- Understand why you are so sensitive and what role mast cells may be playing.
- Brain fog, neuroinflammation and mast cells.
- How to know if mast cells are causing inflmation in your brain and what do next.
Heather Sandison, N.D.
Welcome back to the Reverse Alzheimer’s Summit. I’m your host, Dr. Heather Sandison, and I’m so pleased to have Beth O’Hara, FN here with me today. She and I have shared patients. We’ve been in the same mentorship group with Dr. Neil Nathan for a long time. And so it’s really exciting for me to be able to have you join us as I pick her brain about everything mast cell. Beth is a Functional Naturopath, specializing in complex chronic cases of mast cell activation syndrome, histamine intolerance, and mold toxicity. She’s the Founder and Owner of Mast Cell 360, a functional neuropathy practice, designed to look at all factors surrounding health conditions, genetic, epigenetic, biochemical, physiological, environmental, and emotional. I’ve been sending patients to her website for years, because it’s full of really practical information, about what to do if you think mast cell activation syndrome might be part of what you have going on, Beth, welcome.
Beth O’Hara, FN
Thank you so much, I’m really excited to be here. And I think this is gonna add a whole nother angle to this Alzheimer’s conversation, that we’re not talking about enough, in terms of what’s driving this neural inflammation. And these triggers that we know in Alzheimer’s are these same triggers for mast cell activation. So in my mind, we can’t talk about Alzheimer’s fully without talking about what’s going on in the mast cell side.
Heather Sandison, N.D.
Right, and I think you and I both clinically, we see that if somebody has multi-toxicity, if somebody has mast cell activation, their brain is not working. And so when we take that step back and go, what are all the things that can lead to dementia? Certainly, we want this on the list, and although it may not be everything for everyone, it is certainly a part of the puzzle for many, many people with dementia. So you have had your own very significant health journey that led you to an expert in lots of ways in mast cell activation, can you share with us some of your story?
Beth O’Hara, FN
Sure, I got into this because of survival, to be able to just live my life. And I was one of these people that had symptoms early on, and we find that there’s kind of two camps. There are people that have been symptomatic since they were quite young, and then there are people that have some kind of event, that’s like the straw that breaks the camels back. Before that they were fine, they didn’t really have health issues, then everything falls apart. So I was in the first camp, and there were things that contributed to that. There were some major early childhood stressors. I had a TBI when I was nine, I was kicked in the head by a horse. But one of the biggest ones was we moved to the country, we moved to an old farmhouse. Nobody was talking about mold back then. They’re still not talking about mold now, but I’m in my 40s. I mean, this was quite a while ago , and it was over a 100 years old. It was kind of fun. It was like being in Laura Ingalls Wilder, but we didn’t understand at all the impact of that mold that we were seeing. And most of the time, people don’t even see mold growing, but this was so much mold you would see it, it would grow on things in the house.
And then we played outside all the time, and I was constantly bitten by ticks. And my health just fell apart at a young age. So by the time I was 12, I started having hypoglycemia. When I was in high school, I was in a car accident, and I just couldn’t seem to come back. I had to whip myself to get outta bed to go to school. I mean, it was just so hard, but I pushed through and my big dream was to go to medical school. That’s what I wanted to do from the time I was six years old. And I was so driven that I wanted “Grey’s Anatomy” for my 16th birthday. That’s, I was the geeky little kid that stayed after in dissection labs, and wanted to be a surgeon. And I somehow made it through my undergrad, but by my junior year, I was crashing hard enough. I’d had some scholarship offers at that point to medical school and I had to turn them all down. which was just broke my heart. I mean, it was so devastating to me. I didn’t have a backup plan and I barely finished out the bachelor’s with it. Just the easiest classes I could take so that I could finish that out. And I had to figure out what in the world am I gonna do? And I became a chronically ill patient.
I had severe chronic fatigue, I had intense brain fog. I had ADD, I had anxiety, I had panic attacks. I couldn’t sleep. And I was told so many times, you can’t go more than a few days without sleep. Well, I went four years without being able to do anything more than just kind of drift. And I had to take Benadryl to do that. And I got more and more sensitive as time went on. Well, when I look back, I had gone from that farmhouse to 150 year old duplex in college I was living in and boom, I had a bigger health crash, that there was cold in the basement, you could smell it. Then I had a little cottage that was super cute, but it was a little one bedroom. But there was water leaking in the bathroom behind the shower, I have no clue. And you could smell all those little basement. You could smell mold in there. And I got even more sick.
