you can heal your MCAS...
Even if your situation
I'll show you step-by-step, how to heal MCAS root causes...
especially if it feels like you've tried everything and still struggle.
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If you’re anything like most of the clients in my practice with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), you probably feel exhausted, hopeless, and helpless. Like your MCAS will never go away.
Maybe you’ve tried remedy after remedy… only to still be reacting to foods, having digestive issues, feeling foggy, and waking up fatigued and in pain. I’ve been here too. Maybe you’ve opted to stay home and missed important events because you can’t afford to get triggered by all the perfumes, colognes, cigarette smoke, or car exhaust. Maybe you avoid eating out with family and friends because everything you eat seems to make you feel bad. But it doesn’t have to be this way! In fact, I know 100’s of people who’ve suffered from these issues and now live lives full of energy, with normal digestion, clear thinking, and very little pain. They know what they can and can’t eat. They have learned how to socialize and eat out without getting sick.
And you can be like them too.
That’s where I come in. I’m Beth O’Hara, Functional Naturopath, and I’ve been helping people like you in my practice for the last 10 years.
Read on and I’ll show you exactly what to do (and not do) to FINALLY put a stop to triggering your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
Keep reading, and I’ll show you exactly what to do to support your body in healing from MCAS.
Wondering if have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome?
Take the Mast Cell Activation Syndrome Symptoms Survey Here.
To start with, here are 4 common
strategies that NEVER heal MCAS:
1. Antihistamine Medications
If you’re like most of the patients that are diagnosed with MCAS, Antihistamine medications were likely the first thing your Doctor told you about. I’ve seen about only 50% of people experience some temporary improvements with antihistamines, but they usually don’t last. I’m going to explain why:
The most common antihistamines used for MCAS include Benadryl, Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec, Pepcid, and Tagamet. These medications have their place in emergency situations. They may be needed when MCAS symptoms are dangerous. And they may also be helpful in the short term when MCAS symptoms are out of control.
The problem with these medications is they don’t ACTUALLY address the root cause of MCAS. They don’t fix what’s making your MCAS worse in the first place. Some of these drugs can be addictive and have serious side effects. First generation Histamine blockers like Benadryl may cause increased fatigue. And studies have shown that long term Benadryl use increases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Newer generation Histamine blockers like Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec are somewhat safer. But they still have the problem of only blocking the histamine receptors. They don’t actually lower histamine levels. And when the histamine receptors are blocked long term, the body often thinks histamine levels have become too low. So then the body makes even MORE histamine. Not a good situation for those of us with MCAS!
Drugs like Tagamet and Pepcid work a little differently because they were designed to reduce stomach acid. They are mainly used to treat symptoms of acid reflux and prevent ulcers. Long term decrease in stomach acid can cause a lot of problems, though. Like rebound acid reflux, which occurs when stomach acid gets too low. Then the body overcompensates for low stomach acid and produces spurts of too much acid. Low stomach acid from these medications reduces the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients. Low stomach acid also increases risk of intestinal infections.
Taking antihistamines medications may be needed in the short term. So please don’t stop them without discussing it with your physician. Long term antihistamine use, though, usually leads to more problems in the long run. Antihistamines provide a short term solution, and they don’t always work for everyone. This is because antihistamines just mask the symptoms. And I’ve never seen antihistamines work as the only solution for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. This is because they don’t actually address the root causes of MCAS.
2. Gastrocrom (cromolyn sodium)
Gastrocrom is the most common next step if Antihistamines aren’t getting results. It really depends on their physicians approach as to when they come in, but in my experience, only about 25% of patients see results from adding this medication.
Gastrocrom is a mast cell stabilizer. This means it helps prevent the mast cells from releasing inflammatory compounds like histamine.
Gastrocrom targets the GI tract to help prevent stomach and intestinal inflammation after eating. It is effective for some people with GI mast cell issues. It isn’t as effective for mast cell activation in other areas of the body, like the skin, brain, and lungs.
Unfortunately, many the side effects of Gastrocrom are very similar to some of the MCAS symptoms it is meant to treat. It can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas, nausea, vomiting, headaches, itching, and fatigue. These are all also common symptoms of MCAS. These medication side effects can make it very difficult to tell if Gastrocrom is helping or making things worse.
