Oxalate Dumping Symptoms – What to Expect

When you first join the Trying Low Oxalates group, one term you’ll see bandied about quite a bit is “dumping.” But what exactly is dumping, and why do you need to be concerned about it? This article outlines the good, the bad and the ugly about oxalate dumping signs and symptoms, as well as making a couple observations about what has worked for the author, who is an old hand at dumping. :)

The 30,000-Foot View of Dumping

Oxalate Dumping SymptomsSimply put, the word “dumping” is a sort of catch-all term for the body’s process of detoxifying oxalates. Dumping symptoms can range from mild to severe, and may not even be noticeable, depending upon the an individual’s chemistry. Dumping usually occurs when someone’s oxalate intake drops below a certain threshold and stays there for a few days (or longer). This threshold for oxalate intake differs for each person. Likewise, each person’s experience of dumping will differ depending upon their stores of certain vitamins, minerals and of course oxalates.

In the Beginning

For people who suddenly lower their oxalate intake, the low oxalate diet (LOD) often starts off with what is called a “honeymoon period.” Because so many folks who come to LOD are suffering terribly with the effects of oxalate buildup in their system, starting the LOD “cold turkey” as it were (lowering oxalate intake suddenly and drastically) can result in the body having its first chance in months (or even years) to breathe a sigh of relief. For neurotypical adults like myself, this can mean an abrupt decrease or even disappearance of aches and pains, relief from gastrointestinal symptoms, and sometimes even a sudden lifting of the brain fog. For autistic children, it might mean abrupt and marked gains in motor skills, verbal skills, or the ability to relate emotionally to others.

Unfortunately, as those who choose to go the cold turkey route soon learn, this honeymoon period is short-lived – generally no longer than a week, and sometimes only a day or two. This is why I so often (and loudly!) encourage people to lower their oxalate intake gradually. While this may not produce such a sudden and clear reversal of symptoms, it will also prevent an abrupt onset of severe dumping, which can be painful and, on the whole, quite detrimental to the health of the individual.

What Does Dumping Feel Like?

Since oxalates bind readily to minerals (especially calcium and magnesium), a great many of the symptoms associated with dumping are the same as symptoms of low calcium and low magnesium – muscle aches, twitches, cramps and spasms for example, or headaches. The B vitamins are also often heavily taxed by dumping, as is the body’s alkaline buffer system. What do low B vitamins or alkaline levels feel like? That’s where it gets difficult…it seems everyone reacts differently. For example, when my alkaline buffer is overtaxed, my lips peel (exfoliative chelitis) and I get migraine-like headaches, among other issues. My symptoms for low Bs are less well-defined, although one good indicator of adequate B6 is the ability to recall dreams.

Of course, these are not the only things taxed by detoxing oxalates; merely some of the most common. Since so many systems are affected, dumping can feel like any number of things. Personally, I’ve had the aforementioned low mineral issues, as well as itchy histamine flares, all-over feelings of cold, fevers, week-long sinus drainage, and many other seemingly random symptoms. One of the gals on the TLO group goes so far as to say “it’s oxalate until proven otherwise!” and I tend to agree.

Because symptoms are so individualized, it is impossible to say what specific symptoms any particular person will experience. And thanks to the huge variability of personal chemistry, as well as the comorbidity of other conditions in conjunction with oxalate issues, symptoms may vary not only from person to person, but also from one dumping episode to the next, within the same individual!

Another problem is the fact that some of the oxalate dumping symptoms are such common aches and pains, it’s difficult to say for certain if they truly are the result of oxalate dumping, or caused by something else. This is especially true if the symptoms are mild and transitory. And if your low oxalate dieter is a non-verbal child or infant, it can be difficult enough just to ascertain whether there is pain, much less determine for certain if dumping is the source of the issue.

What Does Dumping Look Like?

In addition to symptoms, which may be difficult or impossible to determine in non-verbal individuals, there are also a few clear signs (objective indicators) of dumping. Among these are cloudy urine, sandy-looking stools, and black specks in stools or urine. Others report rashes, constipation, diarrhea and a number of more unusual signs whenever they dump. While this isn’t designed as an exhaustive list, these are the most commonly reported occurrences.

The Brighter Side

There is good news, however. For starters, most individuals, once they have been through one or two rounds of dumping, will be able to recognize their symptoms right away. And often, simply taking certain supplements will help alleviate the symptoms, or at least make them bearable.

