Balsam of Peru Allergy

Have you ever seen the name Balsam of Peru?  Do you know what it is?

I didn’t even know what this was until November 2017, when I learned that I was allergic to it, through a patch test.  Since learning I was allergic to this, I’ve done a lot of research and there is still more research to do.   What a complex chemical allergy this is!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from dermographism urticaria or some form of uticaria.  I could never figure out it’s cause.  Over the years it’s gotten to be a bit more scary.  I didn’t know what was causing it and the simple act of resting my chin on my palm was casually denied.  If I had a reaction, the spot on my chin would swell…not to mention if I had pressure near my eyes or throat.  When I explained the reaction to my primary care, I was given a prescription for an epinephrine pen, which I have been carrying for several years now.  Thankfully I’ve never had to use it.

What I found most interesting about the BOP allergy is it affects everyone a little differently.  There doesn’t seem to be an exact science to it and the varied degree of severity in each item ranges from time to time.  As an example, I know someone who cannot have Pure Vanilla or Vanillin.   I on the other-hand can eat Pure Vanilla without an issue.  If I eat anything with that fake stuff….I’m uncomfortable, bloated and miserable in my digestive system.

Some of the other items closely related in chemical make up to the BOP allergen are cinnamon, clove, curry, eugenol and isoeugenol which are components in essential oils, benzyl alcohol, sodium benzoate, and it’s also in dental cement, cough medication,  chili, soda, pizza, tomato, chocolate, and the list just keeps on going.

Every single component needs to be personally tested for a reaction.  The worst part is the reaction may not be conclusive depending on the amount use or ingested.  Also, the brand of the item can make a different.

How I’ve been combating this is pure elimination.  I removed every component and tested each item for 2-3 days.  I’m unable to drink soda because it not only contains Corn Syrup (my worst allergy is Corn) but sodium benzoate is in nearly every soda.  My reaction isn’t limited to digestive upset, it also makes my throat feel thick and feel like I have a ball stuck in it.

Allergies are devastating, debilitating, difficult and demoralizing.  I hit the lowest of the low in 2017, feeling useless, worthless, and a burden.  I was embarrassed, felt pity from others, questioned how this could all be real and just not in my head, and honestly the only thing that got me through the 7 horrible months was this internal voice reminding me that I am sooooo incredibly strong.  I am a fighter!!  I’m stronger than I ever realized and even through the darkest of moments when I literally considering packing my belongings and moving into an apartment on my own, that fire kept me going!  I was making my family miserable with my crying and self pity…because in the end, I just want to be normal, but my normal will never be like yours.

Acceptance heals!

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