Wheat Protein in Soap Causing Wheat and Gluten Allergy

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Components of Wheat ProteinWhen I use MRT blood test for food sensitivity testing sometimes it can be non-food items that are causing symptoms.  If the patient does not experience significant improvement in health after the first week of the MRT/LEAP diet then I instruct the patient to check ingredients in cosmetics, toothpaste, soap,  and skin cream.   It may be a hard concept to grasp, but sensitivities and allergies can be triggered via transdermal (through skin) route as one doesn’t necessarily have to ingest something to trigger an immune response. A recent interesting Japanese study demonstrates this point very well.

This study discusses IgE immunoglobulins (one of the 5 types of immunoglobulins) that trigger release of inflammatory mediators (histamines, leukotrienes, interleukins) in the tissue (skin, nose, bronchial airway).  An IgE response is what I was taught to classify as an ‘allergy’.   The mediator release (histamines, leukotrienes, interleukins) from IgE are typically not seen in the blood, but rather the interstitial tissue compartments such as nose, skin and lungs.  This is experienced as swelling, rhinitis, or asthma.   With the MRT testing we are looking at other mechanisms such as IgG immunoglobulins that cause an inflammatory mediator release in the blood. When inflammatory mediators in the blood rise above an individualized threshold people can experience chronic symptoms that may take up to 3 days to appear.     True allergies (IgE) can usually be figured out as the reaction (skin hives, asthma, swelling) show up within 30 minutes after ingestion of the antigen.

Does that make sense?  People are confused by this.  What I call an ‘allergy’ is an IgE response.  It is almost immediate.  What I call ‘food hypersensitivity’ is a variety of mechanisms (IgG, IgA, complement, Cell mediated) and are often delayed responses causing chronic symptoms.  If you go to an allergist they will measure your blood levels of IgE to certain foods.    For ‘food hypersensitivities’ the only good test is one that measures the release of mediators in the blood.

This study showed that using a soap triggered a specific kind of exercise induced wheat allergy.  The soap in question used hydrolized wheat protein (HWP) as an ingredient.   The use of this soap seemed to trigger a sensitization to ingested wheat protein.  From the article:

“…After starting to use HWP-supplemented soap, patients were likely to be sensitized to HWP through the percutaneous and/or rhino-conjunctival route within 1 month to 5 years. Several patients had an immediate focal allergic reaction while washing their faces with the soap. Patients had systemic allergic symptoms when they were exposed to wheat products and subsequently exercised. In each of these patients, contact urticaria with soap preceded the food ingestion-induced reactions. The other patients directly developed generalized symptoms upon ingestion of wheat products. In some cases, allergies were triggered by mild exercise such as walking and bathing…”

What is most interesting to me is the ubiquitous use of wheat, corn, eggs, soy and dairy in all sorts of products that can touch our skin and can cause an unwanted immune response.   Can this be triggering unwanted immune responses?  Can this be one of the reasons these foods are common allergens?

So certainly do respect what is in your skin products as these can contribute to deleterious health effects.   Not only for allergens but also for toxins and the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep website is a great resource.)

Yours In Health,
George Mandler
Licensed Acupuncturist
Licensed Dietitian / Nutritionist

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