Another major downside is that even the generic cromolyn sodium is prohibitively expensive for most people without excellent prescription insurance coverage. The generic usually costs between $350 and $800/month in the US. The brand name costs much more. Another problem is that this medication is just blocking the mast cells from becoming overactive. But it isn’t actually healing the mast cells. This means if you run out or can no longer afford it, your mast cells will just keep overreacting.
Mast Cell Activation Syndrome can continue to get worse if you don’t heal the underlying root causes. This often means you need more and more medications to manage it. Again, I’m not anti-medication. These drugs certainly have their uses in acute situations. They are especially important if you experience any life threatening situations. Those with mastocytosis (a very severe mast cell disorder) or new to diagnosis with MCAS may have to use medications. I’ve had to use these medications myself for short periods of time. Like during illness and after a major car accident.
Relying on the medications for a long time can be problematic, though. This is because drugs don’t fix the underlying root causes of MCAS. Depending on antihistamine medications for MCAS is like if the gas tank in your car has big holes in it. You can pour 20 gallons of gasoline into the tank every time you need to drive 5 miles. This might get you to your destination. But the better long term solution is to repair the holes in the tank. With MCAS, we want to heal our bodies by “repairing the gas tank”. This way we have less mast cell activation overall.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a well known supplement that also works as an antihistamine. It can backfire for those with MCAS, though. I’ve seen this with many clients who started a Vitamin C supplement at their doctor’s recommendation or because they thought it would help them. Then they had worse itching and GI symptoms. Sounds weird, right? Shouldn’t Vitamin C help with MCAS?
Vitamin C can cause problems due to the form it is in. Most Vitamin C is ascorbic acid and made from fermented corn. Those of us with MCAS are often sensitive to anything from corn and anything fermented. There is a hypoallergenic form of Vitamin C called ascorbyl palmitate, but it is synthetic like Vitamin C. Synthetic vitamins are usually missing the whole complex needed to heal the body.
So what about whole foods sources of Vitamin C? Shouldn’t they be better? Unfortunately, most whole foods Vitamin C sources are higher histamine. Some are even high oxalate. Oxalates are microscopic razor sharp crystals found in many plants. These crystals can cause a lot of havoc in the body for those who are sensitive, especially those with MCAS.
So while Vitamin C can help you with your MCAS, it needs to be in the right form for you.
4. Standard Low-Histamine Diet
Personally, as a practitioner I love it when new patients come in and they’re already open to trying new diets for MCAS. The majority of the time, they’ve done their own research and discovered the benefits of a Low-Histamine Diet.
This is a great first step, but the truth is: even though they are eating lower histamine, they aren’t getting better. Now, you may be thinking “What? I thought we have to do a low-histamine diet with MCAS??” Well, we do need to lower the highest histamine foods.
The problem is the standard low-histamine lists you see online have a number of issues with them. One issue is that these lists often include nutrient deficient foods. When I first started eating off the online low histamine lists, I relied a lot on processed, inflammatory foods like corn tortillas and rice crackers because the lists said these were ok. Those foods are lacking in nutrients, through. And we need a lot of nutrient dense foods to heal from MCAS.
Foods like corn and rice can also be inflammatory for many people. Whole corn and rice may not be specifically high in histamine, but they are high in lectins. Lectins are a group of plant proteins that cause inflammation. And anytime we cause more inflammation, we increase mast cell activation. So we have to think beyond just histamines. We have to think about all the foods that are causing inflammation in the body.
Another problem with these Standard Low Histamine lists is misinformation. Have you noticed how the different lists are contradictory? Many of these lists were made from studies with very small groups of people. The researchers marked every food the participants reacted to. But they didn’t control for other food allergies and sensitivities. So many perfectly good low histamine foods were put on those lists because someone had an allergy to that food. When we are working with food sensitivities, it is important to still eat a variety of nutritious foods. So we want to be really careful not to take out any foods we don’t need to.
I’ve seen a lot of people work hard to follow the standard Low Histamine Foods lists online. But unfortunately, they just kept spinning their wheels. I was one of those people too until I figured out what was wrong with these lists. But don’t despair if you aren’t sure what to eat. I’m going to cover that and more in the next section.
