natural sulfite allergy treatment

3 Natural Sulfite Allergy Treatments

In Environmental Allergies, Illness, Natural Products by Anthony14 Comments

Sulfites are used as preservatives that help some food products maintain their color and freshness. They are actually much more common in the food and drinks that you consume than you think. Sulfites have been added to wines for thousands of years to preserve its bold taste and rich red color. However, these chemicals have not been tested fully for safety in health.  Some people’s immune system reacts aggressively to these chemicals and produces an allergic reaction. This allergy can be very subtle and unnoticeable while being very hard to avoid. Here is a natural sulfite allergy treatment that can help improve your general health and well-being.

natural sulfite allergy and sensitivity treatment

What are Sulfites?

These diverse chemical compounds are mainly used to preserve foods and beverages for their aesthetic quality. They usually aren’t added to protect the food from pathogens, but they are added to protect the product from aging and the environment.

Sulfites are sulfur-based preservatives that are used to enhance the visual appearance of foods. For instance, they are used on shrimp and lobster to make sure that it keeps its white-red color rather than turning black and brown over time. The sulfites help maintain a delectable light pink color of the meat that looks delicious to seafood lovers.

The mechanism of action for sulfites is the chemical property that sulfur has to kill microorganisms and act as an antioxidant. (1)

Naturally, some foods will degrade over time and with exposure to oxygen. In the case of wine, this beverage will naturally lose its bright color and aroma over time. Without sulfites, wine would still be the same taste and quality as long as it is bottled and separated from oxygen. However, the wine will turn a visually disgusting brown-red color that doesn’t look appetizing to consumers. Nobody will be enticed to purchase it.

That’s why winemakers add sulfites to all their bottles.

Miscellanious Uses for Sulfites

Sulfites are also used in medications to help maintain their potency over time. They are the go-to preservatives used in pharmaceuticals because they have been proven to be least likely to cause health problems in people that consume them. This may be true, but some people react to them harshly and cause an immune reaction that may lead to chronic inflammation if consumed on a regular basis, which is very likely. (2)

On top of all this, sulfites are also used to bleach food starches, sugars, flours, and table salt. They can also be used on surfaces to prevent rust. Many food packaging companies that sell pre-cooked foods add sulfites to the water that they use to boil the food, notably vegetables, before they package it.

“Salad Bar Syndrome”

Sulfites are potentially toxic and harmful substances even in people that aren’t allergic or sensitive to them. They have been proven to cause nausea and diarrhea in large amounts. (3)

A phenomenon starting in the 1980’s known as “salad bar syndrome” particularly blames the excessive use of sulfites on the vegetables to preserve them in the presence of oxygen for a long period of time. Since food sits out at salad bars often for days at a time, the vegetables were drenched in sulfites to prevent browning and infection by pathogens.

Many people started to complain of severe symptoms from swelling, lung problems, and bowel issues to headaches and nervous system disorders during the time when salad bars started to become popular. The correlation between eating a salad bar and developing these symptoms was quickly made and then researchers started to examine the effects of sulfites on the body. (4)

Sources of Sulfites

Drinks: Cordials, some fruit juice, beer and wine, soft drinks, instant tea

Misc Drinks: Commercial lemon and lime juice, vinegar, grape juice

Commercial food: Dried potatoes, gravies, sauces, fruit toppings, cherries, pickled onions, maple syrup, jams, jelly, some biscuits and breads, pie, pizza dough

Fruit: Dried apricot, dried grapes, any dried or preserved fruit, coconut

Salads: Restaurants may add sulfites to vegetables to preserve color

Seafood: Sulfur powder often added to shellfish to preserve the meat’s color

Meat: Sulfites sometimes added to sausage meat, but this is illegal almost everywhere.

