Paleo Mystery. Oxalates or something else?

by (40)
Updated December 17, 2014 at 3:57 AM
Created October 13, 2012 at 5:14 PM

Hi experts. Basic background, 43,male,normal weight, gallbladder removed 1 year ago. Problem, intermittent burning skin sensation, burning urethra mainly before and after urinating, not during, also intermittent. Interestingly both seem to happen at different times. After gallbladder removal I started to eat healthier foods, also started juicing a lot, spinach, chard, kale, carrots, zucchini etc always made me very tired within 10 mins, also made my eyes feel burnt, so I stopped it after a few months. Still ate spinach etc though, and lots of sweet potatoes and nuts.

Now I am trying to go paleo, as a normal healthy diet with lots of carbs make me sluggish, so more meats and fat, energy is much better, I am keeping some carbs in as I transition as having no gallbladder is holding back me going to high fat yet. Carbs mainly from sweet pots and some white rice.

Problem is I am still getting the burning skin in fact it's worse at times, can't point to a specific food. Do you think it could be high oxalates? Or something else from meats?

Doc did all usual urine tests all clear, he thinks it's a reaction but has given up!

Anti histamines don't seem to do much if anything, so I don't think it is histamine in foods.

I have also been waking in night with trouble getting back to sleep. My skin seems very dry too.

Appreciate any advice or pointers.

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39831 · March 05, 2013 at 5:19 AM

Excellent post; I look forward to more from you in the future.

40 · December 04, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Thanks Ali, how long did the urethra burning last? And did it go suddenly, or was there a slow improvement? I get skin burning too, did you get that as well?

287 · November 16, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Do you have a leaky gut? If you do then oxalates could be a problem for you especially since your eating very high doses of oxalate foods: spinach, and nuts. Good resource on oxalates: http://www.lowoxalate.info/

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7 Answers

55 · March 05, 2013 at 5:09 AM

Doctors don't usually test for oxalates as they are not a common problem.

My research indicates a possible self-test for oxalates: 1. Beeturia is the condition where urine turns red after eating beets. (I have beeturia and a big issue with oxalic acid). 2. Betalaine is the color component of beet juice that causes beeturia. 3. It is oxalic acid that protects betalaine through the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and to the colon where the betalaine and oxalic acid are absorbed. 4. So, beeturia is an indicator that oxalic acid is getting to the colon, rather than being broken down by bacteria in the large intestine or by acids in the stomach. The oxalic acid is absorbed in the colon and then must be purged by the kidneys.

Oxalic acid should be broken down in the large intestine by one or more of the following: Oxalobacter formigenes, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis (B. lactis), L. acidophilus, or Bifidobacillus longum (formerly B. infantis ). These are not all equally effective. B. lactis (now in some yogurts) has been tested and seems to be second to O. formigenes in ability to digest oxalates.

If the kidneys cannot remove all the oxalate being absorbed you may end up with kidney stones or gouty arthritis (gout). While the most prevalent form of gout is caused by uric acid, oxalic acid is the second-most prevalent form.

Bouts are caused by high oxalates coupled with acidosis:

If the oxalates in the blood cannot be purged quickly enough, and if the pH of the blood is not sufficiently basic to keep the oxalates in solution and they begin to precipitate the resulting crystals will be stored wherever the body can find a dump for them - perhaps in kidney stones but also in joints or flesh. The crystals cause irritation and histamine reaction, resulting in pain and redness in the flesh and arthritic crystal build-up in the joints. The body seems to favor the right big toe and possibly left hand for its storage, though this will vary and often numerous locations may be affected - anywhere in the body, including the fleshy part of the ear. Typically, if you have bouts, the same areas will be affected with each bout.

Doctors will prescribe antacids for gout, yet you may be better off dealing with this intelligently by minimizing oxalates and reducing acid-producing factors (protein, soft-drinks, strenuous exercise). Drink at least a gallon of water a day and more if exercising. Add potassium citrate to your water or other acid fighting components. I use 1/4 tsp. potassium with 1 Tbsp lemon juice in each quart of water. Oxalic acid will bind magnesium and calcium, so you may be low.

