Salicylates Explained | Test Your Intolerance

Salicylates are great in a diet, and vegetarian, vegan, and Mediterranean diets have proven this. A diet rich in salicylates lowers the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Even though salicylates have significant benefits, they aren’t that great for everyone. Some people experience salicylate intolerance, while others have salicylate allergies. Salicylates intolerance and allergy are less common than lactose and gluten intolerances and allergies, but they still affect many people.

Besides their consumption in food, salicylates extracts have been used for centuries medicinally. They’re good for relieving pain, reducing inflammation and fever. The most common salicylate extract used as a drug is known as aspirin. It is the oldest medicine and is even in the Chinese traditional medicine remedies. Aspirin was derived from plants in the past, but it’s made these days synthetically.


What are salicylates?


Salicylates are compounds primarily found in foods, drugs, and other products. Some over-the-counter prescription drugs contain salicylates. The most common one is aspirin. Drugs that contain salicylates often help reduce inflammation, pain, and fever.

Naturally, like fruits and vegetables, the plants that we consume contain salicylates. Salicylates in fruits and plants help protect plants against insects and diseases. Even though there are salicylates in plants, the dose you can consume on a plant-based diet is much lower than taking an average dose of aspirin. Even though the levels are lower, consuming foods rich in salicylates can cause problems for people who are intolerant or allergic to this compound.

Salicylates are derived from salicylic acid used in products like food preservatives, aspirin, and toothpaste. Naturally, a high dose of salicylates (mainly achieved through taking high quantities of drugs like aspirin) can cause dire health problems for anyone.


Salicylates intolerance


Some people experience intolerance symptoms when consuming drugs or foods high in salicylates. People who are intolerant to salicylates mostly experience itchy skin or gastrointestinal problems. People suffering from salicylate intolerance find it hard to metabolize and excrete substances that contain salicylates from their bodies.

Salicylates intolerance is a result of the overproduction of Leukotrienes. When one has a Leukotrienes build-up in the body, it often leads to salicylate intolerance symptoms. Even though the number of people suffering from salicylate intolerance is unclear, most people who have asthma suffer from it.


Symptoms of salicylates intolerance

Most of the symptoms of salicylate intolerance affect the respiratory tract, intestines, and skin {1}. These symptoms include;

  • Nasal and sinus polyps
  • Stuffy nose
  • Gas
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sinus infection and inflammation
  • Asthma
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tissue swelling
  • Hives


Salicylates allergy

Unlike salicylate intolerance, salicylates allergy affects the body’s immune system. The most severe symptom of salicylates allergy is anaphylaxis which happens rarely but can be life-threatening. It is rare to experience an allergy from using topical products that contain salicylates like sunscreen and creams.


Salicylates allergy symptoms

  • Nasal congestion
  • Headaches
  • Asthma-like symptoms (wheezing and trouble breathing)
  • Changes in skin colour
  • Stomach pain or upset
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal polyps
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Itching, skin rash, or hives
  • Eczema
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, and face
  • Colitis
  • Flatulence
  • Leaky gut
  • Stomach ache


Foods containing salicylates

There are many salicylates foods that we consume daily in our diets. Some of which include;

  • Vegetables like cucumber, chilli, broccoli, sweet potatoes, asparagus, beetroot, radishes, olives, artichoke, broad beans, endive, bell pepper, tomato, eggplant, squash, spinach, zucchini, alfalfa sprouts, cauliflower, and mushrooms.
  • Fruits like blueberries, avocado, apples, dates, cherries, grapefruit, cranberries, pineapple, plums, oranges, tangerines, guavas, strawberries, apricots, prunes, and raisins.
  • Beverages like beer (root, birch), bubbly drinks, regular coffee, tea, wine, vinegar, rum, and liqueurs.
  • Spices like curry, cinnamon, dill, cayenne, clove, mustard, cumin, pimiento, oregano, thyme, rosemary, turmeric, paprika, ginger, aniseed, and tarragon.
  • Other sources of salicylates include cordial, almonds, water chestnuts, jam, liquorice, honey, chewing gum, pickles, food colourings, aloe vera, mints, gravies, fruit flavourings, and savoury-flavoured chips and crackers.


Salicylates drugs

Here are some over-the-counter drugs that contain salicylates. If you’re intolerant or allergic to salicylates, it is best to avoid these drugs;

  • Acetylsalicylic acid
  • ASA
  • Aspirin
  • Bayer (like Advanced Aspirin, Women’s Low Dose, Low Adult Strength, Extra Strength Plus, Extra Strength, Children’s Aspirin, Buffered Aspirin)
  • Bufferin
  • Doan’s Extra Strength
  • Durlazo
  • Ecotrin
  • Halfprin DSC
  • Magnesium salicylate
  • Percogesic Maximum Strength Backache Relief
  • Salsalate
  • Joseph Adult Chewable Aspirin, Regular Strength
  • Vazalore


Salicylates and eczema

Salicylates tend to trigger or worsen eczema in 52% of people with eczema {2}. Most people suffering from eczema are also salicylate intolerant. Most people who are salicylate intolerant and have eczema constantly adapt to a low-salicylate diet that helps clear up or reduce the severity of their eczema.

A low-salicylate diet helps reduce the symptoms of salicylate intolerance. Such a diet includes consuming foods that contain very little salicylate amounts. After a while of abstaining from these foods and feeling better, you can always learn how to reintroduce these foods back with the help of your doctor.

Before you adopt a low-salicylate eczema diet, you need to consult your doctor or nutritionist because there are high-nutrient foods that will be removed from your diet and can lead to a deficiency.


Salicylates intolerance test and allergy test


Our Allergy & Intolerance Test Plus

Intolerances and allergies can take away a lot of comfort in your daily life. On the other hand, an allergy can highly harm your life and can sometimes even be life-threatening. If you’ve ruled out all diseases with your GP, you could look for an intolerance if you can relate to the above symptoms following consuming drugs or foods containing salicylates.

Taking an allergy and intolerance test at home is pretty much straightforward. All you’ll need to do is order an Allergy and Intolerance Test kit online. Test Your Intolerance has two types of allergy and intolerance test kits. One tests for 110 common allergies and intolerances and another Allergy and Intolerance test kit that tests for 70 common allergies and intolerances. You can take either one to check for a salicylate intolerance or allergy. Get yourself a salicylates test kit online and receive your results within a week of sending back the sample to the lab.



  1. Baenkler H. W. (2008). Salicylate intolerance: pathophysiology, clinical spectrum, diagnosis and treatment. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 105(8), 137–142.
  2. Loblay, R.H. and Swain, A.R., 2006, ‘Food Intolerance’, Recent Advances in Clinical Nutrition: