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Alpha-gal Syndrome: What to Avoid When Choosing Common Household Items

What is Alpha-Gal Syndrome

Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), is a condition where individuals may experience serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reactions to alpha-gal sugar (galactose-α-1,3-galactose), which is found in most mammals (pork, cattle, rabbit, lamb, etc.). With many products containing animal-derived ingredients, individuals with AGS are at risk of experiencing allergic reactions after not only eating food but also coming into contact with common personal care and household items.


Lone Star Tick

How Is Alpha-gal Syndrome Acquired

The Lone Star tick, native to the eastern United States and Mexico, transmits alpha-gal molecules to humans through its saliva. After being bitten, people begin to create antibodies to alpha-gal sugar, causing signs and symptoms of AGS when exposed to it. The best methods to not be bitten by the Lone Star tick are to wear cover-up garments treated with permethrin, spray shoes with permethrin, and avoid high-exposure areas such as woodlands and bushy tall grasses.


Signs and Symptoms of Alpha-Gal Syndrome

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signs and symptoms of AGS may be:

  • hives, itching, scaly skin

  • swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat

  • respiratory problems such as wheezing or shortness of breath

  • GI effects such as stomach pain, diarrhea, upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting

  • hypotension


Common Animal-Derived Ingredients & Household Products

To know which products will trigger an AGS response, it is important to be able to identify ingredients to avoid or be careful of. Below is a list of ingredients commonly found in household products that may be animal-derived and their use. It is important to note, that although carrageenan is derived from red seaweed and is not animal-derived, it does contain alpha-gal and may cause individuals with AGS to have an allergic reaction.

Ingredient

Source

Use in Products Listed Below

Amino Acids

animal protein

humectant, reduce water loss

Casein

milk protein

cleansing agent, antimicrobial and antioxidant effect, emulsifier

Collagen

animal protein and connective tissue

wrinkle prevention, humectant

Gelatin

animal protein, bones, and connective tissue

adhesive, thickener, gelling agent

Glycerin

animal and plant sources

humectant, lubricant, texture

Lanolin

sheep wool, fat-like sebaceous secretion of sheep

emollient, occlusive moisturizer

Oleic acid

animal and plant sources

emulsifier, softening agent, lubricant

Stearic acid

animal and plant sources

hardener, stiffener

Tallow

animal fat

cleansing agent, foam lather

Soaps & Body Washes

Common Animal-Derived Ingredients: Casein, Castoreum, Collagen, Glycerin, Lanolin, Oleic Acid, Stearic Acid, Tallow

Deodorants & Antiperspirants 

Common Animal-Derived Ingredients: Collagen, Gelatin, Glycerin, Lanolin, Stearic Acid

Moisturizers, Lotions, & Sunscreens

Common Animal-Derived Ingredients: Amino Acids, Casein, Castoreum, Collagen, Gelatin, Glycerin, Lanolin, Oleic Acid, Stearic Acid, Tallow

Skin Care Products

Common Animal-Derived Ingredients: Amino Acids, Casein, Castoreum, Collagen, Gelatin, Glycerine, Lanolin, Oleic Acid, Tallow

CERTIFIED Animal-Free Brands:

Period Care & Toilet Paper Products

Toothpaste

Common Animal-Derived Ingredients: Calcium Phosphate, Gelatin, Glycerin, Stearic Acid

*all verified animal-free toothpastes listed have also been verified to be carrageenan-free!


Conclusion

Because animal-derived ingredients can be found in many unassuming household products, it's difficult for those with alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) to avoid products that may cause a serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. To better assist those within the AGS and animal-free community, the VeganMed team, Two Alpha Gals, and Alpha-gal Information have reviewed common household products for the presence of animal-derived ingredients and listed a few verified animal-free options to choose from with peace of mind.


CALL TO ACTION

As a reminder, please comment on this FDA Citizen Petition, requesting clear labeling of animal-derived ingredients in medications. Together, we can make a difference.


Co-authored by: Gagandeep Dhillon

Reviewed by: Sharon Forsyth

 

Disclaimer: The product and/or information provided on VeganMed is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We do not lab test the products to confirm that they are free from animal ingredients, and it is possible that the formulation and ingredients could have changed. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or product. The information provided in this post is accurate and up to date as of the date it was written. However, please note that circumstances and facts may change over time, and new information may become available that could alter the accuracy or relevance of the content. We encourage readers to verify and cross-reference any information provided here with trusted sources or consult relevant professionals for the most current and accurate updates.


 

Looking for certified and verified animal-free products?


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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