Nervous System Balance is Essential in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
A big part of my healing with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) and Histamine Intolerance was from working on my nervous system.
When I say a big part, I mean it was at least 50% of my healing.
I was really sick with both Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance. And I didn’t have a lot of bandwidth for stress. This is one of the big clues I had nervous system dysregulation.
Even routine tasks wiped me out. One day when I was still very sick, I had a dentist appointment. Just a routine cleaning. Then I had to stop at the grocery. And I hit traffic on the way home.
I got home and started to unload the groceries. And I felt fried. Like I couldn’t even think anymore.
And I crashed. That many activities in one day wouldn’t be a big deal for most people. But for me, it was too much.
After this, my husband came home and wanted to go out to dinner. I just started crying. I couldn’t stop myself.
I was so exhausted. Even just the thought of going out again overwhelmed me.
Other clues that I had a nervous system imbalance were:
- Startling easily
- Weak gag reflex
- Trouble relaxing
- Difficulty sleeping
- Trouble handling change
- Feeling wired after too much conversation
- Not tolerating supplements
I started taking yoga when I was 19. I went on to become a yoga therapist and a seasoned meditator. I also did a lot of counseling and personal growth work.
I loved these things. And they helped. But I was still having trouble relaxing and calming down from stress.
I was already doing:
- Yoga and meditation
- Clean foods
- Reverse Osmosis water
- Forest bathing
- Resonant breathing
- Air purifiers
But I was still bed-ridden most days!
But once I finally figured out the missing pieces, I turned my health around. And you can, too!
The missing piece for me was targeted nervous system balancing practices.
Before we go further, though, there’s something I want you to know. There are two major misunderstandings I hear a lot when it comes to Nervous System Balancing.
Misunderstanding #1 is that Nervous System Balancing programs will cure any health issue.
This simply isn’t true for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
When people are told this, they end up really frustrated. They work hard and give 100% to a program. And naturally, they are frustrated when they don’t see results.
Nervous System Balance is a HUGE deal. But it won’t get rid of things like mold toxins. Those have to be addressed too.
Related Article: How To Detox Your Body from Mold with MCAS
The other misunderstanding is about making the opposite mistake.
Another big mistake is only working on foods, supplements, and environment. This won’t work either.
Which means, if you skip the Nervous System Balancing, you can stay stuck for a really long time.
And this is where people spin their wheels for years trying this supplement and that supplement.
You probably know what I mean if you have a cabinet full of supplements that made no difference.
I have a “supplement graveyard” cabinet of literally over 300 failed supplements – this is because I trial everything on myself first to see if it works.
But, there are ways to get better!
The 4 Major Steps to Healing with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
I tell my clients there are 4 major steps to healing with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
- Nervous System Balancing. Supporting the Parasympathetic Nervous System balance – this is the rest, heal, digest, and restore system.
- Identifying and Addressing the Root Triggers. You have to find out what is causing your symptoms and work on addressing all the root triggers. Mold Toxicity is a huge one.
- Foods and Supplements. Targeting the right foods for your body. And adding the right supplements at the right time in the right order.
- Cleaning up the Environment. Making sure your environment is free of mold, EMFs, and other toxins. Basically, clean air, clean water, and low EMFs.
All 4 of these parts are essential to your healing when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance.
If you’ve been chronically ill, you might not see results if you don’t do all 4 of the steps above.
I’ve seen this over and over with my clients with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance.
For me nervous system balance was 50% of my healing process. I see this in the vast majority of our clients at Mast Cell 360, too.
We have to do these nervous system balancing practices when we have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
See, when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, your mast cells go totally haywire. That basically means they are working overtime. And they get hyper-responsive to things in your environment.
Your mast cells are constantly trying to protect you. But when you develop Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, your mast cells can’t tell the difference anymore between what’s safe and what’s harmful.
This means instead of just protecting you from toxins, viruses, molds, and bacteria…they start trying to protect you from EVERYTHING!
