Mysterious Mast Cell Activation Syndrome with Dr. Stephanie Gray

I recently spent time with Dr. Stephanie Gray, and we discussed Mysterious Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.

If you are dealing with a laundry list of symptoms with no answers, you might be in the 9-17% of the population who have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.

In this episode I talk about my personal Mast Cell Activation Syndrome diagnosis, common symptoms, and many of the root causes of this mysterious condition.

Click on this link, or you can read the transcript below:

Beth O’Hara FN 0:03
I really specialize in the most sensitive people. Most people by the time they see me they’ve seen at least 10 practitioners if not more.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 0:14
Welcome to the longevity blueprint podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Stephanie gray. My number one goal with the show is to help you discover your personalized plan to build your dream health and live a longer, happier, truly healthier life.

You’re about to hear from Beth O’Hara FN. Today we’re going to dive into histamine intolerance, mast cell activation syndrome and even dive into the world of mold toxicity.

Thanks for joining me for another episode of the longevity blueprint podcast today I have Beth O’Hara FN, who is a functional naturopath specializing in complex chronic immune conditions related to mast cell activation syndrome and histamine intolerance. She’s the founder and owner of Mast Cell 360. a functional natural empathy practice designed to look at all factors surrounding health conditions, genetic epigenetic, biochemical, physiological, environmental and emotional. She designed Mast Cell 360 to be the kind of practice she wished had existed when she was severely ill with mast cell activation syndrome, histamine intolerance, neural inflammation, Lyme mold, toxicity, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

Her mission today is to be a guiding light for others with mast cell activation syndrome, histamine intolerance and these related conditions and their healing journeys. Through her Mast Cell 360 root cause process, she discovers the unique root factors affecting each of her clients health issues, building a personalized, effective roadmap for healing. She holds a doctorate in functional natural empathy, a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and a bachelor’s degree in physiological psychology. She is certified in functional genomic analysis and as a research advisor for the Nutri genetic research institute. She presents it functional medicine conferences on mast cell activation syndrome and histamine intolerance, as well as the use of genetics and biochemistry and addressing chronic health conditions. Wow.

Beth O’Hara FN 2:07
So welcome Beth to the show. Thank you so much, Stephanie. It’s great to be here. And I’m excited to dive into this because I often find that talking about Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is a game changer for a lot of people. It really is. And I found that that has helped many of my patients, and I should call you doctor O’Hara. So I apologize for that comment. So your journey started before you became doctor O’Hara. Actually, you had to walk with a cane by the time you were 28. And you were bedridden for quite a while. So can you share with us the story what you’ve been through, and how that got you into, we’ll just say looking much younger as compared to looking older. Well, it was quite the journey and parts of it were a bit of a nightmare. So my story was quite an intense journey. And it really started when I was seven, my family moved out to the country and into this old farmhouse. And I thought I was really into reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and I thought that, you know, this would be that kind of adventure. And parts of it were really fun and great. But what I didn’t know at the time, none of us knew that that house was full of toxic mold. Also didn’t know anything about Lyme disease back then. So I was I played outside all the time had numerous numerous tick bites. And I pretty confident I’ve had Lyme, bartonella and the BGM.

And my health issues just continue to accelerate as I was a child. I my mother took me from Doctor Doctor, nobody could figure out what was going on other than somebody did figure out I should be put on a lot of anti histamines. It’s helped quite a bit, I would it should have hives, I’d be scratching my eyes all the time, sneezing and asthma. I was kicked in the head by a horse when I was nine and had a brain injury. And then that set off a whole series of things. And this attorney just kept continuing like that until, as you mentioned, I just kept getting more and more ill. And when I was in college, my dream was to go to medical school. And I had a full scholarship which is kind of rare to get. And the most probably devastating thing of my life. One of the most devastating was I had to turn it down because it was so ill and I knew that if I did make it through the four years of medical school, there was no way I was going to make an 80 hour week residency.

So I took this whole other journey of being a chronically ill patient and eventually got to where I just couldn’t really get out of bed. At age 28 I started having to use a cane to be able to walk and it was weird it would be during the winter and then it would get better in the summer.

It took until I was about 35 years old to realize and I’m in my 40s now, but it took until then to know that I had mast cell activation syndrome

And then even longer to know I had mold toxicity. And so there were about 15 years of being too severely ill unable to work much, and sometimes being really bedridden and not able to work at all. But and just went to so many practitioners, I probably saw it stopped counting at 50. And I stopped counting at when I had spent over $150,000. I know it’s way more than that now. And nobody could figure this out. But I finally hit on mass cell activation syndrome. Yes mean and Kevin’s done with somebody was falling back then figured out ahead histamine intolerance and oxalate issues, I had mast cell, and then started putting the pieces together and how to address this because nobody had this figured out at the time. And it’s taken quite a lot to put that together. The last piece was the mold toxicity and realizing that I’ve had about 20 years of mold toxicity exposure through that old farmhouse and then different workplaces and, and different places I had lived, especially in college, living in less expensive housing and what I could afford at the time. Wow, you’ve been through a lot. I have to ask, were any of your family members sick? Also, there have been some different health issues. No one was as ill as I was. And I think part of that a big part of that are the genetic differences. Yep. And so my, my sister is a half sister. And so we had different fathers. And I think that was a big part of the genetic differences. Sure. Nobody was as sick as I was, at all.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 6:35
It took you a long time. But thankfully, you found some answers. And now you’re shedding hope, light on others who are experiencing similar struggles. So let’s break down what mast cell activation syndrome is. Because I don’t think a lot of patients and practitioners really know what this is, but also differentiate this from histamine intolerance or discuss the overlaps. Can you talk more about that in symptoms one may be experiencing if they have these conditions? Yes, for sure. I’d like to start with histamine intolerance, because it’s simpler. Yeah. So insulin intolerance, most people have heard of histamine. And if they have allergy symptoms, they might grab an anti histamine. So instant intolerance is where the body has trouble breaking down histamine, the histamine levels that are there.

And it can either be because there’s too much histamine inflow, from eating a lot of high histamine foods or the body over producing histamine, or that the histamine degrading enzymes are not functioning properly. That can happen from for genetic reasons, or nutrient depletion, medications, things like this, so that histamine builds, and it can cause a number of different symptoms because of all the roles histamine has in the body. So histamine has a role in digestion and activating stomach acid, it works as a neurotransmitter helps regulate sleep wake cycles, and it’s really involved in inflammatory response. So we get a lot of overlapping symptoms with histamine intolerance, and mass cell activation, the classic of both are going to be things like itching, sometimes rashes, hives, loose stools is very common. But sometimes people will have constipation, can have heart palpitations, can have mood swings, depression, insomnia, anxiety, depending on which systems will be affected. The muscle activation syndrome is related but much more complex, and that what I know, you know, but some of our listeners may not know that those muscles are the frontline defenders of the immune system.

And so they’re out there sensing for pathogens for toxins, and they have over 1000 receptors on the outside so they can respond to so many different things. Even things like electromagnetic radiation, they can respond to mold, toxins, pathogens, other than mold all of these different things. And the mast cells have over 1000 different mediators so that they can release histamine is just one so we have cytokines which is really popular where that all of a sudden most of the world knows now. But people didn’t know about cytokines before we got into everything that’s happening in the world currently interleukins prostaglandins, there’s tons of different inflammatory mediators. And the mast cells job is when there is a pathogen like a bacteria or a virus or molds for or if there’s toxins, if there’s injury, their job is to go in, create inflammation to surround that invader, that toxin, or even part of the recovery from injury A lot of people don’t know about is that you have to have some inflammation there. So most people’s experience of the mast cells are when they’ve had like a cut or a splinter or a piece of glass that got stuck in their skin and they didn’t get out fast enough and then didn’t clean it out. You get that redness, toughness and conserve energy. The muscles are a big part of that response, creating that

Beth O’Hara FN 10:00
What happens in mass activation syndrome is that there’s been too much constant onslaught on those nerve cells, there are some genetic markers that can contribute. So there’s genetic based, and most muscle activation syndrome is secondary. It’s not genetic base. But there are a lot of markers that can be involved. So I think of it like, if you have guards of a castle gate, and those guards are doing the job, they should be able to, you know, be on duty for eight or 12 hours and then go rest. But in mass activation syndrome, and what’s happening in our world now is we just have this constant parade of toxins coming at us electromagnetic fields, mold toxicity is become much bigger issue than it was 50 years ago.

So you have all these different things coming to the mast cells, we have more issues with infections. So the masses aren’t getting a break. And when they have to be on guard all the time, 24. Seven, it’s like the programming gets dysregulated. And so they become hyper responsive, and inappropriately responsive. So instead of just targeting those toxins, or those pathogens or that injury, they can start targeting across the board. So I say instead of just shooting at the enemies, now they’re also shooting at the butterflies. So it’s not the muscles that are at fault. They’re, they’re doing their job to protect us. They’re doing the job to keep us alive, and as healthy as possible. Because if we just wipe them out, then those toxins and pathogens have free rein in the body. And that’s not a good situation. And I think that’s why I got so ill because I was on so many anti histamines and mast cell stabilizing medications. And the mold and the Lyme, the burden of OBJ had free rein in my body. So I felt so much better for about three or four years. And then it really started going downhill. And I’ve seen that over and over and my practice as well. Very interesting. So many things I want to comment on, I want to come back to symptoms for a moment.