Other: gelatin

Topical Medication: Some eye drops and skin creams

Injectable medication: Epinephrine, isoprenaline, phenylephrine, some corticosteroids, dopamine, dental anaesthetics, some antibiotics

sulfites sources chart

Research on Adverse Reactions to Sulfites

In the United States, more than 350 cases of severe immune reactions to sulfites have been reported. This includes anaphylactic shock, asthma attacks, urticaria, angioedema, nausea, diarrhea, seizures, and death. Six deaths have been associated with an overdose of sulfites preservatives.

Once consumed, sulfites will be immediately processed by your body because it is absorbed quickly into the blood stream.  If you are sulfite allergic or sensitive, you will know that you consumed them within a few minutes because your body will start to react. (5)

Sulfites can trigger an immune response that triggers an IgE-mediated mechanism, which is associated with immediate inflammation that tries to rid the harmful particle from the body as quickly as possible. This reaction can be fatal, though.

Studies on adverse reactions to sulfites have recently determined that sulfites are not safe preservatives. Health organizations now strongly urge companies to use alternatives to sulfating agents. Citric acid one to two percent can prevent browning of vegetables almost as efficiently as sulfites. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is also effective and can extend shelf life of produce by up to 7 days. These natural alternatives can be considered to be advantageous to health because they are nutrients that can be used by the body and don’t trigger immune reactions. (6)

Sulfite Allergy Symptoms

For the past twenty years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States has started to require winemakers to display the warning “contains sulfites” if the levels exceed the threshold for acceptable and healthy amounts of sulfites. Many companies voluntarily add this warning to the label of their products as well.

Sulfite allergy symptoms that some people can develop after exposure include:

  • Severe headache and migraine
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the lips and mouth
  • Wheezing and trouble breathing
  • Asthma attacks
  • Anaphylaxis

These reactions are very dangerous. If you have determined that you have a sulfite allergy, it is very important to avoid sulfites whatever it takes.

Sulfite Sensitivity Symptoms

Aside from being fully allergic to sulfites, your body may produce mild inflammation that is not fatal. Although, these symptoms can impact your physical well-being dramatically and you should definitely try to avoid sulfites as well.

Symptoms of sulfite sensitivity in certain individuals can include:

  • Itching skin or rash
  • Hay fever symptoms
  • Worsening of asthma
  • Swelling lips or throat

Recognize Sulfites on Ingredient Labels

If you think that you are sensitive to sulfites, check for these ingredients on food labels so that you can avoid them.  The closer that these ingredients are to the front of the list indicates how much of it is in the product. If it is the last ingredients, there will likely be smaller amounts of it in comparison to the others.

  • 220: Sulphur dioxide
  • 221: Sodium sulfite
  • 222: Sodium bisulfite
  • 223: Sodium metabisulfite
  • 224: Potassium metabisulfite
  • 226: Calcium sulphite
  • 227: Calcium bisulfite
  • 228: Potassium bisulfite

Natural Sulfite Allergy Treatment

  1. Quercetin

quercetin is a natural treatment for sulfite allergy

Quercetin is a natural flavonoid that is used for its anti-histamine properties. It is excellent for naturally treating all kinds of allergies and sensitivities. It has been proven safe to consume and won’t cause any undesired side effects. This would make quercetin a great sulfite allergy treatment.

  1. Garlic

garlic for sulfite allergy treatment

Garlic is very effective in treating and preventing the symptoms of sensitivities. Although it won’t provide any relief for sulfite allergies, it can do wonders for those with sensitivities. In addition, garlic will cleanse your digestive tract and bloodstream of infectious pathogens that cause illness. The benefits of garlic have been proven thoroughly over thousands of years. It is best taken in high doses in supplement form for sulfite allergy treatment.

  1. Probiotics

probiotics for treatment of sulfite allergy

One of the most recommended ways to treat and cure the root causes of any allergy is with the help of symbiotic organisms. These probiotic bacteria will help regulate your bodily processes and digest anything that comes down through your mouth. If you have a healthy amount and variety of intestinal flora, these organisms will prevent allergic reactions and produce many nutrients for you as a “thank you” for being their home. Here’s a world famous probiotic that has been proven to survive stomach acid and colonize the intestines easily. It will help tremendously for sulfite allergy treatment.