By the time I was 28, I could barely walk, I was on a cane. It was like walking on ground glass, and I could barely read a book, I was struggling to work. It was a horrible existence. And I had seen, I think at that point I had probably seen about 40, 45 people, I stopped counting at 75. I’ve seen all over 75 practitioners. I spent a lot of money. Every dime I had went into my health. And most of the practitioners told me I was the most complex case they’d ever seen, they had no idea what to do with me. They didn’t know where to start, and no one had a clue about mold, but I figured out histamine intolerance, I got a few steps forward there, figured oxalates. And that was what was causing the ground glass pain in my joints. But it was when I landed on mast cell activation syndrome, I went, oh my gosh, this is me. This is every system, my GI tract was a mess. I had been to India to study yoga.
I don’t know how I made it there, but I somehow made it there and came back so much worse. Just my GI track was just a mess, I’d had dysentery. I would get hives and eczema covering me. And every system you could track. I had heart palpitations, extremely low blood pressure, be around 85 over 50 at times. And I would have trouble just being able to stand up, being able to walk across the room, but with the mast cell activation piece, that started pulling the puzzle pieces together, why I had all these of symptoms, it gave me validation because I knew finally I wasn’t crazy. And I’d been told I was crazy, or I was making it up when I was working so hard to get well and I know that’s a common story. It’s a heartbreaking one. And I hear it every week in my practice. People come in and tell me this.
Heather Sandison, N.D.
Or the referral to psychiatry.
Beth O’Hara, FN
Yeah, and there’s a role in psychiatry, but it’s not like, it’s so rare for people to be malingering or people to have munchausen or whatever, where they’re really causing their, that is extremely rare. But, figuring out that the mast cell activation was what was tying all us together, getting my brain back really was a game changer. And then going, well, why are these mast cells so triggered, because it’s not the mast cells that are the issue, something causing it. And we knew I had Lyme Babesia Bartonella, but I couldn’t tolerate any treatments. And we figured out I had mold toxicity, you and that’s where really made that, I got ground and I got my life back. So I was able to go back to graduate school, and get a master’s in a doctorate, and build this practice and I can go hiking. I can do 45 minutes on the treadmill, doing quite well. I still have maintenance I have to do. And I’m still finishing my mold detox. ‘Cause I had about 30 years of exposure. So it’s taking time to get out. But every year I have just several more ladder rungs. And I’m so grateful to be here now and to have my life.
Heather Sandison, N.D.
And how powerful to share that story. Because I think so many people get so overwhelmed and they hear for so long that either there’s nothing you can do or there’s nothing else I can do for you as a provider. I’m sorry, you’re the most complex case ever. And I’m just out of options. And to hear that you really committed yourself to figuring out what was going on. And then also that you know it’s a process that it’s not gonna be so many times where we’re socialized to think that, oh, you’ll take one pill and you’ll feel so much better the next day, or the next week, and it doesn’t work quite like that. There’s maintenance, this is a lifestyle. And it’s really about identifying, okay, what are all of the things mucking up the system? How do we get them out in a sustainable way, in a way that you can tolerate? And then how do we optimize self function? And like you mentioned, you knew that you had Lyme and Babesia. You had these Lyme and the co-infections, Bartonella, Borrelia Babesia, and yet you couldn’t tolerate the treatments. So let’s go there. ‘Cause I think so many people have that experience of like, I know what’s wrong, but I can’t tolerate ’cause I’m so sensitive. So what are mast cells? And what’s going on with this hypersensitivity, hypervigilance?
