How Low Oxalate Info Can Help You

Low Oxalate Info’s mission is to educate, support and inspire families and individuals who follow a low oxalate diet.  On this site you will find articles about oxalate, oxalate-related health issues, the low oxalate diet, feeding a low oxalate family and supportive therapies.  You will find tips about how to follow a low oxalate diet,  how to cook low oxalate foods, how to grow low oxalate fruits and vegetables, how to integrate the low oxalate diet with other special diets such as GAPs, Vegan or Paleo, and how to modify your favorite recipes.  I hope that you will also find support, inspiration and comraderie as you make your healing journey.  Welcome!  Thanks for joining our low oxalate community.

Heidi Stallman in Colorado

My family on our recent trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Who is Heidi Stallman?

I’m a single mother of twin three-year-old boys, a Ph.D. student in environmental economics (with degrees in biology and ecology), a dreamer and a low oxalate dieter for 20 years.  I strongly believe in the healing properties of a whole foods diet based on an individual’s values, tastes and genetics.  Although some foods are generally nourishing for most people, every body is different, making it so important to understand your own body’s needs and health when choosing what to eat.   Food can nourish, nurture and heal or it can cause disease, inflammation and pain. Each day as I explore how to better use diet, nutrition and supporting therapies to nurture my family’s bodies and souls, I discover greater health and wellness.  I look forward to sharing my journey with you.

My Story

I became a low oxalate dieter after I was diagnosed with vulvar pain syndrome about 20 years ag0–a huge relief after five years of severe pain and misdiagnoses (The doctor who correctly diagnosed me used the terms vulvar vestibulitis and vulvodynia).  I soon began a low oxalate diet with timed calcium citrate as recommended by the Vulvar Pain Foundation.  I experienced some immediate relief (within 2 weeks) from the worst burning sensations and pain, then experienced a gradual lessening of my many symptoms over the next several years–a two steps forward, one step back process that occasionally included three or four steps back! It was a frustrating journey, especially since the low oxalate community didn’t know anything about dumping or how dumping affects the healing process at that time.  It was only because I started to notice a general healing trend and because I had contact with so many women who had improved or healed on a low oxalate diet  (and supporting therapies) that I kept with it.

Over the years I tried other supportive therapies and treatments to address my many symptoms, but have continued to view the low oxalate diet as my most important healing therapy–the foundation for all my healing work.  (Those many symptoms included almost every symptom on the VP Syndrome symptom list, including bladder, rectal and genital pain and burning, burning mouth syndrome, acid reflux, intestinal issues such as bloating and gas, joint and muscle pain, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, reactive hypoglycemia, PCOS, severe allergies, chronic sinus infections, trouble sleeping, and “acid” tears.)  As scientists have learned more about how oxalate works in the body and as more foods have been tested and (re-tested) for oxalate content, I have modified my diet and treatment, each time with a further lessening of symptoms.  Although I am not pain-free (my VP symptoms are about 80% improved), I have achieved almost complete relief from my rectal, mouth, and eye symptoms; from my fibromyalgia symptoms; from my urinary symptoms; and from my intestinal symptoms.  Controlling the timing and type of carbohydrates in my diet has also freed me from chronic fatigue due to problems with reactive hypoglycemia (a condition that many people with fibromyalgia and VP syndrome seem to have).

In the past year, I have begun to explore further oxalate-related treatments and am excited about the supportive community I’ve found with Susan Owens and the Trying Low Oxalates Yahoo Group. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Vulvar Pain Foundation for starting me down this road and supporting me in the early years, plus another debt of gratitude to the Trying Low Oxalates Yahoo Group for re-invigorating my interest and dedication to the low oxalate diet, plus convincing me that I can do better than “80% improved.”  I now believe that complete healing is in my reach, and I invite you along as I explore that last 20%.

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{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen July 21, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Just came across your page and am looking forward to sharing and learning…

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Heidi July 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Welcome, Jen!

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M September 4, 2011 at 9:42 am

I have been diagnosed with kidney stones… the calcium oxalate kind… your site is a G-d sent to me as I’m trying to keep in mind the high co content but am not always good at it. i’ll try some of your recipes! I also wonder how in the world you manage with two kids, single mom, pulling all this info together, and staying so disciplined! My hat off to you!

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Heidi September 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Thank you. I was very disciplined on the low oxalate diet for a long time, then went on an oxalate free-for-all when my boys were born. A huge health mistake for me! It’s taken a lot of work to get myself back on track and I hoped others could benefit from what I’m doing, especially those with families to feed and non-oxalate dieters to please. I’m so glad I could help you! That’s what makes doing this worth it.

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Mel October 12, 2011 at 10:51 pm

I’m really pleased to have found this website. I’ve been suffering with vulvodynia (as well as some other symptoms like knee pain) for about 3 years now, never thought that my diet might play a role. I recently started the Paleo diet and realized they had alot of low-oxalate foods, so seeing your recipes for Paleo/gluten-free choices has been refreshing. I am starting to remove the high/med-oxalate foods out of my Paleo diet (which is hard because they freakin’ LOVE almonds haha) but your recipes have been extremely helpful. I wanted to also add in some sort of calcium citrate/b6 supplement as was curious as to the brands you use — I heard some cal citrate supplements are better than others (some use the ones with added vitamin D while others have problems with that.) Thank you for creating this blog!

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Heidi October 18, 2011 at 10:15 am

You’re welcome, Mel. I’m so glad I’ve helped you. I started leaning toward a Paleo diet 15 years ago when I began to control my carbohydrate intake to treat hypoglycemia. I continue to lean further as I’ve almost eliminated wheat this year and and have drastically cut down other grains and beans. I just can’t let go of cheese, though. And nothing spells comfort to me as much as a bowl of oatmeal with milk! Oh well. I’ll definitely have more Paleo recipes coming up if I can get my kids to eat them. And occasionally I’ll have some that my boys think are “yucky.”

I’m learning a lot about supplements that support low oxalate dieters through the Trying Low Oxalates yahoo group. They really are the experts over there. I highly recommend joining if you want good advise about brands, doses, timing and personal experience with supplements. I do plan to do a series on supplements that support the low oxalate diet, but I need to do a lot more research on some of them before I launch the series.

