Oxalates and the Mast Cell Activation Syndrome | Histamine Intolerance Connection

Oxalates and the Mast Cell Activation Syndrome | Histamine Intolerance Connection

So, you probably know by now I have both Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance. I also had severe oxalate issues.

By the time I was 28, I had to use a cane to walk. This would last for 4-5 months of the year. Then it would mysteriously clear up! This went on for years.

It felt embarrassing to be so young and have to walk with a cane. Because I didn’t look sick. And people made up so many stories about me.

I remember going to dinner with my husband for his birthday. I took him to this famous rib place. I wanted it to be special.

I was in so much pain. It was a huge restaurant. And they seated us opposite of the door. It took me 5 minutes to get to the table.

My knees felt like they had ground glass inside them. Finally, I made it to the table and could sit down.

I still remember when the waiter brought our drinks. He knocked over the salt shaker. And I caught it as it fell off the table. The waiter commented “well, at least you still have your reflexes.”

I thought – what the heck was that supposed to mean? I’m crippled but at least I can still catch things?

Have you had these experiences? Where you feel horrible and people say odd things to you?

I saw so many doctors. No one could find anything wrong.

A chiropractor thought I had scar tissue. So, he tortured me by running these metal rods up and down my knees. It was horrible. And I didn’t know at the time it was a mast cell nightmare.

The orthopedist couldn’t find any evidence of injury. So, he wanted to do exploratory surgery instead. With no theory of what might be going on. No thank you!

The rheumatologist did his best. He thought I had an unusual form of rheumatoid arthritis that comes and goes. He put me on heavy medications.

But I didn’t have any autoimmune markers. And the meds didn’t help at all. In fact, they made me so much worse.

A very weird thing happened one day. I was so exhausted physically and emotionally from being in severe pain. And being unable to sleep for months because of the pain.

Finally I just wept. For 3 hours I sobbed until I didn’t have any tears left.

After I was done crying, I tried to stand up. And my knees didn’t hurt. At all!

But the next day the pain came right back.

When I told this to my doctors, they told me it must be psychosomatic. That I was imagining my symptoms. And making them happen with my thoughts.

I had no explanation. So, I started to believe them. And I did years of therapy. I learned a lot of great coping tools. And I learned acceptance.

But therapy didn’t take away my pain.

Eventually I learned about oxalates and how they lodge in various tissues. Like muscles, and joints, and eyes. And numerous other areas in the body.

My fibromyalgia, joint pain, and urinary pain was all from oxalates. When I balanced my oxalates these all went away.

Oxalates can also cause:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Vulvodynia
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Joint pains
  • Osteoporosis and Osteopenia
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney stones
  • Cataracts
  • PCOS
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Arthralgias
  • Ear crystals/vertigo

Have you dealt with any of these things?

When I managed my oxalates, it was amazing! I got my life back!

I had felt like I lost all the fun I could have had in my 20s and early 30s. It’s hard to have to wear orthopedic shoes when you are 28!

I’m sharing these things with I learned on this journey so you can get better faster than I did.

So please read through to the end. DO NOT go on a low oxalate cold turkey! This can make you very sick. I’ll tell you about this in the next blog.

What you Need to Know about Oxalates if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance

Oxalates are microscopic crystals. Under a microscope, they look like tiny shards of glass. Or some look like little razor blades.

These tiny razor blade-like oxalates can cause inflammation or make it worse. And this can be painful.

They are made by certain plants to keep animals from eating them. (So maybe we shouldn’t eat a lot of these high oxalate plants!)

So, eating high oxalate foods can increase your oxalate levels. Especially if you have leaky gut.

And the oxalates also protect plants from viruses and bacteria.

Oxalates are made by molds as well. If you have mold illness, you can get higher levels of oxalates in your body from the molds inside you.

Your body can make oxalates as well! Oxalate issues can get worse with specific nutrient imbalances and genetic variants.