Beth O’Hara, FN
Mast cells are one of the, I think of them as one of the major defending and sensing cells of the immune system. So their job is to sense every molecule that passes into our body, whether it’s food, it’s our air, it’s supplements that we’re taking, medications, toxins, and they also respond to stress, and this is huge. There are mast cells at the every nerve ending, there are mast cells in some level in the brain. Although when there is neural inflammation, they’ll cross over more into the brain, and mast cells are in high numbers in our skin, they line the sinuses, they line the whole GI tract from the mouth down the esophagus, the stomach, the intestines, they’re in some levels in our muscles. They are made in the bone marrow. We have them in the cardiovascular system lining all the blood vessels. So they’re sensing every blood that passes along there. And there’s some in the heart, the lungs, I mean, we think about them being almost everywhere in the body, there’s very few tissues, the retina doesn’t have mast cells, that’s almost it. And these mast cells are one of the most complex cells in our bodies. So we think about them as evolutionarily being very important for survival. And what they’re doing is if there’s danger.
So if there’s a toxin that comes into our body, if there’s an injury, they’re involved in injury response, or if we’re stressed out. And so if we think evolutionarily, we’re being chased by predator, they’re gonna start to respond. They’re gonna mobilize and respond to help us to protect us. So to make this really simple, that most people can relate to. I just cut my finger or my hand the other day. And I was doing something silly. I had something that was frozen and I was trying to chip it apart. And the knife slipped and I stabbed myself in my hand, and I didn’t get it cleaned right away. So what happened was it started to get a little red. It got a little swollen, it started to get sore. And that was my clue, oh, you better go clean that out. Well, that’s in large part, the mast cells producing things like histamine that are gonna cause swelling, and mobilize more immune cells to come in to protect me from the bacteria that’s starting to invade in my hand and whatever other organisms. That’s an easy one to think about. But if you break your leg, the mast cells are gonna be part of that bone healing. They are gonna be part of the cardiovascular system regenerating. And they have over 200 receptors on the outside, which is amazing to me. That’s how they can be so responsive. So they have receptors for viruses, bacteria, molds, candida, they have receptors for all kinds of toxins.
Most of our medications can dock on those receptors and create a response, whether a positive or a negative response, hormone receptors. They have receptors for lots of the other immune cell communicators. And the mast cells are the major interface between the nervous system and the rest of the body. So that’s really key in what we’re seeing in neural inflammation. Then they have over a 1000 mediators inside them, they can release, it’s incredible. And we think about histamine being the best well known, and then cytokines have become a household word now, and cytokines are immune cells signalers, mast cells produce lots of cytokines. We have things like TGF beta, we have interleukins. We have types of interferons, muscles even make for our practitioners beta glucarana days which I find fascinating. So many things tryptase they make. Now there’s a difference between what we call mast cell activation syndrome, and some of which is extremely common. First of all, I wanna say this, population studies are showing mast cell activation syndromes affecting between nine and up to 17% of the general population.
Heather Sandison, N.D.
Beth O’Hara, FN
Now, if we think about mast cells are at the core of inflammatory responses, mast cell activation, we’re estimating at a bare minimum is involved in 50% of chronic illness, but I think it’s way, way higher. Then we have what’s less is known traditionally in medicine about mast cell activation syndrome. So that just got a diagnostic code in 2016. What has been studied more is mastocytosis, and some of these other genetic mast cell disorders, and mastocytosis is where we have too many mast cells. You have too many mast cells, they might be producing the normal response, but you’re still gonna have too many mediators, inflammatory mediators are gonna cause problems. Mast cell activation syndrome, much more common, you have the normal number of mast cells, but the mast cells have gotten dysregulated. And once they’re dysregulated, they become hyperresponsive and hypervigilant, and overly sensitive. So they’re gonna be overly sensitive to what’s coming into the body. They start to get, I just describe it as they’re wonky. So it’s kinda like if they’re the guards of the castle gate, the castle gate should be protecting us, keeping what’s safe come in, like our food, our water, our air and so on. And then what’s not safe keep that out, keep the invaders out.
And we live in such a toxic world now, we’re constantly bombarded by toxins. So mast cell activation syndrome has probably occurred for millennia, but it has become extremely common now, and that’s more recent. And these mast cells are having to sense and respond to 1000 times more agents than even a 100 years ago. When you think about, if you were guarding a castle gate, if you had to be on duty and fight off invaders, 24/7 for months on end, you’re gonna lose your mind. You’re not gonna able to make good decisions. So if we use that metaphor, the mast cells start to lose their ability to discern. Then that’s when become hyperresponsive, and they can make us very sensitive to things that we wouldn’t normally be sensitive to. So that could include supplements, medication, chemical smells, paint, smells, gas smells. I think of those of us with mast cell activation syndrome as the canaries and the coal mine, waving the flag going, hey guys, these toxins are bad news for all of us, but we’re getting hit with the immediate responses. Whereas some people it may not show hope for them until they have Alzheimer’s or they have cancer or something like that. We’re having those quick responses.