Sadly most health care practitioners don’t understand the root causes underlying MCAS. Most don’t know what tests to run, leaving you to try to research and heal yourself. And it’s frustrating and confusing to know exactly what to do with all of the free information about MCAS on the internet. I want to give you 3 things you can do right now to start to heal with MCAS.
Here are 3 things you can start doing NOW,
to help your body heal from MCAS:
1. Reduce Histamine Foods.
Start by removing the highest histamine foods from your diet. Some people do better removing one food a week, while others take a cold turkey approach. Do what works best for you. The most important thing is to get started and keep making progress. You can start with some of the highest histamine foods from this list:
- Cured or smoked meats (ie: bacon, salami, pepperoni, luncheon meats, hot dogs)
- Smoked fish and any fish not gutted and frozen within 30 minutes of catch, anchovies, sardines
- Spinach (yes, spinach is rather high in histamines and oxalates)
Whenever we remove foods, we want to be sure to replace them with healthier choices.
Replace the above foods with histamine lowering, high nutrient foods like these:
- Onions – any kind, Leeks, Chives, Green Onions
2. Try Chinese Skullcap (also called Baikal Skullcap, Huang Qin, or Scutellaria baicalensis)
Chinese Skullcap is an herb with well-known antihistamine and mast cell stabilizing properties. (Not to be confused with American Skullcap, Scutellaria lateriflora, a different herb.) When most of my clients try this for the first time the notice a number of its benefits. Some people find it helps them with inflammation. This is because it is an excellent antioxidant. Others have found it helpful for reducing anxiety and for supporting sleep. Chinese skullcap helps my clients calm down their mast cells while we work on reducing their MCAS root causes.
Chinese Skullcap can be a little hard to find. And most skullcap products are the American skullcap kind. So be sure to read the label and check the latin names. I use Swanson Chinese Skullcap capsules*. You can try 1-2 capsules twice a day. You can also get organic dried Chinese Skullcap powder on Amazon for making your own capsules with this capsule machine* and empty caps*. Or make the powder into teas and tinctures. This can save you some money in the long run.
Of course, anyone with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome can react to anything. So always be sure to try new supplements in small amounts first. I always start new supplements with a sprinkle of a powder first. This way, if I have a reaction it will be less severe than if I took a full dose. This approach also gives the immune system a chance to slowly get used to a new supplement. If you have any concerns about trying any supplement, please speak to your doctor first. If you are taking medications, be sure to check with your pharmacist or physician before starting new supplements.
3. Identify and fix the root causes underlying your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
Mast Cell Activation Syndrome has become a very common disorder. Leading MCAS researcher, Dr. Afrin, estimates around 14% of the population has Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is a chronic disorder of the mast cells, which are a part of the immune system. MCAS occurs when the mast cells become over-responsive or over-activated. When this happens, the mast cells can wreck a lot of havoc on the body. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can calm MCAS back down. This is because your immune system is either triggered or healed by the very choices you make every day.
There are 7 Common Root Causes of your MCAS. Some people have just one of these root causes. Most of my clients with MCAS have 3-5. Personally, I had all 7 Common Root Causes underlying my own MCAS. As I have fixed my root causes, my MCAS is dramatically better. I’ve seen this approach work well for hundreds of clients with MCAS, too. The way to become healthy again is to find your individual root causes and eliminate them.
Here are the 7 Most Common Root Causes behind MCAS:
- Food triggers (beyond just histamine)
- Infections and Toxicity
- Genetic Factors (like detox and inflammation issues)
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Hypoxia (low oxygen)
- Hormone Imbalances
- Stress and/or Early Trauma
When you look back at your MCAS, which of these 7 root factors do you think you have?
How to Finally Heal your MCAS
Most people that I see with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome have anywhere from 3-5 root causes listed above. In order to stop the inflammatory cycle of MCAS, you MUST correct each of your underlying root causes. Otherwise, MCAS will continue to be a problem throughout your life.
Which of these root causes… or which ones… are contributing to your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome right now? Here are the 7 Common Root Causes of MCAS again:
- Food triggers (beyond just histamine)
- Infections and Toxicity
- Genetic Factors (like detox and inflammation issues)
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Hypoxia (low oxygen)
- Hormone Imbalances
- Stress and/or Early Trauma
Most people have trouble identifying their MCAS root causes on their own. Fortunately, there are proven tests and ways to discover which root causes are underlying your MCAS. We don’t have to play random guessing games anymore. There’s a method to checking for these issues and reversing the ones that are affecting you.
