Posts Tagged vitamins

Testimonial from Clive Mainwaring, Lot et Garonne, France

Image“David, originally you promised it would take two weeks to see a marked improvement, or in my case, (worse scenario) three weeks.

I must tell you the difference is truly amazing! Starting this coming Monday will be my fifth week and I have to report that last Thursday was in my opinion the beginning of the end of RLS for me – the end of over 30 years of suffering!

After weeks of torment and little or no sleep, I slept like a log for nine hours and this past Wednesday, Thursday night, and last night I slept equally for 7 and 8 hours respectively. Boy, oh boy oh boy, so a huge thank you David for that!

For three days now I have been free of all pain and the joy of climbing into bed, knowing that moments later I would be asleep is not describable to those outside our suffering.

Life has some meaning again. Sleep is my warm friend and thank you again for your emails and concerns.”  – Clive 

Comments (2)

Glutamate, Inflammation, Restless Legs and Insomnia: PART 2 of 2

ImageHOW TO LOWER YOUR GLUTAMATE LEVEL (FOR A BETTER SLEEP)

from Nancy Mullan MD
“If you keep the total amount of glutamate in your body under control, you can prevent neurologic symptoms. One way you can do this is by eliminating gluten and casein from your diet. You also want to eliminate glutamate and anything that sounds like that, and aspartate and anything that sounds like that, from your supplements.

Glutamine is a frequently recommended supplement, but glutamate and glutamine change back and forth into each other. This means that the administration of glutamine, say for gastro intestinal support, actually increases the level of glutamate.

There is a neurotransmitter, which opposes glutamate, which has a calming effect. This is GABA, gamma amino butyric acid. It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Glutamate should be able to convert into GABA.

Glutamate is acted on by the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), but several factors may interfere with this conversion, and you get stuck at glutamate.

GABA is the neurotransmitter involved with this function. GABA is very prominently involved with the neuronal connections of language. It actually puts the gaps between words. Decreased GABA leads to increased anxiety, increased aggressive behavior, decreased social behavior, decreased eye contact, and decreased bowel function. GABA is necessary to stimulate bowel contraction.

Decreased GABA also causes eye-focusing problems, like both eyes focused in toward the nose or vertical or horizontal eye wavering.

Calcium is another factor in the glutamate GABA story. If glutamate is like a gun, then calcium is the bullet. Glutamate creates the scenario for excitotoxicity to happen, but the agent that actually destroys the nerve cell is the influx of calcium. The combination of excessive glutamate from any source and too much calcium is major.

Evaluate calcium levels using a urine essential elements test. Vitamin D and Vitamin K are fat-soluble vitamins and are important for re-establishing calcium balance. Your body can store Vitamin D, but Vitamin K may need to be supplemented on a daily basis unless you are eating dark leafy green organic vegetables.

Supplementing calcium may be done by using chamomile and/or nettle rather than by taking calcium directly. Increasing magnesium relative to calcium, using zinc to limit glutamate damage, and monitoring lithium, iodine and boron levels will all aid in reducing glutamate levels and reversing the flow of calcium into the neurons and back to the bones and teeth.

A common issue is taking too many supplements too soon. The more sick you are, the more carefully you need to add supplements. You should add them one at a time, starting with really tiny amounts.”

Image

WHAT IS GABA?

from Novus Medical Detox Center
and thebrain.mcgill.ca
“GABA is a chemical messenger that is widely distributed in the brain. GABA’s natural function is to reduce the activity of the neurons to which it binds. Some researchers believe that one of the purposes that GABA serves is to control the fear or anxiety experienced when neurons are overexcited.

GABA receptors are probably the most common kind in the mammalian nervous system. It is estimated that close to 40% of the synapses in the human brain work with GABA and therefore have GABA receptors.

GABA receptors are channel receptors. This means that when GABA binds to them, they change shape slightly to allow ions to pass through their central channel. This channel mainly allows negatively charged chloride ions to enter the neuron, thus reducing its excitability.

Because of this property of the GABA channel receptor, GABA is classified as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, as opposed to excitatory neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, which augment the nerve impulses in the neuron.

When GABA binds to a nerve cell receptor, it opens the nerve cell so that chloride ions which are present in the brain are allowed to move into the nerve cell and slow the activity of the cell, and the person normally experiences a calming feeling.

