What Is Oxalate Sensitivity?

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I just read an article from a paleo blogger that has me so angry! She discusses the idea of oxalates and how there is not enough evidence about them to conclude they are problematic for people.  She discusses something called an “oxalate sensitivity” and says that people are being scared away from nutritious foods due to the chatter about oxalates. This blogger goes on to say people shying away from oxalates might be wrong in their self-diagnosis and the problem might lie in something like histamines.

I began looking up “Paleo” and “Oxalates” to see how other people maintain a paleo lifestyle while not consuming oxalate rich staples as almond flour, spinach, sweet potatoes, and stumbled upon that article. There is no such thing as an “oxalate sensitivity” as I made that mistake and was corrected immediately.

There is a danger in telling people “its okay, eat your oxalate rich foods, that’s probably not your problem!” which is the bottom line I took away from the article and what made me so mad. I am also ultra sensitive regarding this topic because oxalates have made me very sick.


The topic of oxalates is a complicated one and the links between oxalates and chronic illness are clear. Check out more here.

Here’s what Susan Owens, the premier oxalate researcher has to say:

“There is absolutely no evidence that some of us have a sensitivity to oxalate and some don’t. If you hear a professional using that term it is evidence that he does not know the oxalate field.

Oxalate is a human toxin. Some of us don’t absorb as much as others from food because of differences in how long the gaps between intestinal cells stay open. That is called paracellular transport, and it is normal for these gaps to open and close due to signals from the immune system. When they are open, oxalate and many other things travel through. That is not an abnormality. It is regulation. If the gaps are staying open it is because the regulation of opening and closing is keeping things open.

A scientist named Dr. Fasano discovered a little over a decade ago that gluten contains a sequence that acts like the normal protein zonulin which may give an artificial signal for that gap to stay open longer. This is not an oxalate problem, because many other molecules may also move through that gap.

How long that gap stays open can determine the percent of oxalate in our gut that gets though to the other side via paracellular transport, but the people who are absorbing more this way are not any more or any less harmed by oxalate than other people.

Some people may develop sensitivities to food proteins that trigger their immune systems. That is properly termed a sensitivity, and it is specific to a particular food protein.
Oxalate is not a food protein or part of a food protein. That is why the use of the term “sensitivity” is not really correct.

With other toxins, like cyanide, for instance, people don’t use the term “cyanide sensitivity, although it may more appropriately be used there than in conversations about oxalate. We do have a method of handling cyanide via the enzyme rhodanese. Humans do not have an enzyme that makes oxalate less toxic.

Also, with current evidence, there is no research showing that the liver’s enzymes have any way to detoxify oxalate. That it is why it becomes toxic to humans, because it can collect in your body. In a sense it is like cholesterol, in that the longer you live, the more oxalate can end up in your body.

Fortunately, the body does have a system for excreting oxalate, and that may actually work better in some people than others, but having a serious problem with that system because it is shared with sulfate and bicarbonate, and involves many molecules and a lot of redundancy. If you had a problem with that system that was serious, it would probably be fatal before you got to be very many cells after fertilization.

I am trying to give you background so you’ll know why the term, “oxalate sensitivity” really doesn’t make sense, and is not an appropriate usage. Please catch yourself before you use that term, and you have my permission to remind new people that it is not a term that we think is valid to use for the reasons I’ve furnished.”

I am hoping to share as much information on oxalates here as I find it, and I encourage you to seek out answers too, especially if you are just learning about oxalates. For me, there is a definite connection to my health and oxalate consumption and in the process of learning about oxalates, I’ve discovered my body cannot properly break down histamines.  Never disregard a gut feeling about something and research everything! Since this is more of a nutritional related issue, medical doctors may not know a lot however you can find loads of info online.

For much more information and research, please visit this site!