Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pet shampoo

 I was in a relative's house over Christmas and came across the hypo-allergenic shampoo that I'd noticed and tried before. I'd never been able to find anything like it in the shops and now I know why.

It's called Epi-soothe and when I read the small print I discovered it is prescribed by veterinarians for use on cats and dogs. I didn't try it again. However if it worked before there is no reason why it should not work again.
I guess it hasn't been tested to the same standards as shampoos sold for humans. If you are concerned about animal welfare, you may think that is a good thing.


Sunday, December 28, 2008


It's been a very merry Christmas indeed. Not only did I drink wine with Christmas lunch I drank it on Boxing Day and yesterday. In fact on Boxing Day I got through the best part of a bottle of Chardonnay, I estimate.

There have been minimal reactions. Some tongue tingling on Thursday and Friday but that's about it. Most significantly my skin remains largely clear, although there are some red spots on the arms. Apart from that I feel better than ever.

What a glorious Christmas! It had been two years since I drank wine.

So what does this mean? It raises a question in my mind as to how much salicylate is in white wine. After all it is the juice of white grapes, purified to some extent, possibly more than is grape juice.

Secondly it demonstrates that there is some flexibility. Maybe up to now I have been using that flexibility up in the consumption of chocolate. So if I avoid chocolate and eat home-prepared food and a reasonable amount of fish, sometimes I'll be able to enjoy a bottle of wine. I have doubts about red wine, which, of course, contains many more chemicals than white.

Happy New Year to all!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Cured by the common cold?

 Not quite maybe but it's made a big difference. Tonight I indulged in my first mince pie and sherry (actually a whisky and wine drink) for two years.

For it was two years ago I had to give up wine and beer and coffee overnight, just in time for Christmas. I'd already given up beer but wine was a real blow and Christmas pretty miserable.

Now the cold, which has nearly gone, seems to have dampened my immune system and increased my level of tolerance. Yesterday I indulged in chocolate puddings and a dish made with kidney beans and my skin was as clear as the full moon. No rash on my belly or my arms as has been normal. Tonight's indulgence hasn't let me off so lightly. My tongue started swelling and the red spots have started returning on my belly so I've had to take a montelukast to deal with it - my first for some time.

Nevertheless I now have a plan for Christmas Day. Zero-salicylate and plenty of fish for the next couple of days and then I can have wine with my Christmas lunch. Is this a little daring?


Thursday, December 18, 2008

A cold

 It is a full-blown, stinking, glorious cold. It gets worse when I go out in the rain and makes me crotchety, just like a real cold. My first in three years.

I had another cup of redbush tea - great! - to stimulate the immune system. No need for echinacea. Even had some cashew nuts to provide some omega 6 and help get things going.

I have one question: is it possible to have a cold and hay fever at the same time?


Wednesday, December 17, 2008


 I went to a buffet today and it was great. On this occasion I had been consulted in detail about the menu beforehand. There was beef and stilton sandwiches and salmon and scrambled egg. And there were prawns in those little dough bags, whose names I do not know.

And everything reeked of pepper. I thought it was just the prawns but I took some of the other sandwiches away in a doggy bag. When I tried them later they tasted strongly of pepper, sprinkled over everything.

Tonight I'm sitting here with my nose streaming and my throat sore. It may be a hay fever type reaction or it may be a cold. I don't feel feverish and I haven't had a cold in two years.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Winter problems

It's December and the cold middle of the winter and you wake up with a slight runny nose and sore throat.

It could be:
1/ the beginnings of a cold, soon dealt with by an over-active immune system;
2/ non-allergenic rhinitis, ie a kind of hay fever caused by exposure to low level salicylates;
3/ the beginnings of a cold, which is going to buck the pattern of the last two years and become a real one;
4/ the beginnings of something worse, such as flu.

At the moment I favour the last as my insides also seized up and I've felt tired all weekend. After trying bananas and a high-fibre diet, I hit upon a remedy - redbush tea. I thought low levels of salicylates might trigger an internal reaction - and they did.

As to whether it's flu, we may never know. For it is quite possible the over-active immune system will kick in and see it off, especially after that delicious and far too short cup of redbush tea, my first for nearly two years.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Conditioner passes test

No doubt the research department of Head and Shoulders has been waiting with bated breath for the results of my test of its "sensitive care" conditioner.

I am pleased to report the conditioner does no harm at all. It passes the Imperial Leather test. (Imperial Leather is rich in salicylates and always caused me to go bright red before I realised what was going on). I'm not sure whether it's any good yet. Time will tell.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Searching for shampoo

 Early on, when I thought I had a gluten allergy, I created a "free from" blog. You can find the link at the bottom. The idea was to provide a guide to where to find Free From foods in different British stores eg go to the farthest corner, turn 180 degrees and it will be facing you (that was generally the best principle). It's still there but nobody ever contributed to it so it has never been developed or used.

I am tempted to try the same for salicylate free shampoos and conditioners - except there would be hardly any entries. Somebody suggested getting baby shampoos - but they smell awful.

The best on offer recently has been a "derma" shower gel, which I have been using. My hair is starting to stick up like a punk. So I had another search today. Lloyd's chemists - nothing. Back to Tesco. They are definitely no longer selling the wheatgerm and cornflour range. I picked up a Head and Shoulders conditioner "for sensitive skin". I will let you know.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

A confession

 I haven't really given up chocolate. I've cut down a little but this afternoon I was cold and hungry so I had a hot chocolate drink. I've been eating chocolate cake and chocolate gateau. However when I eat dark chocolate it tastes of coffee - so that is a little off-putting.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Salmon and spinach

 I seem to have been eating combinations of salmon and spinach recently, mostly concocted by kind people making an effort to find palatable recipes for me.

First there was salmon and spinach cuiche. That can be made using tinned salmon. Nice!

Next somebody made a spinach sauce and served it with fresh salmon. Delicious. Essentially a white sauce with spinach added.

Finally last week a friend served up an amazing lasagne, made from smoked salmon and spinach. I don't think he'd asked me beforehand - just guessed. Mouth-watering!

Spinach is low in salicylate and salmon is of course low in omega 6. Both are rich in healthy nutrients although if you read wikipedia it might put you off eating too much spinach.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Giving up chocolate - and decaf

Not completely, but I have cut down on chocolate big time since seeing last week's analyses of how much caffeine contains.