My first line of defense against dumping (and a supplement I take every day “whether I need it or not”), is magnesium (see what brand of magnesium I use myself on this page). While calcium has been shown to be more effective at binding oxalate in the gut, my own experience has taught me that my body likes to use magnesium for binding oxalate once it is in the bloodstream. Since I don’t have any problem with my kidney function or other issues which would contraindicate magnesium supplementation, this is my preferred method of mopping up excess oxalate. As a lovely side effect, I’ve found a nice decrease in blood pressure and heart palpitations as I’ve increased and maintained my level of magnesium intake.

I’ve also found relief using calcium and vitamin D (see my post on the importance of vitamin D to low oxalate dieters here), while various B vitamins sometimes help with things like restless legs and yeast overgrowth (wich is a common problem in oxalate-affected individuals). Alas, I have discovered over time that some of the same vitamins which once helped me deal with oxalate symptoms, now just force me to dump more and harder. This is one of the ways in which dumping can change, even in the same individual, over time.

I have also learned that as you heal other issues, dumping can become a much milder event. I attribute this primarily to the role that minerals play in the body’s alkaline buffer system. For example, as I healed my own intestinal bacterial overgrowth, I found my dumping symptoms becoming gradually more manageable. I don’t think that I was dumping any less oxalate (at least, not if I’m judging by semi-objective measures such as the periodic cloudiness of my urine). And yet I felt much better, probably because my alkaline buffer system was only being taxed by dumping and normal activity, and not dealing with the added burden of all the acids thrown off by the bacteria crowding my intestine.

Looking for a Single Answer?

Because dumping signs and symptoms are so individualized, there unfortunately isn’t one. And the same goes for a cure-all – each person must find their own remedies. However, starting with minerals, as I recommend here, is a safe bet. Beyond that, much of the process is trial-and-error, which is why I so heartily recommend keeping logs of your food, supplements and symptoms. When in doubt, however, remember to lean on the huge combined experience available on the Trying Low Oxalates group. I have yet to find a more helpful bunch of people in one place!

24 Responses to Oxalate Dumping Symptoms – What to Expect

  1. marion says:

    Hello
    I’ve only just stumbled across the damage oxalates can do as it’s not well known in uk. It seems to make sense of several symptoms I’ve had for years. Your site is great, very informative. I’d just like to ask, is there a point when dumping virtually stops as the body gets rid of most stored oxalates, or is it an on going process?
    Thanks
    Marion

    • admin says:

      Hi Marion, thanks so much for your kind words!

      Most people do experience a lessening of dumping, though I wouldn’t expect there to ever be a complete cessation. I suppose it’s possible, but because we will always be consuming some oxalate (and our bodies also produce it as an end product of metabolism), it wouldn’t surprise me that, if a low oxalate diet is continually followed, dumping would continue to occur, albeit rarely.

      The good news with this is that it is good to allow the body this chance to remove the oxalates. Not only do the dumps become less frequent over time, but also less severe. Most folks also develop highly personalized strategies for coping with dumps, which helps make them much easier to live with.

      Hope this helps!
      Michelle

  2. Thank you for this explanation. I am finding it hard trying to work out what is dumping and what is my normal symptoms but this has been a big help.
    Thanks
    Caroline

  3. Rick Ragan says:

    Great site! Just starting the diet. My lips are also pealing.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Rick! I have sometimes found a bit of relief for the peeling lips problem with high-dose Biotin. If you are a member of the TLO group, try searching their archives for Biotin to see if it might help you as well!

  4. theresa says:

    In reading your web page I feel I have symptoms you mentioned. I had been drinking a large amount of fruit and veggie smoothies for about a year. I would sometimes drink two a day. I started having sever pain in my vaginal area and when I urinate. For a month it was horrible burning. I went to the hospital, my doctor and a urologist. The urologist said I have ic. I never had Ic prior to 30 days ago. I told him about the smoothies he said I don’t know if I believe in that high oxalate business and blew it off. I have stopped the smoothies for two weeks. I been hurting really bad in my feet and legs I also feel so tired. I honestly think I had high oxalates. What is your feeling on this.

    • admin says:

      Hi Theresa,

      It sure sounds like oxalates to me! Have you tried any of the interventions suggested on this site or the TLO group (mineral supplementation, b vitamins, etc.)? If so, have they had any effect for you?

      It could very well be that if you were taking in oxalates at that heavy a level, and then suddenly stopped, that you triggered dumping. That could certainly cause all sorts of aches and pains. As for your doctor…that is sadly the perspective of almost all medical professionals. If they haven’t heard that it can be treated with a drug, then it can’t possibly be a valid ailment. Sad but true!

