Monday, June 25, 2007

The trouble with eggs, et all

Many corn allergy sufferers have reported trouble with eggs. Not just eggs in general, but certain eggs. Eggs from one farm are fine, eggs from another cause a corn reaction. It sounds insane. Many sufferers are hesitant to bring it up, because obviously it must be in our heads.

Eggs are a shelled food. As long as no shell cracks into the bowl (or pan) they should be safe. You can't really tamper with the ingredients, right?


Xanthophylls is a naturally occuring compound which imparts the sunny yellow color in egg yolk. Apparently, the quantity of xanthophylls changes with feed sources and the variation in availability can seriously impact the color of the poultry product. Never to fear, scientists everywhere have been busily working on a solution for years. And the solution is to isolate xanthophylls and add the isolated compound back to poultry feed.

Unfortunately, until relatively recently, this was an expensive and painstaking process. Luckily, while exploring the wonders of the magical maize plant, someone somewhere noticed that xanthophylls are isolated when they attempt to purify corn zein; xanthophylls is a wasted by product. Lightbulbs went on; dollar signs abounded...and the next thing you know, there is a patent on this process. Xanthophylls is now an affordable product. Its readily available for any farmer who wants to improve the aesthetic value of his products. isn't going to end up on any ingredient lists because, of course, it isn't an ingredient of your farm fresh eggs. It is simply a tool used to get them to look nicer, without tampering with the end product.

Xanthophyll is also known as Lutein. It is a naturally occuring substance in many plants, especially marigold petals, and a vital part of human plasma. However, as a supplement it can be derived from corn. It can be used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and animal feed.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Where's the Corn in medecine?

Most individuals hear of a corn allergy, blink, imagine a big yellow ear of corn and think "Corn huh? Well, that's easy."

Unfortunately, there's more to Corn than the cob.

Corn is a government subsidized crop, farmers are paid to grow it and they grow it in excess. Since it is readily available, it has been turned into a number of useful substances; and these substance find their ways into a myriad of common products.

What your doctor may not know is that even the medecine he prescribes to treat allergy symptoms contains corn derivatives. To date, we have been unable to find a simple over the counter acetaminophen preperation that does not contain corn derivatives. There are limited cold or allergy preperations that may be safe.

Prescription medications are more difficult to find. OTC preperations contain a list of inactive ingredients. These ingredients are used to hold the preperation together in an easily measured dosage. Its important to be able to take the exact dosage that is right for you, and its not easy to measure teaspoons out by 5ths (or other odd measurements) so drugs are mixed with various non medical ingredients to make a tidy pill or liquid suspecsion. Prescription drugs are not required to list non medical, or inactive, ingredients.

Even pharmacists may not realize that these inactive ingredients pose a severe risk to food allergic individuals. From their perspective, inactive ingredients "don't count" because they do not affect the function of the active ingredient. However, they still get ingested and absorbed and can have a severe impact on the way you feel.

Common excipients, or medicinal "fillers" and "binders" that can be derived from corn include (but are not limited to) Alcohol, artificial flavoring, microcrystalline cellulose (and anything else with the word "cellulose"), citric acid, corn starch (or simply "starch" or "modified food starch"), dextrose, glucose, glycerine, lactate, maltose, mannitol, propylene glycol, saccharin, sorbitol, xanthan gum, zein. All ingredients should be double checked for the source.

If you are unable to obtain a safe OTC medicine, you can often have the formulation compounded. Just insist that the pharmacist work with you to verify the source of anything that will be used, including the capsules.

The real trouble comes with prescription medecines. A typical pharmacist will not have a full list of ingredients for all medecines handy. And, unfortunately, patents protect the formulation of many brand name drugs. Before accepting any medication (let alone taking it) it is imperative that an allergy sufferer insist on knowing the full list of ingredients, including non-medical or inactive ingredients and verify that the source for any suspicious ones is not corn (or any other sensitivity).