Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

Low salicylate Pear wine (Perry) for those unable to have grapes


gentle sml Like a large percentage of the autistic population and a large percentage of the ADHD population, I’m salicylate intolerant which means foods high in salicylates can increase asthma, give me hives, migraines and joint inflammation, suppress liver function, suppress  immunity and trigger further food and chemical allergies and associated fatigue.  High salicylate levels also make my mind race and make me anxious, distracted and hyper.

In those with salicylate intolerance, high levels commonly affect these people like cocaine might affect others and it’s not unusual to find those with salicylate intolerance diagnosed with ADHD or Bipolar, some of which may reduce when they go low salicylate.  The thing is, unlike gluten or dairy intolerance, salicylate intolerance is not well known and because those who are salicylate intolerant often crave the very thing their body can’t process (salicylate is a natural plant toxin most people can detox from) those with it often can’t stop themselves from eating and drinking things high in salicylates even though they get sicker and less able to function – Vegimite (yeast extracts), honey, stone fruits, berries and grapes in particular are 18 time the ‘high’ level of salicylates.

And because salicylate rich foods are high in antioxidants, when salicylate intolerant people feel sicker and sicker they can’t imagine that in THEIR case, these sources of antioxidants are actually overwhelming their body and pushing them into a systemic inflammatory state.

And of course because many salicylate intolerant people crave high levels of salicylates, they can be more susceptible to alcoholism when it comes to grape based alcohols – most wine, sherry, port and the like.  So I was one of those people, the offspring of three generations of alcoholic mothers and someone who decided after my own inability to stop drinking red wine, port, sherry, that I had ‘inherited the problem’.  With a diagnosis as salicylate intolerant I got more insight into my situation and lived low salicylate since my mid 20s.

I also live with Primary Immune Deficiency with autoimmune complications.  Translation – I don’t have the immunity to fight my bugs and my confused body then goes and fights itself, slowly damaging my organs.  I manage this chess game as best I can with immune boosters and being GF/CF, low salicylate, low sugar and when in trouble have to let medication do it’s ugly thing.

Then I was surprised to learn that with a low IgA and low IgG and low Vitamin D result and a bug that wouldn’t leave even after 7 courses of antibiotics that there was one thing I could do to at least raise my IgA – I could drink alcohol.  Not big amounts, but there were health articles showing people had raised their IgA levels using moderate alcohol intake.

Of course, I had to choose carefully.  I’m gluten intolerant, so gluten products were out, but Sake was going to be OK.  But was there anything else?  Well PEARS.  Pears are low in salicylates and they make wine and cider from it.  AND I wouldn’t crave it so could drink it without any control problem – YAY.  Could I even get organic Perry?

Well, after much internet hunting and phone calls, the answer was yes.  I found it at Carwyn Cellars in Thornbury (829A HIGH STREET, Thornbury, VIC 03 9484 1820) where the very lovely James was kind enough to ship me out three boxes of the stuff.  I’m drinking then only 1-2 glasses a night, enjoying them happily :-)  I have to say their Organic Pear Wine is absolutely fabulous.  I definitely recommend it.


Donna Williams, Dip Ed, BA Hons.
Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.
Autism consultant and public speaker.