      Wishing you luck,
      Michelle

  5. sallie says:

    Hi, two weeks ago I ate a large amount of nuts and oranges. Then my hands, wrist, elbows, feet, knees and ankles swelled up badly and I was in a lot of pain. I thought something serious was going on. I searched out the internet and found your site. Believing this is it, I went and had a urinalysis done. Sure enough I had moderate amounts of oxalate crystals and bacteria in my urine. I immediately went on a low oxalate diet. Within days I lost 10 pounds and felt pain free. Now I’m experiencing sore thighs, a headache and constipation. I’m sure this is dumping. Will these symptoms lesson with time? Also, does a low oxalate diet help you lose weight.

    • admin says:

      Welcome, Sallie!

      Your symptoms sure sound like dumping to me. The sore thighs are one of my telltale personal indicators of dumping (and the low B6 status that accompanies it). As for whether or not dumping symptoms will lessen over time – in general I’d say yes. Basically, folks who follow a low oxalate diet usually encounter dumping only every once in a while (though I would swear I dumped almost constantly for a year or more), and usually with decreasing severity over time, as the body has the chance to clear out oxalate stores. However, for folks who continue to consume high oxalate foods on a regular basis, all bets are off.

      You might want to look into the information linked to on my page about low oxalate diet supplements, as they may have information that can help you mitigate your symptoms. And definitely join the Trying Low Oxalates Yahoo Group as well – that group is a wealth of knowledge!

      Best of health,
      Michelle

  6. Leslie Amador says:

    Thank you for your article. I’m starting on a low oxalate diet today. Although I see this dumping phase can vary in length and frequency, can you tell me if there is an ‘average’ length of time for it to last? I just want to have an idea of what to expect.

    Thank you so much,

    Leslie

    • admin says:

      Hi Leslie!

      Generally speaking, the first dump can last from a few days to a few months, at least according to what I’ve seen from the TLO group. It will depend on how much oxalate you have stored, where it’s stored, how much oxalate you’re now consuming, and the ultimate variable: your body’s own timetable for oxalate removal. Once that first dump is over, dumping usually happens at random intervals thereafter, usually decreasing in severity and increasing in time between dumps, as you stick to the LOD. But it’s all pretty random, to be honest, because your body will do what it thinks best, and there’s not really a lot we can do to control that.

      That said, if you’re easing into the low oxalate diet as I recommend on this page, you probably won’t experience dumping for a while (unless your intake was previously uber-high; then all bets about dumping are off).

      Hope this helps,
      Michelle

  7. Sara says:

    Hi I’ve been suffering for 10 weeks with awful moving muscle pain/fog/pins and needles and all my bloods have come back normal. I started a low oxalate diet and had two weeks almost feeling like my old self then wham all my symptoms have come back. Do I need to take a supplement now to help remove the oxalate. I did spend the first week feeling light headed. Really would appreciate your help as I am feeling so bad again but am determined to get rid of the oxalate as my previous diet was so high in them.

    • admin says:

      Hi Sara,

      I hope you have taken my advice on this page and eased slowly into the low oxalate diet. If not, I’d guess that re-adding some medium or even slightly higher oxalate foods to your diet will help with this. This definitely has the ring of post-honeymoon oxalate dumping symptoms to it. I also have a page about supplements for the low oxalate diet, which gives you another option (most of your symptoms sound like low mineral issues to me, but I’m no expert), but I wouldn’t rely on supplements alone. You definitely want to moderate your dumping symptoms by one method or another, though, because they’re your body’s way of telling you it is overtaxed by the process of removing oxalates.

      Best of health,
      Michelle

  8. Marlein Jeans says:

    Can high oxalates cause dizziness? I’ve had an MRI and ruled out any tumors. Since my doctor could not figure out what is causing the dizziness, she left it at the usual “vertigo.” I am convinced the dizziness is caused by the foods I am eating, but haven’t been able to determine what is causing it. I eat a lot of the high oxalate foods (juiced and predominately raw) so after reading your info, I suspect I may be experiencing high oxalate side effects. Is dizziness one of the possible symptoms?

    • admin says:

      Hi Marlein,

      First off, I’m very glad you are getting this checked out by doctors! It’s such a relief to be sure that it’s not something big causing symptoms like this.

      Dizziness is not an uncommon thing for people on the Trying Low Oxalates group to report. I have even had it myself, although mine seems to be more related to low sodium than anything that I can directly link to oxalates.

      If you are interested in the low oxalate diet, and you have been juicing a lot of high oxalate foods, I would definitely remind you to start slowly, and only remove one or two high-ox foods per week. This should help avoid sudden, major changes to your chemistry, and all the unpleasant effects (like dumping symptoms) that come with it. More info here, if you’re interested: http://oxvox.com/low-oxalate-diet-basics/

      Take care,
      Michelle

  9. Pam says:

    Thanks so much for your informative article. I have only very recently come to your site as I am at my wit’s end (literally) in trying to find the cause of my issues. I am just starting the oxalate lowered diet and may be experiencing some dumping symptoms but am confused if they are just my usual symptoms. Wondering if you think oxalates are the issue.

