Carpal Tunnel and Yellow Dye No. 5
One More Reason to Ditch Day-Glo Foods
Many years ago I read an article by Alan Gaby, M.D. about how eating foods that contain yellow dye no. 5 (tartrazine) can deplete vitamin B6 and cause or aggravate carpal tunnel syndrome. At the time, I was suffering from carpal tunnel, so I began to read food labels more closely and sure enough, I was regularly eating some snack foods that contained yellow dye. Within a week or so after cutting those foods from my diet, my carpal tunnel began to improve, and within a month it was all better. Over the years I have shared this tip with dozens of people, and most have reported back that their carpal tunnel improved dramatically or went away. The vitamin B6-yellow dye-carpal tunnel connection is fairly common knowledge among alternative health professionals these days, but doesn't seem to have trickled down to very many conventional docs, undoubtedly because it doesn't involve drugs.
The other day my farrier was trimming my horse’s feet—an exercise that’s tough on the wrists—and he reminded me that I had given him the yellow dye advice. He started reading food labels and found his yellow dye no. 5 culprit—one of the cheesy Doritos. He switched to a less day-glo snack and his carpal tunnel started to improve within a matter of days. He suggested that I share this tip with my newsletter readers, so here it is!
Yellow dye no. 5 has also been associated with hyperactivity, eczema, hives, asthma and irritability.
When ditching yellow dye no. 5 from the diet, be wary of any processed foods or beverages that are colored yellow or orange. And remember to check drugs such as liquid cough medicines. The brighter the color, the more suspect it is. Foods advertised as being “cheesy” should be regarded with suspicion. Does the incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome go up in April? If so, Peeps may be the perpetrators (or peepatrators).
Vitamin B6 and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Vitamin B6 is often recommended for treating carpal tunnel, but it seems to work better when yellow dye is also eliminated from the diet.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is essential for a properly functioning nervous system and a healthy heart. It’s also important in the formation of all the steroid hormones, including the sex hormones and the cortisones, which play an important role in fighting inflammation. In fact, many of the effects of B6 in various parts of the body have to do with reducing inflammation, which likely explains why a deficiency of this important vitamin can aggravate or bring on carpal tunnel syndrome.
Dr. Gaby wrote the classic book about vitamin B6 years ago. It’s out of print, but you can find important vitamin B info in his most recent book, which is well worth having on the bookshelf, The Natural Pharmacy Complete A-Z Reference to Natural Treatments for Common Health Conditions.
Other underlying causes of vitamin B6 deficiency include smoking, excess alcohol and many prescription drugs, including excess estrogen (e.g. HRT, birth control pills), corticosteroids (e.g. Prednisone, asthma medicines) and diuretics for lowering blood pressure.
Most health professionals recommend no more than 200 mg daily of B6. A dose of 50 mg two or three times daily works fine for most people with carpal tunnel. A dose of 50 mg once daily is a good maintenance dose for most people.
To find out more about drugs that deplete nutrients, please read Prescription Alternatives.