In July of 2016, I had the perfect storm of environmental events that sent my robust health into an eight-month tailspin. Event #1: Higher stress than usual. Event #2: I decided to clean out my filthy garage. Event #3: While working in my garden, I was stung by multiple wasps, multiple times. These events formed a triad that took place over two weeks and within days of the wasp stings, I developed a confusing set of symptoms: debilitating fatigue, flu-like symptoms that would come and go, vertigo, and worst of all, an itchy, painful rash that covered my hands and feet. Within those eight months, I also gained almost 13 pounds…very unusual for me.
After many practitioners, both conventional and holistic, had offered up their rather lame opinions, I decided to take the matter into my own hands. My research and subsequent treatment plan determined that I was experiencing a bout of Mast Cell Activation. If you have not heard about this immune condition yet, hang in there, you will. It is quickly becoming very well known, at least in my circle. Mast cell activation, in conjunction with histamine intolerance, may be underlying many of our modern chronic conditions. Some people (I am one of them) have a higher propensity to develop this issue due to genetics, but from what I am learning, almost anyone can experience this immune system situation.
Whether due to better diagnosis or more harmful environmental factors, histamine intolerance and mast cell activation are on the rise. Histamine Intolerance is an excess of histamine in the body, which can cause a wide range of symptoms. Histamine is viewed as the “bad guy” in many health conditions, such as allergy, asthma, eczema, and migraines, but it is actually a biochemical that is vital to a healthy metabolism. But just like Goldilocks, the body works best when there is just the right amount, at just the right time.
Mast cell activation is often confused with histamine intolerance, as histamine is a common trigger for the mast cells to release their contents (degranulation), causing a multitude of symptoms. There are many degrees to the effects of mast cell activation, some being as benign as seasonal allergies and some as life-changing as autoimmunity, cardiovascular and clotting disorders and multi-system dysfunction.
I have a particular subset of clients who I call my “mystery clients.” I seem to attract them. They learn that I am like a dog with a bone and I don’t give up until I find out what is going on. These are the people that have been to multiple doctors without any answers to their suffering. At best, the doctors admit that they are stumped by the diverse symptoms and cannot help. And at worst, the client is told that the problem is all in their head and “here is a prescription for an antidepressant.” After my experience and my deep dive into the research, I am convinced that a significant part of the mystery is solved and that mast cells are playing some role in my clients’ strange health issues.
Mast Cell Activation is a vast and complex subject that I feel somewhat compelled to talk about, but there are way too many pieces to this story to put into one post. In the next few weeks, I will be writing short, informative articles, highlighting the many factors involved in mast cell activation. My goal is to create awareness around this increasingly common situation. Maybe I can help my readers understand the reason for some of their seemingly unconnected symptoms that may have been affecting the quality of their lives. Please feel free to email me if you would like me to send you my Mast Cell Activation Questionnaire. This questionnaire is the first step in determining if mast cell dysfunction may be part of your health concerns.