I used to snack on dark chocolate on the grounds it was "healthy". Also because of its bitter taste you eat less of it than if you start on dairy milk chocolate. So I'm not going to start snacking on milk chocolate. I'll still eat chocolate products, chocolate cake and gateaux which seem to be pure chocolate, cream and flour.

I cannot say it has made much improvement to me. However I'm managing to avoid taking pills.

I also think I need to stop drinking decaf filter coffee - the sort that comes out of machines. Most salicylate lists say decaffeinated coffee is okay - but they may be referring to instant coffee, which is very bland. It is interesting to see how much caffeine "decaf" tea has - almost as much as instant coffee.

The machine decaf tends to be very strong and the effect is "instant". It goes straight to my left eye, which starts blurring and aching just as it did before this whole problem was identified. And I feel it causes digestive problems. Perhaps I'll start carrying instant decaf around in a jar.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More research needed on salicylates

 Our last poll collected the grand total of 11 votes and this time they were unanimous:

"More research is needed on salicylate levels in food and other products."

That includes chocolate, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, suntan oil, even textiles perhaps?

What should I poll on next? Any ideas?


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Shampoo frustration

 I threatened to shave my head today after total failure in getting hold of a decent shampoo or conditioner. The supermarket (Asda this time) only seems to sell shower gels. Tesco, as I've mentioned before, doesn't seem to stock the wheat and cornflour shampoo and conditioner that it used to sell. So now I've just squeezed the last drop out of the last bottle in the bathroom.

I popped into a branch of Boots to get the Simple shampoo and conditioner that I bought before. Not there. Eventually I bought a Derm shower gel for sensitive skin. I tried it. It's no good for the hair and when I smeared some on my arm it left two red blotches. I need to go through the ingredients in detail. I didn't spot salicylate.

My hairdresser suggested Johnson's baby shampoo. I said I hadn't seen that on sale. She said you have to look in the baby corner. The other problem is it stinks.

Of course when you are told there is no simple test for salicylate hypersensitivity it's not necessarily true. There may well be - it's called Imperial Leather shampoo. Along with one or two other commercial shampoos, it's rich in salicylate. That's the secret ingredient - aspirin! Before I was diagnosed I used it - and always came out of the shower bright red. The flare-up never seemed to last and I always put it down to having slightly "sensitive" skin. I didn't realise it was contributing to my eye-ache and other things. So there's a possible test - a salicylate shower!


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Caffeinated chocolate

Alarming news today from British regulators who say there's substantial amounts of caffeine in all chocolate. Sometime ago I reassured myself there was hardly any in chocolate - and that I could continue snacking on otherwise healthy dark chocolate.

Not so, according to the Food Standards Agency. It's not they are taking any interest in salicylates; far more serious is that they have linked caffeine to the health of new-born babies and urged pregnant women to cut down.

Now the FSA says four 50g bars of plain chocolate a day is equivalent to two mugs of caffeinated instant coffee. Those are small bars and that's quite a lot of coffee. I buy chocolate in 200mg bars and probably get through one bar in three or four days - so that's the equivalent half a mug of caffeinated coffee a day. That could explain some of the minor salicylate reactions I suffer now and again.

The full FSA list is interesting as it tells you the caffeine contained in each item:
* 2 mugs of instant coffee (100mg each)
* 1 mug of filter coffee (140mg each)
* 2 mugs of tea (75mg each)
* 5 cans of cola (up to 40mg each)
* 2 cans of 'energy' drink (up to 80mg each)
* 4 (50g) bars of plain chocolate (up to 50 mg each). Caffeine in milk chocolate is about half that of plain chocolate
So what about decaf coffee? I googled "decaf chocolate" and came up with a some interesting links. I don't think anyone has made decaf chocolate.

But US chocolate maker Hershey doesn't seem to think it is necessary. If you follow the link it's worth noting that their dark chocolate bar contains more than three times as much caffeine as their ordinary bar. It could be their chocolate doesn't contain much caffeine because it does not contain much chocolate.

Now I don't know what to do. I've relied on chocolate to keep me going - chocolate desserts, chocolate snacks, chocolate drinks. I'll have to cut down!


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Whisky fever

Woke up today with hay fever, a runny nose, a thick head and thick throat. I'm away for the weekend and left all my pills behind too.

I can only think it was the Scotch whisky I drank last night - Famous Grouse. As I've commented before there seems to be a difference between Scotch, distilled in oak vats, and the American bourbon whiskies, such as Jack Daniels, which so far as I can tell are distilled in metal vats.

I did have some sandwiches yesterday lunchtime. There was a scrambled egg and lettuce sandwich which seemed okay and then a sliced meat, which tasted as if it had some herbs in it. Also some mayonnaise. So that may not have helped. I've had two meals cooked with loving care by my hosts, plain chicken and vegetables such as leek, carrot and spinach. All beneficial rather than harmless.

Although winter has arrived, this is definitely not a cold, although I've almost forgotten what having a cold is like. There is no fever.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Cheerful news

Cheerful news today suggesting that there is a point to all this.

Apparently allergies may indicate a metabolism that is geared up to preventing cancer. Does this apply to salicylate hypersensitivity, which is not a "pure" allergy? I don't see why not. The outcome is the same - an overactive immune system.

 It's not a perfect shield against these awful diseases. But it's interesting to note that there is no experience of cancer amongst any of my blood relatives.

The researchers hint at the possibility that suppressing allergy with anti-histamines and singulair may not always be a good thing. I think everyone's experience is that it's a matter of balance - you don't want to be dependent on pills if you can manage it another way, such as by diet. But you've also got to maintain a healthy diet.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Smells and savours

I was walking through town and the smell of baked potato drifted past me. Then a smell of freshly cooking pie. Wonderful!

I began thinking. I sometimes react badly to a strong smell of food, of curry or something I can no longer eat. Maybe the thing is to learn to savour the smell for itself. Maybe I could train myself to enjoy the smell without missing the food. Perhaps at meals we could encourage people to produce strongly smelling food so we can enjoy its scent whilst tucking into our bland, salicylate-free food.

It would need to be strongly smelling because half the time I cannot smell it anyway through the old nlocked blose.


