Corn Intolerance or Allergic? What does it Matter?

Sept. 2012

What’s this corn thing doing on my blog?

Important note added Sept. 2015 down below

I seemed to have picked up this corn intolerance or allergic thing a while back, likely about ten years ago. I didn’t know I had a problem until about four years ago. I developed an itch in the crotch, I know, sounds great, which I asked my Doc about. There was no rash, just a severe itch. He gave me some cortisone type cream that was useless and only seemed to make it worse. Now, that itch was so bad, it sorta hid the fact that my whole body itched, but the crotch was the worse, if you started to itch it, it was hard to stop until you hurt. Even knowing this it’s hard to stop. Eventually, I realized that my whole body itched. Places I noticed the greatest itch was the crotch, the tops of my feet, ankles and chins and forearms and my back and inside my ears too. I’m also starting to get a greater itch in my chest, as I’ve been working on getting rid of corn.

Well, I knew from keeping honey bees and getting stung too many times, because I had developed an allergy to their stings and know one of the reactions was a severe body itch that felt so good when you itched it. This was a clue that I must be allergic to something.

I changed lots of things, clothes, soaps, bedding to no avail

I started with the easy things, I got new different bedding, new clothes, new towels, new soaps and that didn’t help at all.

So, it must be a food that I’m allergic to?

But what, where do I start. I decided to eliminate dairy products and gluten products for a start, mostly because these things would be easy to eliminate. But, I needed something to replace all the bread I wouldn’t be able to eat, so I bought a big stack of corn tortillas which I would eat like the Mexican people. I’d eat four or five with my meals and sometimes use them for a snack.

That was a big mistake, things just got worse.

Well, that didn’t go well at all. After a few days, I started to get worse. In addition, the roof of my mouth felt like I burned it with something and my forearms felt really tired and lethargic. I went back to my regular diet and at least things got a little better, meaning I still itched all over, but my mouth roof burning sensation stopped and the forearm pain went away. I still didn’t realize it was the corn yet. I was stumped and thought about it a while and finally realized maybe it’s the corn?

Was it the corn causing me these problems?

It seemed to be the corn, when I ate corn things my itch got worse for a while. How can I know for sure? I was going on three years with this problem by now. I looked at my packaging ingredients and eliminated all the stuff that said corn and I mostly got a little less itch, but it wouldn’t go away and I’d get a more increased itch and check ingredients on the stuff I was eating and eliminated them, if I could detect something that was derived from corn. As I got rid of some of this stuff, I seemed to able to tell when I ate something that got me, so I got better at looking for ingredients. I found that corn starch is in almost everything and corn syrup too, but that was only the beginning. Those things where fairly easy to get rid as a lot of times they are actually marked in the ingredients on the package. But, I’m still getting corned, so what else?

What, Best Foods Mayonnaise has corn in it?

The ingredients in Best Foods Mayonnaise say eggs, canola oil, I think and vinegar and I think salt. Ha, ha, what is the vinegar made from. Seems you have wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white or distilled white vinegar, as far as vinegars go and rice vinegar too. The white can be made out of many things, but it’s usually made from corn. the distilled comes form distilling petroleum, I think, but not sure on that?

So, I went to the Best Foods web site and looked up ingredients of vinegar. Damn. This is bad. It said that they use the finest corn available to make their vinegar. Damn again. So many things people make with mayo. That just kicked out most of the condiments and salad dressing available or made by people at home,……… shoot, I’m screwed, is what I was thinking. This also meant that most of the processed foods that use vinegar are likely to be made from corn. Not good.

So, I got rid of the vinegar things, but still?

I was still having reactions and this is about a year into trying to eliminate corn stuff. Time to do some more searching on the internet as I’m running out of ideas. Ugh. I found that xanthan gum is derived from corn and acidic acid and citric acid and a whole bunch of other things. You needed to be a rocket scientist to know all this stuff. Corn products are in almost everything and it’s not listed as corn on the ingredients, how can this be? Can’t eat any ice cream, unless I make it myself carefully selecting the ingredients and that isn’t easy to be corn free. Why aren’t corn things listed? This seems like an insane thing. Peanuts are and even if they just processed in the same building it’s listed. The allergic reactions to corn can be the same as what people get with peanuts, so why isn’t it listed? The are eight things that must be listed if they are in a product, but things derived from corn are not.

I’ve stopped eating most things by now.

I’ve gotten a lot of corn derived things out of my system, but not all. I think I am very close at the time of this writing. It’s been four years since I got the first itch. One of the problems is if one gets corned it can take a couple of weeks to get it out of your system, so it takes a lot of time to try to track this.

I ate an ear of corn to test.

I decided to eat an ear of fresh corn to see what would happen, maybe all I needed was some real corn? :O) I ate it, it tasted so good.  didn’t have a reaction until about eight hours later. After that, about four days of severe itching, so it really does look like it’s corn.