For example, if our brain produces more excitatory neurotransmitters like norepinephrine or epinephrine (adrenaline) than normal, we can become anxious or have more stress than normal.

If our brain is working normally, it will produce more GABA and this will slow down the actions in the brain and thus have a calming and relaxing effect on us.

Because of our unique DNA and the way that each of us metabolize drugs, each of us may have different amounts of GABA in the brain but we are still considered to be operating “normally.” Unfortunately, there are no accepted medical tests to determine if we have too much or too little GABA activity.

In addition, it appears that people who are nutritionally deficit and dehydrated often have problems with the operation of GABA in their brains.

It is widely believed that caffeine produces its stimulant effects by inhibiting the release of GABA and thereby allowing the increase of excitatory neurotransmitters.

Research is indicating that a major factor in people who suffer from anxiety disorders or panic attacks and in people who have become addicted or dependent to street drugs, prescription drugs and alcohol is that they are likely to be suffering from low GABA activity.”

 

ImageTHE GLUTAMATE-GLUTAMINE CYCLE

During all the research I’ve done over the last few years, researching EVERY area of RLS, from the scientific to the emotional, to the outrageous … I’ve never been as confused and overwhelmed as I have been in trying to decipher all the information that’s available on how to naturally boost your GABA level.

One thing that is unanimous, is that the “supplement” GABA is essentially useless. So that option is eliminated.

The really confusing area (the part that hurt my brain) is whether or not to take L-Glutamine to help boost your GABA level.

To understand the relationship between GABA, glutamine and glutamate, you have to understand a bit about the intimate cycle they are involved with. This cycle determines whether more GABA or more glutamate is produced.

Here are a couple of explanations.

from Wikipedia, Glutamate-glutamine cycle
“In biochemistry, the glutamate-glutamine cycle is a sequence of events by which an adequate supply of the neurotransmitter glutamate is maintained in the central nervous system. Neurons are not able to perform new synthesis of the neurotransmitter glutamate and y-aminobutyric acid (GABA) from glucose. Discoveries of glutamine and glutamate pools within intercellular compartments led to suggestions of the glutamate-glutamine cycle working between neurons and astrocytes. The glutamate/GABA-glutamine cycle is a metabolic pathway that describes the release of glutamate or GABA from neurons and then taken up into astrocytes (star shaped glial cells). In return, astrocytes release glutamine to be taken up into neurons for use as a precursor to the synthesis of glutamate or GABA.”

from Natural Stresscare
“Think of glutamic acid (GA), glutamine (GAM) and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) as three members of a close-knit family with three very different personalities. Glutamic acid is a non-essential amino acid (the body can manufacture it when things are working right) that’s also an excitatory neurotransmitter.

Its cousin GABA has an opposite personality – it calms our nerves and relaxes us. Glutamine is the source for both of them – the body can make either glutamic acid or GABA from glutamine. This is a special family … the members can change into each other from time to time.”

As I understand it, the glutamine in your body is used to either build your GABA level, in turn lowering your glutamate level … or vice versa – depending on which way they are out of balance at that time.

Glutamine is essentially a manager, determining what needs to be produced in order to keep the GABA and glutamate levels in balance.

For restless legs sufferers, that have some inflammation going on, and in most cases, a racing mind at night … it’s seems logical that the l-glutamine that you intake is going to be used to raise your GABA level, which will in turn lower your glutamate level, and help calm down that racing mind of yours.

But, there’s a catch. Because you have a higher than normal amount of inflammation in your body, this can affect the transport and monitoring that are part of the Glutamate-glutamine cycle.

As you may have read in some of the scientific studies posted on my website regarding inflammation and glutamate, inflammation can affect how the cycle behaves … which is often badly.

ImageIt’s kind of like how your keyboard behaves after you spill a cup of coffee on it. It will probably still work, but with a few quirks.

I sent an e-mail to Dr. Mullan asking her to clarify this confusing area for me. Here is her response.

“Be careful when you read studies. You never know what the author’s motive may be or who may be backing the study. Dr Amy Yasko does not recommend l-glutamine because it can turn into glutamate, especially if the GAD gene or enzyme is affected in any way.

And certainly be aware of any dietary influences, especially MSG (it goes without saying). Peas, mushrooms and Parmesan cheese are also on the high glutamate avoid list.”