Friday, October 24, 2008

At the doctor's

 I went to the GP and started telling him about the Chinese meal that kicked off the recent problems. I said I thought it was an allergic reaction.
"What did you eat that you were allergic to?"
"Most of it probably, it's hard to tell with a catered meal, with salicylates."
"What makes you think it was salicylates? How do you know?"
"That was what Dr ... said, the consultant at the hospital you sent me to."
Up come the electronic records and he finds the letter from the consultant, setting out the problem and the prescription.
"Well you'd better avoid salicylates in that case."
It is the same every visit to the GP and they are starting to stack up. They only want to give you a few minutes - yet their notes do not tell them the first thing they need to know when you walk into the room. Last time he asked how my asthma was.
I am wondering whether there is some private specialist somewhere I should go to who can provide genuine care and advice.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In praise of fish...and stilton

 I was chatting to somebody the other day and they were talking about the difference between meat markets and fish markets. The one rowdy and high adrenaline, the other calm peaceful and rational. I don't know if it's true, I've never hung around city centre meat markets, but I am feeling an advantage in eating a lot of fish. Giving up coffee left me feeling demented, the loss of that edge that helps you remember an unexpected fact. I've gone from being good at quizzes to lousy. I'm told that nicotine gives the same sort of buzz. Fish isn't quite the same - it's more a feeling of the brain working at full efficiency, to the limit of its abilities. It's bizarre but I swear there's a difference. Tonight we had lamb chop so iy maay noy ne so ....

As for stilton cheese, I knew somebody who died unexpectedly. He was incredibly fit and did not smoke. The only vice anybody could think of was a fondness for cheese. Part of the problem with plain Cheddar cheese is that you want to eat lots of it to get the taste. It may not be very healthy in large quantities. Stilton is full of taste. You can have a small slice and your mouth and your palate are sated. Much better!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Those side-effects

I've booked an appointment with the GP using the wonders of e-booking. I was surprised how few appointments were available over a seven day period. Maybe they ration them. But it meant I could book several days ahead - quite neat.

I took my first montelukast today for several days. My innards had stabilised after several days of eating fish and almost zero-salicylate food. But my skin was getting quite itchy, with clusters of red spots in several places. One of the side-effects of the pill is supposed to be gastro-intestinal problems. That surprised me because at first it seemed to help prevent these problems. Now everything seems out of kilter - take the pill and my tummy gets upset. Don't take the pill and the skin flares up. And dietary management doesn't seem enough.

The general belief is that you're supposed to desensitise against allergy. Avoid the trouble for a while and the immune reactions go away. Well this is not a proper allergy. Sometimes I tell people I have a metabolic syndrome - that's what it is, a malfunction of the metabolism.

Even worse is when you discover diseases in which the allergy gets progressively worse - and they seem too close to home. Samter's Triad is one. Then there's Churg-Strauss Syndrome. I came across it as a rare side-effect of montelukast. Except it may not be a side-effect. Equally possible is that the pill has been given to people who go on to get this disease. It starts with sinusitis and other allergies and then develops to asthma followed by various kinds of organ failure. Except that some people, such as musician Ben Watts, never actually develop asthma.

I was reading about this the other day and got quite depressed. Maybe I'll go back to anti-histamines.


Friday, October 17, 2008

The flavour of food

Woke up dreaming of the flavour of food. I've started buying stilton cheese as it is the most highly and strongly flavoured producted I seem to be able to eat. It's probably not very good for me.

I took no pills yesterday, apart from a multivitamin with iron, and had a simple diet of fish and vegetables and fruit such as cabbage, carrots, green grapes and bananas. It should be a near zero salicylate diet and a low in omega 6. There's also little flavour, not in white fish or cabbage. Bananas are sweet and flavoursome but not rich in taste.

Today my skin is not much better - perhaps it's the dark chocolate I eat, perhaps it's the after effects of drinking that strong machine "decaf" earlier in the week. I could eliminate chocolate and even decaf coffee in the drive to eliminate salicylates. The choices are not very palatable.

Tonight I fancy pasta with a sauce of tinned mackerel. That's not bad for flavour.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Unsuitable eating

 Well the Singulair (montelukast) kicked in overnight at the weekend and my skin cleared up. But the truth is I've continued to abuse my body by eating all sorts of unsuitable foods - and there's been quite a lot of eating out. There was a steak one night. When I tried to switch back to fish it came with all sorts of herbs and peppers - and frankly was still pretty tasteless. Then I went somewhere and was served a fish pie. Not too bad but quite clearly sprinkled with all sorts of stuff.

I've been taking singulair daily to try to fend off the consequences. It does protect the skin. There's a bit of toothache today which is alarming. Toothache still frightens me because it is no longer easy to get subsidised dentistry in England. A wisdom tooth removal would mean big bills. More serious are the internal consequences and singulair doesn't seem to help to stabilise this much at all. In fact my partner is insisting I go to see the doctor again - which I do not want to do. The list of singulair's side-effects, which I promised to discuss some time ago, suggests it might even aggravate these symptoms. I took an anti-histamine last night. It helped me get a deep night's sleep if nothing else.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Cashew nuts

This week I was getting bored with fish and upped my intake of omega 6. Last weekend I had a lasagne with mince and then roast lamb. Then during the week I bought a couple of packets of cashew nuts. These are theoretically the only nuts I can eat as they are zero-salicylate. I desperately fancied a change of taste. However they are rich in omega 6 which reacts with any traces of salicylate. And that must have been  the problem.

For although I think I've been eating a low-salicylate diet maybe it is not zero salicylate. Things like chocolate, decaf coffee and maybe hot chocolate probably contain traces. So by today my arms and torso are quite blistered with red spots. I took my first Singulair for ages today but it seemed to have little effect. I was travelling so I bought a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. It was Ginsters and seemed to have quite a lot of pepper which did not help.

So back to a low omega 6 diet I think - plenty of fish and not much meat. Combining it with a low-salicylate diet seems to work best.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Train the caterers - backed

 Thanks to those who took part in my poll on catering facilities. The good news was that 90 per cent of respondents agreed that caterers need better training in providing salicylate free meals. The bad news was that only ten people took part so the numbers are not exactly overwhelming. I think we need to show more evidence of how many people are affected before taking the campaign any further. My impression from monitoring visits to this blog is that there are a lot more of you out there. If you're visiting the site, you can indicate support by clicking the stars on this posting or posting a comment.


Friday, October 03, 2008


I woke up today with eczema on my arms and my eyes failing. No obvious suspects but I hadn't taken a pill for days so I took a tablet of singulair.