I can’t be sure?

I was about ninety percent sure I had a corn problem, but until I get rid of this itch, I can’t be one hundred percent sure it is corn. About a month ago when I found corn was in so many other ingredients, I added three more percent for ninety-three percent, but that other seven percent is illusive. Until I can get rid of the itch, which would mean getting whatever it is out of my system, I can’t be one hundred percent sure it is corn. If I can get rid of the itch then I can try a product to see if it gives me a reaction, one at a time. Right now, there isn’t really a one at a time test, because I haven’t got it out of my system so I don’t really know how many times it’s getting into my system.

Added September 2015: Important information about corn detection in food

Here’s the real problem of detecting what has corn in it that is getting you. If I eat something with corn in it, it takes about nine hours or so for the real itch to start, sometimes less. And every time I eat something even without corn, in nine hours or so, the itch gets worse again and this lasts for about two weeks or so. The intense part lasts for about four days each time you consume some corny stuff and will be intense each time you eat something even if you don’t consume anything corny in that period.

In other words once you’ve been hit, every time you eat corn stuff or not, it’s going to get you for about two weeks or so, every time you eat, even if you don’t eat any corn. And if you eat some more food with corn, it’s still going to be two weeks or so of itching every time you eat some more food. And each time you consume something corny, it’s going to be intense for about four days or so.

Can you see that it’s going to be hard to detect what has corn in it. Lots of things are going to get blamed for having corn that may not. I think this is one of the things that makes this thing so hard to figure out. I’ve been trying to rid corn out of my diet for about five years now and haven’t succeeded yet. I’ve been close for a few days, but I’m still working on it.

Update: January 2016

I was working  on getting the corn out of my system when last month, things got worse. I think they got worse because as I was getting corn foods out of my system, I had to eat more and more of the little foods that I trusted and some of them have corn stuff in them, so I ended up eating more of the bad stuff as I was trying to get away from the corn stuff.

In addition to the already  body itches which are the worst in the crotch area, that has expanded to my full pubic area. The intense itching has also moved into my chest and shoulders and back with some minor hives. I now have a rash on both sides of my pubic area that may be hives? The rash is mostly most intense when I eat something with corn in it. In addition to all that, I also have pins and needles in my forearms and legs and chest, shoulders and back which is most intense after I ingest some corny stuff.

My most trusted stuff has some corn stuff in it. The most trusted olive oil from Costco proved to be one of my undoing’s as I trusted it and used it everywhere I needed some oil, a bad mistake.

I now don’t use any olive oil, but am trying peanut oil and grape seed oil very sparingly as I don’t trust any oils anymore as they are too easy to get some corn stuff in them and each time you have to buy another bottle, it’s taking a big chance. Olive oil has too great a chance to get some corn in it as it’s tempting to cheat by adding some corn oil to the batch.

I think I also discovered the beans I’ve been eating may also be bad for me as I seem to be getting a reaction from them, so I may also be allergic to them. When you are allergic to one thing, it’s easy to be allergic to some other things.

My plan right now is to see an allergist to see if I’m allergic to anything else, even though I  don’t have much confidence that an allergist can help me out much.

Even the tooth paste had to go.

Sorbitol is in tooth paste and is derived from corn, so I dumped them and went to using baking soda, which seems to help prevent that burning mouth thing. There are also other corn things in the store bought tooth pastes. After awhile I got some Squiggle tooth paste which seems to be working better than the backing soda.

Some good resources:

http://forums.delphiforums.com/AvoidingCorn

http://cornfree.ca/index.htm

http://www.livecornfree.com/2010/04/ingredients-derived-from-corn-what-to.html

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12 Responses to Corn Intolerance or Allergic? What does it Matter?

  1. Zashes says:

    Bob,

    Most beef is finished with corn so you may want to try grass feed and finished beef.
    Poultry and pork are also feed GMO corn too, so more research perhaps

  2. admin says:

    I’m aware of what animals are fed. However, to my knowledge, when animals eat corn, they convert it to something else and it is no longer corn, so it’s doesn’t seem to be a bother to me. It seems to be a bother to some of the corn people though, but I go by what bothers me and so far that doesn’t.
    What is a bother are all the things that are derived from corn or are used in a products processing, which leaves corn in the final product and is most times not ever mentioned on the ingredients list of the product.
    I’ve been trying to rid my system of this corn stuff for over five years and have gotten most of it out of my system, but, corn is used so much and not labeled as corn, such as peanuts would be, so getting it completely out of ones system isn’t easy.
    I did find that too much research was getting things really confused as most of the information comes from people with varying degrees of the problem and a lot of their information as far as what products have corn stuff in them, is bogus.
    Bogus, because, lot of times, it’s hard to detect exactly which product got you, so often times, the information on what product is corned is not correct and the only way to find out is to test it yourself, which also comes under the same problems and is a slow process.

