Mind over body – how to stop the histamine itch
Having recently finished reading Dr. David Hamilton’s inspiring ‘How your mind can heal your body’, I’m now more convinced than ever that stress is a root cause of my rampant immune system dysfunction. Actually that’s not fair. My immune system is enthusiastic, like a new pup, so eagerly anticipating that first home coming embrace, that his bladder promptly empties all over the brand new rug.
But over the years my immune system has grown up into the fiercely protective Rottweiler whose job it is to protect my domain. Only as in life, where not every fisherman who comes to your door hawking their wares (yup I’m still in Kenya), deserves a bite in the butt, not every food, beauty product or stray particle needs to be taken out with a bazooka.
So my immune system and I have been having a number of heart to hearts. Among the things we have come to agreement on is that I must reduce my stress.
At this point I turn to hard facts: stress causes mast cells to release, through degranulation or otherwise, a number of inflammatory molecules that cause inflammation in the body. Among them is histamine.
To quote the research of Dr Theoharides, one of the world’s most respected mast cell researchers:
“…we have identified that mast cells both contain and respond to stress hormones.”
“Mast cells are known for their involvement in allergic reactions, but we were the first to show that they are also necessary to inititate inflammation, thus participating in inflammatory diseases that worsen by stress, such as autism, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, interstitial cystitis, migraine headaches, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis. We have developed in vivo and in vitro models for these diseases and we are studying neurohormonal activation of mast cells. The only plausible way to explain how mast cells can participate in so many diverse processes is their ability to secrete distinct chemicals relative for different pathophysiological settings.”
“Mast cells are typically activated by immunoglobulin E and antigen, a process that leads to an explosive release of over 20 biologically active molecules (some of which are presorted in some 500 secretory grqnules, wile others are synthesized during activation) through a process called degranulation or exocytosis. However, we were the first to show that mast cells can also respond to non-allergic triggers and release mediators selectively, without degranulation. We specifically reported that the inflammatory cytokine IL-1 can induce selective release of the also inflammatory cytokine IL-6, that the stress hormone corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) can induce selective release of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and IL-33 augments substance P-induced VEGF release.”
Now, while histamine is needed for most bodily processes, stress is not. So how do we go about addressing that? My first dip into this world was Dr Hamilton’s aforementioned book (How your mind can heal you body). My second was a suggestion made in his book: the Silva Method. I’m now working my way through their 40 day stress-reprogramming system. Today I had my first mega breakthrough.
After inducing my uber relaxed alpha state (as outlined in the Silva book) and doing the morning mast cell visualization that I came up with after reading Dr Hamilton’s book, I was still itching. I don’t know why or what I ate, that’s not my focus right now. Obsessing over what I eat can become counterproductive – today the focus was stress. And wracking my brain to come up with reasons why my body is in meltdown is counterproductive. (That said, the fishermen didn’t gut the fish before bringing it over, and leaving the stomach in causes histamine to double every hour!)
The key lies in that the subconscious does not know the difference between reality and what we imagine to be…so instead of being on autopilot, (I’m so ill, I hurt so bad), I’m now working with that quirk to help it cure me.
HOW I USE MY MIND TO STOP THE HISTAMINE ITCH
I lie on my yoga mat, in a super relaxed alpha state. I picture myself collecting some oil from a wise old baobab like tree. I’m happy in the knowledge that I have collected the most powerful antihistamine on the planet. I visualise myself smoothing the oil onto my skin, soothing it. As I go through the motions in my mind, I also do so in real life. I feel the antihistaminic oil seeping into my itching body, noticing as I do that my skin begins to glow from the intense healing of the antihistamine. I finish the pot, visualizing my gleaming, healing skin. Given that I know the negatives of applying products to my skin (i.e. can cause mast cell triggering), I instead imagine the opposite – the oil is healing me on a cellular level, stabilising my mast cells, causing them to shine beautifully from within each cell.
Dr David Hamilton has kindly agreed to an interview for this blog, so I’ll be back soon with a rundown on how to channel the power of visualization and the placebo effect to make a difference in your life.