Further, if you have leaky gut. Or if you’ve used a lot of antibiotics – these can cause oxalate issues too.

Oxalates are like a poison in the body. They can cause damage in many tissues.

And they can cause issues with the mitochondria – these are parts in the cell that produce cellular energy called ATP.

Candida feeds on oxalates. So, high oxalates can worsen candida issues.

Here are all the things can contribute to high oxalates:

  • High oxalate diet
  • Mold illness
  • Leaky Gut
  • Dysbiosis
  • Glyphosate exposure
  • Oxalate genetic variants
  • Low B1
  • Low sulfate (from avoiding sulfurous foods like broccoli, etc.)

How can you know if you have oxalate issues yourself?

There are 3 things that need to be looked at:

  • Symptoms
  • Oxalate lab markers
  • Genetics

Let’s look at these next.

Symptoms caused by High Oxalate that can occur in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance

Oxalates can cause a number of different symptoms. This is because it depends on where they lodge in the body.

Most people have heard of kidney stones. These are often caused by oxalate issues. But less than 1% of oxalate issues cause kidney stones.

Oxalates usually cause many other types of symptoms.

If they lodge in the muscles, they can cause Fibromyalgia. If they lodge in the joints, they can cause joint pain.

If they are being excreted in the urine, they can cause urinary pain and burning. Much like a UTI.

In fact, many times when people have a negative UTI culture, the issue is really oxalates. This is why it is so important to get a culture if you have UTI like symptoms.

Here is a bigger list of some of the symptoms linked in research with oxalates:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Fatigue
  • Vulvodynia
  • Interstitial Cystitis (urinary burning and pain)
  • Joint pains
  • Osteoporosis and Osteopenia
  • Hair loss
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney stones
  • Cataracts
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Breast Cancer
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • PCOS
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Arthralgias
  • Ear crystals/vertigo
  • Diverticulosis/Diverticulitis
  • White spots on skin
  • Asthma
  • Autism

As you can see, oxalates can affect many different tissues in the body!

Let’s look next at how oxalates can trigger Mast Cell Activation and Histamine Intolerance.

What to Know about How Oxalates and Mast Cells if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance

Many people who think they just have Histamine Intolerance actually have much more going on. Oxalate issues can be one of those things.

Remember when we talked before about oxalates being like microscopic razor blades or crystals of glass?

Those sharp, microscopic crystals scrape tissues and can cause tissue damage. Any time there is tissue damage, the mast cells go into action to start the healing process.

But, if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, this process can get out of control.

Further, oxalates trigger an enzyme cause NOX. This stands for NADPH Oxidase. When NOX is triggered by oxalates, it creates inflammation. And that also triggers Mast Cells.

The mast cells will release histamine and numerous other inflammatory mediators. This can worsen Histamine Intolerance too.

Now that you know about Oxalate related symptoms, let’s look at the other 2 important aspects: Lab Markers and Genetics.

Testing for Oxalates to know if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance

The best test to look at oxalate issues is the Great Plains Organic Acid Test. This is an at-home urine test you can order for yourself.

This panel looks at a number of great areas:

  • 3 different types of oxalate markers
  • gut markers for fungal and bacterial overgrowth
  • metabolism markers for fats, carbs, and proteins
  • detoxification markers
  • nutrient markers
  • ammonia levels
  • and even more.

The best part is you can order it for yourself here:

>>> Great Plains Organic Acid Test with Oxalate Markers

Here is the link for those in Canada:
>>>CANADA Great Plains Organic Acid Test

(Private clients: You have gotten this test already or will get it soon, so let us handle it from the office for you. This link is for those who don’t have an appointment.)

I’ll do a whole blog post at some point on the other markers on this test. For now, let’s look at the oxalate markers.

There are 3 oxalate markers on the Great Plains Organic Acid Test.

