#Gluten Free Spices: Which Do You Trust?

One of the tasks I’ve had on my To Do list for ages is to sort out my herbs and spices. You might think that spices are naturally gluten free but many are cross-contaminated and ‘cut’ with starches to make them cheaper. There are definitely some I find that affect me when they should only really contain the pure spice – cinnamon, for some reason, gets me every time. Interestingly, I saw in a Science Daily article that cinnamon and garlic are two of the most common spices you can develop sensitivities to. Garlic was one of my first ever problem foods – it makes my ears bleed!

Sugar and Spice and Everything Not So Nice: Spice Allergy Affects Foodies and Cosmetic Users Alike

It’s also useful to note that many herbs and spices have a high salicylate content and that can be the problem if you have issues with quite a few. Worth looking at. FoodsMatter has a good section on Salicylate Intolerance that you might find useful.

I love spicy food and avoiding the chilli for the Barrier Plan is a difficult one for me – it does creep in about once a week, naughty girl ;). But, I want to be able to make sure the flavours I’m adding to my food are not going to make me ill.

I read an interesting piece on gluten free spices in the US from Jane A the other day, which might help give you more info on the issue as a whole, and provide you with suppliers if you live across the pond.

Gluten Free Spices

But what about here in the UK. What do you do? Which brands do you trust?

I have started to look at herb and spice suppliers. I contacted Steenbergs recently as theirs looked like a good range. Here’s the conversation we had:

Q: I am looking to buy and recommend grain-free herbs and spices to my hyper-sensitive readers and patients. There is always a risk that spice blends especially have been mixed with cheap wheat or corn starch to bulk it out and bring cost down, which would then cause a reaction. This has happened to me and my patients in the past. Can you please advise if yours are safe, or labelled as containing any additions?

Lovely to hear from you. We don’t “bulk” out our spices with anything. The spice blends don’t have wheat in it, apart from the obvious ie stuffings and as it’s an allergen these are packed at separate times. We try to put all the ingredients on any product on the website but we don’t use flour or corn starch generally anyway.

So, I then asked them to confirm if there was any risk of cross-contamination then. And heard nothing back. Sigh. Probably not wanting to commit themselves.

I quite fancy looking at Hambleden Herbs

Shop with spices in Morocco
Shop with spices in Morocco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

soon too when I get a chance – any of you use them?

My strategy is going to be to use the fresh plants for herbs and to dry my own when I have some. Makes the garage smell lovely! I used to do this yonks ago when life was a little less hectic and I was getting into herbal medicine and aromatherapy in my early 20s. Ah, my tiny flat had herb bunches hanging everywhere – happy memories!

For spices, I have been buying the whole spices and have bought a second grinder to whizz them up fresh when I need some. I have a coffee grinder and a spice grinder now. The spice one has a gold sticker on it so I know which is which. I don’t bother to clean them out every time now and it has made life that little bit easier.

So, can anyone help? Who do you use? What do you do?

4 Replies to “#Gluten Free Spices: Which Do You Trust?”

  1. Howdy Miki and the Glutenaughts,

    Yow! Buyer beware. From the powder on chewing gum to the dextrose in salt shakers they intend to get that poison powder in us at every turn.

    This is the most concise explanation of the lie that is ‘cinnamon’ that I have ever read in too many decades of shoveling dirt looking for truth.

    As you will see and later experience if it isn’t Ceylon cinnamon it isn’t cinnamon. Cassia smells and tastes different. It is OK but doesn’t hold a candle to Ceylon cinnamon that has a lemon high-note. I do not do well with cassia but really enjoy the Ceylon that I put in a hand grinder designed for use with salt or pepper. I like ceramic grinding wheels at slow speeds. We should all take note here the D’Adamo has cinnamon and black pepper disallowed for all blood types. We should also take note that since the common commercial name and offering of ‘cinnamon’ is actually cassia then that calls into question which one was really tested. I enjoy ground cinnamon on apples but be aware that these things are bark shaved off of trees. If there is any kind of microbial contamination it will come with the bark and the crusty crevices. The telltale for mold is if you eat something and your nose runs (among other things).
    I realize that I am Across the Pond but when they can ship entire loads of scrap metal to India to be sorted by hand by boys sitting on mountains of aluminum and steel we ought to be able to get a simple package of what we need by common carrier just as cheep.