I am always here for you, so if you have a question or something to add about natural sulfite allergy treatment, please leave me a comment!

Talk to you soon,



  1. Thanks so much for this article. Me and my son both have G6PD deficiency and we have had any issues at lease none that I was aware of. My son did complain one time his heart was hurting but I thought it was just heart burn. My son is 7 and I am 29. We are now vegans for about a year now. Do you have any recommendations when it comes to vegetables, should I only get organic fruits and veggies? My son had asthma when he was a baby but not anymore, should I still give home the probiotics on a daily basis?

    1. Author

      Hey Asia,
      It’s interesting that your son complains about heart pain at such a young age. I remember being a kid too and experiencing heartburn while not knowing what the cause of it was. Analyzing my past now, it was definitely due to a food intolerance and excessive salt intake. For me, I was intolerant to soybeans and most legumes so whenever I consumed soy sauce, my heart burned extremely badly and I also had very bad headaches and stomach pain. Since you guys are vegans, I am wondering if your son has something similar because I was a vegan as well. Ultimately, I consumed a lot of soy. Let me know if I may be accurate!

  2. Hi, I drank some white wine the other night and felt like I had an allergy asthma issues ever since. What can I do to get rid of these symptoms. I feel like I have a deep allergy cough. I notice it only happens when I drink white wine. What should I do to help my symptoms, cause they feel like they are getting worse. Thank you

    1. Author

      Hey Heather,
      It seems like you are having allergic reactions to something in wine. Whether it is the sulfites doing this or something else, it doesn’t seem clear. However, I do know that the best treatment you could have for these symptoms is simply avoiding the wine altogether. But, of course, you’ll want to consume it if you like it. Therefore, you can try to see if sulfite-free wines work for you. I know that they have those available at Whole Foods and stores like that and the labels clearly say “no sulfites added” because their niche in the market is trying to target people who are sulfite sensitive or conscious. Let me know what you think!

  3. Hi Anthony.

    My son started off just sulfite sensitive and reacted the worst to grapes which was a allergic reaction then a sensitivity.
    Sulfites now with most things give him a allergic reaction. I treat it with antihistamines and within half an hour he is fine. Some things aren’t as bad as other foods. Like I can buy hit chips or frozen chips and he doesn’t seem to have any reaction even though I know its sulfite added. Why does he react on a scale of servere to barely nothing with sulfites?
    I do give him a probiotic most days but reading how it helps I will be doing this daily.
    Thank you

    1. Author

      Hey Michelle,
      So your son is consuming things with sulfites added to them, but he does not react to them? Perhaps he is not sensitive to sulfites because you had mentioned that he reacts to grapes. Grapes in their natural form do not have sulfites in them, despite the common misconception of wine having the most sulfites. Sulfites are added to wine, which is a grape product, but they are not natural in grapes. It sounds like your son has an allergy or food intolerance to grapes. Would that make sense? Also, try to make sure that the probiotic you are giving your child is healthy, because Lactobacillus strains can often raise histamine levels. I would only take probiotics that only have Bifidobacterium in their ingredients list. Let me know how things are going!

  4. Hi Anthony,
    Thank you for the article.I was actually taking MSM for joint pain and inflammation and it was working great for a while. I had been taking it for a year or 2 and then started increasing the dosage.. It had never bothered me or gave me a reaction until recently. Well after increasing the dosage I broke out in a very bad inflammatory reaction on my arms and stomch and started to reacted to things i hadnt been before.. I know i have some leaky gut stuff going on , but whats weird is i had never reacted before until i increased the dosage.. Any suggestions as to how to get things to go back to normal ? Any chance it would have to do with leaky gut or heavy metals ? And once you react to it even though you haven’t before can you go back to normal ? I dont understand why all of a sudden i would react and now 3 wks later im still reacting to things which i believe have sulfer in them which i had never before.. I checked my gene code for it the CBS gene and I seem to be +/- on one and -/- on the other .. So doesnt look like i have a complete malfunction for breaking it down.. Any suggestions?
    Thank you