Heather Sandison, N.D.
Right, a lot of people describe being very sensitive to foods that they were able to tolerate most of their lives. All of a sudden now they have new intolerances, new allergies, even environmental allergies. And so this is that balance between yes, being on guard and then letting the right things, the things that serve us in. And so I’m curious, tell us a little bit more about mast cells in the brain and how these can lead to neuro inflammation specifically.
Beth O’Hara, FN
So we know some mast cells in certain regions in the brain, I’m very interested in the mast cells in the limbic system, which is part of our fear response. And our limbic system is also, we can’t separate these systems out. It’s hard to talk about them separately. I always think about the immune system and the nervous system as being intertwined. And so the nervous system also is sensing what’s dangerous and what’s not. And in the brain, the mast cells are also part of our protective response. Usually not a ton of mast cell activation in the brain, unless there’s been early traumas. And so early traumas can be abused, but it can be having witnessed abuse. It can be even having had a surgery at a young age, I had to have a mole removed that they thought would become cancerous, and I was three. And I still remember that. I still remember not understanding what was going on, being taken into the ER or to the OR, and having the anesthesia masks put on me and not having no clue, my parents weren’t there. So we have these kinds of things, and almost everyone has had some type of trauma, when it’s become chronic, though, we’ll get more mast cell activation happening in that limbic center or when we have things that are affecting neural inflammation.
So we think about mold toxins, other chemical toxins, metals, the types of bacteria, like the types of tick-borne agents that’ll impact the nervous system. The mast cells are then gonna mobilize into the brain. And again, as a protective mechanism, and it’s not always fine tuned, particularly when we’ve had these chronic issues going on for a long time. So when the mast cells start over producing these inflammatory mediators, you can get into a loop with them. And I call it a mast cell cascade. Whereas you get the mast cells start to produce mediators that are inflammatory. The mast cells have receptors for their own mediators. So then the surrounding mast cells start to get triggered by those mediators, and they go, oh, sound alarms louder. Then they’re gonna, so it’s like that snowball effect. And it just keeps going out. These mediators are producing a lot of inflammation to again, to protect the brain, but that inflammation is gonna cause all kinds of symptoms depending on what regions are being affected. So we could get memory loss issues. We can get issues with concentration.
We can get brain fog, we get sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, depends on which of those 1000 mediators are also being released. The key is, and particularly in conditions like Alzheimer’s part of what needs to be addressed is that over mast cell activation in combination with addressing those triggers, one of the places that people can get into trouble is if they’re only knocking out the mast cell response and they’re not addressing those triggers. Now, you just took your guards of your castle gate off duty and you’re wide open. So we don’t wanna do that, we have to do it in combination. And that’s one of the reasons I think I degenerated so far, because, gosh, back in the 80s, all they knew was I had these bizarre allergic reactions. And so I was on a lot of antihistamines, but then I had no protection against the mold toxins and Lyme. So ideally if we could have gone back, we would’ve calmed the mast cells while we were addressing the mold, the Lyme, and there were lots of chemical toxins being around farmland, things like that. But that’s part of the response. And then they’ll break down the blood-brain barrier. Those mediators will to let more mast cells in, but we’ve gotta think about it systematically. We’ve gotta think about how it’s all tying in together.
Heather Sandison, N.D.
Right, that works so well with our model. Is that what’s mucking up the cell, what’s preventing the cells from functioning, and then how do we put in the things that are necessary to promote, how do we get those good nutrients in, what supports the immune function? What supports neurogenesis and neuroplasticity? And so it’s about order of operations. Where do we start? Yes, we need to calm the system. And we know, just kind of tying this back to other things, the limbic system that you were describing, our memory centers of the brain are also tied to our emotional centers of the brain. And so when we have these strong emotions or we’re in high stress depression, anxiety, that can be exacerbated by mast cell, by something like mast cell. It’s also just miserable to live with. So some of that is like it makes sense that you’re a little bit depressed when you feel so awful all the time, but living in that and sustaining that chronically puts us at risk for dementia.
