Last updated 2018-07
This topic comes up a few times a year, mostly by people told they are allergic to sulphA drugs, and either misunderstand or over generalizing with all sulph___ ingredients. Some people are concerned about being allergic to ‘sulph___.’
The following information might help:
First and foremost, No One is allergic to SULPHUR!’
It is important to understand that SulphUR=SulphER=Sulfur=Sulfer
(are all the same, and people are NOT allergic to this).
It is a natural and normal part of your body. It exists in most all foods we eat, and is a key component of many of the nutrients our bodies require to survive.
However, you could be allergic to sulphA, which is different. It’s important understand that the ph and f are often interchanged, as well as the U and E.
but sulfur is gaining ground in scientific writing throughout the English-speaking world.
However, the suffixes are different, and vital to understanding: ‘a’ | ‘ite’ | ‘ate’ | ur/er are each different.
Those are different from the ‘sulfates‘ (SO4-2) and ‘sulfites‘ (SO3-2)… and that can be a significant difference. There are far more people allergic to the sulfITES; very rarely is anyone allergic to the sulfATES, but there are a few documented cases.
I couldn’t find any documented case of a living person being allergic to ‘sulfer’ (regardless how it’s spelled).
There are numerous cases, and examples, of people allergic to ‘SULFA drugs.’ About 2 to 10% of the population here in America has been told they have a ‘sulfa drug’ allergy (depending on geography).
Over the last 23 years, we’ve had three people (out of tens of thousands) claim any type of negative reaction (1 digestive, 1 claimed it sparked her IBS, and 1 skin rash). It should also be noted that there is ‘sulphate’ in the MSM we use, which is derived from a hydrogen peroxides in the manufacturing process, and is generally the absolute most bio-available type of MSM available, because of the purity and process. And sulphATES are the most common forms of the best supplements on the market, as next to amino acid chelates, they are usually considered the most bio-available, and most useful to the body. Two of the three people (mentioned above) were able to take our product without issue if they didn’t take more than 1 capsule at a time, no closer than an hour or two apart; the other person (with the skin rash) wasn’t even able to look at the bottle without getting a reaction.
I’m not sure what the exact numbers are, but I’m guessing it’s likely genetic and the likelihood of a sulphATE reaction is likely less than 1 in millions type of rarity, with no reports of known life-threatening dangers.
Even the money wasting chondroitin products are a ‘chondroitin sulphATE’ which would necessarily eliminate that nutrient too, if you have a sulphate allergy issue. This would be true even though 70 to 80% of Chondroitin passes through the system. The little bit that does remain in the body, is usually the sulphATE molecule that ‘stays’ (to be used by the glucosamine).
There are quite a few cases of sulphITE allergies, especially with people that have asthma problems. However, sulphITE is absolutely different than sulphA.
I couldn’t find any documented allergies to sulpher or sulphur (same thing, just different spelling, depending on person writing it) in normal to moderate doses.
I was only able to find about a half dozen documented cases, here in America, of a sulphATE allergy (one of the people was also deathly allergic to sulpha drugs AND sulphites. It is unclear what other things were ‘in’ the product those people had an issue with, and whether those other factors played a part).
There are also a completely different type: SulphIDE is S(-2), and gives out H2S gas. Sulfides, also spelled sulphides, come in three classes: organic, inorganic, and phosphine. Organic sulfides are compounds in which sulfur is bonded to two organic groups. Inorganic sulfides are ionic compounds or salts which contain a negatively charged sulfide ion. Phosphine sulfides occur when the sulfur atom reacts with organic phosphines. Examples of sulfides include zinc, copper, silver and mercury.
If there are ANY major allergy concerns, I wouldn’t suggest using any ‘herbal’ supplements, because most are inconsistent from batch to batch, brand to brand, and few companies test for any ‘potency’ or chemical ratios (to hope for consistency). I’m sorry I don’t have better news for you.
In general, only minerals are ‘AAC’ (amino acid chelated)… so that lets out most all of the nutrients necessary to help the body rebuild the joint tissue.
Hopefully this information will help some people with concerns and questions.
January 9, 2017 By Julie Doherty
There is quite a lot of confusion when it comes to the various forms of Sulfur.
What is the difference between sulfa drugs, sulfites, sulfates and sulfur.
Often people are allergic to sulfa drugs and sulfites. Therefore may think that it is necessary for them to avoid sulfates and sulfur, as well.
In this article I will explain to you the differences between these four substances and the allergic reactions to be aware of.
It is not unusual for people to have Allergies to sulfa containing drugs. Sulfa drugs actually contain a molecule called sulfonamide.
Sulfonamides contain Sulfur, Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Hydrogen.