So what I think histamine, I think redness like you’ve mentioned, right? So that’s actually we have a great response. Our body is designed, right? When you have a splinter, you have that redness, that’s a good thing. So when I think histamine intolerance, I also think flushing, like a lot of patients get very red. I’ve had some patients whose whole body is just red, they’re so washed. And then I think mast cell activation syndrome, right, one of the patients that read also headaches, and then I see a lot of vertigo and just kind of unexplained dizziness. Do you would you agree with those two? Absolutely. migraines, there’s so many symptoms, it would be hard to even go through them all. Because part of the criteria of whether it’s mast activation syndrome is is are the symptoms affecting two or more systems. I have people in my practice, I have a woman I’ll call Jane. And she has anxiety, insomnia, and digestive issues like acid reflux and diarrhea. So then I have Brian icon, Brian, he doesn’t have those symptoms. He has heart palpitations, he has rashes, he has hives, trouble tolerating supplements. So we can get very different presentations in mass activation syndrome. I think that’s why it’s taken so long for people to realize what’s going on. But and it’s also been thought to be very rare for a long time. But the truth is that the studies are showing between nine to up to 17% of the general population are dealing with mast cell activation syndrome, which is huge. It’s like one in 10, or maybe even one in eight, one in seven. And in the chronically ill population, I think at the very lowest is 50% or more because anywhere you have inflammation, you have a mast cell involvement. Sure.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 13:54
Maybe I’ll stay on that topic for a moment. So talking about the different criteria, patients have to have to meet full blown diagnosis. When I first started learning about this years ago, I would send patients to a university that was close to us. So I thought oh, surely they’ll know how to diagnosis, surely, they’ll be able to help this patient, and nine times out of 10, the testing that they would have run the patient would not fail. And so the patient would come back to me and I said, I really really think you have the syndrome. But at that point, I didn’t know what to do for them. And yet they’re failing that conventional criteria. And so then the patient slipped back at square one. So can you talk about why many times testing is negative on these patients? Yeah, that’s a really glad you brought it up, because it’s a huge problem. And what people need to know is the diagnostic criteria wasn’t even official until 2016. So this is considered a newly understood condition. And part of the diagnostic criteria is what we talked about symptoms in more than two systems. Yep. Somebody has to respond to an histamines or mast cell stabilizing medication.

Beth O’Hara FN 15:00
But they often have fillers or other ingredients that are triggers, a lot of people react to them and can’t take them. And then I’m assuming the exact same statistic you are only 10% of people are having positive lab work. That is part of that diagnostic criteria of whether you have Mast Cell Activation. And the reason is because these mediators are up and down in the blood or even in the urine very quickly, shares might be elevated for 15 minutes, and then back down again. And I’ve heard of practitioners who are doing testing in office and they need to get the diagnosis for insurance coverage, having their patients in the office for eight hours, having them do things to provoke, provoke, and which is not a great idea for people who are really sick. But that’s what they have to do just to get the insurance covered in the testing every hour on the hour to try to get a positive markers that tells me something’s wrong with that criteria and some more work totally agreed.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 16:05
You may have heard me mention the nutrient dim on several episodes and I want to take a moment to describe exactly what that is. When I was in graduate school my doctorate focused on estrogen metabolism. Now, you’re probably wondering what that even means and why it matters to your health. Well, research has shown that our risks for fibroids cysts and breast ovarian, uterine, prostate and colon cancer can all be linked back to estrogen. But it’s not the levels of estrogens that can increase our risk. Instead, it’s the way our bodies handle that estrogen that matters. We can run individual lab tests for this which I often recommend to my patients that’s called estrogen metabolism testing, which has to be done in the urine. Even without the test however, it is safe to take a supplement an extract of cruciferous vegetables to improve your estrogen metabolism.

That’s basically like taking in six pounds of those veggies per day in a capsule form without the gaps. That supplement is called DIM. You can also use methylated B vitamins as well as specific targeted antioxidants like resveratrol to help improve your estrogen metabolism and help protect you from that cancer risk. Of course, also make sure you have your practitioner run a comprehensive genetic analysis to see from another perspective, if you are at increased risk and help you learn what you can do to lower that. If you’re interested in learning more about dim, read chapter six of my book your longevity blueprint and check out our product info sheet at your longevity Ford slash product Ford slash dim to get 10% off dim alone or 15% off our estrogen detox bundle with dim methylated B vitamins and antioxidant support. Just use the code estrogen detox when checking out at your longevity blueprint calm. Now let’s get back to the show.