    Without going into great length, my symptoms over the past three years have gradually worsened to the point where I have been just diagnosed at age 46 with severe spine osteoporosis. I have worsening stiff joints, particularly in my fingers (some joint deformation), dupuytren’s, Ranolds, weight loss, loss of muscle, high anxiety and irritability, forgetfulness. I have eaten well for 10 years with lots of juicing, no processed foods, no gluten, etc.

    I thought maybe the issue was salicylates but once taking aspirin I have no symptoms that worsen. Any thoughts on this? Also, is there one test I could purchase that would tell me if I have this intolerance?

    Many thanks and sorry for the long-winded chat.

    Pam

  10. Teresa says:

    My daughter with special needs, nonverbal has been having diarrhea for 2 months straight now after adding in tiny amount of p5p at 1/40th of a 33 mg capsule which I then discontinued after a week and a half on it because couldn’t tolerate it. Not only did she abruptly start having diarrhea but she developed a rash on her torso that lasted a month and her colostomy stoma prolapsed and had to be manipulated back into place. Is it possible that this continuuing diarrhea is dumping or is that not typical?

    • admin says:

      Teresa,

      I’m sorry to hear your daughter is having such trouble with P5P. My only thought is that she likely has something going on that is making her react poorly, but given that I have a very limited understanding of biochemistry and the like, I haven’t a clue what it may be. If it were me, I’d stop anything that was giving me so much trouble, and go with just the slow diet changes.

      Best of luck,
      Michelle

  11. Cheryl says:

    Hi, I cannot believe that I found someone with the things that my family is going through. my daughter who five, and I, both have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) Candida overgrowth , lyme disease and now I’m just realizing that my daughter has ian Oxilate problem. We are working on getting rid of the Candida and the llyme disease with a terrific integrative medical doctor by taking lots of naturopath stuff but we are also taking some herbal antibiotics to get rid of the SIBO And we have been doing the gaps/SCD/Palio/fodmap diet for a while now although we never really did the intro to any of those. We just cut out grains and sugar. almond butter has become one of our major food groups But now that I’m seeing the cloudy urine and Sandy stools with peeling lips I realize that I may be doing something wrong with all this almond butter. She also has the MTHFR double Gene

    . I’m just looking for some guidance and to see how you been doing with the SIBO, My daughter is only five and My hope is that I can cure her if I just do the right thing, even if it means 1-3 years of a special diet. Can you tell me if you have any insight into this possibly being a cure for someone so young? I want her to have a normal life. Thanks! Cheryl in NJ

    • admin says:

      Hi Cheryl,

      I’m sorry to hear you and your daughter are having such a rough time of it. I’m very glad to hear that you are working with a good integrative MD, though. I really wish we had that sort of practitioner where I live!

      Your main question seems to be about the SIBO. If I may ask, how were you both diagnosed with SIBO? Was it via breath test or some other method? Also, what “herbal antibiotics,” specifically, has your MD been using?

      I used a number of things both natural and pharmaceutical, and never found a magic bullet in the form of an antibiotic – diet has been the only long-term fix for any of my problems, which shift and change on a monthly or even weekly basis. In all honesty I think I’m still susceptible to SIBO-type symptoms, but I’m no longer sure that I actually *have* SIBO, if that makes any sense. You see, I was never formally diagnosed (no one in the medical community around here has even *heard* of SIBO!), so I had to go entirely by symptoms, and what I had been doing (taking high-dose probiotics) to cause those symptoms.

      So while I’d be happy to compare notes with you, I’m not sure how much help I can really be on the SIBO front.

      As far as curing your daughter…all I can say is learn as much as you can about her particular circumstance. It sounds like you’ve had at least some genetic testing done, and that really seems to have been one of the most helpful steps for many of us. Susan Owens over on the Trying Low Oxalates Yahoo group is working on trying to integrate the genetic data that can be revealed by tests like 23andme, with what she already knows about urine metabolite markers from the Great Plains OAT test, and she appears to be making some headway. But at this early stage, there’s no way to say if the various issues can be cured or just mitigated. For me, I’d be happy just to mitigate them! But I can understand you wanting a fully normal life for your daughter.

