Have you developed allergies to your favorite foods or suddenly developed skin rashes and hives in your Lyme journey? In this week’s podcast, Dr. Gail Clayton and I discussed the link between histamine intolerance, mast cell syndrome, and Lyme disease – disorders that are not typically linked together. Still, they are more than likely related, and understanding them can be the key to healing.
What are Histamines, and what is a Histamine Intolerance?
Histamines are your body’s natural response to pathogens – they create inflammatory responses to signal and boost the immune system’s fighting response. They are also vital in regulating the brain, spinal cord, and uterus; however, their presence is a nuisance to our day-to-day life because they are why we have allergies and allergic reactions.
While a histamine intolerance can sound like your body cannot handle histamine, it is the opposite; an intolerance happens when there is too much histamine present. This intolerance can occur due to various factors such as diet, medication, stress, and gastrointestinal disorders. Enzyme diamine oxidase is present in your body t help breakdown histamines in the food you eat, so if those are blocked, your body might become intolerant. Histamine intolerance and Lyme disease correlate when you look at how bacteria overgrowth can promote high histamine levels, adding to the body’s overall inflammation. In any other case, histamine-caused inflammation is an immune response, but within a Lyme patient, the inflammation is continuously putting the body under severe stress.
What is Mast Cell Syndrome?
Mast cells are the other half of an allergic reaction – they initiate the response and act as “mediators” in the body. Similar to histamine, natural levels of mast cells are necessary for the body to function correctly; however, issues arise when the cells “go rogue” and turn into mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS). MCAS is a chronic inflammation of mast cells wherein they release excessive amounts of chemicals in the body. It can manifest in chronic hives, gastrointestinal issues, red eyes, and nasal congestion, to name a few.
How You Can Heal
Assessing your lifestyle and diet with your doctors is the first step to finding a healing path from MCAS and histamine sensitivities. For many mild cases, you are likely to be given anti-histamines that will allow your body to reduce inflammation and control histamine release. However, this only addresses the symptoms – to get to the root cause, you have to implement changes in your day-to-day. Many medical professionals recommend doing a 14-day elimination diet where you take away the common high-histamine foods and slowly reintroduce them to see which ones cause a reaction. Specialists like Dr. Clayton recommend cutting down on alcohol, coffee, citrus fruits, gluten, and fish in your daily routine. Increasing enzymes in your body will also help breakdown the overload of histamine and overall an intense reduction in stress. It is essential to create a daily routine that allows your limbic system to rest and neutralize. Your body may be in a constant state of flight or fight scenario, so you need to retrain your body that it is not in danger once the aggravators are no longer present.