Take care,
Heidi

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Michelle November 6, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Mel, I have vulvodynia too. I wanted to tell you about the NVA, they offer support to woman with chronic pelvic pain. Their website is: http://www.nva.org.

Take Care!

Michelle

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Michelle November 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Thank you so much Heidi!

I was diagnosed with vulvodynia almost 8 years ago, and I am on the low oxalate diet. I just made the cottage cheese pancakes (only I used half rice flour, and half chestnut flour and flax meal mixed, plus I put the cottage cheese in the blender). I LOVE bread! I was so overjoyed to have pancakes again without worrying about a flare up!! Hope you don’t mind if I post this.

For women with vulvodynia please go to http://www.nva.org
(The National Vulvodynia Association) They offer support to woman with pelvic pain including doctor referrals, and a support contact person to talk with. (and much more!)

Thanks! I’ll keep watching to see what recipes you add next. I may start my own blog some time in the near future for the new recipes I have come up with myself…..we’ll see

Michelle

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Heidi November 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm

You’re welcome, Michelle. I really hope to start experimenting with Chestnut flour soon. I like coconut flour, but my boys aren’t thrilled with it. I’m thinking chestnut flour might be more appealing to them, especially in things like zucchini bread and muffins. Let me know if you do get a blog up and running, so I can put a link on my site.
Heidi

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Michelle November 9, 2011 at 1:31 am

Heidi,

I have not done much baking with chestnut flour yet, but so far it seems to be working well (and chestnuts are supposed to be very good for you). The only problem is that it’s very expensive to buy. Right now you can buy raw chestnuts but let me tell you, it is a tonne of work to score the shell, roast, de-shell and finally grind them into flour. I have a couple mor ebags in my fridge, but once I finish those I may just bite the bullet and buy it (if I can find it!)
I’ll let you know if I set up a blog.

Take Care

Michelle

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mollysparker November 22, 2011 at 11:46 am

Hi Heidi!

I came across your website when searching for low oxalate diets. I’ve been suffering with vaginal pain for years that doctors have (obviously) been unable to link to yeast, bacterial or other infections. I’m wanting to try a new diet to maybe help, but also want to try the calcium citrate supplements. You mentioned them being “timed” – what exactly does that mean? Just before a meal, spaced evenly throughout the day?

Thanks for any help!
Molly

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Michelle November 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Hi Molly,

I have vaginal pain as well, I just wanted to tell you about the National vulvodynia Association in case you have not heard of them, they offer support to woman with chronic pelvic pain. Go to http://www.nva.org if you want more information.
I hope the low oxalate diet is helpful, it sure is helpful for me!!!!!

Michelle

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Heidi November 22, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Hi, Molly.
Calcium citrate is a highly recommended supplement for anyone with oxalate issues. Calcium citrate (without vitamin D!) binds to the oxalate and helps flush it from your body. There are some different opinions about how to time it. Many women in the Vulvar Pain Foundation Pain Project have had their urine tested for periodic peaks in oxalate levels (A high percentage of the women have normal oxalate levels most of the day, then 2-3 sharp peaks in oxalate levels which tend to coincide with sharp increases in pain. I had this pattern when I was tested almost twenty years ago. My peaks were 2:00 pm and 4:00 am and I always hurt the most during the afternoon.) Pain project participants time calcium citrate intake to an hour before the “cyclic peaks” in oxalate content in their urine (the timing of the peaks remain relatively stable day to day). I took calcium citrate this way for almost ten years along with the low oxalate diet, and it seemed to help me, especially in the beginning when I was doing a lot of healing.

Most people who take calcium citrate, however, time the citrate so that they take it about twenty minutes before each meal. The rational for this is that the calcium citrate will bind with oxalate in your food as you digest it and this will help the oxalate pass out of your body without causing you as much harm. This is how I currently take calcium citrate and it works much better for me at this point in my healing than timing the calcium citrate to my peak oxalate levels. Given the simplicity of this type of timing, this is how I recommend any newcomers to the diet time their calcium citrate.

If you find that can’t tolerate calcium citrate, you can take magnesium citrate which also binds to oxalate (although this is supplement is usually recommended as a secondary supplement to calcium citrate). Some people take both, but I chose not to. Calcium citrate and magnesium citrate can help people with oxalate issues even if they chose not to follow a low oxalate diet, but if you truly have oxalate issues no amount of calcium citrate is going to make up for eating a lot of really high oxalate foods like spinach, rhubarb or almonds. Most people with oxalate issues will only heal on a medium or low oxalate diet.

I hope the low oxalate diet helps you as much as it has helped me. This treatment has been a life-saver for me–the one truly effective treatment although it did take a few years on the diet before I reached my current state of health.

Good luck and take care.
Heidi

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Lisa G February 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Hello Heidi:
You mentioned that the Calcium Citrate should not have vitamin D. What is the reason for this suggestion? I have been looking to buy it locally over-the-counter, but ALL I can find is with vitamin D. Where do you purchase yours? What brand name do you use? Thanks, Lisa

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Heidi February 15, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb the calcium we ingest, but we don’t want the calcium citrate to be absorbed. We want it to bind with the oxalate in our gut and help it pass safely through our digestive system instead of it being absorbed into our bloodstream. Calcium citrate taken 20 minutes before eating is the best form of calcium for this job. If you also want to take calcium for your bones, metabolism etc., you can take calcium with Vitamin D between meals. My grocery store sells a generic form of calcium citrate without Vitamin D which works well for me. There are a lot of on-line sources, too. When I get the new site up and running (hopefully soon!), I’ll be able to provide links and advertisements for some good sources, but this blog server prevents me from doing that.

Hope this helps,
Heidi

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Lisa April 15, 2014 at 3:11 am

Thanks for this information! I read about the calcium citrate but didn’t know the dosing recommendations or that you need to take it before each meal (and without Vitamin D!). Off to the store I go!

Also… have you found that you can now eat some of the high ox foods sometimes with the use of the calcium citrate? :-) Thinking of when I want to eat chocolate.