That’s when you start having issues with what should be “safe” foods and supplements. Like a client I had “Frannie” who was having major reactions even eating carrots.
Or like “Adelaide” who was flaring up every time she tried quercetin, curcumin, or a little bit of B vitamins.
This is why you definitely need to get those mast cells calmed down. So, you can eat healthy foods and take the kinds of supplements you need.
And to do that, you need to literally Reboot your Nervous System.
Some people just need to do a little rebooting. But other people need to do a lot.
I put together a short quiz that can help you understand how haywire your mast cells. Your results will help you see what kind of work you need:
And you can read more about haywire mast cells in the article below. It will also give you more insight into how rebooting your Nervous System will help your haywire mast cells. This is how you’ll most likely get your foods and supplements back.
Next, let’s take a closer look at signs that you need Nervous System Rebooting
Signs You Have a Dysregulated Parasympathetic Nervous System
Nervous System balance is one of the essential first steps in my Mast Cell 360 process.
This is especially important if you’ve had any of these:
- Reactions to foods
- Reactions to supplements
- Mold toxicity
- Other chronic infections
- Long term illness of any kind
- Major stressors
- Medical traumas
If you’ve dealt with any of this, nervous system balance is a great place to start!
So, let’s look at how you can tell if you have a dysregulated nervous system.
If you have 1 or more of these symptoms, you’ll want to work on your nervous system balance:
- Startling easily
- Weak or overly strong gag reflex
- Trouble relaxing
- Difficulty sleeping
- Constipation or diarrhea
- High or low blood pressure
- Light or sound sensitivity
- Sensitivity to tags in clothes, hugs, or certain textures
- Anxiety or depression
- Startle easily
- Trouble with the smell of gasoline, paint, or fragrances
- Trouble handling change
- Feeling wired after too much activity
- Any type of immune disorder
Also, these events in the last 7 years increase your need to work on your nervous system balance:
- New significant relationship
- New additions to your family
- Death of a loved one
- Witnessing violence
- Financial concerns
- Toxic relationships
- Losing a job
- Starting a new job
- New relationship
- Feeling isolated
- Worries about political changes
- Worries about safety
And if you had any childhood or adult trauma, it is also essential to work on your Nervous System Balance. This kind of trauma includes:
- Experiencing or witnessing sexual, physical, emotional, or mental abuse
- Childhood neglect
- Sudden loss of a loved one
- Witnessing a traumatic event
- Bullying, harassment, or abuse at school or work
- Military Trauma
- Having a family member with a serious illness or injury
- Significant childhood medical issues (like surgeries)
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that can lead to dysregulation.
But before we talk more about how to get your nervous system back in balance, we need to look at the branches of the nervous system.
Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS): What to Know When You Have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
In biology and anatomy classes, we’re all taught that the immune system, hormone system, and nervous system are separate things.
But that’s not really how the body works. This is kind of like learning about your pinky finger and your thumb as completely different things. And never learning they are connected by your palm!
But for the past 40 years, this understanding has been changing in the published research.
This research says the nervous system, immune system, hormone system, and stress levels are all connected.
In fact, you can’t even truly understand the immune system without looking at hormones, the nervous system and the role of stress.
This is an established field of medical study these days. But, many doctors still don’t know much about it yet.
This field of study has a really long name. It is called psychoneuroendicrinoimmunology. Or psychoneuroimmunology for short.
I know. The word psychoneuroimmunology is still a bit of a mouthful!
But what it means is simple.
- Psycho actually means mind states
- Neuro means nervous system
- Endicrino means hormone system
- Immuno means immune system
- Ology means the study of these things
So, psychoneuroendicrinoimmunology simply means your state of mind significantly changes your immune system, nervous system, and hormone system.
This also means problems in your immune system can cause problems in your nervous system, hormones, and mind state.
And likewise, changes in hormones affect the nervous system, immune system, and your mind states.
Plus, problems in the nervous system mess with the immune system, hormone system, and of course your mind.