Oxalic. This marker gets elevated from a few different causes:

  • Mold Toxicity
  • Leaky gut and eating a lot of high oxalate foods
  • Antibiotic overuse
  • High doses of Vitamin C
  • Genetic issues
  • Antifreeze poisoning

Glyceric. This marker can be elevated from:

  • Genetic issues with GRHPR (more below)
  • Lack of B6

Glycolic

  • Genetic issue with AGXT (more below)
  • Lack of B6

Here is an example of those markers on the Great Plains Organic Acid Test:

One thing to keep in mind is that the body tucks oxalates into tissues. And because it acts like a poison, they body doesn’t want it circulating.

So, sometimes oxalic can show in range when there are oxalate issues. This would be because it is stuck in the joints, muscles, etc. and isn’t getting excreted.

This is why we want to always pay attention to these 3 areas and look at the patterns:

  • Symptoms
  • Test Markers
  • Genetics

Genetics Related to Oxalates for Those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance

There are 4 enzymes we look at in relationship to oxalates and markers above. These are:

  • GRHPR
  • SPP1
  • HOGA1
  • AGXT

So, what do these genes and enzymes do?

It is pretty technical. But in general, all of them in one way or another reduce the buildup of oxalates in the body. But if these enzymes aren’t working correctly, you can get an increase in glyceric or glycolic.

These enzymes can be affected by:

  • Oxalate genetic variants
  • Lack of B1
  • Glyphosate
  • Low sulfates (from avoiding sulfate foods)

If you are wondering if you have an oxalate issue, you can check the levels here:

>>> Great Plains Organic Acid Test with Oxalate Markers

Here is the link for those in Canada:
>>>CANADA Great Plains Organic Acid Test:  https://www.truehealthlabs.com/Organic-Acids-Test-Great-Plains-Labs-p/gpl_organic_acids_74_ca.htm#hw360

(Private clients: You have gotten this test already or will get it soon, so let us handle it from the office for you. This link is for those who don’t have an appointment.)

Next time, we are going to look at how to address oxalate issues. So, keep an eye out for that blog post next.

Oxalates are just one of the root triggers for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. Check out which root triggers you may have with the free report below:

Download Free Mast Cell 360 Guide for MCAS button

References on Oxalate Issues for those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance

Special thanks to Emily Givler, Monique Attinger, and Susan Owens for their work in the area of oxalates. Much of what I’ve learned about oxalates, I’ve learned from them and have customized for those with Mast Cell Activation and Histamine Intolerance.

Barr-Beare E, Saxena V, Hilt EE, Thomas-White K, Schober M, et al. (2015) The Interaction between Enterobacteriaceae and Calcium Oxalate Deposits. PLOS ONE 10(10): e0139575.

Brzica H, Breljak D, Burckhardt BC, Burckhardt G, Sabolic I. Oxalate: from the environment to kidney stones. Arh Hig Rada Toksikol. 2013;64:609–30.

Castellaro AM, Tonda A, Cejas HH, Ferreyra H, Caputto BL, Pucci OA, Gil GA. Oxalate induces breast cancer. BMC Cancer. 2015;15:761.

Chai W, Liebman M, Kynast-Gales S, Massey L. Oxalate absorption and endogenous oxalate synthesis from ascorbate in calcium oxalate stone formers and non-stone formers. Am J Kidney Dis. 2004;44:1060–9.

Furuta M, Ozaki M. Calcium oxalate crystals in the kidney and thyroid of leprosy patients. Int J Lepr Other Mycobact Dis. 1970;38:286–93.

Ghio AJ, Roggli VL, Kennedy TP, Piantadosi CA. Calcium oxalate and iron accumulation in sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis Vasc Diffuse Lung Dis. (2000) Jun;17(2):140-50.

Givler, Emily. Lecture on Oxalates. Environmental Toxins and Genomics Conference. 2019.