Beth O’Hara FN 17:52

I want to go back to something else that you mentioned. So you mentioned patients can have histamine intolerance for a couple different reasons. One for consuming foods high in histamine and I’m thinking about the lunch I had today. It’s very high sweet. It was a healthy salad and everything I put on it. Because everything I put on it was very nice to me. But they also could have a deficiency and the enzyme needed to break down histamine. And I believe in my past I had a much stronger histamine intolerance than I do now, when I was eating a lot of gluten because my understanding is that gluten will essentially rob your body of diamine oxidase as well condition called SIBO, which I’ve had. So I my body I didn’t I didn’t have the diamine oxidase, I needed to break down the histamine.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 18:34
So let’s, let’s talk about those two separate things. So first, can we go through foods that are very high in histamine that these patients should be minimizing or avoiding? Yes, and I want to preface it by saying in my practice, I see maybe about now my practice has mast cell activation, so I’m not seeing all the people that just have histamines. Sure, sure. But I do see about 5% of people that only have histamine intolerance. And maybe 10% of people in my practice, only have mast cell activation, they don’t have histamine intolerance. The majority of people in the middle have both, okay, and part of this is because anytime so diamine oxidase that degrades histamine in the gut, anytime we’ve got inflammation is going to be affected. And then there are a number of medications and even supplements like curcumin, that decreased diamond oxidase a lot of antibiotics, antibiotics decrease it, a number of antidepressants. There’s a huge class of categories that affect that structure. Then we have the other enzyme, the HMT and that enzyme histamine in methyl transferase is dependent on methylation and it excellent systemically, then we have these minor ones. So there are genetic variants for both of those enzymes that you just mentioned. Exactly. We can check patients for. Yeah. And so those high histamine foods, especially part of what’s going on, right

Beth O’Hara FN 20:00
Now is that we have these kind of food fats healthy food fads. So some of the big ones are spinach and I see how people come in sometimes that have been put on by a well meaning nutritionist wanted to boost iron or whatever and had people do spinach smoothies, instead of just for the highest histamine foods. And some of the other highest histamine foods are going to be things like pineapple and strawberries that are quite healthy. And ground meats are going to be higher histamine fish, is higher histamine. And then we have other things like kombucha, which is such a popular thing right now. But it’s high histamine, as well as fermented foods are highest. I mean, most private probiotics on the market have two histamine raising strains in them. And so that can be a reason why some people don’t tolerate probiotics. But these are things that are become very popular culturally, it’s not that they’re bad foods. And it’s not that those probiotics are not good probiotics.

It’s just if you have these conditions, then these aren’t going to be the best. And you want to choose lower histamine, berries, like blueberries and blackberries. And you can do instead of ferments. I’m working on a low histamine ferment. I haven’t gotten there yet. But I’m working on that. And I’ve been talking with some people who are really into that world and have some inflammation. So I’m hoping to work on that this year. But we
have we have to watch those foods. And that made a big difference for me and does for a lot of people in my practice, not everybody, but just to take that histamine load down. And when people have mast cell activation syndrome, we have to remember that the mast cells have histamine receptors on the outside. So even if somebody doesn’t have histamine intolerance, but they’re eating a lot of high histamine foods, those can still trigger those muscles.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 21:57
So what about the the enzyme again, so obviously, we need to work on reducing gut inflammation, right. So in my case, that was removing the gluten, treating the SIBO removing that inflammation so that my body can make more daimine oxidase. But in your practice, you also supplement that do you recommend patients take that that enzyme I do and we we have to be careful because the old formula which is still out there, the old diamond oxidase formula had talc and shellack. And some things that often aren’t as well tolerated. So this was a diamond oxidase capsule that had little pellets in it. So people would know for sure if that’s the formula, they have their little yellow pellets, there’s a new formula out now, that is much more suited for people with mast cell activation, I do use it a good bit, but I’m still having people react to it.

And it’s because the storable palmitate, I believe it’s because this is sort of a palmitate that’s in it is, that’s a form of vitamin C, but it’s from a fermentation process, and also from corn. And so what we’re in the process of developing and should be out pretty soon, is a very specific diamond oxidase for people with mast cell activation, and histamine intolerance that that are super sensitive. So this is going to be a new one on the market that’s coming out soon. So then that enzyme, when patients consume foods, still, that have histamine, I mean, a lot of foods have has to be

Beth O’Hara FN 23:30
even if you’re consuming the lower histamine foods, the enzyme will help those patients break that has to be down so they’re not as negatively impacted. Correct, exactly. And that just the act of eating produces histamine in the gut. So that’s something that we have to keep in mind as well. So the best thing to do with the diamond oxidase is to take it about 10 to 15 minutes before eating so it gets in the god ahead of the food, the capsule can get dissolved. It won’t though, if somebody wants to go, you know, all all out and have champagne and wine and lobster and these olives and pickles.