Thinking it through, the prime suspect is the decaffeinated coffee that is found in some of the machines. It is very strong and comes out of sachets. In fact I had a cup this morning and my eyes blurred even more. I put on my glasses, which I very rarely use, and still could not read the small print. And the ache in my left eye that was there a couple of years ago has returned.

As for the rest, my left side is nearly better almost three weeks after the Chinese meal. There's still a slight stiffness in the hip - but I hardly notice it. I think it's the hip rather than the gut. If it's still there in a few weeks time I suppose I will have to go to the doctor.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Chocolate cake and coffee

I love chocolate cake and it's the only cake I can eat with any taste. The other day a friend made a cake which was delicious - or so I'm told. I didn't eat it because she revealed it had been made with real coffee. So we've borrowed the recipe and plan to make the same cake with decaf coffee.

Then yesterday I went to a coffee shop with some business acquaintances and ordered a slice of chocolate cake. it was dark and tasty. The meeting went well. In fact I was astonished at my retention of detail - I was almost  hyper in fact.

So that set me thinking. How many commercial chocolate cake and gateau preparations use coffee? Of course a good rule is always not to eat commercial preparations - but life is not like that. I cannot live in a bubble. Perhaps I should stick to home-made chocolate cake however.

It also sparked a second though. How much I miss caffeine. Yes, I over-indulged in it before realising the harm it caused. But it's a good brain drug and there are occasions when the brain just does not spark, those blank moments when obvious facts and phrases can't be summoned up. In fact I'm worryingly and increasingly absent-minded. I went away for a few days recently and came back without half my luggage - a coat on the train, a towel in a bathroom, that sort of thing.

I wonder whether if everything else was salicylate free and if my diet was low in omega 6, ie fish rather than meat, I could occasionally have a dose of caffeine just when I need my brain to spark...


Monday, September 29, 2008

Senses restored

 I had my ear syringed today - finally. I'd followed the doctor's advice and poured oil into the ear for a couple of days before hand, rapeseed rather than olive as he wanted. The nurse wasn't satisfied I had done enough but she managed to get most of the wax out.

I felt quite dizzy at the end of it.

My hearing is now acute. And when I returned home, my sense of smell - which has been mostly absent in recent years - was acute too. Thankfully the sun is shining so I have been able to open all the windows.

A few days ago I obtained some music I have been wanting to listen to for years. I did not enjoy it at all. It seemed bland. Now I'm listening to it again and realising I missed half of it.

Now all that remains is that lower left side.


Saturday, September 27, 2008


Here's a thought about my troubles this week. Earlier in the week we ran out of bananas and did not stock up again until yesterday. When they arrived yesterday I had two together - I missed them desperately.

Today I'm feeling a great deal better although not perfect. There's still some stiffness in my left side and I may still have to make that trip to the doctors. But it makes me wonder - is there something in bananas that's keeping me going?

I'm never quite sure what's in them and how good they are. Fibre, sugar, potassium, certainly. You are sometimes warned to be careful of them if you have allergic reactions as they contain histamine-like chemicals.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Food intolerance testing

I came across this press release from the consumer magazine Which?.

It's an investigation of commercial testing for food intolerance and allergy. It makes some good points. Probably the best point to note is that often problems are only identified through careful detection and keeping a record of what you eat.

However they undermine their case by stating that their researchers went to "hospitals" and managed to have one peanut allergy and one lactose intolerance diagnosed. I wonder if they filled in food diaries. Were they NHS hospitals or private one, I wonder, and how did they manage to jump the queues?

Of course there is no test for salicylate hypersensitivity. When I went to the hospital all my laboratory tests came back negative, even though I had classic allergy symptoms. When that happened, the consultant looked at all the foods I had told him, beer, tomato, pasta meals, avocado and suggested salicylate. I excluded salicylate foods and got better - but not totally better. He seems to have been right.


Upping the dose

I'm having real trouble driving. And last night I made a big mistake. I came in late and they had left me some pasta but nothing else. In the pantry were some tins of sardines in tomato sauce, which had been delivered wrongly by the supermarket. But no fish in brine. So I grabbed these, reasoning that in the past tomato sauce with fish had not been too bad.

It hasn't helped. Today the stiffness down my left side seems to come and go as does the pain in my gut.

And driving - and even getting in and out of cars - is difficult and painful. Both the knee and the hip are stiff. If it wasn't for the salicylate problem I'd take aspirin or nurofen. They are anti-inflammatories and just what you need to stop this kind of problem getting out of hand. I can't take them. So instead I took a double dose of antihistamines at lunchtime. I feel a little better and more flexible this evening - but I'm going to try to avoid driving for a few days.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ten days later

 Ten days after the Chinese meal I'm still stiff and painful down my left side. I took an antihistamine on Sunday, then took a day off pills and then took a montelukast yesterday, just in case the pill was aggravating the problem. It's all made little difference. I'm bending with difficulty and cannot sleep on my right side. It does seem to be emanating from the left side. I've been into my book of symptoms and I don't think it can be the kidney. I think I know what it is - unpleasant but not malevolent, something in the gut. Maybe I should go and see the doctor. Maybe making a booking will make it go away, just like the wisdom tooth and the ear infection.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Gammy leg

It's a week since I indulged in a Chinese meal and the side-effects are still lingering. The stiff leg and back I developed the next day hasn't gone away. Yesterday I went for an hour-long walk and was limping by the time I got home.

It's starting in the lower left-side and going down to the knee. As so often I don't know if it's a specific problem or general inflammation in this region. It's like the wisdom tooth problem in August that wasn't a dental problem at all. What's in the lower left side? A kidney? Gall bladder? I've got a vague idea of anatomy. I've signed on to a new system for booking appointments with the doctor on-line - but I have to make sure I keep appointments. If I make appointments and cancel them I'll be removed from it. So it can't be like in August when I booked a dental appointment and cancelled it. The odds are it will be gone in two days.

I took a montelukast yesterday afternoon but I cannot say it has improved things much. According to the terrifying list of side-effects on Wikipedia, it could be making things worse. More on that later I think.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Flapjack and walnut

 I popped into a newsagents for a snack as I skipped lunch and could not eat a meal until late.

I bought a cheese dip and then spotted some flapjack. It was topped with white chocolate and looked delicious. Now flapjack is made from oats and treacle, isn't it? I bit into this flapjack and it tasted of walnut. It was nice, apart from the faint taste of walnut, which I've never particularly liked.

