Friday, July 29, 2016

I really am ALLERGIC TO WATER (Coconut water filters)

Out of all the substances on the planet, one would think water is the safest for people with allergies.  Not so if you are someone who is allergic to coconut.

In the distant past I remember getting an email or two from readers who asked me about the safety of coconut carbon filters.  I always replied with a big, honest "Sorry, I have NO IDEA what you are talking about."  Logically, a water filter is supposed to filter, not add stuff to the water, right?

Then I had an experience of my own.

I went to my allergy doctor about a year ago for an annual check up.  The kind of little check-in where he refills the epi -pen and steroid prescriptions,etc.  I happened to mention to him that it almost always felt like I had a lump in my throat.  When I swallowed, it felt like something was catching. . . and sometimes my throat itched a little bit.  I thought it was probably unrelated to allergies, but had him look.  He said he DEFINITELY thought it was allergy related.  It went away whenever I took zyrtec, after all.  He had me do some exploring to try and see what it was, but we couldn't identify any brand new allergies, and he doubted it was environmental because of how it manifested in in a condition called Eosinophilic (ee-uh-sin-uh-fil-ik) esophagitis.

After a few months it subsided on its own and I didn't figure out the cause. . . until I realized. . .

Several months ago, we had a water leak in our kitchen.  We had to unhook all our relatively new marvelous reverse osmosis water system and start drinking regular tapwater for a few months until we reconstructed our damaged walls and cabinets, etc.  During that time I had no allergic problems at all.  The lump in my throat went away.  When our reverse osmosis was freshly installed again along with all  its brand new filters I took a long drink from a tall glass of water.  I hadn't eaten anything for a long time before or after.  There it was, my throat was itching.

My husband contacted the manufacturer of the water filters because he has actually worked on water purification systems for a few of his projects as an engineer.  He knew that the best filters in the business, used to purify water for medical-grade soaps and liquid medications, were all coconut based.  But I didn't think that our home would have such a filter.  It turned out that it did.  Not only that, but the filter company is used to responding to questions about coconut allergies! Our upgrade to an excellent reverse osmosis system included an upgrade to serious coconut fibers.

As it turns out, the company does have a fix.  Unfortunately, you have to bypass the final filter that adjusts the actual taste of the water to avoid the one that has coconut. But, the manufacturer was awesome and sent us the little T-shaped part for free.

I am very allergic to coconut, but I never thought I was sensitive enough to react to the minute particles that might find their way into water from a coconut carbon filter!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

If I'm allergic to coconut, am I allergic to BABASSU?

Many people have asked the question, "If I am allergic to coconut, then how likely am I to be allergic to _________".    Fill the blank with things like palm oil, dates, babassu oil, or even pineapple.  We start to fear anything that grows on a palm-ish looking tree.

Well, it depends.  Let's do a little elementary taxonomy lesson before I tell you about my personal experience.

All living things are grouped into categories.  This method of grouping is called taxonomy.



When we talk about foods and anything that grows, it is all in the plant kingdom (plantae).  There are a zillion different kinds of plants, and out of those there are tons that we eat.  Botatnists can map them out into smaller and smaller groups depending on their genetic makeup.

For example, you may have heard that potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes are all in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).  It is extremely rare to be allergic to all nightshades.  (As an unrelated side note, nightshade intolerance is more common.)

Different tree nuts are all in the same family and class, but are different orders.  Yet, busy allergists commonly mix all the nuts together into "tree nuts" and tell patients to avoid all of them.  People who are allergic to one tree nut are very commonly allergic to one or more others.

Palm is a family called Arecaceae.  Try spelling that without looking!  Coconut is in this palm family along with things like date palms, which are in a different genus.

Let's now compare Coconut (Cocos Nucifera) vs. Babassu (Attalea Speciosa).  They are not only in the same order, but are in the same subfamily and tribe, which aren't shown on my chart but are specific subcategories that come before genus.  Babassu is basically coconut's closest plant relative.

Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) is in the center, Attalea Speciosa (Babassu) is right above it!

I have been sent several samples by three different unrelated companies to try products with babassu oil.  Two of them claim "coconut free!" on their websites.  However, I have had powerful allergic reactions to them every time.  However, I do not have reactions to many products containing palm oil, which is also in the same genus and tribe.  Palm oil is tricky because it can be sourced from all different kinds of palms.  I have occasionally reacted if I eat a product with a lot of it.  I would never attempt to eat hearts of palm.  No thank you.

In summary:
YES, if you are allergic to coconut you will most likely be allergic to babassu.
It is somewhat likely you will react to palm.
It is unlikely that you will be allergic to dates.

You absolutely should not be allergic to pineapple unless it's an unrelated allergy.

I welcome feedback from people who are actual botanists, of course!  My knowledge of nomenclature is admittedly primitive.






Thursday, June 2, 2016

Coconut runs rampant in chocolate coated ICE CREAMS!