And it’s not going to degrade all of that has to mean so we still want to if people have masturbation, histamine intolerance, we still want to eat responsibly, of course, but I’m finding it make a huge difference in people that are having trouble eating reacting to a lot of foods. And also everyone saw somebody does need to treat so lobster and champagne is mine.

So once a year, I’ll do that maybe on my birthday. But I’ll have usually I’ll take about six to eight capsules beforehand while I try to keep up with the load. So you titrate your dose accordingly based on your histamine load essentially, exactly.

When I started practice 10 years ago, and I started learning about food sensitivities, I thought everybody has food sensitivities, which a lot of people do however, when you have heart racing after a meal, maybe it’s actually not the gluten, maybe it’s the histamine in the meal. So I started kind of learning, this is something we really need to be exploring in our patients. And it served them very well thankfully.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 25:12
Let’s talk a little bit. Actually, I want to go back to another supplement. What is your What are your thoughts on quercetin? Do you use many mast cell stabilizers? And what are your top favorites?

Beth O’Hara FN 25:23
I do use a lot of supplements, it depends on the case. So question is really well tolerated by about half of people that I see my practice and not by the other half. And the reason is because Claire Sutton is a methyl compound. So that quercetin is going to contribute to methylation and has to get broken down by an enzyme called calm t, which I know you’re familiar with. So I find that when people are over methylated, and particularly when people have mold toxicity there methylation, there’s a lot of changes that happen, they can either be very under very over methylated. So sometimes I can get a sense, not always, but sometimes looking in the genetics, checking the calm t asking about the symptoms, they have a lot of anxiety and insomnia, I won’t usually use it. But if somebody doesn’t, if they’re more even keeled, and they’re sleeping, okay, then we might give it a go. So that quercetin has some pros and cons depending on the person. But for the right person, it’s fantastic. And people typically do really well with it. The trick on it is that it’s absorbed better if it’s taken with fats. And so sometimes even people will open the capsule into some kind of olive oil or whatever type of fat that they’ll tolerate. But I mostly tell people to take it with a meal with some fats. There are a lot of other supplements that are very helpful. And one that I have people try quite a bit is perilla extract,

Dr. Stephanie Gray 26:54 never heard of it. Tell me more.

Beth O’Hara FN 26:56
So aroma extract is high in luteolin, and rosmarinic acids, those are both very helpful for supporting mast cells. So I really like that it’s a little tricky to find,

Dr. Stephanie Gray 27:09
is that better tolerated in more individuals? Of course, and then

Beth O’Hara FN 27:13
I do find it. Yeah, another one that is, well, some of the really important ones are things like vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, with vitamin A, so many people have the BCM oh one variants that converts the beta carotene to retinol. And so the form that I usually use, because that pathway may not be working fully is vitamin E acetate, which is a natural form of vitamin A. Instead of there are other forms. I’m blanking on what the synthetic kinda for I know it just carotenoids, no nothing for the crowd noise are very helpful. Okay. But most vitamin A supplements that aren’t beta carotene are synthetic. And so I find that the acetate that vitamin E acetate is usually tolerate a little bit better. And I’m going to actually get into a lot of this and a master class that I’m launching in August. And I’m going to step people through the top eight supplements that I use in and talk really about what these actions are, and how people can determine whether that might be a good fit for them, based on what kind of symptoms they have, what kind of background that they have in their health history.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 28:30
I love that that’s so exciting, because there are just these little snippets. But you know, you think everyone would benefit from course it in. But clearly they don’t know, these little clinical pearls that only practitioners like you really know who have been treating patients for a long time.

Beth O’Hara FN 28:45
No, I really specialize in the most sensitive people who most people by the time they see me they’ve seen at least 10 practitioners if not more. So it depends on the type of practice if it’s more of a general practice, and people aren’t as severe questions probably a great go to sure. But when you’ve got people that nothing’s making sense, and they’re having paradoxical reactions, and it’s usually not my first go to

Dr. Stephanie Gray 29:11
Sure. Well, you mentioned that you that mycotoxins and treating yourself for those was a big part of your healing journey. So that is one of the common root triggers that I find for muscle activation syndrome. I want to dive into that a little bit. But do you want to list some other common triggers and then maybe we’ll focus on mold for a little bit more.

Beth O’Hara FN 29:30
The mold toxicity is by far the largest root trigger that I see it’s about 80% of my practice. And I would have never guessed it until I started looking for it. And it’s just amazing how huge it is but any kind of chronic infection is going to be a mast cell trigger. Because of how the TH1 one and Th2 parts of the immune system work With TH1 one side, for people who are not aware being the pathogen sensing and pathogen killing side and TH2 side is involved in long term chronic inflammation. So whenever we’ve had infections that we can’t resolve, then what happens is the TH2 two side takes over, but the TH1 one side comes down so we have less ability to fight off pathogens, and more and more inflammation.