And so taking that step back, okay, what are all of the things we need to think about? You mentioned toxins, nutrient, we’re talking about stressors and that this stress of being chronically ill, but also getting into that fight flight free state, not being an arrest digest and heal state, structural things that can happen, much of what you were talking about. Some of this is vascular spasms that are triggered by toxins. So you can’t get good blood flow in and out of the brain, not being able to get toxins out of your brain at night because you’re not sleeping well, or you’re not in the right position, or you’re in a chronic pain. You’ve talked about not sleeping for years and years. And how just that alone, that not having that foundational rest that you need in order to heal, can be really just absolutely traumatic and devastating for your health.
And then the infections that you talked about, things like Lyme, we also know that herpes and P. gingivalis can directly trigger neuroinflammation. So making sure that somebody’s working with the practitioner who can take that step back, hold all of these things, be working on them, if not simultaneously with some thoughtful consideration of an order of operations and then putting it all together so that people can heal. And your testimony to like that this is possible. Even though it feels overwhelming, man, we’ve come a long ways from the 80s, we understand so much more of this. And it’s exciting that people like you are out there doing this work. So I wanna go into like, now that we have this really good foundation of what it is, what the cells are doing, where they’re active and where they might be most triggering dementias, what do we do about it? How do we know if this is affecting us? And then if it is, if the answer is yes, what’s the first step in treating it?
Beth O’Hara, FN
Yeah, that’s a great questions. First, I wanna talk about what the diagnostic criteria is and where we’re missing people. And I don’t diagnose in my practice, I do a consulting practice, but I’ll talk about what, I’ll give that information. And then let’s talk about when to start to suspect this, and then we’ll move into what to do. The diagnostic criteria is still quite fresh, particularly when we think about how long there’s been diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s or for things like type two diabetes and things like that. Just having that diagnostic criteria being accepted in 2016 means we’re in evolution here, pretty new. So the current diagnostic criteria, the first one is quite easy. You have to have symptoms in two or more systems. So that may mean the digestive system and the nervous system. So maybe there’s GI symptoms and there’s brain fog and depression or memory issues. Or there may be skin symptoms with the flushing. A lot of us with mast cell activation have ready cheeks.
I never wear blush because I’ll look like a clown if I do, but some people have a paler complexion and get rashes. You can get a eczema and get psoriasis, those things are linked. Autoimmune disorders are very linked, I have some people that don’t ever have skin symptoms. So that’s a big piece of misinformation that you have to have skin symptoms, with mast cell involvement you don’t, and there are many people that they can put anything on their skin, they never get eczema. They never get hives, anything like that, but they’ll get these other systems involvement. Then the second part of that criteria is that there needs to be an increase in one of the mast cell mediators, that can be histamine, that can be some of other types of cytokines that can be tested. There are a handful of tests, prostaglandin D2 some of these types of things. The problem with this one is that those media are up and down the bloodstream very quickly. Not everyone has involvement in the cardiovascular system, in the blood stream or the muscles lining the blood vessels.
So you’re not gonna have those mediators in the bloodstream. And the other is that the processing’s very tricky. It has to be cold centrifuge and almost no labs do that. ArminLabs in Germany does that, how are you gonna get blood over to Germany quickly? These are hard things. Some people overnight it, but it’s hard to do. And only about 10% of people with clear mast cell involvement are getting a positive increase in those mediators. The other one is tryptase is being used a lot, but tryptases needs to be used to rule out mast cell cytosis or genetic condition called hereditary alpha tryptasemia. Tryptase is rarely elevated mast cell activation syndrome. Another issue is we can only test a about a dozen or so of these mediators out of a 1000. What if those aren’t the ones that are involved, so that still needs some evolution there. Then the third part.
Heather Sandison, N.D.
Oh, you’ve been mentioning histamine a lot. And I wanna clarify, what if I just have allergies? Like, what’s the difference between allergies and mast cell activation?