I looked at the wrapper. It mentioned chocolate but nothing about nuts. The list of ingredients was too small to read especially as my eyes were blurring a little. There seemed to be no other  immediate ill-effects so I ate about two thirds before giving up.

As I walked away my tongue and lips began to tingle and my throat began to choke. Thankfully the effects did not last long.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hypo-allergenic shampoo

A few weeks ago I stayed with somebody who had a bottle of "hypo-allergenic" shampoo. The bottle was plain, suggesting it was sold by a pharmacist. I tried it and it seemed to work. That would be great as I've been doing without shampoo for some time. I've continued to use the Tesco wheatgerm and corn conditioner, so it's not been obvious.

So I popped into Boots the Chemist to see if they sold this product. The trainee pharmacist behind the counter seemed pretty clueless about hypo-allergenic shampoo. I'm not sure if she even understood the word. What do they teach pharmacists?

Eventually she showed me a branded product called Simple. It's marketed as for sensitive skin but not labelled as specifically hypo-allergenic. The label says it's free of perfumes and colourings - so that was pretty helpful. I checked the ingredients and there were no obvious salicylates. There was citric acid however - which I'm never sure about.

So I thought I would give it a try. They had a three for two offer so I bought one shampoo and two conditioners. I've been using it for about a week now.

And, so far as I can tell, it's been okay, pretty good in fact. The conditioner seems to need to be used in large quantities so I think I'll be going back to Tesco's for my next stock-up.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chinese challenge

A Chinese restaurant last night. As I've noted before Chinese cooking can be low salicylate, bean sprouts are meant to be free of the stuff - but you never know what extras have been used. I concentrated on fish courses. The first was meant to be a platter of fried fish. What came was a plate of fish that was anything but fried in a thick tasty source laden with broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and those miniature sweetcorn heads. As always very tasty but texturally pretty disgusting. I ate the fish and carrots and left the broccoli. I thought I ordered abalone, bean sprouts and Chinese mushrooms for the main course but it may have been bamboo shoots. Abalone I think is a kind of shellfish. It might as well have been thin sliced ham. Another thick, savoury sauce - it might just as well have been the starter. There was not a great deal of difference. Then to finish, a chocolate pudding which appeared to be little more than chocolate ice cream.

And I did drink several glasses of Jack Daniels.

I took a montelukast earlier in the day. But you can draw your own conclusions as to why today I'm stiff all the way down my left side, from the lower back to the knee.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Training caterers

I'm gathering support for a campaign to get caterers better trained in salicylate hypersensitivity. You'll see a poll to the right. So far this week this blog has had 300 visitors and hardly anyone has taken part in the poll. So come on - register a vote if you're passing!!

If you google the question about salicylate, there is loads of information about the problem. It's not all consistent but there is enough to tell any decent caterer the basic principles. Maybe more on this in the near future. I get all sorts of catering from conferences, parties, weddings, funerals, hotels, businesses. I've never, ever come across anyone who understands the problem. If you think I'm wrong, please vote 'no' and if you think the idea's a waste of time vote 'don't know'. Otherwise please support us!!!

(Sometimes the blogspot poller's a bit slow. Try it a couple of times if it doesn't record your vote the first time)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The dreaded hives

I took the montelukast pill at about midday yesterday. So some time today its effects wore off. Unfortunately last night's meal had clearly not been digested. So tonight I have been itching all over - the dreaded hives! Hastily took another pill and a couple of hours later I'm pleased to say things have calmed down.

My ear is steadily getting better and undoubtedly will have fully recovered by the time I get to see a doctor on Friday morning. Perhaps I wrongly blamed the pills for aggravating the problem.In any case I need to see the doctor to discuss getting a repeat prescription.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ears and montelukast

I keep hoping this ear problem will go away but I've now booked to see a doctor about it. I should have done this a long time ago. It's getting up the enthusiasm to negotiate an appointment. Day to day there's a persistent low level buzz and my hearing in that ear is quite erratic. I wonder if I got a piece of dirt in the ear?

Yesterday for the first time in a month I took a Singulair pill as I had to eat out that day. It is worthwhile because it makes a great deal of difference. I ate trout yesterday. Today there are no reactions, in spite of all the herbs and spices used on the fish.

On Monday I took an anti-histaminebefore switching to montelukast yesterday. I still think Singulair aggravates the ear problem and I notice that ear problems are indeed a rare side effect (which you are meant to tell the doctor about immediately). However I think that was in case you had some kind of allergic reaction to the pill. This was not caused by the pill.

Today the problem is much better but it's still there and I cannot put off that visit to the doctor any longer.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The ears

I must do something about my ear. I keep thinking the problem is  going away - then this morning I woke up with an awful buzzing and not a lot of hearing in my right ear. In fact I felt awful all morning despite getting a decent night's sleep. I've put off making an appointment with the doctor. I'm not sure what they can do It seems to me the problem is being triggered by sinusitis. There's a problem in the left ear too and I wake up with a stuffy nose - so it may all be the result of indulgence (a meal at Little Chef) last night. It is a lot better than it was in August. There's still a slight buzzing tonight. Maybe I'll give it a couple of days and see how I get on.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Some reassuring news

Sometime ago I promised to talk about the side-effects of montelukast. Mental health problems were not on my mind but nevertheless this report is reassuring:

American Lung Association Study Finds No Evidence of Depression or Suicide Linked to Asthma and Allergy Drug Montelukast

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Toothpaste free

And talking of teeth, my original posting on giving up toothpaste back in October 2006 is one of the most visited pages on this blog. People seem to find it on search engines and add their comments, keeping it up to date. Fresh comments added only today!

Friday, August 15, 2008

False alarm

Well I made an appointment with the dentist and cancelled it. The pain in my upper jaw went as fast as it came - and the ear infection has gone equally fast. Who knows what was going on...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In need of wisdom

I am now wondering whether there's a problem with a wisdom tooth in my right jaw. Having cleared the wax from my ear, the hearing is fine - although there's a slight buzz. But there is still sharp pain in the ear and it is worst when I'm tired and trying to go to sleep.

There's also a dull pain at the top of the left jaw. I know my dentist told me I might need wisdom tooth removals at some point. I'm wondering whether that's now.