Thanks so much!
Lisa

Lisa November 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Hello! I just recently discovered your blog, and have really enjoyed reading. I have only been on the low oxalate diet for one week now. I haven’t purchased the cookbook, but have been using some food lists that I found online. I thought I would give it a couple of weeks to find out if it was helping before I spend the money on the cookbook. After the first several days, I did think it was helping, but my pain has been steadily getting worse the past 2 or 3 days. I am not considering giving up, because I know that I need to give it more than just one week; however, I was wondering if you have ever experienced fluctuations in your pain, even when you were eating the right foods? I can’t understand why it would get better, just to get worse again.
Thank you, Lisa

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Heidi November 30, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Hi, Lisa.

Yes, I had a lot of fluctuations with pain levels in my first few years on the diet and even some now. Most of the first year was a two steps forward, one step back progress, although sometimes I took three or four steps back and was really discouraged. It was only after months of keeping a journal of my diet and pain levels that I realized that my trend was one of healing. My bad days weren’t as bad and I didn’t have as many of them.

I’ve heard of a lot of reasons for the fluctuations but two seem most prominent. First, let’s assume you have an oxalate issue. Let’s further assume that your pain is caused by oxalate in your urine or body tissues.

The easiest explanation for the pain fluctuation is that you accidentally ate something high oxalate and that’s causing the increased pain (BTW, a lot of internet lists are wrong . . . ). After a few days of eating low oxalate again, this type of pain will go away.

The second explanation is a little harder. If you have an oxalate issue, it’s because you produce oxalate in your body or because your digestive system isn’t working properly to keep the oxalate in your food out of your bloodstream and the rest of your body (or both of these things). Once oxalate enters the blood stream, it either has to leave your body by the urine (or sweat glands, vaginal glands, etc.) or your body must store it in its tissues. If you have had oxalate issues for any length of time, then your body has stored at least some excess oxalate in your tissues, possibly A LOT of it.

When you go on a low oxalate diet, you don’t introduce as much oxalate into your blood stream. This means less oxalate will leave your body in your urine and you will feel better. Possibly a lot better. If that oxalate level in your body gets low enough, however, so that there is less oxalate outside of the cells that are storing the oxalate than inside the cells, then your cells release some of the stored oxalate. This is what we call dumping. When you dump, you again have a lot of oxalate in your blood and your body will try to get rid of it through the urine etc. (or possibly restore some of it.) Of course, if you have pain because of oxalate in the urine, then this will cause you to have pain again. Possibly a lot of it.

So, your pain episode may be because you ate too much oxalate or you may have followed the diet beautifully and are now dumping. BTW, the yahoo.group calls the first few good days (or weeks) after starting the diet, the “honey moon phase of the diet.” Because eventually dumping will start. . . And unfortunately, you will keep dumping in a cyclic nature (a decent week, then a bad dump, then a few good days, then a moderate dump etc.) until you dump all of excess oxalate in your body at which point you can fully reap the low or no pain reward of being on the diet. (Sometimes when dumping is too bad, eating a lower medium oxalate diet instead of a low oxalate diet helps keep the dumping cycles at a tolerable level while you are in the healing phase of the diet.)

The real problem is knowing if the pain is because you ate too much oxalate for your body, because you are dumping, or because of some other reason (like hormonal fluctuations and stress). And yes, it could be that the original assumption is wrong and that you don’t even have an oxalate issue.

What helped me the most was fully committing to the diet for at least six months, keeping a journal of things like my stress level, diet, pain levels etc. (so I could start to see patterns over the long run, not so I could micro-manage or second guess every fluctuation in pain), and finding a community of support (through the Vulvar Pain Foundation and now through the Trying Low Oxalates yahoo.group).

Good luck. I hope the low oxalate diet helps you!

Heidi

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Lisa G December 16, 2011 at 10:11 am

Heidi, I just want to thank you for your generosity with your time. I have learned so much from reading your posts, as well as from the answers you have written to your readers’ questions (including mine). I have joined the oxalate yahoo group you recommended, and have been learning so much. I have also been considering joining the VP Foundation. Do you still belong to it? Do you still feel it is worth $45 a year? Or do feel that you learn all you need to know from the yahoo group?

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Heidi December 22, 2011 at 10:00 am

You’re welcome,Lisa. Yes, I do belong to the VP Foundation. For me, the combination of the VP Foundation and the Yahoo group is the most helpful for my continued health and well-being. The Yahoo group is a fabulous support for learning about the low oxalate diet and especially for learning about the supplements that support the low oxalate diet and how oxalates interact with the body (a lot more about supplements then you’ll learn from the VP Foundation!). You may also learn a lot from other members about other conditions that the low oxalate diet supports and realize you might have trouble with these conditions, too (or a family member does). It’s a real eye-opener for some. The information and support I receive about the low oxalate diet there is invaluable. You will find a few other women dealing with VP in the group, so you can also tap into their knowledge or experience for support. However, there are only a few and most are also just beginning the low oxalate journey.

The VP Foundation will also give you great support and information about the low oxalate diet, especially as it relates to women with vulvar pain–based on 25 years of research and experience. They can offer support and guidance about dealing with the pain as you heal on the diet and can also offer you a lot of information and support about skin stabilization therapies that have helped thousands of women. Most of the women who were participants in the VP Foundations’ Pain Project improved on the low oxalate diet, but many saw their greatest relief when using the diet in combination with the skin stabilization therapies. A few women healed mostly with skin stabilization therapies, while only avoiding the high oxalate foods. The VP Foundation also has a support network where you’ll be matched with a leader or two in your region who has been a member of the Foundation for years and can offer you one-on-one support through emails, phone calls or sometimes face-to-face (some regions have support groups). These leaders are knowledgeable about all of the treatments the VP Foundation recommends, plus they are very knowledgeable about practical helps for soothing everyday pain while you are healing. Most are completely healed or significantly healed and can talk to you about their healing journey. It can also be very uplifting to read the newsletter and all the testimonials from women who have healed or are seeing great improvements from the diet and stabilization therapies. The support network of the VP Foundation was invaluable to me when I was still in a lot of pain–definitely worth the $45.
Hope this helps.
Heidi

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Noura December 1, 2011 at 4:13 am

I appreciate that you’re giving time and effort to make our lives easier with these recipes! thanks!
I’m not sure about the ingredients of “paleo pancakes”, its says 4 eggs and “1/4 cup coconut flour”, is the flour quantity correct? it seems more like an omlet with this little flour.

