Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Results of my Carrageenan-Free Diet

Certain things should be left in the aquarium.
Readers may recall my ordeal last Saturday with a migraine headache and a trip by ambulance back to my parents' house. Thanks to one of the paramedics jogging my memory, I researched the almond milk I'd started drinking around the time I quit dairy. One of the ingredients was carrageenan, a substance used to induce inflammation, sensitivity to pain and other problems in laboratory animals. Supposedly, the "undegraded" form is safe for human consumption, but undegraded carrageenan has been found to be contaminated with degraded carrageenan, and there are ways that the digestive system could degrade carrageenan itself.

For the past few months, I've felt a little bloated, and was starting to have some mild pain in my lower stomach. I thought it might have been the effects of the antibiotics, oral steroids or decongestant (which gave me an allergic reaction) from back in February. I didn't connect it to the severe headache I had Memorial Day weekend. I've also had occasional sinus pain, which I haven't had since I quit wheat over two years ago. I thought that was from allergies.

Since Sunday morning, I haven't had any almond milk or other products with carrageenan. I've been taking 10,000 IU of vitamin D because of its anti-inflammatory value. Result: no more stomach pain or bloating. My stomach is still a little delicate. There's no more stuffed feeling after meals.

Coincidentally, the Cornucopia Institute came out with a carrageenan-free shopping guide just a few weeks ago. Like reader Suzie_B, biologist Ray Peat of Oregon noticed that carrageenan was listed as an ingredient in cream. He avoids carrageenan as well, since he's had serious allergic symptoms from it. He adds:

Carrageenan enters even the intact, uninflamed gut, and damages both chemical defenses and immunological defenses. When it has produced inflammatory bowel damage, the amount absorbed will be greater, as will the absorption of bacterial endotoxin. Carrageenan and endotoxin synergize in many ways, including their effects on nitric oxide, prostaglandins, toxic free radicals, and the defensive enzyme systems.(1)

Even if you think that food-grade (undegraded) carrageenan is fine and there's no way it could harm you, it may be contaminated with degraded carrageenan. (See table 5 on page 11.) The link is to a paper by JoAnne Tobacman, a physician-scientist who has researched carrageenan for almost 20 years. In a nutshell, ample evidence shows that carrageenan causes or is associated with cancer, inflammation, and ulcerative colitis. (2)

I'm not one to get excited about food additives and I'm not neurotic about eating. But even if you don't have any immediate reaction to carrageenan, it looks like something well worth avoiding.


1.  "Food-junk and some mystery ailments: Fatigue, Alzheimer's, Colitis, Immunodeficiency" by Ray Peat, accessed June 26, 2012. http://raypeat.com/articles/nutrition/carrageenan.shtml
2. "Review of Harmful Gastrointestinal Effects of Carrageenan in Animal Experiments by Joanne K. Tobacman," Environmental Health Perspectives, October 2001, p. 983. http://www.cornucopia.org/DrTobacmanComment_toNOSB.pdf


Unknown said...

Thanks for posting your experience with carrageenan. I gave up dairy and then started drinking soy milk with carrageenan in it. I have suffered for months with a sinus problem after recovering from a sinus infection. I'm hoping this is the answer ...because I have given up everything but nothing so far has helped.

Paul said...

Luckily I've been aware of my severe allergy to carageenan/alginate for the last 10 years. It gives me an instant migraine and aggrevates my Occipital Neuralgia. Since I haven't had it in years I can get sick from kissing or sharing a drink with a person who has eaten it recently. I highly suggest anyone with chronic migraines to try a detox from it and see if their migraines stop. Remember though, carageenan can even be found in toothpaste and body lotions. And alginate is another name for the additive. You should also stay away from algae and seaweed since that's what carageenan and alginate is made from.

CO Fan said...

I was diagnosed with IBS over 20 yrs ago and went through life just trying to control the symptoms. Finally narrowed it to dairy about 4 yrs ago and but was confused when almond milk gave me even worse stomach problems! Tried it again several years later. Same thing! I contacted the maker of Almond Milk concerning carrageenan. They stated it was not harmful, but that as of Jan 2016, it would no longer be added to their product. Today,I bought coconut milk, thinking this was the solution. No! I had about 4 - 6 oz. Within an hour or so, I had the same cramping and multiple bathroom trips. No more carrageenan for me after reading this and several others articles on this! Thanks for your very informative posts.

Lori Miller said...

I get canned coconut milk--I've never seen carrageenan on the label.

Good luck to you.

DeanD said...

I've lost my gall bladder. I was diagnosed with IBD. I've been avoiding most fats for about fifteen years. Now I know that carrageenan has been the culprit behind all my troubles. I now read all labels for ingredients and am avoiding anything with side effects. Just avoiding carrageenan alone has made my life much easier.
Someone should start a class action law suit towards all companies still using in their foods!

Lori Miller said...

Glad you're doing better...and hopefully enjoying some fatty foods again.

Jennifer said...