Medium avatar
39831 · March 05, 2013 at 5:19 AM

Excellent post; I look forward to more from you in the future.

17567 · October 14, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Are you taking digestive enzymes? Something with ox bile, such as Now Superenzymes? If not, you should at every meal that contains fat.

I don't know whether that's related or not to the burning skin, but you won't be able to digest fats properly without a gall bladder, and ox bile will. Sorry to say, like me, you'll have to take these for the rest of your life.

Also look to coconut oil as a source of fat. Half of it is MCTs which don't require bile to process.

Any reason you're juicing instead of actually eating the whole vegetable? You're removing the fibers and getting concentrated sources of what's in the veggies without the fiber slowing you down, so yes, you'll get a ton of oxelates and depending on what else is in there, some of them might be goitrogenic. Low thyroid can cause issues with dry eyes. Look more to better sources of meat than to tons of veggies.

Maybe you're getting too much Vitamin A?

Waking in the middle of the night may be related to cortisol vs melatonin levels. Stress, blue light sources at night such as LEDs or using a TV, iPad, etc. before sleep may be related to this. Of course the shock of removing your gallbladder and all that certainly is stressful, so it will take some time to fix that.

0 · February 20, 2013 at 3:21 AM

I have been greatly helped by a low oxalate diet. Having suffered for many years with fibromyalgia, sinus headaches, foggy brain, burning mouth and throat (sometimes thrush, sometimes not), gastric reflux, urinary infections and burning vagina and vulva, and burning feet, I have had huge relief in the past 6 weeks on low oxalate foods. It seems crazy that the 'healthy foods' we think should be good for us, are actually the problem. Yes, Want2BeHealthyGirl, leaky gut seems to be the primary issue. (I realise this is not for everyone - but there are many of us with these symptoms.)

It is worth going to http://www.tryinglowoxalates.com for a very helpful list of the foods high in oxalates and the ones that are OK to eat. There is also lots of information there to help you understand what is happening. NOT ALL fruits or vegies are troublesome – you just have to know the ones to avoid. Taking Calcium Citrate and Multivitamin with plenty of Vit B complex in it helps eliminate the oxalates stored in the tissues and bones. Take the time to be educated by those who have proved it. It works!

0 · January 03, 2013 at 7:24 AM

Have you taken the drug Cipro or Levaquin in the past year? These are some of the symptomsa of a delayed reaction to the drugs which is common.

0 · November 22, 2012 at 3:04 AM

Try a k2 supplement, b6 (in am)and magnesium (take mag before bedtime). Helped with my kidneys during oxalate issues. Get off the oxalates (list at lowoxalate link above is most accurate) for awhile. They need to clear out of your body (crystals) and you'll have some "withdrawals." I feel so much better now. Sleep is back, joint pain gone, taking enzymes too, no more urethra burning (oh my gosh it was horrible.)

40 · December 04, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Thanks Ali, how long did the urethra burning last? And did it go suddenly, or was there a slow improvement? I get skin burning too, did you get that as well?

40 · October 19, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Any more ideas anyone. Especially regarding the urethra burning, could that be excess bile or something like that?

40 · October 14, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Hi Yes I am taking the Now foods enzymes and they do seem to work well.

I was juicing to try to get more nutrients in as I never really got on well eating veg, but my stomach works with them better now I have cut out grains. So I stopped juicing a month ago, but was still eating a lot of kale, spinach chard etc and for carbs sweet pot (high in oxalates) until I could eat more fat.

Is excess vit A likely to cause the skin flushing / burning?

Also it seems the skin flushing does not happen the same time as urethra burning.

I am thinking it is oxalates and the urethra bit is flushing it out?

I have reduced oxaletes 3 days, 1st day sking stopped burning immediately, 2nd / 3rd day skin is flushing worse.

Could this be caused by the meat? too much is it amines or something???

Any more advice appreciated.


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