Can you do without eggs at all? “IgG for eggs here!”

Thank you,
Noura

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Heidi December 1, 2011 at 9:21 pm

You’re welcome, Noura.

Yes, the recipe for Paleo Pancakes is correct. Coconut flour is very different from grain flours. It is very high fiber (11 grams fiber in a fourth cup) and that fiber sucks up moisture like a sponge. When you bake or make pancakes with coconut flour, you use a lot less coconut flour than you would wheat or rice flour and you add more water or eggs. In fact, if you start looking for coconut flour recipes you’ll see that they all seem to have egg in them. Coconut flour just works better with eggs. Of course, I’d love to be proven wrong.

Here are three very good low oxalate egg substitutes: (each substitutes for one egg)

1.5 T water, 1.5 T coconut oil, and 1 tsp. baking powder

1 T tapioca starch, 1 T coconut oil, then enough water to make 1/4 cup

Blend 1 T ground flax seed and 3 T water in the blender until mixture is thick and creamy OR heat it in a saucepan, stirring constantly until gooey.

Each of these works well when replacing 1 or 2 eggs in a recipe, but I’m not sure how it would go over in the Paleo Pancake recipe, since that recipe is almost all egg. Hmmm. When I finish my comprehensive exams in three weeks, maybe I’ll experiment a little. Other people have asked for a “less eggy-tasting pancake.” Maybe I could create an egg-free one that was still low oxalate.

Heidi

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Noura December 8, 2011 at 12:30 am

Thanks for the tips, Heidi. Will definitely try one of these alternatives with other egg-containing recipes. I just bought a bag of flax seed for this.
Good luck with your exams.

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Drew's Mommy December 29, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Hi Heidi! Thanks for having us on your blogroll. I’m going to be doing a shout out about your blog on mine…just wanted to give you the heads up. I LOVE your recipes and information! Many of my followers also do a LOD, so they should enjoy your blog as well!! Keep the recipes a coming! Can’t wait until the holiday chaos calms down and I can try some more of your recipes. :)
Joanna

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Heidi December 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Thanks for the shout out, Joanna! I appreciate it. I’m looking forward to doing some cooking this next week, too! The last few months have been crazy busy for me.

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Jennifer February 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Hi! I am first beginning to research the low oxalate diet. I have interstitial cystitis with pelvic floor disfunction, in addition to IBS and endo. You mentioned that your urinary symptoms got better on a low oxalate diet. Do you know anything more from your experiences regarding low oxalate and interstitial cystitis/bladder frequency-urgency?
Thanks for the help. I am already planning to make your granola bars! They sound and look delicious!
Best,
Jen

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Heidi February 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Hi, Jen.

Yes, I had bladder symptoms along with rectal and vulvar symptoms. When my symptoms were at their worst it was sometimes hard to identify the pain source — everything hurt! My bladder symptoms were moderate compared to my vulvar symptoms and included some frequency/urgency, painful urination (burning pain) and bladder pain. It seemed like I was constantly being diagnosed with UTI’s and yeast infections, but none of the treatments helped (and most made it worse). My bladder symptoms cleared up pretty fast on the low oxalate diet, except I occasionally still had bouts of frequency/urgency and bladder pain. Those bouts got further apart and less severe over the first 2-3 years on the diet and eventually stopped.

I’ve met a number of women through the Vulvar Pain Foundation and the Trying Low Oxalates Yahoo Group who have had IC (often but not always along with vulvar pain or pelvic pain). Many have improved greatly on the Low Oxalate Diet, often along with other treatments such as skin stabilization treatments, biofeedback for pelvic floor disfunction, vitamin supplementation, and sometimes other diets such as GAPs for leaky gut syndrome or gluten-free, casein-free diets. You might try joining the Trying Low Oxalates group or the VP Foundation for further help with these treatments. It sounds like a low oxalate diet could be a helpful part of your healing journey.

Take care,
Heidi

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Lisa G February 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Thanks, Heidi – your explanation makes perfect sense! Which grocery store? I am also in Missouri, so there is a good chance I will have one in my town.

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Heidi February 15, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Hi, Lisa.
I’ve been using the Hy-vee Health Market brand since they opened their first store in Columbia about seven years ago. It’s inexpensive and effective. My favorite combination!
Heidi

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Gina March 26, 2012 at 7:46 am

You are truly a wealth of information. I have had IC for the past year and am on elmiron with some improvement. I also have vulvar pain and see a PT.It was accidentally I found I need a low oxalate diet. I started doing the Eat to Live diet and was eating 1 pound of raw spinach a day…along with blueberry smoothies and almond milk. I was in severe pain a few days into it and couldn’t even stand at times. Then my PT and I figured out it must be the oxalates in spinach that were causing such a bad flare. Still getting out of that flare and just started the diet yesterday for low oxalates.
I can’t find a low oxalate list to follow since they all conflict. Can you guide us to a list that is accurate?
I also cannot locate calcium citrate without Vit. D. Not sure where to find this but glad you explained the timed part to us.
I have 3 little kids and one is 1 1/2 while another has special needs. I am truly hoping this diet can improve my symptoms! Thank you thank you thank you!!!

Gina

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Heidi March 26, 2012 at 8:17 am

Hi, Gina. I finally figured out how to transfer your comment from my old site. Oy! My technical computer skills really need some work. Anyway, your wish is my command :-> Check out my new post on how to get an accurate food list at http://lowoxalateinfo.com/how-to-get-an-accurate-low-oxalate-food-list/. I have a post in the works that explains why we take calcium citrate, why we take it without the vit. D. and where to buy it. For now try this link for NOW brand calcium citrate. It’s a good quality supplement at a moderate price, plus it doesn’t contain most of the common allergens like wheat, milk, corn and soy. I like and tolerate most of NOW brand supplements. You may eventually find a cheaper or higher quality supplement you like better. You may also need to experiment if you can’t tolerate pills (some low oxalate dieters with IBS and leaky gut syndrome have to use a powdered form–Now also has one).
Hope this helps! I know how hard it is to take care of little ones when you don’t feel well yourself. Sometimes when I’m in pain or foggy brained, I have to put all of my concentration into staying present for my boys and not barking at them. I hope you find healing soon!