So I see that pattern quite a lot. And mold toxicity makes that even worse because of how much it dis regulates immune system damage. Some of the other triggers, so foods are a big ones. I talk a lot about histamines. I also talked about oxalates and lectins lectins. Actually, the mast cells have a receptor that lectins and food stock on and lectins are things like our nightshades like potatoes, tomato, so a lot of people have been told to avoid the avoid those because of arthritis. And that’s part of why is selecting component wheat is very high in lectins. And one of the reasons why people can have trouble tolerating me a lot of grains. Things like sunflower seeds, pumpkin, so on. So we have those foods we have pathogens, toxins are huge. So run a chemical toxin panel on people take a look at what we’re seeing their hormone dysregulation huge, and I know that’s one of your primary areas there. And his anytime we’re estrogen dominant, even in menopause, that’s a mast cell trigger. Estrogen increases histamine. And then histamine increases estrogen, so it just becomes a cycle. But cortisol and progesterone have really important mast cell stabilizing effects, also DHA, but when we have excess estrogen or not enough progesterone in relationship, or if there’s too much testosterone, that’s a trigger. So we have those, one of the biggest ones also that I see is stress and trauma. And I always list it last because when I list it first people stop listening to me. So I save it for the end. But it’s one of the biggest pieces. And I find in my practice that about 50% of the healing process is addressing the nervous system, the parasympathetic, the limbic system, calming that down. And because mast cells are so intricately entwined with the nervous system, it’s so much so that I’ve done experiments where I’ve ruminated on something, and one of my biggest first symptoms will be my knuckles will swell. And I can tell how my mast cells are doing by how my knuckles look in my hands. And now if I start ruminating and get stressed in about two or three minutes, my knuckles are swollen and red. And then I can switch into a breathing meditation practice. And in about five minutes, it’s gone.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 32:52 You have a good gauge.

Beth O’Hara FN 32:54

It’s a good gauge. And this is what’s happening for most people. So it’s critical for them to learn to address stress and the thoughts and have some kind of practice where they’re grounding and centering and relaxing every day.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 33:08
Wonderful, which is the opposite of all the electromagnetic chaos that we’re exposed to that I do want to mention, because I find so many patients with mold toxicity and you have mast cell activation syndrome have major electromagnetic hypersensitivity. So there’s a big relationship and I think they all drive each other make each other worse. And you want to expand on that.

Beth O’Hara FN 33:32
Absolutely. So some of the things that really make people there is a genetic variant CAC one . We’ve got a bunch of this CAC one and a C one I think is the right way is it but there’s actually calcium channel, genetic variants that make people more electro sensitive. And the calcium channels are allowing calcium into the cell and increases glutamate levels, which can cause anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, but mycotoxins also affect that channel, significantly. So to metals I’ve been since I had the braces, this is the other root cause and talk about is airway obstructions. And so a lot of people whose parents didn’t have good nutrition and they didn’t have good nutrition in childhood, have narrow dental plates, and mine was quite narrow, and it’s almost doubled in size with the braces and it’s been a huge shift, but the metal in the mouth makes me much more electrical sensitive. So my laptop is pushed away. They use a USB keyboard. I always use I don’t use Wi Fi, I was using a hardwired connection.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 34:50
The EMF circling back around allow more calcium to enter the cell which caused more excitation. So guess these are all interrelated. there are things we need to focus on with these patients to get them better.

Beth O’Hara FN 35:03 Exactly, yeah. 

Dr. Stephanie Gray 35:05
So let’s go back to mold for a moment. So you discovered you had mold toxicity? And I’ve heard you on other podcast share that you have been re exposed on numerous occasions, unintentionally, of course. So what is your favorite way to test your patience for more toxicity? And then how do we tackle that?