Most conventional practitioners continue to prescribe antihistamine and mast cell stabilizing medications. These only help the symptoms in the short term. Are you tired of the physical and emotional roller coaster that comes with MCAS? If so, then you’re ready to dig deeper and fix the root causes.
If you’d like to get 1-on-1 help troubleshooting which root causes are contributing to your MCAS, we can create a specific plan for you to heal. The next step is to book a case review with me. In this session, I’ll help you discover your personal MCAS Root Causes and identify the next steps for your healing.
This is the first step I take with all of my MCAS clients and the most critical. This is because once we know which of the root causes we need to attack, you’ll have the first steps to heal your immune system.
I struggled with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome for many years. I tried elimination diets, medications, and supplements that never worked. Now that I understand how to heal from MCAS, I’m so grateful to be able to support you on your healing journey. I’m excited to give you help with your MCAS right now in your Case Review with MCAS Root Cause Analysis Session. This will allow you to get the private 1-on-1 help that you need.
Sending my best for your health,
– Beth O’Hara, FN
Here is a little more about me and then some words from clients about their experiences:
I’m Beth O’Hara, FN, and I work with clients with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. I am certified in Genetic Analysis and specialize in genetics that can affect MCAS. I am completing a Doctorate in Functional Naturopathy, specializing in Functional Naturopathic Approaches. I also have a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy.
After years of seeing traditional health care practitioners and taking medications, I kept getting worse. At one point, I totaled I had seen over 50 Health Care Practioners and spent over $100,000. And I still didn’t have answers about what was wrong or what to do. I felt like I was at the end of my rope.
I eventually had to take matters into my own hands. I discovered my unique underlying factors contributing to my MCAS, and I was able to heal. I don’t want anyone else with MCAS to have to go through the frustrations, despair, and loneliness I went through on my journey. So I developed the Mast Cell 360 three-part approach to help others with MCAS get well.
This approach includes Genetic Analysis, Functional Naturopathy, and Emotional Wellness. I am passionate about supporting you in finding your MCAS root causes and helping you regain your health and full potential. I work with you to explore and understand your root causes underlying your MCAS. We will work together to develop a personalized step-by-step healing plan just for you.
My Mast Cell 360 process starts with:
- a comprehensive analysis of your health journey
- reviewing your health history and prior lab testing
- understanding you and your unique lifestyle
I then develop an action plan for your healing process that is tailored specifically to your needs and goals. I also provide support to you every step along the way.
Some words from my clients about their experiences:
“Before I met Dr. Beth, I could not get rid of chronic Lyme symptoms and I was having so many reactions to foods and environmental insults. I felt like I’d never get better. I didn’t understand Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) and Histamine Intolerance so I was mainly going after Lyme and heavy metal toxicity symptoms using herbs, homeopathics and supplements. Turns out I was taking and eating a lot of things (like ferments) that kept me from getting better. I believe now that the Lyme had no longer been an issue for years, and it was actually undiagnosed MCAS as well as underlying issues caused my metals, molds and genetic mutations.
I really wanted to work with someone who understood genetic analysis and how that related to the symptoms I was having. After serendipitously speaking with one of Dr. Beth’s other clients I suspected I could have MCAS and wanted to address it.
Through working with Dr. Beth, I now understand my genetic issues. I know how to take care of myself around food and environmental triggers. And I now know that I still have heavy metal and mold toxicity to work on to feel 100%.
Working with Dr. Beth’s Mast Cell 360 program has helped me understand MCAS and how oxalates and lectins cause flares for me. I also understand what works and doesn’t work for my body, given my genetics. I am now a new person. I can imagine my future again and I’m taking steps to rebuild my life.
The first thing I noticed were less mast cell reactions. I had been having constant burning mouth and red neck. I even broke into hives when I showered. This went away after about 8 months. My brain fog is nonexistent most of the time (that was a huge issue I was dealing with). My neurological inflammation improved, joint pain improved, and my energy has massively improved. My anxiety and agoraphobia are gone too. My life has changed to nearly normal. I still have improvements to continue to make, but I think I mostly need to increase my stamina which has been on hold for 8 years.
