Food Allergies & MS Exacerbations


 Several symptoms (migraine, facial pain, and neck pain, etc) associated with multiple sclerosis are also associated with allergies to certain plants, both edible and non-edible. 

 People who are allergic to birch pollen frequently have allergic symptoms when they eat several kinds of food.  The majority of these allergic reactions are caused by certain parts of proteins that are in the birch pollen that can cause a cross-reaction to the foods that are eaten. Of all the things, celery is one of these foods.  Many people who are allergic to birch pollen are also allergic to celery, but they just don’t know it.

Grass and weed pollen can also sensitize the body and cause a cross-reaction with food.  However, these seem to cause less of a problem than birch.  But, you never know.

Generally, pollen-related substances in edible foods that cause migraine, facial pain, and neck pain tend to be destroyed during the cooking process or destroyed in the digestive tract.  Here again, celery is a problem.  The substance in it is not destroyed and the response to it is still there.  Other foods can do a similar thing.  So, it is wise to keep a diary of what you eat to determine if an allergy to a food may be causing a flare-up of your MS symptoms.


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2. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 May; 964:47-68
Current understanding of cross-reactivity of food allergens and pollen
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3. Rocz Akad Med Bialymst. 2005; 50:268-73
Immunoblotting in the diagnosis of cross-reactivity in children allergic to birch
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4. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2005 Dec;38(6):1311-25, x-xi
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To Your Good Health,

Dr. Rudy Cartwright

PS: Please leave your comments below.

32 thoughts on “Food Allergies & MS Exacerbations

  1. Thank you for the continued information, lot of things I had never thought about!
    Thanks for keeping us MSers in mind. It is much appreciated.

  2. Thank you so much for telling us about celery. Valerie Moffat wrote a book about her fight with MS and in it mentioned things people with MS should avoid and celery was one of them besides beef, veal, lamb, mutton, venison, oats, grapes wine, brandy and malt.
    was hard to give up celery and grapes but have done so. getting better but it is so slow.
    Thank you for all the information and May God Bless you and yours


  3. I do not suffer from allergies but I do suffer from Bowel movement, is that associated with MS as I have to take medication for this.
    Some on with MS please clarify this for me.

  4. dr. CARTWRIGHT, ive never thought of this. but i have no allergers to food that i know of,soy sauce gives me diarea the next morning, so i try to avoid it as much as possible. im not alergic to any food, and like everything, im not picky at all . but id like to know more on it. thank you marcy

  5. Does anyone know about the pilot tudy Dr. William Tucker did years ago with seven MS patients who took his drug for six months and in only eight weeks noticed a difference in their sensory and motor skills. They were free of their MS in six months and stopped the meds. A ten year followup was also done – free of their MS!
    Why is this information not getting out to the public? Checkout his website at – he is now trying to do one hundred patients in a clinical trial but what drug company wants a cure, there is more money to be made in managing the disease!

  6. I also read Val Moffat’s book and learned about her suggested foods to avoid. At that time, I stopped eating celery and then reintroduced it. Not really sure if it is causing a problem. I am very mindful of what I eat. I am gluten free, dairy free and only eating fish(salmon). I am keeping a dairy/log of what I eat and how I feel. Many thanks, Dr. Cartwright for keeping us informed.

  7. as an ms sufferer the cold weather is good for me, but can’t take the hot weather. I can function better in the cold than the heat. I wonder if other ms sufferers find the same thing.
    cheers josie

  8. help my dr says infusion too risky april 93 it started
    \ i fell in love 3 years ago half way through our time togehter
    i fell after long long break

    soon after — my love left a s very busy man the best of all ive known

    im 68 taske paxil and other drug ive forgotten the name – im up beat thouh
    im to have a 4th mri and one drving test vitami d too

    il get a car soon and get m,y licence
    ill sell my condo soon i hope vivian

  9. I suffer in hot temperatures as well as cold temps.
    However, Different symptoms for different weather.
    Except, I sleep very warm in all temps. When I sleep.

  10. thank you. I also have migraines and ms. thats interesting about celery? I always love it. because its green and has alot of water contents. who knows why I never ever heard about it. anyway will ask my neurologist about what she hears. and knows. thank you dr. joan tena over 20years ms.

