Sharing stories, knowledge, and rants about living with metal allergies.

I Hate Nickel


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Cilantro for Nickel Chelation

Cilantro may help remove nickel from the body.

I had a nickel allergy flare-up last week.  I knew it was going to happen.  I have been so faithful to my low-nickel diet, and I’ve been mostly symptom free for months!  That sort of dedication though, takes a great amount of will-power.  Sure, at home it’s become easy to buy the right groceries, avoid temptation, and only eat what’s good for me.  Venture out into the real world; however, and there are nickel dangers around every corner!  One moment of weakness or poor judgment can leave me itchy and red for a week… or worse! 

I’m fairly certain it was the Korean BQQ that did me in.  It was a short-notice lunch with friends to celebrate a birthday – and, what, am I supposed to tell the birthday girl that she has to pick a different restaurant or I won’t come?  Show up and not eat anything?  Interrogate the waitress on what the ingredients are in each entree (from a menu mostly written in Korean)?  I know I have a legitimate, honest, medical reason to do any of those things, but it’s just so RUDE!

So I did none of those things.  I went to lunch, I enjoyed my time with friends, and I ordered what I wanted to eat, regardless of the possible nickel content.  It doesn’t help that I think Korean BBQ is DELICIOUS!  I wasn’t too heartbroken at the time about cheating on my diet…

Later that night, while miserable and trying not to scratch at the inevitable itchiness, I wondered if there was a way to naturally remove the extra nickel from my body.  Could there be a dietary way to reduce my symptoms?  Systemic Nickel Allergy Syndrome supposedly works on a threshold level, not causing a reaction until you’ve ingested a certain amount of nickel, so if there was a way to lower the amount of nickel in my body, then might I be able to reduce or prevent a reaction?! 

I’ve scoured the internet for ways to naturally remove or cleanse nickel from the body before (a process known as “chelation”), but I’ve only found one promising lead so far– cilantro.  Research shows that cilantro increases the removal of heavy metals like mercury, lead, and aluminum from the body.  When eaten, the cilantro binds to heavy metals and pull the metals out of the body through urine.  I want to know does cilantro also help chelate nickel from the body?  Nickel can be considered a “heavy metal”, so does cilantro bind to it as well?  Holistic and natural medicine websites hint that cilantro will remove nickel, but I’ve yet to find any science or medical articles to support the claim.

The best that I can confirm is that cilantro MAY remove nickel from the body like it does other heavy metals.  I'll keep searching for proof.  In the meantime, since cilantro is a healthy, delicious herb with other wonderful health benefits (such as lowering cholesterol) and no negative side-effects (unless you’re allergic), “MAY remove” is good enough for me!

That night, knowing that I had just eaten lots of extra nickel for lunch, and hoping to flush it from my system faster, I made a cilantro pesto for dinner.  (It tastes a lot better than it sounds – the recipe is here)!  A few bowls of pasta later, and overall, my reaction to the bad things I had eaten that day was milder than I expected.   I’d like to think the cilantro did its job.  This is a very, very, very unscientific and subjective experiment, though, so I really can’t say for sure! 

What I do know is that the cilantro pesto was delicious, and it didn’t make me any worse!  I can’t escape from eating nickel…. it’s everywhere, in all foods, and there will always be events/occasions/days when I fail at the low-nickel diet no matter what.  If cilantro might help, then I will eat cilantro!

IMPORTANT:  Be careful if you pull this recipe from the internet, as technically pesto contains nuts, and nuts are NOT low-nickel.  I made my own version, Cilantro Pistou, that is low-nickel.  There are a few sites out there that have “nickel cleanse” recipes that contain nuts and seeds, which are some of the highest nickel foods there are!  Remember to always use your own judgment when reading things on the internet!  ALWAYS use your doctor’s advice and your own judgment when trying new foods if you have allergies – everyone is different, and the nickel content in foods varies by location, so what works for me might not work for you!