Beth O’Hara FN 35:22
Well, the top ways that I use our urine testing panels simultaneously, if we have the budget for it, I use real times, and I use Great Plains. The reason for both is because the Great Plains method is great for some of the mold toxins, but this is some of them. And the real times method is great for some of the mold toxins, but they miss them and it’s a smaller panel, they don’t have as many toxins on them. Those are the two that I found to be the most reliable. I’ve tried some different ones to see how it went. And also checked in with some other practitioners who are doing this. And that’s what they’re noticing. The urine testing to be more accurate is really helpful if there can be some gentle provocation with glutathione and some sweating, but most people will mess up division or tolerate heat. I have a few that can do sauna or can do hot showers, but typically have to use glutathione… sometimes people can’t do either. And so I’ll run the urine panels to see sometimes we’ll catch it sometimes not. Somebody’s super sensitive and they can’t do provocation and we have a high suspicion might do blood antibody testing.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 36:35
Wonderful. So when we find that a patient has mold toxins inside them, then we have to remove them from the exposure which many times is their residence, right? And we or at least help them remediate, find the person that can help them remediate their home and then put them on binders. And I actually, I was talking to Beth O’Hara before we started this podcast today, discussing how she was recently on the better health guy blog cast. And there was a very interesting handout that was mentioned that was listed in the show notes that I have just I just started diving into regarding specific binders for specific mycotoxins because I’ve just heard conflicting opinions on that for a long time, which maybe we can talk about more after the show too. But generally speaking, depending on who you listen to, some providers aggressively use a medication called cholestyramine, while other providers don’t use that they use more blends of activated charcoal and clay and pectin and zeolite whatnot. So what are your favorite binders? Or do you really feel strongly that approach has to be personalized. Also,

Beth O’Hara FN 37:43
I believe it’s got to be personalized for the majority of sensitive people and people of mass activation. If somebody has more mild mold toxicity, and they don’t have a lot of mast cell activation generally isn’t common, because of how much mold toxins cause muscle activation, then maybe we can use a generalized approach. If there’s not the budget for the testing, then I’ll use a generalized approach and see where we get. The testing is so helpful. Because for example, the binders that best find ochratoxin, are completely different than the binders that bind gliotoxin. And if I just do that okra toxin binder list, I’m going to miss it. Also found a lot of people mass activation, don’t do well with cholestyramine.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 38:34
Why is that? Do you think because of the sweetener or even if it’s common,

Beth O’Hara FN 38:39
I think partly because the regular kind usually has artificial sweeteners. And I think it’s just too, too harsh. So the approach that I go with, and my motto and my practice for the people I work with is fast is going to be actually slow. But if we go slow, it’s going to be faster in the long run. And that’s because if we go too aggressively, we can set off a mast cell cascade where we start to trigger some mast cells in a localized area, they start to release their inflammatory mediators, they trigger the surrounding mast cells. And you can imagine how that can expand exponentially until somebody is in a several week or several month flare. But again, I’m seeing super super sensitive people. So we always start with the gentlest binders first so if it’s helpful or that might be charcoal and bentonite clay and then things like zeolite or cholestyramine if they were it was going to be used, or well call sometimes better tolerated than those would go on. At the end of adding the binders in.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 39:45
I was unaware that sacchromyces boulardii …however we pronounce that was a binder. So that also can be beneficial for select cases. I’m looking at this spreadsheet right now as we talk.

Beth O’Hara FN 39:56
Yeah, we find it really most most helpful for gliotoxins, and gliotoxins I see carry a lot of nervous system effects, insomnia, anxiety, sometimes trembling and things that look like Bell’s palsy. And seizures. I see associated now some of the other mold toxins can cause that as well, I just see a connection there with that gliotoxin. So that actually came from Dr. Neil Nathan. He’s the one that discovered the Saccharomyces boulardii.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 40:28
Very interesting, very interesting. So it sounds like mold toxicity and muscle activation syndrome are extremely related. So do you treat them concurrently? Or do you find that when you treat them all the mast cell activation syndrome reduces and then they don’t need as aggressive treatment.

Beth O’Hara FN 40:48
We have a blog post that lays this out like kind of these stages, so people can find them. So actually, the first level for me is the limbic, the parasympathetic, and if needed, vagal nerve supports calm the system down. So a lot of times people aren’t tolerating very many things when I see them. So we’ll just calm that down and take that load off and do that for a good six weeks, then depending on how much you’re tolerating for tolerating more, we can bring some of these massive supporting supplements in at the beginning, then we’ll go in and do the binders. And we’ll layer those on one at a time, slowly build them up. So we have a nice compliment based on which mold toxins that they have. Then we’ll do some phase two supports, detox supports, and what was really interesting in the research that we did around this, and so this research was done with Neil Nathan and Emily Gibbler.

And we found that most practitioners were using glutathione for mold toxicity. But some mold toxins use glutathione, to detox but majority by far uses glucuronidation, which is a pathway A lot of people don’t know about and I didn’t know about until I got volunteered to present at a conference on it. So that was pretty incredible to figure that out. So that will accelerate the detox process to support that pathway with things like calcium D glucarate rate if estrogens not too low, and rosemary, dandelion root, some of these things are very helpful, tarastilbene, then the last phase is antifungals. And I see sometimes some practitioners will do anti microbials, and then put binders on board. But the the order that works much better is to have those binders in place before bringing in those antimicrobials.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 42:42
That makes sense. I listened to your podcast on glucuronidation, and you could talk for an hour on that. And we won’t get more into that. So you’ll have to follow Dr. O’Hara. To learn more, I can maybe have her back on the show. So that was very helpful. So thank you very much for mapping out what you do for your clients, I know that you have a free gift also on your website, you want to tell us a little bit about Mast Cell 360. And the gift that you have for our listeners?

