A lot of people suffer from seasonal allergies. Or, if you are like me, then they are not so much seasonal as they are year around. Some also have multiple chemical sensitivities, and of course we all know about food allergies and intolerance, which set off a whole different kind of reaction in the body.
The one common thing in all of these reactions is the release of Histamine.
Histamine comes from Mast Cells in our body. When the body senses that an invader (allergen) is in the body, the Mast Cells blast open (degranulate) and out comes Histamine. Histamine very rapidly races through the body and creates inflammation everywhere. It seems counter intuitive, because we see inflammation as being a bad thing. However, that is how the body protects itself from an invader. The inflammation is the reason why you experience every single symptom like itchy eyes, runny nose, coughing, hives, stomach upset, swelling, asthma, etc. This is all due to the Histamine, and it is why you typically grab an antihistamine for a reaction. Many people take an antihistamine regularly such as Claritin or Zyrtec, and other people reach for a Benadryl during acute attack. These all work to block the action of the Histamine so that it can not continue to wreak havoc.
Now you might wonder why certain parts of your body are affected more than others during allergic reactions. The answer to that is very simple. Mast Cells are bountiful in the stomach, and also all along the bronchial lining and in the sinuses (primarily mucus membranes). Since this is where the most Mast Cells are, this is also where they will create the most problems. However, it does not mean that it is limited to those locations. As soon as the Histamine is released it will create inflammation in every single part of your body to a degree.
A recent study found that those suffering with Chron's, IBS, and Ulcerative Colitis had MUCH higher amounts of Mast Cell degranulation and Histamine in their gut lining than healthy adults. This shows that even when we don't realize it, Histamine could be a huge key player for much of the inflammation throughout the body. As many of you know those people who suffer with any of the above ailments very rarely have issues limited to just the bowel. They typically have whole body symptoms and dysfunctions which they have to manage.
Some of you might not think that you qualify because you don't typically have seasonal allergies, etc. But, did you know that stress actually turns up the volume on Mast Cells, activating them to release inflammatory chemicals? Oh yes, stress (such as the kind that comes with a chronic illness) can be creating a Histamine issue in your body and you might not even know it. People who inhale an allergen will get symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, a cough etc, because that is where the allergen entered. But what about those of you who have histamine released by Mast Cells through the body simply from high stress? For those of you, the symptoms will just be full body inflammation. Also, for those of you fighting Candida, the byproduct of C. Albicans has been shown to trigger Mast Cells in the body as well. As you can see, there are many ways to have Mast Cells activated, and it is NOT limited just to having obvious allergies.
The biggest issue is that Mast Cells are a bit like a slippery slope. Once you start the cycle of provoking them to degranulate it is very hard to stop them. After they have been provoked for a while the Mast Cells become incredibly sensitive, to the point that very small stimulus will illicit a very large response. They very quickly can switch to over-reactive mode, and this is when things become very tricky.
Researchers are slowly learning that simply blocking the Histamine with an anti-histamine is not a good approach, because it is not fixing the issue at the very core which is the Mast Cells themselves. So, what are your alternatives?
I recently began investigating a better way to go about things and found that there are products called "Mast Cell Stabilizers." What these do is stabilize the Mast Cells so that they do not release Histamine in the first place. It calms them down from being so over-reactive and gets them back to a normal baseline level. If you stop it at the very source then they will not degranulate and spread harmful inflammatory responses throughout the body.
You can go the pharmaceutical route if you want, but those come with lots of side effects which are not too pleasant. There are nasal sprays and nebulizer powders which work as Mast Cell regulators, but they don't get into the entire body, and are only for specific areas such as the nose or the lungs.
This is when I found out about an amazing natural flavonoid called Quercetin. I will go into its benefits below, but for the purposes of this post, I am listing all the ingredients that are along-side Quercetin in a supplement I recently began taking called D-Hist.
Quercetin: This is a powerful natural flavonoid which supports inhibiting mast cell degranulation and its unfortunate consequences such as Histamine release. It has been shown in NIH studies to be more powerful than any prescription Cromolyn on the market. Other perks of Quercetin? Researchers are now realizing that by using this powerful substance to lower inflammation in the bowel it can lower chances of cancer development. Chronic inflammation in the bowel is a big player in the development of cancer cells, and they are finding now that it is incredibly beneficial. It is also worth noting that Quercetin helps improve the overall efficiency of your immune response to combat infection. One recent study showed that quercetin simultaneously offset the effects of stress while it reduced susceptibility to the flu. And last but not least Quercetin was shown by researchers to be highly protective to the nervous system as well. Talk about a quadruple threat!
Vitamin C: Also works to promote a healthy Histamine response, and is a bit of an anti-histamine itself on its own. On top of that, it also helps boost the immune system.
Bromelain: This strong pineapple enzyme thins mucus secretions and helps to clear the airways with its mucolytic properties. It also is known to be great at thinning thick sludgy blood and helping to get circulation moving through the body.
Stinging Nettle Leaf: This supplement has been shown to regulate a healthy immune response, by helping the body to not over react to allergens. It also has been shown been to block important enzymes within the arachidonic acid cascade to help stop allergic reactions before they start.
N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC): An amino acid that is also a natural mucolytic, NAC reduces the viscosity of mucus. Clinical studies have shown oral doses of NAC to be an excellent means to recharge cellular glutathione, a foundational antioxidant.
There are two amazing supplements on the market which have these ingredients and are all natural. One is Redd Remedies Children's Sinus Support, and the other is called D-Hist. Since I am small and really sensitive to all medications I take the junior version of this called D-Hist Jr. The Junior version has half the dosage amounts of the adult version.
Natural Mast Cell stabilizers are a wonderful option to help cut down inflammation in the body all throughout. Even if you don't realize it, Histamine is playing a role in all of our bodies to an extent to create more problems which we do not need. By taking that extra burden off the body and balancing the immune system to not over react to "invaders," you can help yourself tremendously.
I hope that this post could be informative to many of you, and as always this was not intended to supplement medical advice. As always, talk to your Doctor before changing up any kind of supplement plan that you have.