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.