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Sheila March 26, 2012 at 7:59 am

Hi Heidi,
I had a severe problem with VP and lesions on the nerves in my eyes, floaters and such, muscle pain, kidney pain, decreased urine stream at times, until I got on a low oxalate diet. I can’t tell you how many years this went on a doctors just thought I was crazy. I had to figure it out for myself. I have celiacs also and problems with dairy digestion. Sometimes I get so discouraged that most things make me sick. I feel a lot better now but it’s hard to be 100% oxalate free. Thanks for your site, its great! It lets me know that I an not completely alone, though I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

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Heidi March 26, 2012 at 8:26 am

I’m glad you like the site, Sheila. I feel the same way — I’m glad I’m not alone, but I really wish we were all healed instead! I’m so happy you found the low oxalate diet and that it’s helped you. I think if one more doctor had told me “it’s all in your head” or “I don’t know what’s wrong” I would have lost it. I’m so glad I found a doctor who could correctly diagnose me and the VP Foundation (although that doctor didn’t start recommending the low oxalate diet to his patients until about 6 years later).

I’m meeting a lot of women, men and children on the Trying Low Oxalates Yahoo Group who are gluten sensitive or have celiacs and many who are on dairy-free diets also. It seems gut issues and oxalate issues often go hand-in-hand. I’m going to be writing more about this connection and healing your gut, so stay tuned. Maybe something someone says or teaches me will help you also.

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Ann June 8, 2013 at 11:13 am

I also have eye damage with “calcium soaps” in the vitreous of my eyes. After
years of pain in my right kidney, finally lab tests showed calcium oxalate crystals
in the urine. I ate rhubarb, carrots, asparagus (unclear if this is low or high oxalate) a potato,
wheat pasta. Then hot chocolate. That put me into ER. Well I have pain all over. I would be interested to learn more about Sheila’s lesions on her eyes. Thanks for your great site.

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Megan April 2, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Hi Heidi,

Do you know of a lab that provides testing for periodic peaks in oxalate levels? I have only been able to find testing that includes the 24-hour pooling method. Thank you for you help!

Megan

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Heidi April 3, 2012 at 1:12 am

Hi, Megan.
Dr. Solomons and the VP Foundation used to have a lab that did testing for periodic peaks in oxalate levels (I had mine tested there almost 20 years ago), but that lab closed and I don’t believe the Foundation has identified a new lab yet. The VP Foundation used to recommend that you time your calcium citrate intake to your oxalate peaks, but the Trying Low Oxalates Group recommends that you take your calcium citrate 20 minutes before a meal. Both methods can be effective, but the before meals method is definitely a lot easier! That’s the way I do it now, so I no longer worry about my oxalate peaks.

If you want a comprehensive oxalate test that tells you your oxalate status along with your nutritional status for a lot of vitamin deficiencies that may lead to oxalate problems or cause oxalate problems, then the Great Plains Laboratory’s OAT test is the best option. This is the test that most of the members of the Trying Low Oxlates Group have done. The only problem with it is that most doctors don’t know how to read it for oxalate issues. Susan Owens (oxalate researcher and moderator of the TLO group) can read it for you, but at this time she is the only one with the expertise to do it. Once you are a member of the group, you can email her and ask her to interpret your results for you.

Good luck and glad you found me!

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Heidi June 5, 2012 at 9:44 am

Hi,
Do you know how much oxalates does organic homemade popcorn have?
Thank you!

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Heidi June 5, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Arrowhead Mills organic popcorn has 3.5 mg. oxalate per cup of air-popped popcorn. It was tested in fall of 2011 by the Autism Oxalate Project. We do not know how much oxalate popcorn has when popped on the stove top or in a popper with oil, but I use coconut oil which is very low oxalate, so the coconut oil probably does not add much oxalate per cup of popcorn (at least not enough for me to worry about). Coconut oil is also delicious with popcorn! I highly recommend it.

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Heidi June 5, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Thank you! Yes, I love coconut oil and am so relieved it’s also low in oxalate! I’m new to this site and am so excited to discove about “oxalate” to help me with the gut issue! I’ve been doing everything right, but not on the oxalate part! What do you know about hempseed or hemp oil oxalate level is? I’m awaiting to get in the TLO Yahoo group since yesterday :) Do you have a list of calicum food list (also low on oxalate) that will help with removing oxalate and fats together from the body? I’m so happy to find your wonderful website with great information! Thank you!
~Heidi :)

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Heidi June 5, 2012 at 11:45 pm

You are welcome, Heidi. I’m glad you found me, too!
Hemp seeds are very high oxalate. Commercial hemp milk is medium oxalate and hemp oil has not been tested. What we know about oils is that even if the whole food is high oxalate, the oil is often low or very low oxalate. For example, sesame seeds and peanuts are very high oxalate, but sesame oil and peanut oil are low oxalate. This is because oxalate is usually stored in the cell wall or watery tissues of the plant, not the oil. If you find hemp oil is important for your diet or health and doesn’t have a good substitute, you could keep using it for now and revisit the issue later after your are a little more comfortable with your diet changes. Once you are a member of the TLO group, you could also request that it be put on the items to test list.

I have not put together a list of low oxalate high calcium foods yet but the TLO files section has one. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking yogurt, broccoli, dino kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, cabbage and arugala. Bone broth is probably the best choice though, and can be easily incorporated into a whole foods diet. For example, you could use it instead of water in my southern-style greens recipe and get calcium from both the bone broth and the greens.

Take care,
Heidi

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Heidi June 6, 2012 at 1:05 am

Perfect! Thanks for the info. I too love coconut oil! Do you know how much oxalates does each coconut milk, coconut oil, fresh coconut meat, dried shredded coconut and coconut flour has? I bet they are not the same!?!
Is green stevia powder or white extract stevia acceptable? I’ve heard that stevia has high oxalates? Is that true? Please advise.
Thanks again for your help!
I LOVE your website :)

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Heidi June 6, 2012 at 2:43 am

Thanks, Heidi.
There’s a number of questions and comments about Stevia in the comments section of my Paleo Pancakes post and some comments about sweeteners in general in the comments section of my Ginger Pumpkin Custard post. I go back and forth about which is the best low oxalate, low carb choice for me and usually settle on liquid Stevia as a “less than ideal” compromise, although other days I skip the sweeteners altogether or use a tiny bit of coconut nectar or honey.