Beth O’Hara FN 43:11
Sure, I would love to, so our website is And we have a free report that I created on the most common root causes the ones that we talked about. But you could spend an hour really on each one of those and still not scratch the surface. So that report takes people through each of the major root causes so that they can look through it and start to assess for themselves have these all been addressed? Because not everybody has almost people have three or four of those major root causes. I had all seven. But you can take a look and see, do I have this? Has it been addressed and if it hasn’t been addressed, and take that to your practitioner and say, Hey, have we looked at this. So we looked at hormone balance, and then go talk to your Dr. and consult with her and see what’s going on there or find somebody to help you with EMF. So whatever is going on. And that free report lets people step that through and gives them lots of information, tons of free articles on the blog, lots of information that you really can’t find hardly anywhere else. And it was such a just difficult journey that I had putting this information together and getting myself well. And it was honestly an a nightmare. And so if I can take that nightmare, and then take everything that I learned in this journey of healing and help people get better faster and not have to spend 150 $200,000 then that makes it worth having gone through.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 44:42
Absolutely. Well. Speaking of consultations, do you consult with patients nationally or internationally?

Beth O’Hara FN 44:49
I do. I do now are my practice is all remote. We’re booked for 2020 but we’re going to open up spots towards the end of the year and so if people need help with Mast Cell Activation then they can join the email list there, we’re going to announce when their spots open. And if people need to get started right now, then they can join that masterclass that I was talking about on the sessions. And that’ll help them get through their first couple appointments, some of the things that I do with people, and then that way, when they’re ready to come in from appointment, they’re already ahead of the game. 

Dr. Stephanie Gray 45:24
They have that foundation laid. So what would your top longevity tip be? Be had to pick one?

Beth O’Hara 45:29
That’s a great question. Absolutely. Hands down. Top one would be working on the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxation, breathing, there’s lots of great tools for that. So things like the Gupta program, or DNRS, has a great headset called Brain Tap. So these are some of the things that I recommend in my practice, but to dedicate at least 20 minutes a day to something like that. It’s huge. And this actually, there’s so many solid studies that show that things like breathing practices, meditation centering, shift genetic expression. And I don’t think that just generally as a culture, we we recognize the power of that.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 46:15
Totally agree. It’s interesting, I asked so many people this question and many of the guests top recommendation is adapting some sort of calming, practice calm the nervous system. So we’re hearing it over and over and over again, and if all these very intelligent experts are recommending, and it’s certainly something we need to be incorporating. So thank you, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing the nightmare of your story. Using what you learn to create mass sell 360, which is a tremendous resource, which I am looking forward to checking out more deeply and for taking your course. So we appreciate you. Thank you for again, sharing your story. 

Beth O’Hara FN 46:52
Thank you so much. And thank you for getting all this amazing information out here for people.

Dr. Stephanie Gray 46:58
You bet. What a wealth of knowledge Beth O’Hara FN was, finding mast cell activation syndrome can truly be an answer for so many individuals struggling with mysterious symptoms. So please check out mast cell 360. And as always, please share with those in need. Be sure to check out my book your longevity blueprint. And if you aren’t much of a reader, you’re in luck, you can now take my course online where I walk you through each chapter in the book. Plus for a limited time, not only is the course 50% off, but you also get your first consult with me for free. Check this offer out at your longevity blueprint calm and click the course tab. One of the biggest things you can do to support the show and help us reach more listeners is to subscribe to the show. And leave us a rating and review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. I read all the reviews and would truly love to hear your suggestions for show topics, guests or how you’re applying what you’ve learned on the show to create your own longevity blueprint. The podcast is produced by the team at counterweight creative. As always, thanks so much for listening and remember, wellness is waiting.

The information provided in this podcast is educational. No information provided should be considered to be or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your personal medical authority.


  1. Kelly Gryson

    I’ve read about Calcium D Glucarate to help with hormonal imbalance and to help the liver detox excess toxins! Very interesting!
    Is there a good quality Calcium D Glucarate that you would recommend?

    1. Suz, Mast Cell 360 Team

      Hi Kelly,
      This is the one we use in the practice:
      If you would like to use this link above to register a FullScript account, you can get 15% off your supplement orders through them.
      Please be sure to talk with your practitioner with any questions or concerns you have with starting something new. We usually recommend starting very slowly with just “drops or sprinkles” and gradually build up if you are tolerating it.


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