Finding the joy in histamine intolerance
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with histamine intolerance. The diet, the lifestyle, and the isolation can wreak havoc on the psyche, so it’s all that much more important to dig deep and find the motivation to try and break free of the chains of histamine and find a little happiness; if only for a few moments. Here are some of the activities that kept me sane over the years.
Ever heard of laughter yoga? It’s not exactly yoga in the traditional sense. However, it may be just as (or even more) healing to the body. Developed by a medical doctor from India, Dr. Madan Kataria, it’s based on the scientifically proven fact that the body cannot tell the difference between fake laughter and real laughter. Either way, you can get the same physiological and psychological health benefits — lowering inflammation, balancing the immune system, and lowering stress hormones.
Laughter yoga guides you into laughter through specific techniques rather than humor, so that you can start laughing whether you feel like it or not. Once you get going, it tends to become real laughter. If you haven’t felt like laughing for a long time, this is a great way to remind your brain and body what joy and laughter feel like.
Mirthful laughter has been shown to not only increase the feel-good chemicals called endorphins in our bodies but as a result, also stimulates the release of nitric oxide (NO). As I outlined in another post, those of us with histamine intolerance and mast cell disorders tend to have lower nitric oxide levels. Nitric oxide just so happens to be a mast cell stabiliser and inhibits histamine release.
So, laughter could help lower histamine.
Check out a laughter yoga class near you, or find a session on YouTube to watch, or you can even find live groups on Skype with people from around the world. The world definitely needs more laughter, and hey, what a fun way to lower histamine and help your body heal itself.
TEA WITH A FRIEND
Make a plan to meet up with a good friend for some antihistamine or anti-inflammatory tea. Green tea or chamomile are almost always options at a coffee shop, but other good ones include Tulsi/Holy Basil, ginger, peppermint, or white tea. I usually travel with my own stash of teas.
Have your friend describe a trip or really positive memory in detail, and really try to picture yourself there — getting excited and feeling all the good feelings as though you were there yourself. This visualization and flooding your body with positive feelings is wonderful for getting your brain out of chronic “fight-or-flight” and rewiring it for positive emotions and anti-inflammatory, antihistamine compounds.
ENJOY INDIAN FOOD
Indian food and traditional medicine (Ayurveda) is replete with low histamine and antihistamine foods, herbs, and spices. Depending on your current health and energy levels, you might find it fun to host a small dinner party. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with finding some fun traditional Indian music online and enjoying dinner solo or with a significant other.
Ginger, cardamom, coriander, cumin, asafoetida, turmeric, saffron…these spices common in Indian foods are full of anti-inflammatory and/or antihistamine compounds that support you on your path toward healing. (Please be sure to check with your doctor if these are acceptable) Low histamine vegetables to include are zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, garlic, onion (high in antihistamine quercetin), asparagus, mushrooms, and bell pepper if tolerated (nightshade).
Try my recipe for Lentil Dal with Water Chestnut Flatbread.
CHECK OUT LEBANESE FOOD
My home country’s cooking is pretty low histamine naturally. Everything is usually made from scratch daily, and most meals begin with a large bowl of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods, and ends with a bowl of fruit.
In my interview with Dr. David Hamilton, he mentions a few ways to distract yourself from pain and other symptoms. One effective way to divert your attention from signs of illness (and ultimately, when done repeatedly, rewire your brain) is to do a sort of “victory dance” that is ridiculous enough to make you crack a smile and maybe even burst out laughing. This is a great way to get away from the seriousness of focusing on food lists, symptoms, and strategies for healing.
This could actually be a more effective strategy for healing. So, put on some fun, upbeat music, and dance away. Even better if you watch yourself in the mirror just to see how ridiculous you look. It just fuels more laughter and endorphins and histamine-lowering nitric oxide.
I’m a huge, HUGE fan of this. A great tip is also to check out some salsa dancing or belly dancing DVDs and learn something new.
GET SILLY WITH THE GIRLS
Did you know there are low histamine beauty products? YES. It is still possible to enhance your beauty with low histamine makeup. Invite a few friends over and introduce them to some pure and natural moisturizers and makeup. You can use shea butter as an all over moisturizer, pomegranate oil for your face, and some of my favorite cosmetics to smooth out your complexion and enhance your features. Who knows? Maybe your friends will switch over to non-toxic beauty, too.
You can view my beauty makeover video here for some guidance on using these natural products. For more specifics, including a list of anti-inflammatory beauty products to help you defy aging while helping the body repair at the cellular level, I’ve put together The Low Histamine Beauty Survival Guide.
Healing histamine may be challenging at times, but there are certainly ways to make it not only tolerable but enjoyable, as you move your body out of the fight-or-flight response and into healing and repair.
Miller, M., & Fry, W. F. (2009). The Effect of Mirthful Laughter on the Human Cardiovascular System. Medical Hypotheses, 73(5), 636. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2009.02.044