All pure coconut products are low oxalate or very low oxalate, including the oil, flour, flesh and milk. I keep meaning to do a post on the healthy low oxalate wonder that is coconut! The only thing you have to watch out for is that some common additives can bump up the oxalate level quite a bit. For example, pure coconut milk made from “coconut extract” has zero oxalate!!! But Thai Kitchen coconut milk has 6.5 mg. oxalate per half cup, presumably from the guar gum. I use Natural Value coconut milk because it’s pure coconut products and no guar gum (although this brand has not been tested). Unfortunately, the organic Natural Value coconut milk has guar gum in it (as does almost every other brand), so I use the non-organic for this product.

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Heidi June 6, 2012 at 4:47 am

Thanks again! Perhaps you could try the Native Forest organic coconut milk that’s also BPA free :) I hope this also has zero oxalate too?! I’ll be checking your other recipes you refer with comments . Thanks so much, Heidi for your help! Kinda nice we both have the same name :)
Have a GREAT day,
Heidi

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Heidi June 6, 2012 at 8:23 am

Unfortunately, Native Forest organic coconut milk contains guar gum, so it’s probably similar to Tai Kitchen coconut milk at 6.5 mg. oxalate per half cup. I’ve only found two organic options, which I plan to try the next time I have some experimenting cash. Let’s Do Organics Coconut Cream comes in a block and is pure coconut (it’s in a plastic wrapper but that might not be as bad with a solid product). You have to mix up your own coconut milk in the blender with water. I haven’t tried it, so I can’t recommend it yet, but I am planning to try it because it looks like a healthy alternative. Perhaps the healthiest alternative is Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream which is also pure organic coconut and comes in a glass jar. If you want coconut milk, you add your own water and blend. I hear these two coconut creams work very well with baking and soups, but that the texture isn’t as nice as a canned coconut milk and that they don’t blend well (not as nice for drinking straight or making a smoothie). Both of these look like healthy alternatives though and I am definitely going to give them a try.

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danielle October 12, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Please can you give me a bread recipee so I can have tost in the morning. Thanks you so much from Montreal, Quebec

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rita davis-kramer November 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Hi Heidi,
I love your website. I have been diagnosed with vulvodynia and I’m at risk for osteoporosis. I’m trying to figure out how to balance the amount of calcium citrate without the vitamin D, and also include citrate with vitamin D in my diet. Also, recent blood work has indicated that I’m low in vitamin D and need to take additional supplements. Does taking vitamin D supplements impact a low oxalate diet? I do understand that I need to take calcium citrate w/o vitamin D 20 min. before a meal. How much calcium citrate do you need to take? Does that include snacks?
Thanks Heidi.

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Heidi November 28, 2012 at 2:57 am

Thanks, Rita.
Taking Vitamin D with calcium citrate increases the amount of calcium that is absorbed into your bloodstream. This is good for your osteoporosis, but not good for your oxalate-related symptoms. You want the calcium to stay in the gut longer where it can bind with oxalate (to form calcium oxalate). Once oxalate binds with a mineral such as calcium or magnesium in your gut, it usually passes harmlessly through the gut and is eliminated instead of being absorbed through the intestinal lining into the bloodstream where it can do it’s damage. The answer for taking Vitamin D is to either take Vitamin D away from meals, so it doesn’t interfere with the calcium binding the oxalate from your meal, or take more calcium/magnesium citrate with Vitamin D before meals (such as two pills instead of one). A lot more calcium will be absorbed this way, but a lot more will also be left to bind with the oxalate. Either can work for people, unless you are sensitive to the calcium citrate and are trying to take the least amount possible. If this is the case for you, take the Vitamin D away from your meals. Middle of the morning is often a good time. Most of us take one calcium citrate tablet about 20 minutes before each meal or substantial snack. If your snack only includes very low oxalate foods, especially those with calcium in them (such as a slice of cheese or a cup of plain yogurt), you don’t need to bother with taking the calcium citrate.
Hope this helps.
Heidi

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rita davis-kramer November 28, 2012 at 9:49 am

Thanks for the information Heidi. It really does help.
Rita

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Donna January 20, 2013 at 6:42 am

I am so thrilled to find you! I also started having vp 15 years ago and within a couple of years was completely cured with Cal mag & b6 supplements. I was able to eat a normal diet with no vp symptoms. Then somewhere along the line the rest of my body began falling apart. I became very hypothyroid and battled constipation so I quit taking the calcium supplements. Now years later I have several diagnoses:ankylosing spondylitis (back arthritis), hypothyroidism, celiac, I feel chronic fatigue, AND cognitive problems. I completed 3 college degrees in my 20′s and had the memory of an elephant and but now I can hardly remember why I’ve walked into a room. My executive function is so bad that it feels like adult onset autism. If it weren’t for researching autism I wouldn’t have come back to the oxalate culprit. The vp also has come back. I’m starting over with lots of damage I hope to improve. I’ll be a regular reader now and look forward to learning from you!

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Heidi January 22, 2013 at 2:33 am

Welcome, Donna. Do be sure to check out the Trying Low Oxalates Group. Many members are dealing with a complex of symptoms like yours and could offer you support and encouragement on your journey. Good luck, Heidi

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Donna Johnston February 24, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Dear Heidi, I have suffered with pain for twenty years 2 frozen shoulders recently. I have fibromyalgia and I suffer sometimes with a type of nerve irritation in my urethra. For the last year i often feel burning around the urethra for a little while after I urinate. I also suffer with leaky gut and my phase 2 liver detox pathways are sluggish. I have been low gluten, soy free and dairy free for about 8 years. Recently everything has gone downhill and I now am waking up with indigestion and seem not to be able to tolerate much food. Thought that I might be salicylate sensitive as I was worse when I cut bread out and had salads for lunch with tomatoes capsicum etc. Nuts definitely bother me but also herbs and spices and any ready made things such as mayonnaise. Then I started reading about oxalates and wonder could I be on the wrong track. I know amaranth and quinoa definitely cause me pain and these are not high in salicylates but are in oxalates. I was recently given a liver tonic with St Mary’s thistle in and developed really bad vulva pain which stopped after ceasing the liver tonic. I also noticed glutamine which I need to take for leaky gut causes burning do u know if this is high in oxalates? I don’t know what to do as I can’t cut salicylates and oxalates both out as I have hardly anything to eat now. I requested to join the yahoo group yesterday.