What could have happened is something like this: mild infection in wisdom tooth causes mild inflammation in ear; trapped wax builds up blocking ear; ear cleared but suffers some superficial damage during process; inflammation from tooth increases.

I've been rinsing the mouth with salted water and that seems to help. These things always happen when you are on holiday - but at least yesterday I gave my whole face a lengthy bath in cold salt water. That seemed to help.

So is it nothing to do with sinusitis? Not necessarily. That could have triggered and aggravated problems as there has also been discomfort in the left ear.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Ear popping

Went out for a meal with friends last night and totally forgot to warn them I had some dietary problems. I thought they knew and it was only when another guest was being assured he would get chops and not casserole I realised I'd been forgotten. A quick trip to the kitchen and an apologetic word with the host and some fish was hastily grilled instead. Bet I don't get many more dinner invitations..

There were some doughballs with garlic. This morning when I got up it felt like I was getting a cold and my right ear was almost glued to the pillow with wax. Thankfully it cleared quickly enough.

Then today I popped into a local fete and, feeling hungry, bought a beefburger. It was nice and meaty and felt free of the additives you get in a take-away. However a little peppery.

By the time I left my ears were popping. It took several days to shake off the deafness in my right ear last week. We discovered we had some ear cleaner, made from purified salt water, in stock and that certainly helped as a syringe. The wax that came out stank horribly.

By Thursday I had my hearing back and thought the problem was pretty well gone. Tonight the ear is really sore although, thankfully, the hearing's still okay.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hay fever in the ear

Woke up with quite a painful ear-ache today and the loss of most of the hearing in one ear.

It's probably the result of mowing the lawn yesterday. I've done a quick check on "sinusitis" and "ear-ache" just to confirm my hunch. Yes, indeed, it seems allergic reactions are a common cause of ear-ache. Unfortunately swimming may also aggravate it as can wearing mp3 player headphones (while mowing the lawn). So that could spoil my coming summer holidays.

As I explained to someone I was talking to, I've got hay fever in my ear.

Some of my common sense responses seem to be supported - warm water to wash the ear, preferably salted so as to be antiseptic. I've found that doing a kind of deep swallowing also seems to help.

I'm still not sure about taking montelukast daily. After about three days it seems to destabilise me.

So today I'm trying a double dose of anti-histamines, remembering that the specialist told me originally I could take up to three one-a-days at a time. So far the relief is limited.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I was going to write something about the horrific side-effects of montelukast, as described by Wikipedia, but events overtook me.

I never really recovered from that week of living out of a suitcase and in particular from eating my first restaurant pizza in two years. Despite taking montelukast daily, by the middle of last week I was, bizarrely, losing my hearing in one ear and still suffering quite a few other problems. I think it was severe sinusitis, aggravated by lots of midsummer grass and weed cuttings.

Then I got frightened by reading about the side-effects. So for seven days it's been fish, zero-salicylate food and no pills. I'm still not sure I've stabilised but there's less hay fever than before.

I was talking to someone about fish and meat the other day and they were reminiscing about one of the big city markets. According to them, the meat market was loud and aggressive, the fish market much gentler. So does eating fish rather than meat make you calmer, maybe help to sharpen the brain also? I'm not sure.

Here's the Wikipedia article on montelukast.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Salicylate free compost?

My dietician told me that salicylate levels in mushrooms depend on where they are grown. From experience and deduction, I long ago worked out that commercial mushrooms are very bad. I've eaten, large fresh from the field mushrooms and they have been delicious and harmless.

I have on my conscience the large number of banana skins I dispose of. Our local "green waste" collection system will only collect garden waste and I don't want kitchen waste on my compost heap either. And our Prime Minister, rightly if sanctimoniously, urges us to stop wasting food.

So my plan is to get a small sealed compost bin, possibly one of the kitchen waste bins that contain organisms to digest waste, and fill it with low-salicylate waste - banana skins, bits of carrot, rotten fruit, topped up with the occasional spade full of grass from the lawn. Eventually I might even grow mushrooms in this compost.

However I fear a flaw in this plan. I have absolutely no evidence that banana skins are low in salicylate. Salicylate is normally found in outer skins, such as wood bark, and presumably the reason that bananas tend to be okay is that they are the flesh of the fruit, not the skin. How can I find out?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Train the caterers!

Living out of a suitcase this week I've experienced varying treatment at the hands of caterers.

In fact, I've never come across a caterer who understands salicylate hypersensitivity. You are often asked about special dietary requirements - vegetarianism, which is entirely voluntary, they understand, and diabetes of course.

Nor have I ever come across a caterer who has sent a message back asking what to do. What I usually do is write some general advice when asked about "special dietary requirements" - it is usually ignored.

I will say something like "plain food, no sauces or herbs, fish is good as are bananas and chocolate." That will generally allow me to choose my own vegetables. On Monday night I sat down to eat at a conference centre and no provision had been made. As it happens the staff were good and made an effort.

I arrived home last night in a terrible state, even after taking Montelukast daily. The first thing I did was to make myself a zero-salicylate meal with fish, peas and carrots. I wasn't sure whether I could stomach any more fish - but it was okay.

On Wednesday night I had eaten my first commercial pizza for two years. I did so on the grounds that it was a fish pizza. It used just two herbs, organon and caper, along with copious quantities of tomato. I cannot remember all the species of sea-food it involved.

The previous night I had a Chinese. Everybody was eating a shared, set meal but I had a fish fillet with sweet corn separately. It looked disgusting on the plate. The problem with Chinese meals is you do not know what fats are being used to cook and what additives are being used.

So my original point: should we not start lobbying for catering colleges to teach about salicylate hypersensitivity? It does not seem to be that rare and is responsible, for far as I can tell, for a kind of asthma, for nasty skin diseases and a host of other conditions.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hay fever - a theory

I'm suffering from hay fever - I'm convinced. I can't get hay fever, my specialist told me so, as I spent my childhood making hay, really, making hay on a farm. Thatwas even though I have vivid memories of "summer colds".

It feels like a cold - a slightly runny nose, a slightly sore eye, a touch of sinusitis. But it's not a cold, not the way I remember them. Colds, I seem to remember, get in your head too. The virus plays havoc with your mind, wipes your memory and makes you miserable all round.

This is uncomfortable and the sore eye is the same as I had before we got this diagnosed, got the diet right.

