Itchy and Miserable

Recently I learned from Charlise of a hidden coconut ingredient in beauty products called cocamidopropyl betaine.

(I’m gonna school you guys on the relation between coconuts and tree nut allergies just a little bit.~)

Upon looking further into this, I’ve realized that people look to every possible excuse they can think up for why someone is allergic to something and “how to avoid it” by avoiding one way something is made, produced, etc. For example, last year, I discovered I’ve an allergy to seaweed, and recently, I discovered I’ve an allergy to quinoa. Considering I eat a lot of fiber on a daily basis, I’m pretty sure the small amount of fiber in the quinoa I consumed is not the cause of my dairy-like reactions. This assumption that someone can’t possibly be related to something is ridiculous and uneducated. Anyone can be allergic to anything, given the right circumstance.

Cocamidopropyl betaine, according to Wikipedia, is an organic compound derived from coconut oil and dimethylaminopropylamine. How about we all consider that people may be reacting to it due to a potential coconut/tree nut allergy-related circumstance? -.-

Some trivia to make me look smart/like I’ve done my research:

  • Botanically, the coconut palm is not a tree; the coconut fruit is botanically a drupe. (source)
  • Epinephrine, also known as an EpiPen, is basically adrenaline. Another: EpiPen is actually a brand of epinephrine. Furthermore, the FDA recommends patients have at least two epinephrine auto-injectors prescribed at once… though they come in single packs, to my knowledge and from reading others’ stories, it is impossible to only order one at a time. Oftentimes, allergists have coupons for the EpiPen brand. Epinephrine is expensive and not often covered by insurance companies.
  • Anaphylaxis is actually a rare allergic reaction to tree nut allergies.

One major thing allergy-free blogs by those who have kids with just a peanut allergy (thus sans any tree nut allergies) need to stop advertising about is that if a child is allergic to pecans, they can’t possibly be allergic to coconut.

Pecans are tree nuts, whereas peanuts are legumes. They’re totally different things. Coconuts are classified as fruits in produce, but they’re recognized as a tree nut by the FDA because some patients who are allergic to tree nuts are allergic to coconuts. There isn’t enough research to explain why this is1, though the relation is explained briefly in the ASCIA’s coconut article.

Because of this, not many brands disclose that coconut exists in their product, something that is more common in beauty and hygiene products. What’s more, many trusted household brands and products that are safe for skin/babies/etc. may contain around 300 more ingredients than those listed on the product itself, simply under the umbrella term “fragrance”, with various nut oils (almond, peanut, etc.) being a few of those. (Johnson & Johnson is also one that does not answer questions regarding all of their ingredients.)

Yet, when calling these brands, there’s no response. I understand they may wish to “save the recipe”, or whatever, but even with hypoallergenic brands this issue exists. I’ve realized my body wash2, shampoo and conditioner contain questionable ingredients, including the unfortunate cocamidopropyl betaine, which is likely what I have been reacting to.

I’ve searched far and wide for products I may be able to use that lack soy, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, and coconut, and there are none to be found unless I want unscented, but part of the reason I feel soap exists is because of the fragrance…

Therefore, I’m going to try making my own. 😡 It’s a long shot, but people do do it, and it’s probably the only way I may be able to stop itching to infinity and beyond for good. I’m also going to try out Eco Nuts in the future, a brand that has been recommended to me a few times, because I also think the laundry detergent used could be another factor to weigh in.

One of the ways I feel like I can focus on myself, loving myself and being happier with myself is by minimizing my allergies’ control on my life and what I do in it. It’s exhausting — literally. If I’m not itching or breaking out, I’m just drowsy and feeling really crappy. Allergy-free things are more expensive, but if it makes me healthier, isn’t it worth it in the long run?

Furthermore, maybe I just want to be able to pronounce what all I’m putting onto my skin/using on things I touch. I think I’m going to add Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap to the bathroom for hand soap usage (at least for me), because when I received it as a trial in a Bestowed box last year, for once, I did not have dry hands/itch constantly. It’s too bad the actual hand soap contains the aforementioned coconut ingredient.~

If you have recommendations/suggestions, I am open to those… I’m requiring soy-free, nut-free, tree nut-free and coconut-free vegan (knocks out dairy) products… I never knowingly use anything that is not cruelty-free.

As always, I’ll blog about my progress, findings, etc. as I make this journey to a better, healthier lifestyle. c:

  1. It’s ironic how it bums me out that there’s no research for this when I just complained about how, sometimes, allergies happen just because.
  2. I’m allergic to bar soap. ALL of it. It’s something about the sitting in a molded form, plus the fact that it is a mold itself, that makes me unable to have/use it. Plus, it was all I was permitted to use for several years, thus the allergy worsened, and now I can’t even touch a bar of soap without reacting.

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Comments on this post

Crystal’s gravatar

That sucks that it’s so sneaky! D: I know I have to be careful with aloe. Someone told me once that you can actually be allergic to the plants individually. Weird… I just avoid all of it. However, sometimes when I use it it has no effect so maybe.

What a brilliant idea though! I wish the best of luck!! That kind of inspiration had lead to a lot of really great companies!!

Agent Q’s gravatar

That’s pretty messed up on the manufacturers’ part to conceal such important information. :O I like your proactive take on making your own, [REAL] allergy-free self-care items. Although this takes time and more energy than simply purchasing them, you’ll benefit in the long run by saving yourself from the headache. You got this! 😎

Christine’s gravatar

With my blog, I’m always amazed by how secretive some companies can be about their practices and their ingredients. I will say, I had no idea that something like coconut could be called so many different things. I’ll definitely keep my eyes out for some products that are also mold-free after our conversation last night!

hanna’s gravatar

I can’t believe that they try and sneak things into a product. I saw this happen with Emu oil before which is super gross. Although I have to say I didn’t know anyone was allergic to coconut.

Liz’s gravatar

Anyone can be allergic to anything, no matter what it is. 😉

…even if it’s a person. :p