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Heidi February 26, 2013 at 2:24 am

I’m sorry to hear about your illnesses, Donna. It does sound like you may benefit from a low oxalate diet. I’m glad you’ve joined the Trying Low Oxalates Group. Do pose your questions there. I remember some conversations a while back from women who were following both a low salicylate and low oxalate diet. Maybe these women could weigh in on your symptoms or how to follow both diets at once. During the time I was healing from FM, I was low oxalate and I avoided all skin products that contained salicylate (high quantities can be absorbed through the skin), but I never reduced my dietary salicylates because my doctor didn’t believe most foods contained enough salicylates to matter. I’ve often wondered if going low salicylate would have sped up my healing.
Take care.

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Amy March 23, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Hi Heidi,

I was diagnoised with vestibulitis and pelvic floor dysfunction 11 weeks ago. I have so many questions and concerns. Do you recall a trigger that started yours vestibulitis?
For me there was a trigger. My husband and I used a condom for the first time, this caused a series of events to follow. The first time I went to GYN, they said yeast, cultures were negative. Then they said bacterial, which cultures did show bacterial vaginosis. I was treated for that and then cultures came back negative. However, I still have pain. So I finally left my GYN because they were writing me off and making me feel crazy for still having pain.
My new GYN said she thought it was vestibulitis and referred me to a specialist. The specialist noted some pelvic floor dysfunction as my muscles are extremely tight in the vaginal area.

Anyway, here I am an now I’m trying to fix myself with supplements and now diet. Do you think a low oxylate diet would help me even though I had a trigger that I can pinpoint?
I am going to try it anyway. I am just looking for some hope here!
Are you still feeling good? And how in the world did you care for your young babies. I have 4 kids, my youngest is 8 months and the oldest 9. Sometimes it’s so hard. Not to mention my husband and I can’t be active at the moment. It’s so sad and frustrating.
Thank you for your blog and time.

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Hannah April 6, 2013 at 8:39 am

Hey Heidi,
Your site is great, I have really learned so much! I have been diagnosed with vulvodynia and have bladder, rectal pain as well. I believe my issues may be a result of my excessive antibiotic use. I went through a period of time where I was getting UTI’s very frequently, which seemed to only clear up with antibiotics. I would say I have had to take antibiotics 8+ times in the last two years. I also am a vegetarian and before trying this diet (about 2 weeks now) I ate so many high oxalate foods. It just makes sense that this diet is what I need to be doing. I wanted to ask you how you introduced meat back into your diet and how soon? Because of my past antibiotic use, do you suggest specific probiotics, etc? Thank you so much for your time!

-Hannah

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Heidi April 7, 2013 at 7:41 am

Thanks, Hannah.
A lot of people start having oxalate problems because of antibiotic use, so you are probably right. VSL3 is the only probiotic that has been scientifically shown to reduce oxalate absorption into the bloodstream, so it is the one that is usually recommended. It is a great probiotic, but it is also very expensive. Here’s an amazon link where it’s often (but not always) cheaper, and here’s the VSL3 website.

I remained vegetarian for almost two years after switching to the low oxalate diet (for a total of ten years as a vegetarian). I ate a lot of cottage cheese, plain yogurt, and farm-bought eggs! At that time, we didn’t know any legumes that were low oxalate except green peas, so vegetarians didn’t have a lot of protein options on the low oxalate diet back in the 1990′s. One day I woke up and decided it was time to eat meat. I started to add ethically sourced fish. Then a month or so later, I had a craving for a cheese burger and I never looked back. I was a vegetarian for ethical and health reasons. When the health reasons no longer made sense and I found yummy sources of local, ethically-raised meat, it was a pretty easy switch for me. I love meat!

Good luck and take care,
Heidi

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Pennie April 24, 2013 at 9:47 am

Hello Heidi,

You are an angel for creating this site – thank you!

Diagnosed as gluten-intolerant in 1999 by a naturopathic doctor, I immediately did a 2 week cleanse, then started following a strict gf diet, which is a paleo type diet – carbs always make me feel bloated and tired so I avoided them. I have also been dealing with psoriasis (scalp, elbows) since 1985 despite the gf diet and a year of acupuncture treatments.

Today I was diagnosed with vulvular lichen sclerosus. The doctor prescribed steroid cream to be used for a month, then return for a follow-up exam. That was horrifying to me, and I knew there had to be other options. I did some internet research and thankfully found an invaluable lichen sclerosus blog (http://lichensclerosis.wordpress.com), which led me to your site and the Yahoo group, which I joined today (my membership is pending approval).

I’m looking forward to trying your delicious recipes, especially since I love to cook!

Thanks again Heidi for your dedication to helping others through your site!

Pennie

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Heidi April 26, 2013 at 1:41 am

Thank you, Pennie. I wish you well on healing journey.
If you’re on Facebook you might want to look up the Trying Low Oxalates Group there, too. It’s getting bigger every day and a lot of good low oxalate suggestions and recipes get thrown around.

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zooie April 27, 2013 at 8:56 pm

i’ve been trying to find the oxalate content of these two products:
- vitamineral green
- blanched almond flour
i’ve emailed vitamineral and bob’s red mill and honeyville for that info but have received no response.

also, would blanched almonds contain lower oxalates than regular ones?

thanks for any help you can provide!

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roie October 30, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Hey

What is the kind of the Calcium in Sesame seeds?
Is it carbon/citrate or ???