It's been a funny old week. I went on a conference at the weekend and it included a formal dinner. These are the worst - no menu choice, no chance to cook it yourself and, as usual, they had utterly ignored the dietary advice I sent through. Nevertheless they agreed to whip up a salmon which arrived dressed in parsley and dill. Not too bad.

On the strength of that promise I tackled the starter. Again no choice. It was melon, strawberry, lots of sweet fruits, all inedible. I ate the melon. And I drank a lot of whisky.

No serious problems although I was tired the next day. But the only meat I ate throughout was fish. I thought we were doing well at home too this week - quite a lot of fish in the diet. So why have I now got hay fever?

Well tonight they served up, from the freezer what looked like chips but were in fact those spicy potatoes in their skins that you get at Harvester. That cannot have helped.

Nevertheless I just find it funny that I should suffer from hay fever during the hay fever season. it wasn't like this during the winter - a stuffy nose yes, but not a runny one and not the sore eye, which has now returned. The other day we went out to lunch and our hostess served a Greek-style lunch. Lots of delicious salads and olive oil. Then later, as I sniffed away, she asked me if I suffered from hay fever.

So this is my theory. Hay fever sufferers react to pollen in the atmosphere. But in the city in the spring time there is other particulate matter in the atmosphere - namely grass cuttings, hedge trimmings etc So maybe that causes a kind of pseudo-hay fever.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Stroke, Parkinson's and tomatoes

Today's frightening story links hay fever to stroke.

A study in South Carolina suggests hay fever sufferers face a doubled risk of having stroke. Apparently earlier reports have also linked stroke to asthma. And I recall that other report linking allergies to Parkinson's disease. Now the South Carolina finding may be a freak. After all, although it involved some 9,000 people only 125 suffered strokes.

What's the common thread? It's that some allergies cause long-term, low level inflammation which could ultimately lead to all sorts of illnesses. As it happens there is Parkinson's disease in my family. I was talking to the person concerned over the last few days and discovered he has a life-long aversion to tomatoes. I didn't know that but he's a relative and I was also never keen on strongly flavoured tomato products. I don't mind fresh tomatoes - although I don't eat them now - but I hated tinned plum tomatoes, in fact I loathed them with all my being.

Then I watched as he ate a meat dish, a cottage pie, made with tomatoes and watched as he reached for his handkerchief to wipe his nose.

Now I know other family members who hate tomatoes. So perhaps tomato-aversion is the sign that could help us trace the genetic course of this malady.

If you go back to the discussion on Samter's Triad, that was when I realised that I had non-allergenic rhinitis, otherwise known as a chronic stuffy nose. It's not classic hay fever, it's "non-allergenic" but it's the same sort of condition.

Now that's probably not on my medical notes. No doctor ever attempted to list all the mild symptoms that are linked to this condition. In Britain they're interested in the major symptoms and good for them. We'd all be hypochondriacs otherwise. I did tell the consultant that I suffered from "summer colds" as a child but he dismissed that, pointing out that as I grew up on a farm it was extremely unlikely I'd develop hay fever.

In a week or two I'll have my last appointment with a dietician and then it will be back to the GP. The level of GP knowledge of this - and the quality of their notes - extends to "how is your asthma?". I don't have asthma - yet - and I hope to God I don't get it.

But as the latest reports on hay fever and stroke point out, chronic hay fever can no longer be considered a "benign" condition. The same applies here - perhaps the best thing to do would be to go onto statins as you are now allowed to self-medicate with them and apparently they are the wonder drug that will prevent heart disease, stroke etc. Let's hope they don't contain salicylate.

Friday, May 09, 2008


I've just endured a week without Montelukast and ended up back on the anti-histamines. It wasn't obvious what it was, maybe ice cream or just an accumulation of junk food, but by Monday by gums were hurting, my tongue was swelling and my skin was starting to blossom with red spots.

Anti-histamines controlled it but they are not as effective as Montelukast. And the one-a-days may be sold as "non-drowsy" but I don't believe it. A doctor friend of mine says the effect is like a hangover. If you doze, you sink into a deep sleep and struggle out of it.

So by Monday night I got round to emailing my doctors' surgery for the repeat prescription. I was told it would take three days to be ready so this morning I popped in and collected it. Over lunch I took the prescription to a city centre chemist and they told me about an interesting scheme they have. They've kept my details and if I telephone them they will make all the arrangements to organise the repeat prescription. All I would have to do would be to call and collect it. I'm in two minds because I like to support the local pharmacist. However it always takes a few minutes to get the prescription ready. That's fine after a GP appointment when I've probably set aside at least an hour - but not monthly. Straight after picking up the pills, I took one.

So to onions. I was at a meeting at lunchtime and sandwiches were provided. I spotted a plain cheese sandwich and bit into it, only to realise it was actually cheese and onion. It's embarrassing when your nose starts running and you start choking during a meeting - as that is what happened. By mid-afternoon my right eye was hurting and my gums and lips tingling. Thankfully later on the drug kicked in and I am all right tonight. I had fish sauce and pasta for dinner to help calm things down. It's a reminder that onions can be particularly lethal.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Tonight we had cuiche made with cheese, spinach and mushrooms. Mushrooms can vary enormously in salicylate level, so my dietician told me, and it all depends where they are grown.

I've tended to assume that commercial mushrooms will be grown in compost - which is likely to be rich in salicylate. Farm grown mushrooms, on the other hand, will grow in grass and animal manure and tend to be okay.

Well I continued to chance it, despite my experience over the weekend. I ate the cuiche and my throat swelled, my lips tingled and now I'm sitting here feeling as if I'm about to get a cold. It's not a cold of course, it's more like hay fever or what they call non-allergenic rhinitis.

Interesting the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain has just released a report showing that most people put up with summer colds without realising they are probably hay fever. That used to happen to me except it probably was not hay fever, it was salicylate hypersensitivity.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just when you think...

I really thought I was getting this under control. I've massively increased the amount of fish in my diet and I'm taking montelukast quite regularly after getting a repeated prescription from the GP. That means I can simply email the practice to get my next prescription note - although I have to go for an appointment in August to ensure there are no side-effects.

I've even once or twice created fish and tomato pasta sauces at home. So that's tomato back in the diet for the first time in nearly two years. Delicious!

Then last night the family brought home some Chinese spare ribs from the supermarket. I've avoided them up to now because I have no idea what the sweet sauce they are coated with is made from. But I thought I would chance it. Delicious!

