Dr. Sunil - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Sunil

Are Salicylates Bad For You?



Short answer

Salicylates are safe for most people. If you’re allergic to aspirin, salicylates might trigger an adverse reaction. Other people believe that they’re sensitive to salicylates in their food.



Long answer

Salicylates are a naturally-occurring chemical. They play an important role in the immune system of plants and have natural preservative qualities. They help the plants to guard against hungry insects and dangerous varieties of bacteria.

Salicylates are found in food, medicine, makeups, preservatives, and household products. They’re found in many different plants. One form of salicylate that you may have used is aspirin.

Some people have a strong allergic reaction to aspirin. You may feel itchy, flushed, or sweaty. Hives can form. A reaction to aspirin can bring on an asthma attack as well.

Some people claim to be sensitive to salicylates that are present in food and other products as well. Coming into contact with those products, they claim, causes unpleasant symptoms that include rashes, shortness of breath, and low energy. There have been no studies so far that demonstrate adverse reactions triggered by salicylates apart from aspirin. Sensitivity to salicylates has been shown in some studies, although the science is not yet clear on how prevalent it is.

Salicylates are present in most plants. Because of this, salicylate-reduced diets are difficult to do in a safe and healthy way. If you're attempting one, it may be difficult to put together a diet that will deliver a low amount of salicylates while including the nutrients that you need. Speak to a nutritionist or an immunologist if you think you may be sensitive to salicylates and you're seeking to remove them from your diet.

Salicylate sensitivity is difficult to test for - so far, skin and laboratory tests won't show whether you're sensitive. Giving people aspirin in a controlled medical setting can establish whether you might have an adverse reaction. Speak to your doctor if you think you might have an adverse reaction to aspirin or if you're worried that your body's having trouble with the salicylates in your food.

Possible short-term side effects

  • rashes
  • shortness of breath
  • low energy
  • itchy, flushed, or sweaty
  • hives
  • asthma attacks

Commonly found in

  • herbs
  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • nuts
  • medicine (such as aspirin)
  • makeups
  • preservatives
  • household products


  • anti-inflammatory
  • antipyretic
  • pain relieving

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources | Written by Sean McNulty
Published on: 10-16-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources
Written by Sean McNulty
Published on: 10-16-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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