    I have found that the only way to appreciate what a curse this corn thing is, is to have the disorder yourself, otherwise, there is just no way you are going to get it, the understanding, I mean. And even if you have a corn problem, it will take a long time to get it, but you finally will. Curse, for sure. :O)
    Thanks for your comment,
    Bob

  3. Lois Albury says:

    Hello Bob,

    I not sure if you have accessed the Gluten Free Society and read their article on Hidden Corn Based Ingredients? it is a wonderful site and lists ingredients that definitely contain corn and an Alpha listing of others that may contain corn. It also mentions that paper containers and plastic wrappers may contain an inner liner that is coated with corn as well, and a list of foods which may contain sources of corn.

    I can empathize with you and feel your frustration trying to source the root of your affliction, but knowing your tenacity – you will persevere.

    Keep up the great work on your very interesting daily blog, and website.

    Best of Luck,

    Lois

    • admin says:

      Hi Lois,
      Always interested in more information on corn stuff. Sounds like a good site and I’m on my way over to check it out.
      Unfortunately, most foods have some kind of corn derived stuff in or on them and the worse part is a lot of the corn stuff isn’t listed as an ingredient, which makes staying away from corn stuff close to impossible.
      Thanks again for the info,
      Bob

  4. Lois Albury says:

    Hi Bob,

    Have you had a chance to read posts from this site?
    http://cornallergyaid.blogspot.ca/p/new-to-corn-allergy.html

    This is a real good article from a poster…… it says:

    New to Corn Allergy???

    I am dedicating this page to the friends on http://forums.delphiforums.com/AvoidingCorn/start:

    Posted are excerpts from various postings to those searching for help:

    Posted by Kristyreal: http://forums.delphiforums.com/AvoidingCorn/messages?msg=9443.14

    Now that you’ve found this forum, you will start to feel better and better every day. I had the same types of issues except I went undiagnosed for over 20 years. We are gradually building our health back up from all those years of illness. I remember how I felt when I finally found out that all my gastro symptoms were allergy related – I couldn’t believe not one doctor in all those 20 years ever suggested it to me. All of those foods that I thought I couldn’t eat are now back in my diet in moderation except for legumes.

    This allergy has changed our whole life – starting with how I think of food and any other product that touches my body. One good rule of thumb: the more a product is processed, the more likely it will be corn contaminated. Look for foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Sometimes this can be counterintuitive: some fresh fruit is actually more processed than frozen fruit even though that seems backward. Fresh fruit must be treated with citric acid, corn waxes and other corny crap to extend the shelf life but most frozen fruit is washed with water and frozen very quickly after harvest. Remember that baby carrots (and other pre-washed produce), raw boneless skinless chicken breasts and milk are processed foods.

    As for the ensure, pretty much anything with vitamin enrichments will be corny so go for nutrient dense whole foods and search the forum for safe vitamins. Try whole raw organic milk from pastured cows and pastured chicken and eggs to gain your health back. Butter and cream from pastured cows along with Kerrygold cheese is another way to boost your calories and start building up your system. Start looking for a farmers market where you may find safe beef, lamb, chicken, pork or turkey and eat beef, lamb and chicken livers (even if you don’t like it) at least once a week to regain strength and vitality. Liver and eggs are some of the best “health” foods on the planet and they will help you so much. Dairy kefir is also a miracle food.

    Also, you might want to consider things like bee pollen (as long as you’re not allergic, of course), rose hips, cod liver oil, honey, seeds and nuts, avocados, extra virgin olive oil, pure organic unrefined coconut oil and leafy green veggies to boost your health. Home sprouted seeds, grains and beans are very healthy, too (most sprouts from the store are corn contaminated). Bee pollen is very high in B vitamins and rose hips have more vitamin C than citrus fruits, cod liver oil (Blue Ice fermented plain CLO) is high in natural A and D vitamins. Seeds, nuts and leafy green veggies are really good sources of trace minerals and healthy fats – avocados and olive and coconut oils are also very safe, very healthy fats. Consider adding as many beneficial herbs, spices and aromatics as possible to your diet: onions, garlic, ginger, parsley, cilantro, turmeric, cayenne pepper, etc.

    I know all this sounds overwhelming, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. The first major step is changing your way of thinking about the fuel that goes into your body and the products that you absorb into your skin. Keep copious notes, print out lists of safe foods, make note of which store carries which product (you’ll never keep it straight otherwise), keep a food journal detailing the foods you eat and the reactions you felt, and seek out ethnic grocery stores and farmers markets and health food stores. Talk to everyone you meet – you never know when you’ll find out some vital information from a casual conversation with a stranger. It just takes practice and motivation and you’ve got plenty of motivation. We’re here to help so don’t forget that you can post any questions and you’re sure to get a good answer from someone (or several someone’s) on here. Good luck!

