Fight histamine inflammation: live longer and younger

arid land with buildings in the distance

arid land with buildings in the distance

Inflammaging is the ageing effect of inflammation on the body and brain. We have modern medicine to thank for life span increases, but scientists believe part of the reason inflammation takes such a toll on us is because the immune system must nowadays stay active for longer than ever. This very long activity may lead to chronic inflammation that begins damaging internal organs. As a key component of the immune system, excess histamine is also implicated in ageing and damage to internal organs. Below you’ll find a list of natural anti-inflammatory foods and anti-ageing (all low histamine) oils for topical application.

Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer all have an inflammatory component, but science tells us that genetics plays an important role in their development. Those with genes linked to inflammatory changes are “related to unsuccessful ageing”.

Inflammatory responses are believed to be the driving force behind tissue damage associated with age related diseases, which is why the term “inflammaging” was coined.

Chronic inflammation is considered to be involved in all age-related diseases.

Cancer rates spike dramatically in those 65 and over. Researchers are finding that previous infections in youth, which have triggered inflammation when fought, is a key measure of later inflammaging and cancer rates.

Lower rates of alzheimer’s disease in those with a history of long term use of NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen, is another indicator of just how strongly inflammation impacts the ageing process.

A recent study of Japanese people over 100 years old found that, contrary to what we’ve been told in recent years, the best predictor of a long and healthy life is not telomere length, but levels of inflammation in the body. Scientists running the study found that lower levels of inflammatory agents released by mast cells in the blood meant longer life. The more mast cell activated inflammation in the body, the more age related disease and and shorter life expectancy.

In terms of skin, inflammation can accelerate fine lines, wrinkles, as well as causing enlarged pores, puffiness, sagging, blotchiness and reddening of the skin.

One of the keys to fighting inflammation is avoiding unhealthy fats like partially hydrogenated ones found in processed foods, cottonseed, palm, soy and corn oils, which can now even be found in “healthy” foods found on organic supermarket shelves. Eating anti-inflammatory foods, particularly ones rich in omega 3 fatty acids meanwhile has a significant anti-ageing effect on the body and brain.

One of the most terrifying symptoms of histamine/mast cell activated inflammation has to be its effect on the brain, otherwise known as brain fog. In my case this manifested in the inability to understand or remember what was being said in classrooms. I relied heavily on my notes, when I wasn’t too exhausted or disinterested to write them (motivation takes a plunge into the toilet bowl when you’re too tired to walk to class), but even a hint of stress would send said information scurrying into the furthest recess of my memory. A leftover from those years, which has sadly persisted to this day, is that I may question something I know – something I have read or studied, simply because accessing memories formed in those troubled years is like trying to scoop up a catfish from a slimy green pond using freshly vaseline-d hands. The harder I try to extract said nugget of information from that murky green pond, the more it writhes and wriggles free, till I lose it, unsure it was ever there.

Thank goodness for iphones, wikipedia and google.

Luckily, memories formed in recent years have proven far easier to access (now that my brain fog has resolved) and so today I’m sharing some of the causes of brain fog in histamine disorders and the research on how to alleviate it. There is of course far more than just one cause and more than one approach to treating it.

According to a paper by Dr. Theoharides at Tufts, published in Neuropharmacology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, brain fog is a constellation of symptoms that include reduced cognition, inability to concentrate and multitask, as well as a loss of short and long term memory. The paper goes on to share that brain fog is common to those with celiac, chronic fatigue, autism spectrum disorders, fibromyalgia, mastocytosis, postural tachycardia syndrome, as well as in early clinical presentations of alzheimer’s. Dr. Theoharides believes that brain fog may be due to inflammatory molecules and histamine released from mast cells, causing brain inflammation.

The paper sums up the findings I spoke about earlier regarding histamine’s opposing roles in memory: “It appears that some histamine is necessary for alertness, learning and motivation, but too much histamine shuts the system down, in mast cells and histaminergic neurons, by activating H3 auto inhibitory receptors leading to brain “fog”.