Beth O’Hara, FN
That’s a great question. Allergies, again are gonna be just more localized. They tend to be, you might have kind of an allergy response and we could talk about, are we talking about IgE allergies or are we talking about pollen or seasonal allergies? As opposed to somebody who has this systemic type of symptomology, and it’s affecting these numerous symptoms. So if that’s all somebody has, I don’t see those people, they don’t come in, that’s all they have. We’re probably talking about mast cell activation. But usually if we dig, and it’s like, well, how’s your sleep? How’s your digestion? Do you get heartburn? We might dig and we might find a little bit more, but there are people who might just have allergies, and that if that’s all they have, then it just may be histamine intolerance. Or it just may be that they’re a little sensitive to pollen.
Heather Sandison, N.D.
And would people who have allergies potentially be more at risk for developing a mast cell activation disorder?
Beth O’Hara, FN
That’s a good question. I think of it in terms of most people with mast cell activation have some kind of seasonal allergy, or they’ll have some kind of contact dermatitis with things, or they’ll have food sensitivities. I don’t know if that’s been studied, and, but it may be, if we’re thinking there’s some immune dysregulation there. I always wonder why, why do some people have these symptoms, and why do some people not? And there’s something underlying that’s driving it, even in those allergies. And then if we go to the third piece of the criteria, it’s that there has to be an improvement with a mast cell mediating medication, mast cell stabilizing medication, or an antihistamine. The problem with that is with the exception of chrome and sodium, all those medications is formulated have mast cell triggers in the inactive ingredients of titanium dioxide, dyes, if we’re looking at liquids, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, flavorings, corn starch towel, all these are things that can trigger people. Why they would put those in mast cell stabilizers, I don’t understand, but that’s where we are.
And sometimes people are actually reacting to that, and that can eclipse any kind of improvement they may be having. The other piece of that, and we’re not talking about is sometimes people get so sensitive because of this combination, mast cell overactivation and limbic overactivation that they’re gonna be like I was where they’re gonna react to anything they put in their mouths. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s a foreign agent or start to develop those extreme food sensitivities. And I was down to 10 foods at one point that I could tolerate. And I was barely tolerating those. Those are hard scenarios to be in, but can I use some logic around some of this for people in terms of, is this making the sense for this individual that’s in front of me? And I developed a symptom survey based on the research of the symptoms that are directly correlated with mast cell activation syndrome. People can take that on our website. They can just go over to the website at mastcell360.com, go to menu under MCAS, click symptom survey, and I’ll take it through.
More symptoms somebody has the more likely they’re dealing with mast cell activation syndrome. So as we start to get into, it’s a point system. So if you’ve 50 points are over, I would consider this pretty strongly. Then the other question is, what do we do about this? And there are some people who just have really mild mast cell activation syndrome. They can probably control it with some Claritin, some Pepcid, and they may be good to go for a good amount of time if it’s quite mild. I also don’t see those people. So the people I see are the people who are struggling taking supplements, they’re struggling with medications. They can’t handle any kind of killing protocols. They’re having trouble with foods and they don’t know what they’re reacting to, or they’re reacting to everything. Where do we start? And we actually start with the nervous system. So the reason I went to see this earlier, is that talking about mast cells are at every nerve ending. They’re actually receptors on the mast cells for neurotransmitters and neuropeptide.
And then the nerve endings have receptors for many of the mast cell mediators. There’s this continual communication loop that I find so fascinating. And if we want to enter in for somebody super sensitive to calm those mast cells, we have to communicate to them that we’re safe, that they can stop bringing the alarm bell nonstop. The best way to do that is by calming the nervous system initially. And we can do that. So there’s some very targeted limbic rebooting techniques. There are things like DNRS or Gupta Program that are really dialed in for that. And we have to simultaneously work with the vagal nerve, and the vagal nerve, lots of mast cell communication with the vagal nerve itself, and that’s such a complex part of the system. Just doing that alone for a few months tends to help people. And they may need a lot of vagal modalitie, ’cause it’s so complex. So a lot of people think vagal nerve, I’m gonna gargle and switch hot and cold in the shower, and that should be enough, it’s not always.
