Ellie is allergic to cinnamon. I just figured this out. Here's how it happened.
During our coconut trial this winter Ellie was having a snack - pumpkin "cheesecake" - that she loved. Everytime she ate it, though, she got a red rash around her mouth. And if some cheesecake got on her cheek, a red rash would appear there too. This struck me as odd, and I started to wonder if it was a sign that coconut was not going well. When we pulled the coconut back out of her diet, and therefor pulled the cheesecake - I stopped noticing the rash.
That was until one morning when I gave her a breakfast "porridge" I make her sometimes. It's a mix of ground pumpkin seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, stevia and cinnamon that you pour hot water over and it turns into a yummy, goopy porridge. Well she was eating it and suddenly I noticed that same red rash on her face. How odd. So I compared the two recipes and looked for what they had in common. I decided stevia was the prime suspect, since I had recently read that people with fructose intolerance often can't have stevia and decided to pull that out of her diet.
Last Monday I made Ellie the porridge again, this time leaving out the stevia. It just happened that it was that morning that we had an appointment with a new allergist. We went over Ellie's lengthy health history and my frustration that she has not been doing well for months, despite being on this extremely restrictive diet. The allergist noticed that Ellie had very chapped lips and asked about that. I told her that Ellie has been picking at her lips for months and I could not for the life of me figure out why she was doing this. The allergist pointed out that this can be a symptom of a contact allergy. She suggested it could be a reacting to a toothpaste. "But we don't use toothpaste for Ellie!" I said. "I can't take that kind of risk - I can't even give my kid toothpaste because I don't have time to waste trialing toothpaste!"
But the comment kept me thinking. Contact allergy? Huh.
In the week that followed Ellie really didn't pick at her lips and they were very close to healed. Then yesterday morning I fed her some Chia Goodness and sprinkled a bit of cinnamon on top. By midday Ellie had pulled two big chunks of skin off her bottom lip and they were blistering. I thought back again. The pumpkin cheesecake. The breakfast porridge. The Chia Goodness. What did they all have in common? CINNAMON. AHA!!!
Just to be certain I was right, this morning I made a paste out of water and cinnamon and spread it across her tummy. I asked her to sit very still and wait, and Ellie calmly laid still and studied her tummy. A few minutes passed and I started to think I was crazy, and just barking up the wrong tree. I got up to get a rag to wipe her tummy off and Ellie suddenly cried out "Mama, the cinnamon is hurting!" I ran back and the area had turned a deep red. I wiped the cinnamon off and there was my proof.
I felt so tremendously elated. Seems weird to be excited you found out your kid has an allergy. But I was so relieved to have found an answer. Finally! After so many months of things going south for no clear reason, here was at least one answer.
About a half hour after I took this photo Ellie's rash turned into a huge white raised welt that stuck around long enough for her doctor to see it hours later (at an appointment we had scheduled for another reason).
Now I will puzzle over how much of the troubles we've experienced the past few months can be attributed to cinnamon. Now we can completely remove it from her diet and see what type of an improvement that brings. There's not a ton of information online about cinnamon allergies so I don't know if it primarily creates just a skin rash or if GI symptoms could be attributed to cinnamon as well. There's always more to learn.