8 top tips for dealing with a histamine reaction
We’ve all been there: the world just won’t stop spinning, your heart is just about ready to jump out of your chest, your vision is going hella weird, a migraine’s brewing, and you’re worried another bite of food will end in an Exorcist style bout of projectile vomiting.
What to do?
I used to live in fear of moments like this. I’d clutch the toilet seat, head hung low into the bowl, waiting for the inevitable moment my stomach’s contents would emerge in a much less pleasant way than they went in.
You know what though? None of it was inevitable.
First off, I learned that eating a very high nutrient diet full of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods (more here) would kill my inflammation to the point that I no longer reacted in X-rated movie style fashion (I mean horror movies folks!). I also figured out that applying what I had learned in years of trying to deal with anxiety disorder, which I now know was actually caused by histamine, would get me through the worst.
But there’s much much more…
Yasmina’s top tips for dealing with a histamine reaction:
1. Juice it
There was a time that I felt that not eating after experiencing a bad reaction was the way to go. It’s not the worst idea, but once I found out that stress triggers mast cells to dump histamine and other inflammatory elements into the body, I had to reconsider. Starving myself, especially jumping into it suddenly, when I was really, really not well at all, with my body already under major stress, soon gave way to the gentler and more sensible juicing approach.
I liken the water fasting vs juicing idea to the low histamine diet vs the antihistamine and anti-inflammatory diet I use to heal myself. While the low histamine diet employs elimination to remove something that is part of the reason we’re not feeling well, it doesn’t nourish or heal. On the contrary, it deprives the body and soul to the point of despair and disrepair.
The antihistamine and anti-inflammatory diet adds beneficial nutrients back to the diet, thereby supporting the body, giving it the tools it needs to fight overall inflammation, rather than just dealing with histamine-induced inflammation. (Serotonin, prostaglandin’s and various genes cause inflammation too).
I find that two days of juices and smoothies with not more than one or two pieces of fruit to every five to ten of green veggies pretty much mops up any excess inflammation I’ve managed to inflict upon myself.
2. Be a lover
I’m working on a post on this one – so I’ll keep this brief. The next time you’re feeling like something you scraped off the bottom of your shoe, go hug your beloved. Cuddle your child, your pup, your mailman. Ok the last one was a joke, but you get the point.
There’s an incredible scientific reason for this that relates specifically to histamine intolerance, mast cell activation, mastocytosis and other inflammatory conditions. Till then you’ll just have to take my word for it that love is so powerful it can even save your life.
3. Sleep it off
It’s not just the 12 hour fast aspect of sleep which leaves many of us feeling better. I personally feel INCREDIBLE after a solid eight hours. Back in the pre-recovery days, I would often stay in bed till the 4-6am cortisol dump (to help us wake up) would burn off.
Turn out the lights as early as possible – this promotes the production of melatonin, a hormone which reduces inflammation and promotes sleep . I found it much easier to sleep if I ate at least six hours before I hit the hay.
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4. Meditation: nature’s antihistamine
I recently wrote about my incredible experiences with meditation. I’ve been doing it on and off since the age of 18, but for some reason, it only recently clicked for me. Sitting still facing a wall for an hour while focusing inward on my body sensations did little else than highlight every single thing going wrong in there. Nowadays I’ve tailored the meditation to address my weaknesses and embrace my strengths, and it’s really working for me.
I wrote about the incredible epigenetic, antihistamine and mast cell stabilising properties of meditation here, and you’ll find an example of one of my earliest efforts at killing a histamine reaction through meditation here.
5. Let go and enjoy the ride
Ok, so it really used to freak me out that passion fruit would send me on an LSD style trip for hours. And then I just learned to embrace it. Chocolate can keep me up for hours – so this new year’s eve I made sure to pack two small home made bars of super dark goodness in my purse and spent the night chattering and bobbing to the beat.
Too much passion fruit can still send me away with the fairies, so I’ll have a couple when I’m on a beautiful tropical beach and sit back to enjoy a tangerine sunset.
I just learned to stop fighting and let the current take me, to loosen my grip on the mind, my extreme type A personality need to control my environment and every cell within my body.
I’m not talking about foods that caused major reactions – please always be safe, especially if you’re prone to anaphylaxis or have suffered severe reactions at any point).
6. Yoga it out
Yoga has much in common with meditation. I mean really, it actually is just a long meditation with movement. Yoga lowers inflammation and fights the asthma symptoms many of us experience during severe reactions.
Close your eyes and think of yoga – hippies twisted into pretzels or Madonna’s He-Man arms may spring to mind, but that’s not at all the way it has to be. A great way to start is to get yourself a beginner’s yoga for stress reduction DVD that’ll hopefully help dial down some of that inflammation we’ve racked up. Read more on my yoga adventures here.
7. Natural antihistamine’s rule
I recently covered my favourite mast cell stablising and histamine lowering antihistamines that I use in emergencies. I generally pop a quercetin/nigella combo if I know I’m going off track, and a couple more before I hit the sack.
8. Apply anxiety protocols
I was well equipped to deal with histamine reactions once I knew what they were, thanks to my years of anxiety disorder reading and behavioural therapy. Basically, I induced anxiety attacks in order to show myself that I was in control and that nothing horrible was going to happen. Just understanding that ultimately I hold the reigns freed me. I’m not suggesting you induce an attack, but rather take heart, and empower yourself to wrest control from your imagination.
Now some of you might think you don’t have that same control – believe me, you do. You may not be able to control the mast cells dumping histamine into the body, or you may have no control over your dietary histamine intake (believe me, you can have it if you try hard enough), but you CAN control the intensity of them.
Breathing, meditation, yoga, distraction, spending time with loved ones all help mediate histamine attacks.