol. 69, 1969, pp. 64-73.

DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 


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