What is salicylic acid sensitivity? Salicylic Acid can be a hidden culprit in food sensitivities.

You may also have heard about salicylates in food. Salicylates are a derivative of salicylic acid.

In this blog series we will highlight each of the tested chemicals and foods on the MRT (Mediator Release Test) that we use to determine food sensitivities.

MRT is a blood test

MRT is a blood test that allows us to measure the reaction 120 foods and 30 chemicals.

Every single MRT test is different, so it is of upmost importance that you work alongside a Certified LEAP Therapist (CLT) to figure out the best plan for you.

New to MRT and LEAP? Read up on MRT food sensitivity testing here.

The first chemical I want to highlight is salicylic acid.

What is Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic acid is a naturally occurring chemical found in many plants, and is commonly found in a large array of foods and cosmetics.

It is the main ingredient in aspirin and functions as part of many heart healthy regimens as well as to reduce pain and inflammation.

It is in no way a harmful chemical or unhealthy, in fact many foods with salicylic acid are very healthy.

Some people, however, are sensitive to this chemical and it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Increased respiration
  • Headaches
  • Asthma
  • Muscle aches
  • Skin rashes


Where can you find Salicylic Acid?

  • Salicylic acid is typically higher in processed foods
  • High levels are found in berries, dried fruit, concentrated tomato products, almonds, tea
  • Sensitivity can cause symptoms of vomiting, abdominal pain, increased respiration, headaches, asthma, muscle aches, skin rashes
  • High levels are present in mint flavored toothpaste, candy, gums, breath mints and mouthwash.
    • Take a look here for items that are salicylic free.
    • Here is a salicylic free toothpaste.
  • High levels are found in teas (herbal is ok)
  • Found in cosmetics: sunscreen, makeup and face wash
salicylic acid sensitivity

Toothpastes may have salicylic acid


How do I know if something has salicylic acid in it?

Terms to look for: SALICYLATE, SALICYLIC ACID; chemicals with SAL-, CAMPH-, OR MENTH-

See below for foods that are low in salicylic acid and those that are high.

This list was compiled from various sources.

While foods are on a spectrum of low to high amounts of salicylic acid, I only pulled out those foods that are highest in salicylic acid by comparison. Your CLT may suggest you are looser or stricter with these foods. Take a look at this study which outlines the amount in 333 foods.

As you will see there all foods tested are in 100g portions.

For example, 100g of dried oregano is about 2 cups of oregano, which (hopefully) is not the amount eaten at one time!


  Low/Moderate Reactive High reactive
Fruits Golden delicious apples, Red delicious apples, pears, papaya, lemon, mango, avocado, banana, grapefruit, peach, plum, watermelon All dried fruits, apricot, grapes, blueberry, cherry, cranberry, orange, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry
Vegetables Red cabbage, cauliflower, chickpeas, asparagus, green beans, green peas, leek, white potato, yellow split peas, carrot, fresh tomato, spinach, mushrooms, beets, squash, sweet corn, sweet potato, broccoli, celery, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, lentil, black canned olives, fresh mushroom, onion, soybeans, pinto beans, lettuce Green peppers, zucchini, canned tomato products
Dairy Cheese, milk, yogurt n/a
Nuts/seeds Cashews, hazelnuts, pecan, sunflower seeds, coconut, peanut butter, walnuts, pistachio, sesame seed, sunflower seed

Almond, peanuts with skin on


Seasonings, condiments, and sauces Parsley, ghee, sugar, almond oil, corn oil, peanut oil, carob, cocoa, maple syrup, ginger, pepper, basil, cayenne, cinnamon, vanilla Honey, chili pepper, cumin, garlic, mustard, oregano, paprika, turmeric
Grains Barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, rice, rye, wheat n/a
Meat Shellfish, pork, salmon, scallop, meat, fish, eggs, chicken, beef, tuna n/a
salicylic acid sensitivity

Always check the ingredients when buying your products


Does this mean I cannot eat anything with salicylic acid ever again?

Some people that show a high reaction on MRT to salicylic acid may only react to the salicylic acid in aspirin and be completely fine with foods that have higher levels of salicylic acid.

Many of foods that are high in salicylic acid are very healthy and we would not want to reduce intake of these nutritious foods unless there is a strong reaction to them.

For those with food sensitivities, the amount of that food or chemical that is eaten that day/week is very important. We essentially want to figure out the “dose” of that food or chemical you can tolerate without unwanted symptoms.

While you will not be able to eliminate any food or chemical completely, reducing the amount eaten at one time can be very helpful.

For example, below you will learn that strawberries, canned tomato products, almonds, and tea are high in salicylic acid.

So if you have strawberries in your smoothie in the morning you might be just fine, however, if you add almonds to your snack time, chili with canned tomatoes for lunch and tea throughout the day symptoms may be at an all-time high.

Almonds may have salicylic acid

Almonds may have salicylic acid


Are you dealing with the following issues?

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Chronic Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches
  • Migraine
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle Pain
  • Joint Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Autism
  • Attention Deficit Disorder


MRT might be the next step toward getting rid of unwanted symptoms and getting your life back. Feeling better is the number one goal of MRT testing and working with a Certified LEAP Therapist can get you there. Interested in meeting with Dana Magee RD, LD, CLT?

Contact us at admin@rbitzer.com or 301-474-2499.

Dana uses her advanced training in functional nutrition and food sensitivities to help her clients love and trust food again as they heal from years of painful symptoms that have dominated their lives. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Food Sensitivities Survival Guide.