Have you ever wondered if you could find ways to lower histamines with mast cell activation syndrome? Today I want to share with you how you can lower histamines naturally and exactly what mast cell activation syndrome is.
About a year ago I was hit with a sudden and drastic increase in symptoms. I had already been treating my other chronic illnesses and was thrown for a loop when suddenly I was so sick in a brand new way.
If you are considering the possibility of Mast Cell Activation or a Histamine Intolerance, my story may help bring you some answers.
My symptoms began with some severe GI issues and went on to include increased anxiety, crazy amounts of itchiness, headaches, dizziness and extreme tiredness (just to name a few).
I found myself at the GI doctor as these were the most prominent symptoms and I was encouraged to take all sorts of different medications as “trials” to figure out what was wrong. I had done this several times before in my life, each time ending with even worse symptoms than before I began, so you can probably imagine my wariness.
Dealing with new symptoms can be hard, especially when doctors aren’t willing to look into possibilities outside of their specialty.
So naturally, I was forced to scour the internet looking for answers. This is when I came across Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and it’s high comorbidity rates with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Sure enough, my symptoms (and what seemed to make them worse) aligned almost perfectly.
I was lucky to find a great doctor (an allergist specializing in MCAS) who helped me through the testing process and in finding ways to treat my symptoms.
This condition does not go away. It waxes and wanes and can be triggered and settled. It’s something I will need to always be aware of as I face the reappearance of symptoms and discerning changing triggers.
So today, I want to help you understand what histamines are and how they affect your body. I will be sharing this information through the lens of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. it’s my hope that you will find answers and encouragement as you may be dealing with your own list of unexplained symptoms or trying to learn more about MCAS.
This is where I add a disclaimer that I am not a doctor and this information is in no way a substitute for medical or professional advice. If you are struggling with these symptoms, I highly recommend seeing a doctor for treatment.
What Are Histamines & MCAS
Histamines are an essential part of a healthy body. These chemicals are released from mast cells, cells that are a part of your immune system and work to keep you healthy. Whenever there is a threat - an allergin or toxin in your body, your brain will tell your mast cells to release histamines. These chemicals are important in fighting off these "threats". They are what is at work when you have an allergy response.
But they can get a little crazy and cause you to feel all sorts of unpleasant symptoms, especially if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
In Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, your mast cells are essentially overactive. They are easily triggered to release histamines. This only becomes a major problem when your body is already full of histamines.
For example, if you eat one or two high histamine foods, you may be fine. But if you eat a ton of high histamine foods, drink alcohol and sit in high heat all day, your body will react and you may experience a "mast cell attack".
Histamines are important, but they tend to become quite a nuisance if you struggle with MCAS or histamine intolerance.
Some symptoms of Mast Cell Activation Syndrom are:
- Abdominal cramping
- Low blood pressure and/or fainting
- Stuffiness and/or wheezing
What Causes Increased Histamines
High histamines can be caused by a number of different things.
One of the major sources of histamines or histamine-releasing properties is food. I will include a short list here of some of the foods that are high in histamine and some that are histamine-releasing. This list is not complete (I will include a post with a more complete list soon), but should give you a good idea.
Following a low histamine diet and avoiding triggers are powerful ways to help heal some of the symptoms associated with MCAS.
High Histamine Foods (contain high levels of histamines)
- Fermented foods & drinks
- Aged foods (cheese)
- Vinegar (pickles)
- Dried fruits
Histamine-Releasing Foods (trigger release of histamines)
- Citrus Fruits
- Beans & nuts
Other Histamine Triggers
- High levels of stress
- Extreme temperatures (including hot showers)
- Long exposure to the sun (tanning)
Medications Can Be Important in Healing
Sometimes when your symptoms are severe, you cannot simply lower histamines naturally. There are medications, both over the counter and prescription that may be required in order for you to find healing.
When I was first diagnosed with MCAS, I began taking medications to deal with the most severe symptoms. As my body began to heal, I started to find more natural ways to combat the symptoms.
It is important to talk to your doctor about which medications will help you. One thing that makes it so hard for those of us with invisible illnesses is that Mast Cell Activation Syndrome will not always test positive in blood and urine tests. In fact, it’s very hard to get a positive test. It’s important to have a doctor who understands this in order to avoid months and sometimes years of untreated symptoms.
My doctor was well aware that many tests come back negative and so he began treating me for MCAS and the sudden and drastic drop in symptoms and symptom severity was a major indicator that MCAS was in fact, what I was dealing with.
Antihistamines are a powerful treatment for MCAS. There are two types of histamine blockers. The first is H1 histamine blockers and these consist of the typical allergy medications such as Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec. The second is H2 histamine blockers and these are things like Pepcid and Zantac.
My doctor prescribed me a combination of the two and that was effective for me. Some people will require much more powerful histamine blocking medications or other medications that have found to be effective. This is something that only your doctor can help you determine.
But one of the most important things to consider as you are going through treatment is finding out what triggers your reactions and cutting those things out as completely as possible.
As I mentioned above, once your body settles down and your mast cells return to a stable state, you may be able to reintroduce the things that are currently triggering you.
This gave me hope when cutting out some of my favorite things like strawberries and tomatoes.
How to Lower Histamines Naturally
So let’s talk about some ways to lower histamines naturally. It will be important to determine what triggers you and then you can cut those triggers out specifically. But until them, especially if you are in the middle of a mast cell attack, I would encourage you to cut out all potential triggers.
Here are some ways that you can work to naturally lower the histamines in your body. This should help you to find healing and to decrease the amount of medication you may need or decrease your symptoms before you even need medication.
- Cut out high histamine or histamine-releasing foods
- Learn to recognize your triggers
- Avoid sitting in the sun for long periods of time
- Avoid long, hot showers
- Find natural ways to reduce histamines (specific herbal teas, some essential oils)
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink plenty of water
I find that when I stay regimented in avoiding histamine triggers, high histamine foods and caring for my body, I begin to feel better. Of course, with MCAS, you may need to introduce antihistamines or other medications. But as I am striving for natural wellness, I want medication to be my last resort.
Do you struggle with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or suspect that you do? You can ask questions or reach out in the comments below 🙂