      The good news is, since you’ve caught the oxalate issue early, it should be relatively easy to correct – just make sure you lower her oxalates SLOWLY, as yanking them all at once will likely cause her horrible, health-threatening dumping symptoms. I’m sure you don’t want to give up the gains you’ve already made!

  12. Cheryl says:

    Thank you so much for your response. I was tested with sibo and so was my daughter through a breath test. I highly highly recommend that you check out the website siboinfo.com. The woman who runs it is a doctor who dedicates her practice only to sibo She will Skype with you from anywhere and that’s how I have had consultations with her. you can also order a breath test and do it from Your own home, which is what we just did.

    So I thought I was on the right track with the diets that we were doing however this Sandy poop, dry lips and cloudy urine has been all of a sudden game changer. I am now so upset because a big part of our diet was almond butter and almond flour. Can you give me a good resource for finding out what foods are acceptable on the low oxalate diet?

    • Michelle Fields says:

      Hello again Cheryl!

      Sorry it’s taken me a bit to respond…

      I am actually aware of siboinfo.com. In fact, I long ago left a comment on this page (it’s still there, under the name Michelle), but it appears that Dr. Siebecker is no longer responding to comments on her blog. At least, her responses on that page end just a couple of months before my comment was posted. So I’m glad to hear that she’s still well and helping people. At the time that I was struggling with my suspected SIBO, I couldn’t have dreamed of affording her Skype consultations. (In fact, I still can’t; but that’s just a sign of what $50k in medical bills will do to ya :) ). I’m also intrigued to hear about being able to do the breath test at home. I wish I’d known that back then!

      As for the ultimate resource on foods for the low oxalate diet, I strongly recommend everyone join the Trying Low Oxalates Yahoo group. and download their list. It’s huge, and it’s the most accurate one available. Full details on how to join the group can be found on my page about it here, and info on how to download and use the food lists is over here.

      In your case, though, if it were me, I’d just start with removing the almond butter, and leave the rest of the diet alone for a few weeks. Then I’d remove the almond flour. Once I’d done that (and I really mean it, I’d take it at that slow of a pace), then I’d re-evaluate and see how things look. That may be all I’d need to do for a long time, and might even cause dumping if I’d been using almonds in large enough quantities.

      Hope this helps,
      Michelle

  13. Gabrielle Mc Grath says:

    I started the low oxalate diet a couple of months ago on the direction of my endocrinologist due to high oxalate levels in my urine.I have a history of kidney stones & was frequently on antibiotics for UTI’S.I suffered from severe joint pain& shortly after starting the diet I was pain free but I now find the pain has returned.Do you have any suggestions as to supplementations which would be helpful.
    I haven’t gone completely oxalate free.
    Any advice would be gratefully appreciated.

    • Michelle Fields says:

      Hi Gabrielle!

      My first question to you would be, what list are you using for reference regarding which foods are high vs. low oxalate? If you are not using the list from the Trying Low Oxalates group, I highly recommend becoming a member and getting it, because pretty much any list elsewhere (whether it came from your doctor or an online source) is going to be far more inaccurate.

      If you’re already using the TLO group list, then you probably have a pretty good idea of how high or low oxalate you’ve been eating. If you’ve been eating fairly low (below 60-100mg per day or so), it’s possible that you’re dumping, which can bring on all sorts of aches and pains, as it causes oxalates to move into circulation again (instead of remaining tucked away in tissues). Does the pain abate at all when you temporarily raise your oxalate intake (say, eat a few baby carrots)? If so, that’s an almost certain sign that you’re dumping.

      If you believe that dumping is what is causing these new symptoms, and you want to look into supplements for support, be sure to check out my page about supplements for the low oxalate diet. There you’ll find some basic info, along with further links to information about the specific supplements recommended by those in the know on the TLO list.

      Personally, most of my joint pain seems to be related to histamines, so antihistamines seem to help, as does a low histamine diet. However, if your joint pain is caused by something else, your solution will undoubtedly be different. Some folks have found that further dietary modifications, such as adopting a more alkalizing (plant-based) diet or cutting out foods like gluten, nightshades or processed food did the trick. Others who find their joint pain to be a result of overall inflammation have found help from inflammation-fighters like fish oil and still others get relief from seemingly random supplements like magnesium oil.

      I wish I could give you a more definitive answer, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the time I’ve been following this diet and the health journeys of myself and others, it’s that everyone’s chemistry is unique, so what works for one of us may not work at all for another! So my best advice is that if it’s definitely dumping, try the supps related to dumping. But if it’s due to some other issue, start trying other things, and just observe and see how much relief each intervention brings. Many of us (especially those with leaky guts) will never experience complete relief until we can get our guts back into proper working order.

      Hope this helps,
      Michelle

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