The antihistamine & anti-inflammatory diet wins!
Yes dear friends, it seems as though I’m winning the battle against my histamine intolerance/mast cell activation/whatchamacallit! So I had to park myself outside Whole Foods in London for a juicy celebratory selfie. You’ll notice I’m mugging it up with my top ally in the battle against chronic illness – Mr Green. Ok, now let’s rewind to earlier that day: “The best medicine is zero medicine.” Pearls of wisdom, from one of Europe’s most respected mast cell/mastocytosis specialists. Thing is, it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. Having gone over my symptoms on file, Dr X asks what my main complaints are nowadays. As they come out of my mouth, I realise they no longer sound impressive. I sense I’m losing him. Wait, I tell you, I have symptoms! I gently plead, reeling off a sizable, scary list of former symptoms. Ones I struggled with as recently as July of last year. I find myself feeling the need to justify that I do in fact have good reason to be sitting here in his office, taking up oxygen and precious time he’d undoubtedly prefer to be allotting to “real” patients – those with proven mastocytosis (rather than the still, in the UK, dubious histamine intolerance or mast cell activation). But then, a doctor I had believed to be a bit of a stick in the mud, one so entrenched in procedure that he was almost famed for his reticence in diagnosing what’s still regarded with a gallon-sized dollop of scepticism as a non-diagnosis in most of the world, dropped the bomb. My tests results show that I’m in even better health than last March, when I declared “I’m in the best health of my life” and that, ok, fine, my symptoms were horrific years ago, and that’s why I landed on his doorstep, but I’m flipping well healthy now, so keep doing what I’m doing! Not only that, but hell yeah, I’ve managed to “cure” my soy allergy!!! YEAH!!! And…my B12, D, calcium, liver & kidney profiles, WBC and RBC are excellent! Wooooo! Once I finish my impromptu victory dance, we go on to discuss diet – yes can help, but a low allergenic one. The diet sheet he gives me looks like a SERIOUSLY unhealthy version of the Failsafe diet – NO fruit whatsoever, no fish or fresh herbs. Many of the foods agree with Dr Janice Joneja’s list. I asked if my recent (this year’s) efforts to manage my stress had anything to do with my incredible turnaround – yup, some of his colleagues propose that stress may in fact be the primary trigger of mast cell degranulation or cause of mast cell activation. Dr X points out that every human being experiences mast cell degranulation, and that some people just might be more sensitive to it, and thereby stressed out by the changes that occur in the body during it. We go over how histamine shouldn’t be the entire focus (don’t I keep saying that?) – after all, inflammatory agent heparin is in mast cells too, and we mustn’t forget the prostaglandins and leukotrines which are synthesized once mast cells dump their load in the bloodstream. Confused by all this talk? Check out my FAQ for an explanation. I share that I already take mast cell stabilising mangosteen to address the prostaglandin issue – as I reported in a previous post, elevated prostaglandin D2 has been identified as a root cause of hair loss. I’m quite sure the mangosteen has played a HUGE part in helping resolve my catastrophic, soul destroying, hair loss. He’s not familiar with the use of, or research on, mangosteen, quercetin or nigella (or he doesn’t let on he does). No surprise – docs know THEIR meds – what they prescribe on a daily basis. Which is probably why he writes me a script for the most commonly prescribed mast cell stabiliser – sodium cromoglycate. I chose not to fill the script because I’m already taking a number of natural mast cell stabilisers, one of which has been proven to be as effective as sodium crom. As for the leukotrines – I was told they’re behind much of the respiratory symptoms. Leukotrines would be why some are prescribed Montelukast/Singulair. Though I no longer suffer from respiratory symptoms, for my lovely readers, I shall do some digging to see what foods/supplements target these receptors specifically. Although…as I’m typing this, something has occurred to me. BRB. Oh m’gosh. It’s funny how after a while you develop an intuituon for these kind of things…seems that one of my favourites, H1 and H2 receptor antagonising nigella sativa oil is also a leukotrine inhibitor! I’ll come up with some more and report back. Despite the title of this post – I honestly believe that this isn’t a battle against mast cells or histamine. It’s a fight against my tendency to believe the worst about my health (thanks to decades of misdiagnosis and the disbelief of friends, family and doctors), against my need to control every single thing in my environment (which so easily expresses in terms of my illness), and my struggle with complacency in diet and lifestyle. Believe me, none of this came naturally to me. My body had to literally break down for me to create this new lifestyle! Dr X ended our appointment with: “Go out and live your life. Just keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s obviously working for you.” Drs Joneja and Castells both said something similar (though I have only interviewed rather than consulted with them). You think I’d know that by now right? Thing is, this is my health we’re talking about here, and I’m constantly questioning whether I’m doing the right thing… Whether others who may choose to do as I do will also experience this amazing abundance of health (at least in comparison to what we used to go through!) or end up hurting themselves. If I’m doing my body any long term damage by not taking meds. And more importantly, am I finally in good enough health to allow myself to believe that I am truly healthy? Or will life once again disappoint me? I’ve found the nature of these disorders to be cyclical. My symptoms have waxed and waned over the years. But I’ve made myself a promise, as of today, rather than indulging in yet another round of obsessive self checking, picking apart every nerve impulse, contraction, blemish, I’m going to do my very best to go ahead and let go of the safety rail and reach out to grab life with both hands. Will you? For more on how lifestyle and dietary changes help in mast cell/histamine disorders specifically, I highly recommend checking out my interview with world renowned immunologist Dr Castells as well as part two, where we get into the role of stress. Don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter to be the first to know when registration opens up for webinars, histamine wellness retreats and workshops in Europe and the United States, to get great freebies like antihistamine and anti-inflammatory recipes and lifestyle tips. The Anti-cookbook, while it doesn’t treat any conditions, due to its high nutrient, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory ingredients, has been instrumental in helping me feed myself on a limited diet. It features a six page list of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods. It comes in regular and Paleo. The Low Oxalate Cookbook features antihistamine and anti-inflammatory rich recipes. Don’t miss the Low Histamine Beauty Survival Guide for non-toxic beauty tips, the skinny on histamine releasing (mast cell degranulating) beauty ingredients, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory beauty alternatives and the top brands natural brands I’ve found. Take a peek at my other low histamine and antihistamine cookbooks for more high nutrient recipes. If you’ve found this information useful I’d appreciate your support (at no extra cost to you!) – please check out my online store for your health foods, supplements, kitchen items and beauty product purchases. Affiliate sales through my online store go towards maintaining the website, funding travel to interviews and purchasing all the lovely foods for my free online recipes. You’ll find these items in the “Shop with us” drop down menu on my homepage. Please don’t forget antihistamine, pain killing foods can still hurt us, so please always check with your doctor before adding new foods to your diet.