So people may have to get some vagal nerve releasing done manually, they may need to do cranial work with an osteopath, their systems like brain tap and safe and sound. If they don’t have extreme sound sensitivity, they can be helpful. There’s lots of things that people can do. And even frequency specific microcurrent, these types of modalities. As that’s starting to calm down, then the mast cells will start to relax some of the hypervigilant and allow things on board. For some people that take six weeks, I’ve had people that took a year before they could take anything, and we had to really beef that system up. So some people can do 20 minutes a day. Some people need to do two hours a day of these modalities. And I was in that later camp, because of just how much nervous system dysregulation. Then we start to bring on some mast cell calming agents. And these can be, it depends again on the sensitivities.
So this is, we’re working with a practitioner to help problem solve is invaluable for people who are really sensitive. One of my favorites that almost everyone can tolerate is doing some baking soda. Particularly, if the blood pressure’s lower, the reason is because baking soda being sodium bicarbonate, bicarbonates modulate mechanism that calms inflammasome production, which is gonna signal again to the mast cells that they can calm down. And if somebody has high blood pressure, they might be able to use potassium bicarbonate. Now using potassium work with your practitioner on appropriate levels, you don’t have to do it. That’s usually most people unless they have some severe SIBO or some severe stomach acid issues can usually do those. And some of the other agents that work well for a lot of people are gonna be Perilla Seed Extract.
I love Baicalin, Chinese Skullcap extract, both for mast cell calming, and for the neuroinflammatory side, this is just very helpful across the board, if people can do it. And there are 100s of mast cell agents, tons research on this, the key is to find what’s gonna work for this person. And many people may need some low level compounded medications. And that may be, if they can handle it over the counter, that’s fine, but a lot of people have trouble with those inactive ingredients. If they can do an H1 blocker like Claritin, like Allegra, Zyrtec, whatever’s tolerated, they can do an H2 blocker like Pepcid, not as an acid controller because we’re not trying to manage acid, that’s a whole nother piece that has to be addressed, but because it blocks what’s called the H2 receptor, and there are four major histamine receptors on mast cells, and different mast cells in different areas have different concentrations of these.
So in the GI tract, there’s a huge amount of these H2 receptors and it can help just calm those mast cells in the GI tract, and that and chromoline sodium, and then a compounded medication called catotaphin, often when people tolerate very helpful in those food sensitivities, or when people are having reactions within 30 minutes of eating, some people it’s immediate, some people, as soon as they smell food, or as soon as they put a supplement in their mouth, or within about 30 minutes, that’s a mast cell all response. It’s not usually the agent or the food that they’re consuming, unless they have an IgE food allergy. Now that’s still muscle involvement, and there are ways that you can work with that. And I find that doing a combination of some of these medications and the supplement approaches together can really help a lot of people. Homeopathics have had a good success with some of the populations as well. And particularly the connor remedies that work on the nervous system can be really helpful. So you wanna calm the whole system down before you go after the triggering agents, particularly, when we’re thinking about Lyme, we’re thinking about mold.
Now in that time, people have been cleaning up their environment so they can make sure they’re getting mold out of their environment because you are not gonna heal if you’re continually breathing in mold, those mast cells are never gonna believe you that they can calm down because they can’t. You’ve gotta get that handled. If you’re in a place that has a lot of forest fire smoke, you need to have really good air filtration. I’ve had people who actually clean up all the mold and they found out that their kitchen cabinets were off gassing massive amounts of EOCs, and that was keeping them triggered. So then look at what that is. But we will wanna bring this whole, I think like a porcupine with all the quills out, I’m gonna soothe things down a little bit, and then we can start working on detoxing mold if mold’s there, or if they’ve gotta move into Lyme, they can handle it, ’cause there’re gonna be ups and downs in that, you want the ups and downs to be more in this, a modulated range that’s manageable. You don’t wanna take somebody who’s up here and then start detoxing them right away. Because those inevitable flaring and those mold toxins particular, incredibly mast cell triggering, those flarings can be unbearable. It’s too much, so that’s the that I take.
Heather Sandison, N.D.