    1. Author

      Hey Jessica,
      Thanks so much for your input and great points to add to our conversation. I think that you may be consumed about natural sulfur that our body needs for nutrition versus what a sulfite is. I am not sure if you are trying to link the two as the same thing. Perhaps bioavailable sulfur known as MSM crystals could help your immune system function properly and reject sulfites easier without the need for inflammation and irritation. This was definitely the case for me because I saw wonderful improvements in my immunity after supplementing with organic sulfur. I think that you should not overdo it with any type of supplement. Although organic MSM crystals have been proven to be about as harmless as water, perhaps everybody is different. That is not what sulfites are because they are preservatives and not nutritious at all in our bodies. Above anything else, you should listen to your body’s signs and do what makes you feel better naturally. Do you suffer from sulfite allergy or intolerance? There are many other natural sulfite allergy treatments to consider, not just supplements, that you can consider that has done wonders for me and many others.

  5. I have a sulfite allergy and can rarely eat without having a reaction. We recently bought an existing house, and started renovating. Since we installed the new hard woods, carpeting, and paint, I have had variant cough asthma. Found out the flooring and paint is full of sulfites also.

    Tried the quercetin, but had increased breathing symptoms because it has sulfite additives. Any other options?

    Any specialists that deal with sulfite allergies between Virginia Beach and DC?


    1. Author

      Hey Karen,
      It sucks that your quercetin supplement contains sulfites. Was it one that I recommended? The ones specifically designed for allergies should be sulfite-free. I would definitely recommend trying MSM crystals as a first step because sulfite sensitivity may be exacerbated by sulfur deficiency. Let me know some more about your situation!

  6. I believe I should take B-12 and probiotics like you mentioned in your article. Any other suggestions or ideas I would love to hear from you. Thanks again!

    1. Author

      Hi Andrea,
      I highly recommend keeping a natural antihistamine like quercetin around just in case you come into exposure with sulfites. This is a great sulfite allergy treatment because it reduces the cause of allergic reactions: histamine.

  7. Hi Anthony,
    Thanks for your article. I am very allergic to sodium metabisuflite and other sulfat based medication like Batrim. I had to go to the hospital twice from using a face cream with sodium metabisulflite in it. It effects my lungs, difficulty breathing and wheezing. I get very tired and also lose my appitite. About two months ago I started using a cream with the Sodium metabisuflite in it unknowling. I used it every night for about 5 weeks and felt horrible the entire month. I never even thought about the cream. I went to doctors, got my heart checked with an EKG, blood tests done, everything came back fine. The doctors thought I have anxiety. One night I was doing my night routine and realized I had been using a new cream!! I told my husband and then we read the ingredients. I was basically poisoning myself for 5 weeks each night, not knowing it!! My question to you is, how long could this stay in my system? It’s a topical cream for lightening dark spots on your face. I feel better but still not 100% and I stopped using the cream about 3 1/2 weeks ago. Let me know your thoughts. I do feel like I have anxiety a little but I believe it’s from feeling so bad for the past 2 months! I’m still pretty tired and don’t want to eat very much. My chest issues are much better but I still get the feeling a little in my chest once in a while. Then I get scared that it’s going to get bad again! Thanks for your input.
    Andrea Hancock

    1. Author

      Hey Andrea,
      So your sulfite allergy gives you a bad respiratory reaction? Even while it is on your skin? I would definitely recommend that you try skin products that are closer to being hypoallergenic and have few ingredients so that you know exactly what you are putting on your skin. I would definitely try avoiding sulfites at all costs and just as for an emergency, you can keep an organic antihistamine around to take in case you have exposure to some. This seems to work in reducing sulfite allergy discomfort in a lot of people. Let me know more!

Leave a Comment