Help! I realized last week that I have a horrible gut sensitivity to Carageenan. I am GF as of a year ago, and there have been 3-4 times, that I ate something and thought it must have had gluten because of how awful I felt after. But, when I checked the ingredients, I found 'Carageenan" as a mystery ingredient, which info said was GF. Recently, I accidentally bought Fat Free Half and Half, I had that for about 5 days, before reading the ingredients when I began feeling unwell. Eventhough I haven't had any for 3 days, my upper stomach hurts after eating anything, and most of the time regardless and intestinally I have been extremely distressed. I started taking Probiotics a few days ago and 'ParaGone" yesterday, which seems to be helping intestinally. However, my stomach still hurts. Is this normal for a highly carageenan sensitive individual, and any answers ot when it might subside? Thanks so much

Lori Miller said...

Hi, Jennifer. Sorry for the late response, but I've had a lot going on. It just takes time for your stomach to heal; it's probably better by now.

Unknown said...

my fellow tummy friends!!! after 37 years i got my extreme allergy test from Allermetrix. Kappa Carageena is my allergy!! this is most sensitive test I've ever had!! I'm waiting to still see if I'm celiac on Monday but now i have a feeling I don't have it or iBS or depression or arthritis or anxiety or fibromyalgia!!! i have been told its in my head and i need therapy and antidepressants!!! over m life I've got off eggs, red dye, dairy, gluten, fat, preservatives and pretty much everything!!! i have been 170 lbs and as low as 95!!!! and I'm pissed!!! not only that docs didnt tell me but no one has ever mentioned to me specifically this!!!! WTF!!!! i have had to become my own doctor and advocate and all my friends always not sure why I'm fine and then sick everytime I'm out!! have had food poisoning every time i think the food was bad a restaurant!!!
this ends today!!!! since i found out yesterday at 5 i have been researching over 10 hours!!!! this additive could lead to cancer and autism in kids and depression in our whole society!!! if we are sick then we need meds!!! that make millions!! i have suffered since i was a baby and I'm afraid to have a kid cause I'm so sick!!!!. they have changed my diet and given me every restrictions and told me I'm crazy. in high school i could gain five pounds in a day, in college fall asleep in class, a few years back i had to pull over while driving and i feel sick all day every day. I've been told not to eat processed but today found out its in vitamins as fillers, shots, steroid injections, shampoo, toothpaste!!! Fellow suffers i have just read that anything saying algae and seaweed is no good for us!!
and i found out they inject these fillers or additive into meats!! specifically chicken and red meat to keep them moist and weigh more!!! and to keep the red meat from turning brown> I'm calling a local ranch today and many ship in freezers to your door I'm finding in some research. its the chain makes that inject to not lose $$$$
and in your vitiatamins!! only in my RAW company does it say non fillers, additives!! cause its in the gel capsules for some things!!!
in my Chai tea i think too!! looking to see! yes its in ALLL BEER AND ALCOHOL cause they don't have to specify because its in beverages too!! wondering if even the chamomile tea is washed with chems and thats why i feel so dry. my mouth, eyes and lips are dry all the time.
looking to see if charcoal can be taken after u eat to help get the toxins out fast!!!
also go to a local organic farm i found is the best way to ensure that they don't wash fruits and veggies with citric acid(not lemons its a additive/preservative). i looked and it shows in each farm website what kinds of fertilizers they use!!!
be aware and I'm just gonna make my food my priority!!! now i see why everyone is growing their own produce so u see whats going in your body!!

Unknown said...

im so sad I've been robbed for so long of so much!!! since i was 25 I've had no life and if i didnt have my family business to run where i could have helpers if i was sick, i would have been on the street. unable to work fulltime, travel or have fun out a party or dinner with friends!!! for the past 12 years i made me see life different, and was so bad in the last year i travel with a bucket in case!! cause I'm always have anxiety driving long distances....if i get sick!!! never having an answer makes you crazy and question yourself!! but i always knew this wasn't me!! I'm in there!!! ill find a cure!! but it didnt help i questioned myself with a long list of others, and that in itself reeks (wreek, for me i sometimes can't find the words, even at 25 thinking i was showing signs of Alheizmers, and bugging my family)havoc on my self esteem and mental health but now that i do i will rise above and help others suffering the same!!
in the UK all this is banned and thats why all those times i went to travel there i could eat and i thought it was just vacation miracles!!!
now I'm also considering looking up markets who will ship to me or near me that sell products that ban this carcinogenic substance!! this is the new MSG!!! just another way to put it in our food and just mask that its seaweed!!!

as i go i will add my research and findings
as of now it says 24-30 hours to get out of your system. just ate choc with soy lecithin which is the same thing!! so I'm on my sweat attack, cramping, cold and hot, feverish, heart palpitations rollercoaster!!

today eggs!! and fruit from my garden till i find out what in every single package i have!!!! or i will be susie homemaker and make everything from scratch and freeze so i know there is not a sliver of toxin in me and no lobbyist can $$$ to sweep the truth under the door!!

be your own advocate and do your research!!!! after 10hours i found out its hidden in more than just foods that is listen on the Cornicopia list