  11. I suffer badly with temperature change won minute hot next cold then really sweaty is this a symptom of m.s.

  12. This is Anna Chung from China. I have the MS. I stayed in the hospital for three times. Last time was from Jan 14th, 2011 to Jan 24th, 2011.

    The doctor in China told me i can eat anything, she told me i need to avoid to catch a cold.

    So i need to stop eating the celery, beef, mutton…and grape…i like to eat the grape, that is my favourite fruit…

    All the best for the people who have the MS,

    Anna Chung

  13. hello dr Cartwright,
    have been in hospital for 5 days with a terrible bladder infection, which went into the blood stream, im much better now although a little weak. Good news was that the MRI scan showed no new lesions or ms activity to brain, Praise the lord there is hope and i am going to get well. No allergies as far as i know , thanks for the info.
    Regards Mari South frica

  14. Good day, Dr. Cartwright! I’ve a poem I’d written about my M.S.

    M.S. Marionette

    Takes control of my wings
    with strong chalky strings:

    I’m sleepy, I’m tired,
    I’m listless, I’m wired.
    Not simple to do some things,
    Whilst dangling from these strings.

    It cheats me, it taunts me,
    when alone, it will haunt me.
    Will try to offset my brain
    As its plates form a chain.

    Oh well…I’m going to write one more verse. I know that this Blog isn’t meant for this sort of thing, still poetry has always been one of my passions. It is good to keep the mind running as well?

    Thanks so much for the info and updates!
    Wishing you and yours the best! Michelle

  15. Hi again, Dr Cartwright. S’cold here now, but I find the heat and humidity intolerable also. Why is that?

  16. Hello Dr. Cartwright,

    Let me appreciate your thoughts, experience and knowledge on this dreadful desease, which I have countered with any resouce available. For over 50 years and have found that too much information is overwhelming. Avoid drugs if possible

    I Follow an unrestricted diet, exercise as much as possible outdoors – back yard – aided bt a walker an indoors on a foormat where I do push ups, sit ups, and stretch and stretch move around, however i can not walk and i can at times be intolerable – terrible attitude. I am 67 and take a restricted drug named Ampyra that has greatly improved my waking. I walk better too and faster and have not suffered any side – effects. I am a firm believer in the power of suggestion, which i have used since my youth when M.S. was strongest and almost destroyed me and so little was known. I know you can will yourself to do anything including cure, but I only recently(8 years ago) stopped smoking 3 packs a day. I suffer terribly because i can not move the intestinal tract. What I have found is that a combination of spool softeners like Metamucil, Miralax and a natural herb “Cascara Sagrada” does, and exercise. The main is the natural herb Cascara Sagrada in capsuls. I take one a day and exercise outside, in doors on the floor on the walls, and i’ve learned to fall, which through the years has proved capital, especially when oteoporisis sets in.

    I talk a lot because i have a lot to say and because i can do almost everything withing reason. I live with my wife of 40 years in El Paso, Texas right on the border, and I’m a loner maybe because i am so different.

    Regards, Ruben

  17. Thank you Dr. Cartwright and Sue Ellen for all the valuable information you have provided. Keep it coming! To the person above who has bowl trouble too. I take Metamucil because it has asylum hulls in it which helps you clean out your Colon.
    I’ve found that the condition my colon directly impacts my MS.
    Plus I drink LOTS of water and eat fiber.

    I’m alone for 16 hours everyday, I do the best I can do.

    Exercise is a big problem as well as typing. I utilize all tools and information available to me.

    Remember, things WILL get Better

  18. Hi Dr. Rudy,

    I am so frustrated as i am getting a relapse every 2 to 3 weeks, my feet are in so much pain, heels burning with pain. I do not know what road to go down. i am on Lyrica 225 mg twice a day and another pain tablet as well but pain is still bad. I am so constipated as well, movicol not working for me now. i will go off gluten now and take vit d3 and see how things go hopefully.
    I try to go swimming 4 times a week to help the stiffness in my legs. I can just barely stand and walk just a little around the inside of hse and pg i will not get any worse as i am getting down. I am not able for too much heat. I did go off the gluten a few years ago and dairy but i will try again.
    Sorry for been so down and out and would love to get on a website to talk to other ms ers, i have ms 14 years now. 49 yrs old

  19. I am a 62 year old female with MS. I was born in Britain and have lived in South Africa for 28 years. I agree with the sufferers that I am worse when the weather is hot. I love living here but at the moment it is in the 30s, any pointers for me, it wont be winter for about 4 months yet?