The sulfonamide drugs were the first antimicrobial drugs (antibiotics) These molecules plug up the bacteria’s ability to reproduce. The allergic reactions occur due to the actions of the molecule, not the actual sulfur. It is therefore this molecule having an adverse reaction to the bacteria, that has a negative effect on the digestive and immune systems.
Even though sulfa containing drugs, Sulfonamides contain Sulfur. Sulfur doesn’t seem to be the problem.
Sulfites (also Sulfur Dioxide)
are naturally occurring sulfur containing molecules that occur in the fermentation process.
The red wines. Sulfites are added as preservatives by wine manufacturers. The quantity of sulfites is greater in red or sweet tasting wines than that of clearer dryer wines such as white wines.
Sulfites contain one Sulfur atom surrounded by either 2 or 3 Oxygen atoms.
Sulfites can cause sensitivity reactions in some people to include possibly headaches and breathing problems. Sulfites are not the same as Sulfa Drugs.
contain one sulfur atom surrounded by 4 Oxygen atoms.
Salts, acid derivatives, and peroxides of sulfate are widely used in industry. Sulfates also occur widely in everyday life. Sulfates are salts of sulfuric acid and many are prepared from that acid. Sulfates are very important molecules for everyone’s health and do not cause allergic or sensitivity reactions.
Sulfates are used as escort molecules for a number of supplements including glucosamine sulfate and vanadyl sulfate. Sulfates are different from Sulfites and Sulfa Drugs. It is very rare that people who are sensitive to sulfites and sulfa drugs will also be sensitive to sulfates.
is the chemical element that is found in Sulfa Drugs, Sulfites, and Sulfates. Sulfur is an essential element of life and is found in amino acids and other important molecules in the body. It is virtually impossible to have an allergy to sulfur itself. As you are not able to survive without sulfur.
So what happens is that people don’t actually have an allergy to sulfur, they are actually allergic to the sulfites or sulfonamides. Not to the sulfur or sulfates.
Allergy Symptoms to Sulfites or Sulfonamides
• swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, and throat
• drop in blood pressure
• anaphylaxis (a severe, life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention)
There are rare cases of serum type sickness reactions that occasionally occur say 10 days after a sulfa drug treatment begins.
These Symptoms can include:
• skin eruptions
• drug-induced arthritis
• swollen lymph nodes
You should contact a Health Professional immediately if you have these symptoms.
Medications to Avoid if you’re allergic or have a sensitivity to sulfites or sulfonamides:
• antibiotic combination drugs such as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Septra, Bactrim) and erythromycin-sulfisoxazole
• sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) used for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis
• Dapsone (used to treat leprosy, dermatitis, and certain types of pneumonia)
Not all drugs that contain sulfonamides cause reactions in all people.
Some medications that may not cause these reactions are:
• some diabetes medications including glyburide (Glynase, Diabeta) and glimepiride (Amaryl)
• non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as celecoxib (Celebrex)
• migraine medication sumatriptan (Imitrex, Sumavel, and Dosepro)
• some diuretics including hydrochlorthiazide (Microzide) and furosemide (Lasix)
An Actual Sulfite Allergy:
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to sulfites include:
• swelling of the mouth and lips
• wheezing or trouble breathing
• asthma attack (in people with asthma)
If you experience more serious symptoms of a sulfite allergy, contact your Health Care Professional. Anaphylaxis requires immediate emergency medical attention.
Never hesitate – Call an Ambulance
How to Avoid Sulfites
Whether or not you find that you have a life/death allergic reaction or just some of the symptoms associated with a sulfite allergy. It is beneficial for you to avoid them as much as possible.
Sulfites are common in processed foods, condiments, and alcoholic beverages, such as red and white wine. Sulfites occur naturally in wine during fermentation, and many winemakers add them to help the process along. For the past two decades, the Food and Drug Administration has required winemakers to display the warning “contains sulfites” if levels exceed a certain threshold. Many companies voluntarily add the label to their products as well.
If you find that you suffer from any of the mentioned sensitivities. It is then important that you should avoid food products with the following chemicals on the label:
• sulfur dioxide
• potassium bisulfate
• potassium metabisulfite
• sodium bisulfite
• sodium metabisulfite
• sodium sulfite
Important to Note: In this article I am not talking about the Naturally occurring sulfites found in fresh fruits and vegetables. But the addition of chemically derived sulfites added to processed foods, drinks and medications.
I hope that you have found this information helpful.
If Changing Your Habits is somewhat of a Challenge here is a Link to Julie's Article: 7 Key Steps to Build Positive Habits – 28 Days to Building Your New Habit