Tnx
Roie

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Heidi October 31, 2013 at 7:51 am

Most of the calcium in sesame seeds is bound with oxalate (not citrate or carbonate), making it unavailable for your body to use. So although sesame seeds are known for being a good source of calcium they don’t really help your body much. If you are on a low oxalate diet, you definitely don’t want to eat sesame seeds! They are extremely high oxalate. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds may be a better seed source of calcium and are easily made into delicious seed/nut butters. Pumpkin seeds are low oxalate, while sunflower seeds are medium oxalate. Both can be eaten on a low oxalate diet.

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mindy November 8, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Just checking to see if you got my post a few days ago asking if I could correspond with you privately? If so, please email me at veggourmet@aol.com.

Thanks,
Mindy

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Heidi November 22, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Hi, Mindy.
Yes, I got your post. My hard drive crashed last week and I still don’t have access to my email address for this website — in fact, I can’t figure out how I set it up in the first place. Guess I should take better notes! Anyway, if you’ve sent me a message and I haven’t sent back, that’s the reason. You can PM me from the Trying Low Oxalates Facebook Group also, just pin my name on a post and let me know you did it, so I can check my others folder.
Thanks,
Heidi

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mindy November 24, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Sorry about your hard drive. I don’t have fb other than a fan page which doesn’t allow me to interact, so I emailed you several times to your yahoo address. Did you get my emails? I included my cran sauce recipe which I believe to be low ox. Monique posted it on try low ox fb. Here it is again for your followers (btw, it’s quite addictive!):

Cranberry Sauce

2 Tblsp. coarsely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. sea salt (opt)
2 cups orange or apple juice
3 cups organic fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup organic maple syrup or agave
1/8 – 1/2 tsp. cinnamon extract or cinnamon oil* (start with least amount and taste)
2 Tblsp. organic cornstarch

1. Bring ginger, salt if using, and 1-1/2 cups juice to a boil.
2. Add cranberries, syrup, and cinn extract or oil. Simmer 15 minutes.
3. Dissolve cornstarch in remaining 1/2 cup juice and slowly pour into cranberries.
4. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until thickened, @8-10 minutes.
Yield: 3 cups (6, 1/2 cup servings)

*I use Frontier organic cinn flavor

Veggie Gourmet, 2013

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Heidi November 26, 2013 at 10:38 am

Thanks, Mindy. That sounds delicious! I’m looking forward to trying it. And no, I’m still not able to access my email account. I’m thinking it’s a bust and will have to set up a new one and write an apology post to everyone!

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Marie March 6, 2014 at 3:56 am

Dear Heidi,

Thank you for this site and the recipes!

I have so many of the symptoms that you outline in your narrative. I am attempting this diet but wanted to know if you would not mind sharing your experience of having burning mouth syndrome. I have had a chronic sore throat for years now and it appeared around the time my IC and other issues started acting up (or got worse). It looks raw sometimes and can get so sore when I eat. I have also developed GERD.

Does this sound anything like burning mouth syndrome, or your experience of it?

Thank you.
M

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Heidi March 13, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Thanks for your comment, Marie.
My burning mouth symptoms were all in my mouth, on the insides of my cheeks, under my tongue, on the roof of my mouth, and under my tongue. It was a burning sensation like you would get if you got a yucky chemical on your skin.This one one of the last symptoms I developed and one of the first that cleared for me.

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Anne in IL March 16, 2014 at 10:31 am

I use the HyVee calcium citrate before meals, too! Earlier this week I was in Schnucks and was sad to see that they don’t carry any calcium citrate without vitamin d at all. Thanks for your blog! I appreciate it a great deal. I’m going to try the banana bread soon. I am finding that a lot of my earlier skills and habits from going gluten free are serving me well now, just with the added enlightenment of what high ox foods not to eat. I had some things so right and others so wrong! Again, thanks very much for your work on this resource.

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Heidi March 16, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Thanks, Anne!

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Caroline June 8, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Dear Heidi,
Thank you so much for all the effort you put into this website. I was amazed to find that you used to suffer from a lot of what I have been going through- Fibromyalgia, CFS, PCOS, hypoglycaemia, IBS, food intolerances, insomnia, cog fog, anxiety and depression. After 17 miserable years I have finally worked out that my problems are greatly exacerbated by oxalates. I started the low oxalate diet yesterday and think I am already dumping- how long did it take you to start to feel better?

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Lynda July 15, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Dear Heidi and wonderful other moderators. I am a vegan who has begun to eat some small amts. of turkey since dropping horrifyingly painful stones 2 weeks ago. I became one to clear my arteries. It took 2 years and the results are amazing. Please help me if you can with 2 questions : I can’t find peppermint tea amt. of oxalates AND veggie protein powder mixable ones….a friend gave me a list with just brown rice protein powder; too generic. Trying Nuttrasumma raw yellow pea protein in my vitamix mish mosh every AM. I called every company and manufacturer of MLO brown rice powder, Nutrabiotic Brown rice powder. All PLAIN FLAVOUR. So sad. ” sorry we do not know”.
I would pay (really) to especially to find a veg mixable plain protein source that is low or even medium. I am signed into yahoo group but cannot become an insider! Techie issues?? I am an RN, an old washed up 35 yr. one whose pain really this time may set me up for an MI due to inflammation! Until then, I take Jarrow 95 circumin. Waiting to get the most current and complete food list; have IBS as well, thus the peppermint tea. Thank you group for all u do.
Blessings to you all, Lynda

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Heidi July 16, 2014 at 9:18 am

Hi, Lynda.
Swanson’s brand 100% pea protein powder has 5.4 mg. oxalate per scoop, so that’s a good option for you. If I had to guess I’d say the raw yellow pea protein powder is low oxalate as long as it doesn’t have other ingredients, since yellow split peas are low oxalate. I personally would not hesitate to eat that. Bigelowe peppermint tea is very low oxalate (0 mg.) as is the generic brand of peppermint tea (1.4 mg. per cup). Fresh peppermint leaves are also low oxalate (0.06 mg. oxalate for two leaves), so you can make your own from the garden if you wish.
Hope this helps.
Heidi

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Heidi April 16, 2014 at 8:36 am

Hi, Lisa.
I can occasionally eat the lower high oxalate foods, like a small piece of chocolate or some walnuts. I cannot eat the crazy high oxalate foods, however, like spinach, rhubarb and almonds. Those are gone for good over here.
Heidi

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