For example, this is why many people with chronic illness get depressed — their immune system makes their nervous system, hormones, and mind states get out of whack.
I knew intuitively from working with my own health that this connection was extremely important. That’s why I did my Masters’ research on this topic: Psychoneuroimmunology in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
That research was about how when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, your mind, immune system, nervous system, and hormones are all linked. And it was also about how to get them back in balance.
Here is how this affects Mast Cells.
Mast cells are in many of your body’s organs and tissues. This includes in your brain. And there are mast cells at every nerve ending in your body!
The mast cells and the nerves are in constant communication with each other.
This is how the immune system and nervous system are linked – through the mast cells. Isn’t that cool?
There are 2 branches of your nervous system that affect Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
These are the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS).
The Sympathetic Nervous System is the part of your brain that reacts to threat or danger.
Think about how you feel when someone cuts you off in traffic. Or when you take a fall. Or if you get in an argument.
That jolt is your Sympathetic Nervous System kicking in.
When your nervous system perceives any kind of danger, it causes the “fight, flight, freeze” reaction.
This means your body prepares to:
- Fight: Your body revs up to physically fight the danger.
- Flight: This is when you run away from the danger to escape it.
- Freeze: This happens when you can’t fight or flee. Think of it as rolling over and playing dead. You’ve seen this in animals like opossums. But humans can do this, too.
The fight/flight/freeze reaction comes from a part of your brain that can’t think. It can only react.
So, your nervous system will often react the same way to a minor stressor or a major stressor. It will be the same if you get stressed in traffic or if you are being attacked by a tiger.
Unfortunately, we live in a Sympathetic Nervous System dominant state. This is part of living in modern culture. Traffic, bills, news, health worries, conflicts — you are surrounded by stressors all the time.
This whole process can become a problem for people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance, though.
Especially when situations that are creating stress and anxiety in your mind and body don’t stop.
Do you have a job that is stressful? Or a family relationship that is often stressful? Or constant worries about your health?
If you have stress all the time, it is called chronic stress.
Trauma can also create a state of chronic stress.
Chronic stress keeps pounding your mind with the feeling of distress and anxiety.
Related Post: Nervines and Adaptogens: Boosting Resiliency
This causes the nervous system to be in that Sympathetic state. Which in turns keeps activating your mast cells.
And when the mast cells are activated, they keep producing inflammation and histamine release. That inflammation makes your nervous system have even more of a Sympathetic response. It’s a big loop that happens.
They also affect your emotions. And this then causes you even more feelings of distress and anxiety.
And this fight/flight/freeze -response causes your brain to release chemicals called stress hormones. These chemicals cause your muscles to tense, your heartbeat to increase, and your breathing to change.
One of the stress hormones is cortisol. It’s involved in your body’s immune system actions and reactions.
Since mast cells are part of the immune system, they are triggered into action by the cortisol.
The mast cells start to release inflammatory chemicals in your brain and throughout your body. The inflammatory mast cell chemicals then cause the release of more stress hormones. And this produces more cortisol, which activates your mast cells again.
This activating and re-activating of your mast cells by stress continues in a feedback loop.
When you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance, the loop causes even more inflammation in your tissues and organs. And this triggers your symptoms.
Whew! You can see how stress can keep Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance flared up!
Read more: Customize Your MCAS Flare Up Plan
So, what can you do to stop this feedback loop that fires up your Mast Cell Activation and Histamine Intolerance Symptoms?
Let’s look at that next.
Engaging Your Parasympathetic Nervous System
Here is where the Parasympathetic Nervous System gets involved.
To stop the feedback loop that is activating your Sympathetic Nervous System and the Mast Cells, you have to get your Parasympathetic Nervous System involved.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System is what interrupts the Fight/Flight/Freeze reaction that has been triggering your Mast Cells.
Remember how your Sympathetic Nervous System is the Fight/Flight/Freeze response?