  20. Good to know about celetry. I love it. I have allergies, and believe many people do without knowing. It takes time to find as I did, that, I was allergic to eggs, they lower my immune system. I am allergic to Cows milk. I think cows milk is for cows. I eat 15 gms of fat or less per day and cook with oil. No butter, or Crisco. My Neurologist was world known. Dr. Roy L Swank MD PhD started in Cannada retired at Oregon Health Sciences University. He has prooven our red blood cells clump together, and our plasma is abnormal. I believe Dr. Swank and Dr. Cartwright are thinking the same. Still walking and working as an RN after 30 yrs of M.S. It takes work to rest and take care of ourselves. Take a nap everyday. Just laydown and rest! Like a Siesta!

  21. i have had m.s,about 40yrs i walk on zimmer frame
    out side i have electric scooter.i brought myself
    a wheeler i have biggish garden so i`ve started
    walking round the garden it is getting better.

    i do not take any medication never have tell a lie
    when i first had m.s. they put me on steroids which
    blew me up neaver again they do put on weight.
    i am not on any diet may be i should but i do love
    my food i keep away from additives and eat good diet
    fresh veg and fruit and chicken,
    i do suffer with my bowels i have liquid senor for
    it which do help.Susan

  22. A whole new world of MS has opened for me since my friend was diagnosed with it after years of suffering and going from doctor to doctor. I wish you all strength and faith to cope with this illness. I really want to thank the doctor who is serious and caring about their patients as my friend had a tough time with doctors through the years with their unsympathetic remarks and attitude and not being able to find out what is wrong with her. God bless your wonderful work!

  23. I was diagnosed with ms 16 years ago, I take way to many meds. They are for pain, stiffness, spazums, face pain, cholesterol, you name it!!!
    I am also taking Ampyra tomorrow will make 2 weeks and I have seen improvement with mobility and stamina. I was unable to walk with a walker more than 50 feet, now after ampyra I am able to walk twice that far and not as tired.
    Thank you for all of your insight and continued research on ms.

  24. I have had MS for 59 years and have found, for the past 30 years, that my MS is not as bad if I eat no dairy products, no wheat products, and lots of fish & 7,00O I U D3 each day. On a winter trip to Cuba I found the sun gave me increased physical ability. It became evident that D3 was not the only thing I was gaining from the sun. For the past few year I have also been going sun tanning twice a week. This I find helps me a lot Some years ago I read a book on MS written by an Australian GP who found laying in the sun helped his MS. I think he also recommended Tanning salons for those who live in cold climates.
    Many years ago I read that feeding babies no milk products might eliminate their getting MS genetically. My daughter is now 29 and shows no evidence of MS. I hope this article was correct. I fed her on a milk made from soya beans.

    My family definitely has a genetic link to MS. I have a cousin who has MS. The only link she and I have is that our fathers are brothers. I have never seen her and our families have not been close or friendly.

    I have read a great deal of literature on MS, & enjoy reading your information on the web. My PHD is in science & so I spent a lot of my youth in universities & was actually the person who identified my MS, when I was about 27. I had had long stretches in UK hospitals though my youth, with no diagnosis.

    Back to writing about gardening, thank-you for your emails

    Best wishes Janet

  25. I have to agree that the heat does make me very, very fatigue. The sun (vitamin D)is helpful,but the heat is not. I sunbathe ofter and I can’t get up from my lounge chair. If I’m at the beach, I usually take a trip to the water (with assistance) to cool off so that I’m able to function again. It’s to bad that in order to get vit D, you have to put up with the heat. As far as Fiber, I have not found anything that works for me. Its a pain in the butt LOL. Thanks to everyone and their comments. I really learn a lot from everyone. Rose

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