When I had my first Case Review with Dr. Beth, she believed it would take me about 18 months to really feel better. She was right on target! It’s been 16 months and the relief from my symptoms has exponentially grown in the last few months. I will be forever grateful to Dr. Beth for putting me on the road to wellness.”
“Metamorphosis. This word best describes my experience with Dr. Beth O’Hara. In the two years we have been working together, she has made a tremendous impact on my life. When I first came to Dr. Beth, I was struggling every day with MCAS and the accompanying excruciating fibromyalgia pain, migraines, joint pain, severe fatigue, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and sinus problems. I also have Type 2 diabetes. Just getting the dishwasher loaded was impossible and I wasn’t able to drive myself. I had seen dozens of doctors and been on every medication imaginable, but I seemed to continue to get worse.
Dr. Beth recognized the food triggers that were causing my symptoms and helped me make changes to how I was eating. She also reviewed my genetics and explained in clear language that I could easily understand how my genes might be affecting my health and helped me with action steps on how to address genetic variants. With these changes, my fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis have decreased tremendously and my sinusitis has almost ceased to exist. My A1C is even down!
My Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is much better managed, and I’m able to drive and even enjoy life again. Life-changing. . .”
“Beth has a keen ability to know when introduce the next level or process and she has a wealth of knowledge and the tools to fit my individual needs, she knew exactly when to bring them on board. With her guidance, we incorporated supplements and food changes based on my DNA, along with changes I needed to make in my life to support my health, both body and mind. My histamine issues and inflammation are significantly better, and I am enjoying life in a whole new way.”
“When I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, I knew I had to make some changes in my life. After going through radiation, chemo, and surgery, I decided it was time to take charge of my health. I knew I had histamine sensitivity, however, the information available was overwhelming and I was not sure how to figure out what was right for me. I turned to Beth O’Hara to see how genetic testing and personalized supplementation could help. Beth was able to analyze the DNA test results and help me to figure out the best foods and supplements for a healthy lifestyle for me.
Beth has been a wonderful help in navigating through the healing process. I feel so much better! Her vast knowledge, empathy, and calming demeanor have been such a blessing!”
“I highly recommend Dr. Beth. She is a true health detective. She combines genetic analysis, symptoms and medical test interpretation and figures out what foods, supplements and mind/body approaches are best. She understands how things work in the body and that everyone is different. She offers a very personalized approached at a very reasonable cost. There are many people out there doing genetics, but Dr. Beth’s approach makes her far better than the rest. She has succeeded where other doctors have failed.”
“I went to see Dr. Beth when I was having several areas of health concerns and wanted more holistic answers. She asked really great questions and listened with an open mind and an open heart, which helped her get to the bottom of what was causing my health issues. Dr. Beth can integrate information from DNA reports, lab results, discussions, observations, her knowledge of how the body works, nutrition, and lifestyle to provide individualized solutions that work for me. My histamine levels are way down, and I’m feeling much better after working with Dr. Beth. I recommend her for anyone who is experiencing health concerns and would like a holistic approach that addresses the whole person!”
“My experience has been that her knowledge of individual genetic tendencies allows her to pinpoint contributing factors in many complex health issues, particularly those in which histamine issues and inflammation were a contributing factor. Dr. Beth has also been an invaluable resource for me due to her extensive network of competent and skilled practitioners who, like her, are on the cutting edge of new ways to be healthy and whole in mind and body. I have seen significant improvements in my energy, neurotransmitter balance, and sleep and have even been able to come off some of my medications.”
“I came to Dr. Beth in chronic pain and fatigue that began with a shoulder injury that was not healing. I was barely sleeping at night and my body was full of inflammation. I’d been through a round of traditional PT and believed I was eating healthily, but I was just not getting better no matter what I tried. With Dr. Beth’s guidance, I began to recognize and understand MCAS and other underlying hyper mobility issues that I had. I began the MastCell360 protocol, got the right testing and began taking supplements that were gradually bringing me back into balance.
The supplement recommendations were also a game-changer for me, and I was finally able to break out of my long cycle of pain and inflammation. Dr. Beth truly is on the cutting edge of this field, and I am so grateful to her for it. I’m still healing, but it’s been such a huge transformation that I can barely even remember those days of chronic pain, sleep deprivation and hopelessness now.”
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