That makes a lot of sense. And I’m sure there’s a ton of individualizing here, each person who comes to you is gonna be able to go at a different pace and respond to different things. Like you said, there’s could be a 1000 mediators, a 1000 types of cytokines that mast cells are releasing. And we don’t have great tests to figure out which ones. And so it’s a bit of trial and error. And working through that with a provider who’s worked through it with 1000s of people is that’s often the shortcut to figuring out if, I wish there were an even shorter cut, but really that I think you and I both share that experience of it’s really just here’s the list, and work your way through them. And then, at the end of this, hopefully we found a couple, I think of them as allies. The analogy I use is like, you’re going on a backpacking trip. And like, you don’t wanna carry anything you don’t need. So nothing that doesn’t work, but man, you need those for survival. So the ones that you can identify as allies on your journey, we wanna figure that out at the very beginning and then have those with you for the long haul, so that you can yeah, make that real progress, addressing all of the triggering components.
And I’m also just, I’m like doing a happy dance here, listening to you say like, you’ve gotta get out of the toxic environment. We have to get rid of those things. And this is so challenging. And I certainly am not an environmental hygienist. I am not an expert in this area. You and I think both work on getting the toxins out of the human, out of the body. And then we need to refer to people who can really help someone strategize about how to make sure that their environment is a healing environment. And so really emphasizing that. Like, I think of people, it’s like a cup, and if you’re just filling your cup with more and more and more toxins and there’s no drain on it, then it’s gonna overflow into symptoms more quickly. So just hearing and you also emphasize how important that is, it’s helpful. So I’m sure there’s so many people who are super interested and again, I just can’t speak more highly of your website and all that you have to offer just from showing up on your website. But I want people to understand where they can work with you, where they can get more information and yeah. How they can get all this goodness working for them so they can get better.
Beth O’Hara, FN
Thank you so much. Well, we do have a huge amount of free resources on the website at mastcell360.com. So it’s, M-A-S-T as in Tom, C-E-L-L 3-6-0. I’ve got courses I’ve put together to help people step through this. It starts with the nervous system, how to customize your own roadmap. It steps you exactly through how to build that. Some of the top mast cell supporting supplements to work with and how to onboard them, if you’re super sensitive and you’re having trouble, how to do a very slow titration starting with sprinkles. And then we have a whole mold course, for people who are very sensitive. How do you go about this if you’re very sensitive. And I also wanna leave people with a couple tidbits. And I think about people for the summit being in two areas, they’re either wanna prevent Alzheimer’s or they’re having to reverse it. So if we’re reversing it, obviously we’re working against the clock and you’ve gotta move quickly. You’re in the prevention area and you’ve got some time. My motto for those people is that slow will be fast, but trying to go too fast is gonna be slow, particularly if you’re sensitive, and it’s okay to take time.
And some of these agents, it took me six months to get on board, because I started opening the capsules and tiny little sprinkles in water, and then I’d stir it and I’d take a couple sips of the water and people don’t often think that it’s okay to start that slow, but it is. And one other one that we didn’t mention previously what I to bring in is toxic relationships. And just as threatening as being exposed to toxins or being exposed to mold or chased by a bear, our mast cells don’t know the difference. Our limbic system doesn’t know the difference. I find that in our population, there are a lot of toxic relationships people involved in, and that keeps us in a survival fight or flight mode as well. And if we are constantly feeling triggered by that, developing those good boundaries and self care, and particularly as people move into dementia, we start to lose that. And so if somebody’s a caretaker for somebody with dementia, helping them with those boundaries and keeping an eye on that, making sure that they’re not gonna be taken advantage of, but also that there’s not gonna be those kind of emotional social stressors. That’s also really key for people to think about. And we don’t talk about that very much.
Heather Sandison, N.D.
Yeah, I really appreciate that. And like you mentioned, the early childhood traumas, sometimes when we’re in toxic relationships as adults, because we started with toxic relationships. And so my bias is that everyone should be in therapy. We all have lots to learn in personal development if not a job, a hobby. And so encouraging people to, yeah, what does this have to teach me? What can I learn from this process? And how can I be a more developed human and finding peace and healing across the entire spectrum of our experience not just the physical? Yeah, thank you for mentioning that, Beth, it’s just an absolute pleasure to have this opportunity to talk with you and to learn from you. I’ve picked up things at bicarb, I’m gonna be using that more often. And I just can’t thank you enough for your time and this just the generous sharing of information that you do on your website and here today with us on the summit.
Beth O’Hara, FN
Thank you so much.