Goldman M, Doering GJ. The effect of dietary ingestion of oxalic acid on thyroid function in male and female Long-Evans rats. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1979;48:409–14

Hackett RL, Khan SR. Presence of calcium oxalate crystals in the mammalian thyroid gland. Scanning Microsc. 1988;2:241–6.

Katoh R, Kawaoi A, Muramatsu A, Hemmi A, Suzuki Birefringent (calcium oxalate) crystals in thyroid diseases. A clinicopathological study with possible implications for differential diagnosis. Am J Surg Pathol. 1993;17:698–705.

Katoh R, Suzuki K, Hemmi A, Kawaoi A. Nature and significance of calcium oxalate crystals in normal human thyroid gland. A clinicopathological and immunohistochemical study. Virchows Arch A Pathol Anat Histopathol. 1993;422:301–6.

Mahapatra , Rao, Rao, Sharma, Vaidyanathan. Vesical Calculi Associated with Vesicovaginal Fistulas: Management Considerations. Journal of Urology. 1986 July(136):94-95.

Muntz FH. Oxalate-producing pulmonary aspergillosis in an alpaca. Vet Pathol. (1999) Nov;36(6):631-2.

Pusztaszeri M. Birefringent crystals in thyroid fine-needle aspiration cytology. Diagn Cytopathol. 2016;44:814–5.

Reid JD, Choi CH, Oldroyd NO. Calcium oxalate crystals in the thyroid. Their identification, prevalence, origin, and possible significance. Am JClin Pathol. 1987;87:443–54.

Reid JD. Calcium oxalate in mammalian thyroids: a re-evaluation. J Comp Pathol. 1991;105:109–15.

Sarraf P, Kay J, Reginato AM. Non-crystalline and crystalline rheumatic disorders in chronic kidney disease. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2008;10:235–48.

Sarma AV, Foxman B, Bayirli B, Haefner H, Sobel JD. Epidemiology of vulvar vestibulitis syndrome: an exploratory case-control study. Sex Transm Infect. (1999) Oct;75(5):320-6.

Shimizu M, Hirokawa M, Kanahara T, Manabe T. Calcium oxalate crystals in thyroid fine needle aspiration cytology. Acta Cytol. 1999;43:575–8.

Verbruggen LA, Bourgain C, Verbeelen D. Late presentation and microcrystalline arthropathy in primary hyperoxaluria. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 1989;7:631–3.

Wahl R, Fuchs R, Kallee E. Oxalate in the human thyroid gland. Eur J Clin Chem Clin Bioch 1993;31:559–65.

Zimmerman LE , Johnson FB. Calcium oxalate crystals within ocular tissues; a clinicopathologic and histochemical study. A.M.A. Archives of Ophthalmology [01 Sep 1958, 60(3):372-383]

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Comments

  1. Beth Diedrich

    What do you do if you live in NY where it’s illegal to collect or ship the test?
    Is there another way, such as an elimination diet?

    1. Beth O'Hara

      Hi Beth,
      The labs can’t legally ship to NY and collection can’t be done in NY.
      Most people in NY have these types of tests shipped to a relative or friend in a neighboring state, collect while out of state, use the friend/family member’s address, and mail the test back from out of state.

  2. Mabel

    Hello! I am very interested in pursuing this for my mast cell issues. Upon beginning the elimination diet, how does one go about determining what to avoid: histamine or oxalates? As avoiding both would be very restrictive.

    Thank you!

    1. Beth O'Hara

      Hi Mabel, I would start with eliminating histamines if you are unsure. Quitting oxalates cold turkey isn’t the best course of action. I hope you will be able to join my upcoming Facebook Live on Monday June 22, 2020 when I talk about what to do for reducing oxalates from your diet. Also, please take a look at my most current blog post to find out more about addressing oxalate issues. You can find that here: https://mastcell360.com/oxalates-part-ii-addressing-when-you-have-mast-cell-activation-syndrome-and-histamine-intolerance/ Thanks!

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