It looks so innocent.  But it has coconut in it.


If you are allergic to coconut, please stay away from any hardened-type chocolate or other flavored coating on ice cream like DQ dipped cones. Even chocolate chip ice cream has coconut in the chocolate chunks or chips 95% of the time.  I have allergic reactions to the hot fudge sauce at Baskin Robbins, so be careful there, too.  Most ice creams there do contain coconut, but they have ingredients listed right on the case so they make it easy to see.


Also, for the eating at home ice cream folks, read the labels because Magic shell and all other known hardening toppings have coconut in them.

But, I'll give you some hope.  You can make your own magic shell!  Just melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1 tsp canola oil in the microwave for a minute, stir, and then add 30 seconds until it is completely melted.  Let cool slightly and pour it over your favorite (coconut free) ice cream.  It's even yummier than the bottled stuff.

Also, my family has a favorite homemade microwave hot fudge sauce recipe that is just like this one:  http://www.food.com/recipe/easy-microwave-hot-fudge-topping-82303

Enjoy your sweet treats this summer without a trip to the hospital!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Pectolite Soap naming contest Winner!

I am happy to announce that Pectolite has chosen the winner of the new soap naming contest!

Ashley H.  has won with Gingerbread Spice!

Thank you to all who tried out the soap.  It will be available online April 1st at Pectolite.net.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Soup with Coconut Oil

Always read your labels!  Now, for some strange reason, Progresso is putting coconut oil in soup.
Surprise!  Why on earth, Progresso?!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Pectolite Coconut Free Soaps - Name that Soap Contest and Giveaway!

I would like you to meet my very most favorite coconut-free soap.  

This is Jane.  Jane, meet my coconut-allergic friends!

Pectolite's Plain Jane Soap
Jane is great.  She comes from a soap maker named PECTOLITE.  Lee, the owner of Pectolite (whom I've only met through email) wanted my opinion on her new coconut-free line before she started it up.
She is really interested in making quality, natural products with no gunk in them and also has a friend who is allergic to coconut whom she is trying to help out.

And that's when Plain Jane Soap and I met. Jane has never let me down.  Sure, she is pretty plain.  So plain, she's not even vanilla.  Nope.  She's super clean-cut.   I have to admit, I have definitely used her, but she's held up better than any coconut-free soap.  And, my husband is a big fan of this soap, too.  He's not even allergic to anything but he is a picky soap guy.  He likes how super moisturizing it is and compared it to Dove.  It is amazing during these cold dry winter months. I even started using it to shave with.  Check Plain Jane out after more than a month of sliding around in my shower!

Good OLD mostly-used Jane
For those of you who are used to most coconut-free soaps, you will notice one HUGE difference:  No slimyness.  She ages beautifully! And yes, she lathers!

But wait just a second, Jane has a brand new WILDER younger sibling who has yet to be named.  

And so it arrived. . .
This one is a little more feisty and Pectolite is giving away several for you to try and help find a name!
This one's got all the same positive qualities of Jane, but with an exotic scent.

I have my ideas for a name, but I am not going to share mine just yet!  

If you would like a free sample to try coming up with a name, please do these THREE things: 

First, email Lee Pectol, the owner of Pectolite at info@pectolite.net . She will need your name and address to send the soap.  Tell her Becky from the coconut allergy blog sent you. Second, leave me a comment to let me know you emailed her.  UPDATE: Thank you, we have now reached the 14 comments and the soap is gone.  IMPORTANT: Third, after you try the soap, comment one more time on this post with your best name for it.  Lee and her team will pick their favorite and send out a prize to the winner!
The nameless soap!
Check out ingredients, etc. on their coconut-free page: 
If you see anything you'd like, here is a coupon code for 10% off your entire order for "Becky's Friends".  Enter the discount code NUTS2ALRGS  valid until 2/14/16  Yep, just for my blog reader buddies!  
The hazelnut toffee soap seems to be calling to me. . .



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Homemade Natural Hair care products

Candace, an Etsy shop owner at KirkmanKoils has pointed us to a few of her natural hair care products that are coconut-free.  I haven't personally tried them because many of them contain mango, which I happen to be sensitive to.  But, she could also make custom products.

Her son has severe eczema, asthma, nut/tree nut and fish allergies. Her daughters are sensitive to coconut; their hair hates it and any trace of it. She found herself trying to find products to accommodate their needs while trying to be budget conscious. So she started making basic things like hair and body butter and eventually moved on to more extensive items like hair cleanser, conditioner, cream and gels.

It looks like this could be a great place to go for coconut free products, especially if you have super thick, curly hair!

Her shop can be found on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/shop/KirkmansKoils. The shea/nut free section can be found here https://www.etsy.com/listing/243021733/kirkmanskoils-nut-free-products-coconut.  

Let me know if you try any!  There are a lot of creative hair product ideas here for sure.