Well, your Parasympathetic is the Rest, Heal, Digest, and Restore response.
This means, you need your Parasympathetic System working to be able to heal your mast cells.
The Parasympathetic works to relax your muscle tension. It also slows down your breathing. And it improves your digestion and immune responses.
The Parasympathetic also helps you detox. And most of all, it is needed to restore and heal your body.
When your Parasympathetic Nervous System kicks in, your brain stops flooding the body with stress hormones once these things are slowed down. And then the mast cells stop firing.
How do I know this actually works? There have been volumes and volumes of studies on this.
But I also see it everyday first hand (pun intended).
My first symptoms when I’m in a flare are swelling, redness, and pain in my fingers.
I’ve done experiments where I start thinking stressful thoughts to see what happens in my fingers.
In the experiment I’ll think things like:
- I’m never going to get my gut better.
- I’m never going to get foods back on board.
- I should never have traveled abroad since that’s where my gut issues started.
If I let my thoughts spin like this, within 2 minutes my fingers will start swelling, hurting and turning red. This is from mast cell activation.
But – get this. When I shift into my Parasympathetic Nervous System, the swelling in my fingers starts to calm back down within 5 minutes!
It’s that powerful.
If it’s doing this just for your fingers, think of what activating your Parasympathetic Nervous System can do for your whole body!
For people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance, it is vital to be able to get the Parasympathetic Nervous System going.
This is so that the hyper-responsive mast cell activation can slow down or stop.
There are many actions you can take to relax the mind and the body.
Let’s take a look at those now!
Ways to Balance the Parasympathetic Nervous System
There are many, many options for working with your Nervous System. Some work better for people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome than others, though.
Let’s start with an easy one.
One simple first step is to pay attention to your breathing. Make sure you are not holding your breath. Some people tend to hold their breath when they feel stressed.
It helps if you can relax and just invite your breath to slow down.
Then, try breathing in to a count of 4, then breathing out to a count of 4. Slowed breathing helps to engage the PNS. And engaging the PNS can help you feel calmer.
See if over time, in a relaxed way, you can gradually breathe in to a count of 10. And breathe out to a count of 10.
Once this is going well, you can try what’s called Box Breathing or Tactical Breathing. This is where you breathe in for a count of 4. Then relax and pause your breath for a count of 4. Then exhale for a count of 4. Then staying relaxed, pause the breath for a count of 4. You can repeat that multiple times.
These breathing methods are a good start. But I haven’t seen these alone balance the Parasympathetic Nervous System.
I tried myself for years to use yoga and breathing. But I needed more.
So, you’ll probably need some other tools, too.
If you are ready to get serious about your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance, you’ll need a number of tools.
This is why I put together a special class just for you called the Mast Cell Nervous System Reboot.
You can get the class here:
In the class, you start with the Haywire Mast Cell Quiz. And then you’ll build your personal Nervous System Reboot Roadmap based on those results.
I share with you a number of free tools you can start right away. And for those with more than just mild Haywire Mast Cells, I help you decide which other tools to add in based on your level of Nervous System needs.
And I show you in a lot more depth how working with specific parts of your nervous system can make a huge difference in calming food sensitivities, supplement reactions, and help you get miles down the road in your healing journey.
There are so many possible nervous system programs out there.
I teach you in-depth about what to look for. And this course will save you a lot of time, money, and effort by teaching you about the outside resources that I use myself and have seen time and again work the best for our clients at Mast Cell 360. I help you pick out which ones you should probably try.
Nervous system balancing has been a game changer for me and my clients.
I hope it will be for you, too!
Nervous System Rebooting is an essential part of healing your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance symptoms.
If you are serious about bringing your PNS into balance and healing your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance symptoms, you can start now.
You deserve to feel better. Why not get started today? It is risk free with a 30 days Money Back Guarantee.
If you try it, I’d love to hear from you on what you noticed. Just post a comment below!
Ways to Balance the Parasympathetic Nervous System
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