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Alpha-Gal Syndrome

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

A Piece Of Advice From People With Alpha-Gal Syndrome

Living with alpha-gal syndrome can be challenging because many foods, medications, and supplements contain alpha-gal sugar molecules. Candice and Debbie, two women with alpha-gal allergy, co-founded the site Two Alpha Gals and stated in an interview,


Two Alpha Gals Logo

“Many of us living with alpha-gal syndrome will react to even trace amounts of mammal ingredients in medications. The range of potential dangers includes lactose, magnesium stearate, stearic acid, gelatin caps, fillers, and more. We even have to be careful with vitamins and minerals which can be derived from mammals.”


What Is Alpha-Gal Syndrome?

Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), or alpha-gal allergy, is a serious allergic reaction to products containing the sugar molecule, alpha-gal. Alpha-gal (galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose) is present in most mammals (pork, cattle, rabbit, lamb, etc.) and in mammalian products such as gelatin and dairy. Individuals can experience symptoms of alpha-gal syndrome after consuming red meat or other alpha-gal-containing products. There is evidence that alpha-gal syndrome can also be triggered by a tick bite.


Can A Tick Bite Cause Alpha-Gal Syndrome?

The Lone Star tick is a type of tick native to the eastern United States and Mexico. They are known to transmit alpha-gal molecules to people after feeding on the blood of animals such as cows and sheep. As a result, people who encounter the Lone Star tick may also develop mild to severe allergic reactions to the alpha-gal molecules the ticks carry. Tick bites can be avoided by wearing cover-up garments and staying away from tick-infested locations, such as woodlands and bushy, tall grass areas.


How Is Alpha-Gal Syndrome Diagnosed?

An allergy specialist can identify alpha-gal syndrome based on the patient's history, physical examination, antibodies (blood test), and allergy skin testing. Several studies have found that certain individuals with frequent unexplained anaphylactic reactions yet test negative for other food allergies may have alpha-gal syndrome.


The most frequent test used by healthcare providers to diagnose alpha-gal syndrome is a blood test that evaluates the level of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies specific to alpha-gal. When a person has a hypersensitivity reaction to a hazardous allergen, the amount of IgE antibody is generally elevated. As a result, a high level of specific IgE antibodies responding to alpha-gal sugar molecules can confirm the diagnosis of alpha-gal syndrome.


A skin test is another method used to determine alpha-gal allergy. This procedure consists of a skin prick with a small amount of red meat extract or alpha-gal-containing substances. If red bumps (hives or a rash) form around the prick sites, it indicates that the individual has alpha-gal syndrome.


What Are The Signs and Symptoms of Alpha-Gal Syndrome?

Symptoms vary based on the individual and can present as mild, moderate, severe, or life-threatening. Patients may require immediate medical attention and should call 911 if experiencing serious symptoms.

Symptoms of AGS

How To Manage Alpha-Gal Syndrome?

An allergy specialist or a healthcare provider can help treat and manage a patient who has alpha-gal syndrome. Patients with alpha-gal syndrome should:

  • Check the ingredient labels on store-bought goods to ensure they do not include anything mammalian-derived, including animal extracts used in flavoring.

  • Request a list of items that should be avoided from their doctor or allergist.

  • Research animal-free products from credible sources, such as VeganMed.org/shop.

VeganMed envisions a world with transparent labeling and aims to make it easier for people to find animal-free alternatives.


Alpha-Gal Syndrome - Guide For Food

AGS Guide for Food

Alpha-Gal Syndrome - Guide For Ingredients

AGS Guide for Ingredients


Conclusion

There are numerous product labels on the market today that do not clearly identify the sources of ingredients listed. Candice and Debbie recently discovered our website and found it helpful in their search for resources to choose the right product for themselves and for patients with alpha-gal syndrome. They stated,


“The work VeganMed is doing is critical for those of us with alpha-gal syndrome as we need to be able to access medications free from mammal-derived ingredients for our own safety. The extensive research and certification process employed by VeganMed into ingredients and sourcing gives us confidence to trust their products.”


VeganMed has been working diligently to enhance the quality of life for people who choose to live an animal-free lifestyle. Our goal is to help find suitable animal-free products and medications for patients, including those who have been diagnosed with alpha-gal syndrome. With our research and confirmation from manufacturers, patients can have confidence and clarity about their purchased products. We also strive to make it easier for prescribers to navigate and search for appropriate medications for their patients with alpha-gal syndrome. If you are unsure about ingredients listed on medications or supplement labels, please feel free to reach out to us at VeganMed.org/contact-us.


Two Alpha Gals

We would like to thank #TWOALPHAGALS for taking the time to be a part of our interview and sharing their personal experiences living with alpha-gal syndrome. We encourage you to check out their blog, Two Alpha Gals, to connect with more people on the same journey and explore more tips and tricks on how to live a joyful life while managing alpha-gal syndrome!


Co-authored by: Nicole Sanchez-Truong, Jane Prasertthanabut, Gurinderpal Kaur, Frank Son


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Disclaimer: The lists provided are not comprehensive. The product and/or medical information provided on VeganMed is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or product.

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Thank you for your awareness and concern for animal-derived ingredients!


If you have any further questions about ingredients in your medicines and supplements, feel free to reach out to the VeganMed team!


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