    If this shop can’t get their product to you in a cost-effective way then at least you know what to look for. Bear in mind that if you do not buy whole spices to grind yourself that the volatile oils are typically gone in hours after they are ground in bulk.
    Your dramatic reaction to garlic is very shocking. Garlic is a blood thinner. I grow my own and depending on the year and the conditions sometimes the garlic tastes like Wintergreen that means it has a very high concentration of salicylates.

    Coumarin mentioned in the article is said to be hepatotoxic in high quantities but coumarin is the stuff that gives sweet clover its vanilla taste but only becomes an anticoagulant when the plant material is fermented as in wet hay. I toss this into the conversation since there is always going to be dysbiosis with people with gut problems so it begs the question of whether the food was ever really a problem or if it stems completely from the wrong microbes in the plumbing making the things we eat into something completely different in a Monty Python Microbe kindof way.

    When I started to eat home fermented cucumbers (Russian not English) in my Pickl-it system, the lactic acid and friendly bacteria seemed to clean house allowing me to be more tolerant of foods and environment that would normally take me out of commission. http://www.pickl-it.com
    I have been enjoying beets and onions from the same system but it was only when I tried the pickles did I get such benefits. This tells me that there was some microbial balance achieved that knocked down the Bad Guys. One day, I ate something contaminated by accident and got instant bloat. I’m sure you all know the kind where you can’t even bend at the waist it hurts so bad. I took probiotics and it took the edge off. I ate a single pickle and the bloat went down.

    I just started a batch of beets with whole Ceylon cinnamon and whole organic Cloves, so I will tell you in a few weeks how that turned out. That is the other trick. At best our bowel transit time should be around 24 hours. A proper anaerobic ferment takes about three WEEKS. Also within an anaerobic ferment you can’t use ground spices because they rot, this is why I said I used whole spices.

    A couple of freebies for those of you out there suffering and not knowing why. Peppermint is a fine herb. It also aggravates hiatal hernia. Since the ileo cecal valve is a sphincter just like the hiatus the ICV will go out on you too if you enjoy peppermint but it doesn’t enjoy you. Cloves are jim dandy. But they are a numbing agent. If you want to shut down peristalsis then eat more cloves than you should. How many is that? You will know after you have done it. Not pleasant. I used to follow the Hulda Clark cleanses religiously until I discovered that my body is not a recipe. I now just listen to what it needs instead of following dosing guidelines.

    1. Fascinating point about the cinnamon and black pepper being disallowed across all blood group types, there. Wonder why. Also, interesting about peppermint. I can’t do any of those three. Love the Pickl-it, just for the name!

      1. Hi Micki,

        I made a mistake: ‘cinnamon’ is disallowed in Type O and B. Black Pepper as your countrymen are wont to say is: Right Out!

        I had promised updates on substances that effect chromosome repair, but the investigation is slow going. Peppermint is one of those but if it puts a kink in your sphincter then it isn’t really much help — is it? There are those who claim that it is a necessary component to control Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth. So I grew my own. Three kinds. The Chocolate mint is incredible — smelling. Can’t eat it either. They may indeed be antimicrobial and helpful but if you can’t get it past the gob then you might as well eat the studies.

        The other thing to put a patch on the computer software is Piper Longum. Long Pepper is known and used in India. Same genus, different species than Piper Nigrum. Black Pepper. Before I invest in expensive unadulterated spice I like to know its natural history. When I was in High School (an archeologist will blow dust off of my Yearbook) I had read that the way that they process many spices including black pepper and the orchid fruit called Vanilla, is that they first give it a good ferment in some brackish water then some native countryman spreads it out in the hot tropical sun with their bare feet.

        That conjures warm images of someone with Tinea Pedis stomping out a fine vintage of wine, but irregardless (as engineers like to say) of the aversion to the thought, it highlights the fact that the action of a substance is not limited to what the phytomaterial has in it that can be fractionated in a lab, but also what it might acquire during it processing. This is why I find your exposes on things like gluten in ground spices so helpful and insightful. Who would have thought some unscrupulous person would doctor a ground spice? But since China put melamine in babyfood our innocence has long since been vaporized.

        Needless to say the industry standard process of putting spices and herbs in concrete bunkers to gamma irradiate them changes everything. Good luck finding a label that says: Non-irradiated; and then be ready to get a reverse mortgage to be able to afford it.

        I will post if I find a reliable source and whether it is good for anything other than an acrid aftertaste.

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