The paper concludes with a review of recent research, including that of Dr. Theoharides, showing that flavonoids occurring in nature, like luteolin (though quercetin is also one), can prevent and treat neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases (including alzheimer’s). In a similar vein, researchers at the University of Illinois recently published research on how luteolin could help alleviate or prevent symptoms of alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis, based on its brain protecting activity.

Now while we’re told that eating our medicine is unlikely to be enough for us, I still believe that eating a diet solely comprised of said healing foods is still an awesome healing approach, whether or not we choose to use supplements. I actually only came up with my diet after doing some hardcore research into mast cell stablising and histamine lowering nutrients available in the supermarket.

Common inflammation triggers

Excess histamine

Allergies

Stress

Trauma/injury

Inflammatory diet (high histamine diet, a diet low in omega 3 fatty acids, a diet high in processed foods)

Why take NSAIDs for inflammation when you can eat your medicine?

Studies show that NSAIDs delay muscle regeneration (like after you exercise), reduce cartilage healing, and others find that they work no better than placebos in reducing pain and soft-tissue swelling. This class of medications is also known to cause kidney damage and heart attack in older patients.

Please do not add any supplements to your diet without consulting your doctor. Some of these supplements may be very high in salicylic acid and are not suitable for those with salicylate intolerance.

Fish/omega 3 oils

Now recommended by the American Heart Association, fish oil is an important component of an anti-inflammatory diet. From a histamine perspective, it’s not so clear. The best choice would be an unfermented fish oil. Studies have found that DHA, a type of vegan omega 3 rich oil, is particularly effective at preventing histamine release from cells in animals.

I use Dr. Fuhrman’s DHA+EPA Purity oil with no problem.

White willow bark

One of the oldest inflammation remedies known to man, this tree bark is high in salicylic acid, the stuff aspirin is made of. It blocks the COX enzymes and prostaglandins. Studies show it can be as effective as NSAIDs and aspirin, with fewer side effects.

Curcumin

The active constituent of turmeric has been shown to be a potent anti-inflammatory with potential to treat colitis, neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis and cancer. It is also an antihistamine and mast cell stabiliser. It can however negatively impact the histamine-degrading enzyme DAO in some. I use turmeric daily in cooking.

Green tea

Anti-inflammatory, antihistamine and mast cell stabilising. As with all teas however, it may negatively impact the DAO enzyme. I drink green tea infrequently because of the caffeine.

Pycnogenol

Another bark product, this extract is comparable in efficacy to sodium cromolyn, the most commonly prescribed pharmaceutical for preventing histamine release from mast cells. It’s considered useful in promoting wound and ulcer healing in particular but also for other inflammatory conditions.
Anti-inflammatory and antihistamine beauty/ageing prevention (to be applied topically)

Pomegranate seed oil

Baobab oil

Moringa oil

Oat masks

Coconut oil

——REFERENCES——

Bost, Jeffreyw, Adara Maroon, and Josephc Maroon. “Natural Anti-inflammatory Agents for Pain Relief.” Surgical Neurology International Surg Neurol Int 1.1 (2010): 80. Web.

Yamada, Koji, Mitsuo Mori, Noritaka Matsuo, Kentaro Shoji, Takashi Ueyama, and Michihiro Sugano. “Effects of Fatty Acids on Accumulation and Secretion of Histamine in RBL-2H3 Cells and Leukotriene Release from Peritoneal Exudate Cells Isolated from Wistar Rats.” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, J Nutr Sci Vitaminol Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology 42.4 (1996): 301-11. Web.

Franceschi, C., and J. Campisi. “Chronic Inflammation (Inflammaging) and Its Potential Contribution to Age-Associated Diseases.” The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 69.Suppl 1 (2014): n. pag. Web.

“Brain Fog – the Histamine Connection and beyond.” THE LOW HISTAMINE CHEF. N.p., 2015. Web. 06 Aug. 2016.