    A few good links mentioned:

    http://cornallergens.com/ (look under allergen list)
    http://cornallergyaid.blogspot.com/p/products-that-i-use.html
    http://no-corn.blogspot.com/
    http://corn-freefoods.blogspot.com/
    http://www.cornallergyadvocate.com/what-i-am-eating/
    http://corn-freefoods.blogspot.com/2007/12/corn-free-foods-products-list-dec-2007.html
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0Av03HsJ8d7APcGJPSEFXWXVxdkRGY0NxUGFQcW1ZVXc&gid=0

    Hope this helps?

    Keep up the great work on your site, I thoroughly enjoy your sights as I peek over your shoulder while your paddling….LOL

    Cheers,

    Lois

    • admin says:

      Hi Lois,
      I just briefly checked out that site and it looks like a good one that I’ll have to spend some time on checking out. I’ve checked out most of the sites that have to do with this corn thing a while back. Now, there appears to be some newer ones that might be a bit better than the older ones. Most of the older sites tend to be a bit confusing on the subject, so newer clearer sites are appreciated. The whole corn thing is at best confusing as corn is used in many things and not marked as such, as it’s considered safe, but not for everyone as I found out.
      Thanks,
      Bob

  5. virginia says:

    Hi Bob,
    I just wanted to thank you for your post. I have been dealing with the exact same issue for the past 5 months, this horrible intense itching in my pubic area. I have been back and forth to the doctor but nothing has helped. I have tried all kinds of natural medicines for yeast, candida, fungus etc. I finally went back to the doctor last week, I just could not take it! She gave me more medications which did nothing. I came across your post Sunday night. I am gluten-free and have been eating quite a bit of corn, plus I love mexican food. It was like the light bulb went off. I have been off corn for 2 days and I am already 80% better. I just cannot believe it was just corn! I really appreciate your post, you have really helped me. I am now on my way to being corn free. Thank you,
    V

  6. Bob says:

    Hi Virginia,
    Glad you found that out, but sorry to hear it as being allergic to corn sucks more than being allergic to everything else put together, because that’s about what it is. Unfortunately, corn or things derived or grown on it, or used in processing are in most everything we eat which makes getting away from it very hard. I thought I could do it, but I’ve been trying to do it for about seven years now. Why seven years, because it takes a long time to learn just where corn can come from and I’m still learning. It’s hard to detect just which food is getting you. I did learn I should of done the elimination diet right off the bat. That’s not easy to do either as you can’t get away from the corn. I finally settled on grass fed beef I can get locally and oranges my brother grows and some vegetables from another brothers garden. I’ve been on this for almost a mouth and still haven’t sorted things out yet. To Detect where you’re getting corn from you need to get it out of your system to detect which foods it is coming from, otherwise, there isn’t much of a chance telling which food is getting you.
    Thanks for the comment.
    Bob

  7. Fiona says:

    Not that difficult to avoid corn. Eat whole, fresh foods so you know exactly what is going in your mouth. Translation: Avoid processed food which is a good thing to do anyway. Corn and it’s derivatives make my eyes itch and now triggers my angioedema (it never did before) which previously was only triggered by wheat. Also, research and treat yourself for “leaky gut”…too many things are getting through undigested and triggering immune reactions. It seems like these things come on “out of the blue” but they have been building for years. In the beginning you say you “picked up” the corn allergy…well it’s not contagious, you developed it. Same here.

    • Bob Noble says:

      I understand your point about, picked up and I agree with it’s been building for years. Picked up was just a poor choice of words. Mine started back in the late nineties and it’s been slowly getting worst, with hives and angioedema kicked in now too. I’ve been actively trying to eliminate corn stuff from my diet. As I got better at it, my symptoms have only been getting worse. I’m down to only a few foods and I’m still getting hit which makes me wonder if I’m not allergic to something else or something else is going on?
      Thanks for the comment,
      Bob

    • Bob says:

      Hi Fiona,
      I at first poo, pooed your leaky gut thing. I had read up some on it a long time ago, but had forgotten most of it. Thinking about what you said, I did some more research on it and I think you have a point, although it still points back to food allergies, I think, which might be causing this problem. As it is, I’m mostly on that diet anyway right now, so I’ll be pursuing it more.
      Anyway, thanks for getting me thinking in that direction.

  8. Jam says:

    I’m a physician with coeliac and also corn intolerance. The reason you can’t get red of your itch is because it’s not just corn you’re sensitive to. It’s gluten also. The protein in wheat that causes coeliac is gliadin. Corn contains zein which cross-reacts with gluten. Oats contain avenin – same thing. Millet, buckwheat, rye, barley, etc all have their own “prolamine” which crossreacts with gluten. The more sensitive you are, the more grains you cannot tolerate

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