Today for pudding we had a chocolate gateau and a raspberry pavlova. The gateau went and everyone was having second helpings from the pavlova. So I got a clean knife and cut away some of the meringue bit. There was just a smidgeon of raspberry on it. Not bad!

Now I'm sitting here with a desperately uncomfortable sore throat and a tingling tongue. Maybe it's a cold coming but more likely it's back to square one, I'm afraid.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pasta sauce

I went to an Italian restaurant the other night. I had a tuna sandwich for lunch and chose the fish starter. And earlier in the day I took a Singulair.

For the main course I tried to stick to fish and ordered a pasta with salmon and mushroom. It came and there was not an awful lot of salmon and the sauce was made with tomatoes. I suppose I should have sent it back but I don't like making a fuss and I had done well up to them. It was nice enough for the first tomato-based meal I've had for at least 18 months. And no ill effects.

I'm beginning to think that substituting fish for meat is as effective as trying to eliminate salicylate from the diet.

Interestingly a report out today suggests the evidence of health benefits of eating fish such as salmon for the heart is overwhelming. Dr James O'Keefe, from Kansas, USA, advocates eating two meals of oily fish a day. More detail on this later perhaps.

Friday, February 29, 2008


I went last weekend to a well-known theme park and spent much of the day eating junk food. This included a bag of beautifully light but unexpectedly large doughnuts that we picked at the end of the day for a few pounds.

By Sunday I was stiff and acheing all over my back and shoulders and stayed that way for most of the week. You may think it was the rides - and I expect they played a part along with the long drive to the venue. But the truth is I stayed off the real back-breakers. The worst ride we went on was a pirate ship type swing and, despite his bravado, my young companion started getting a tumbling tummy before I did. Being a little taller than him I realised I could prevent sickness by bracing my legs on the down-swing - worked very well.

Actually I've had a bad week and it's largely because the Singulair ran out early last week. So it's not been just the backache, the rash on my abdomen started to return and my left eye got sore again as it was in 2006.

So I managed to organise myself to see a GP. That involves taking a morning out to call and make an appointment and then having a free morning 48 hours later. The total time involved is much less than this but you certainly need two free mornings. I saw a registrar and, having asked after my asthma, he agreed to re-prescribe the drug. I explained that asthma is the one thing I don't have. He then took my blood pressure, which turned out to be remarkably healthy - and that's good news because it suggests the inflammation caused by this problem isn't getting to the arteries.

The thing about doughnuts is I don't normally get to eat them. When the family get them, they invariably have jam inside so I abstain. So presented with two bags with ten largish doughnuts between them, I wolfed down four. The problem, as with much fast food, is you don't know what they are cooked in. Doughnuts use quite a lot of oil I believe and it may well have been sunflower oil, which is no good to me.

I should record I took the boys to a McDonalds later and, as is quite common, they failed to produce the grilled chicken salad I asked for and I had to combine a side salad with chicken nuggets. As I said, junk food all day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Invisible on the NHS

Oh dear! The sub-title of this blog refers to the British National Health Service. Let's be fair - after a long delay in getting my first appointment with a consultant I was treated pretty well. Being prescribed a drug - Montelukast - by letter is a little unusual but it works.

Yet it seems salicylate hypersensitivity is invisible on the NHS.

The NHS Choice has just launched an on-line food allergy testing tool. The idea is to distinguish between allergy and intolerance.

I've checked it out and it tells me I possibly have a food allergy. The problem is it's not quite true. Salicylate hypersensitivity is something a little different. I'm telling people now I have a metabolic disorder - there's something wrong with the metabolism - and that seems a better description. I double-checked by typing salicylate into the NHS Choice search engine and absolutely nothing relevant came up.

It's not as though it's uncommon. My dietician has other cases. My research has shown there's some scientific understanding of the condition if you look in the right places. There's even a drug.

Now after mentioning possible food allergy, the NHS Choice site suggests that nuts, fish, milk, eggs and wheat are the most likely foods to cause a problem. Tell that to the experts, who do not like the idea of wheat allergy.

Now I thought I had wheat allergy and my GP didn't contradict me when I told him my suspicions. I reacted to pasta and pizza and I ate a lot of pasta - still do. I was tested for it and the results were negative. That did not surprise the consultant as wheat allergy is actually pretty rare. And let me tell you - wheat allergy is miserable. Avoiding wheat and gluten for six months was far tougher than the way I live now. The gluten free food is expensive and insubstantial, cooking with it is impossible. It's true that catering departments know about it - but their menus tend to be unpalatable. I lost half a stone in six months and lived in permanent hunger.

And in fact, it seems, I was reacting to everything else - herbs, concentrated tomatoes, spices, peppers etc. So which is more common salicylate hypersensitivity or wheat allergy? I have a feeling nobody knows and I also think that suggesting wheat is a common allergen is misleading, as it's also a common food.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Chocolate wiki

I can't leave the chocolate question alone so I've been over to Wikipedia.

At last that's reassuring... "it would be necessary to eat more than a dozen chocolate bars to get the same amount of caffeine as one cup of coffee," according to the Wiki-article.

I don't suppose these are plain chocolate bars and no doubt it means a strong cup of coffee. Now all I have to do is to find out how much caffeine there is in decaf coffee.

Caffeine in chocolate - now it's sort of official

You know how it is...an idea gets in your head and you can't get rid of it. Everybody seems to be talking about it. That's how it's been with chocolate and caffeine over the last few days.

So this morning there was a scare about coffee causing miscarriage. I get up and there's some kind of expert being interviewed on the television. She talks about not drinking coffee (if you're pregnant) and how there's caffeine in tea. Then the presenter says: "But isn't there caffeine in chocolate?" The expert pauses, as I hold my breath and reach for my ears, before she says "yes". Apparently dark chocolate is the worst, because, of course, it is the most concentrated. She seemed to think that white chocolate and probably milk chocolate would not do too much harm.

Well that seems to be the end of snacking on dark chocolate because it's "healthy". I can't snack on milk chocolate - it would be plain foolish - but I suppose the occasional chocolate snack will do no harm. I wonder about chocolate drinks?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Defac chocolate?

...And if there were caffeine in chocolate, surely someone would have developed a decaf chocolate by now?

Saturday, January 19, 2008


People keep telling me that chocolate contains caffeine. I wish they wouldn't.