After taking everything I’ve learned into consideration, my recommendation is to take neither the supplement GABA or L-Glutamine.

Because of the inflammation in your body, their behavior in the delicate Glutamate-glutamine cycle is unpredictable. My suggestion is to take L-Theanine or Taurine and to also consider some of the other natural GABA boosters you’ll read about below.

NATURAL REMEDIES TO INCREASE GABA AND LOWER GLUTAMATE LEVELS

ImageL-THEANINE

from The Wellspring School for Healing Arts
“L-Theanine is a free (non-protein) amino acid found primarily in tea leaves, (Camilla Sinensis).

L-Theanine, otherwise know as gamma-ethylamino-L-glutamic acid, is thought to be the key to tea’s subtle but calming effects despite the caffeine content in tea. L-Theanine is thought to counter the stimulating effects of caffeine by increasing the production of alpha brain waves. Alpha waves are associated with a state of deep relaxation while being mentally alert. In studies, subjects on L-Theanine exhibited alpha brain wave patterns similar to the state achieved by those during meditation.

Additionally, L-Theanine easily crosses the blood brain barrier, and is thought to play a role in increasing and regulating several neurotransmitters, most notably GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), which is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA promotes a pleasant calm without the drowsiness. L-Theanine is thought to interact with dopamine and serotonin as well, resulting in increased focus, improved memory and learning ability.”

from Natural Stresscare
“Rather than GABA or l-glutamine, one can take the amino acid l-theanine instead. L-theanine is converted to several useful calming and mood-elevating substances in the brain, including GABA.3,4 So one can use theanine as a kind of “bank shot” to get around the blood brain barrier issue with respect to GABA.”

“Theanine and glutamate transporter inhibitors enhance the antitumor efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents.”
Sugiyama T, Sadzuka Y. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2003 Dec 5;1653(2):47-59. School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Shizuoka, 52-1 Yada, 422-8526 Shizuoka, Japan.

“The combined effects of theanine, a specific amino acid in green tea, and glutamate transporter inhibitors on the antitumor activity of doxorubicin (DOX), were investigated and we clarified the biochemical mechanisms of action of these modulators.

We revealed the novel mechanism of enhancement of antitumor efficacy of DOX via the inhibition of glutamate transporters. Similarly, theanine enhanced the antitumor activities of other anthracyclines, cisplatin and irinotecan. Consequently, the modulating effect of theanine on the efficacy of antitumor agents is expected to be applicable in clinical cancer chemotherapy.”

ImageTAURINE

from Integrative Psychiatry
“Taurine is an amino acid that is present at significant levels in the CNS and is positive modulator of GABA that does not have any adverse side-effects. Taurine also potentiates glycine – the inhibitory neurotransmitter in the spinal cord.

The role of taurine as an inhibitory amino acid has been confirmed in many studies. Not surprisingly, brain tissue and cardiac tissue, which are susceptible to high levels of neurotransmitter stimulation, maintain high levels of taurine. Taurine has been shown to prevent the neuronal damage that can occur when there is an exposure to increased levels of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. Over stimulation by excitatory neurotransmitters is the primary cause of neuron death in ischemic stroke. Taurine has been found to significantly reduce neuron death caused by over stimulation.

The calming effects of taurine have been well studied. Other studies of taurine have found that it can reduce epileptic seizures and that low taurine levels are associated with anxiety.”

from Charles Poliquin on Poliquin Inc.
“I call taurine the amino acid of anxiety control and stress management because it will lower cortisol and helps people be less anxious. The benefits of taurine don’t stop there. It also improves athletic performance and reaction time, supports insulin health, can prevent diabetes, elevates energy production, is a potent brain nutrient, increases work capacity and time to exhaustion from intense exercise, lowers blood pressure, protects the heart, helps with detoxification, and fights inflammation.

It’s best to lay the building blocks for success before you start taking taurine because this amino acid is an excellent addition to a protein-rich diet and supplement plan that ensures you aren’t deficient in any of the essential nutrients. For example, be sure you are getting a nice therapeutic dose of omega-3 fats, and have your fat intake balanced because this will help taurine work its magic.

Taurine is an amino acid that calms the nervous system by facilitating the production of the neurotransmitter GABA, which stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid. By helping to raise GABA levels, taurine will allow your body to manage anxiety so that your thoughts don’t go spiraling out of control and you don’t get the associated cortisol and adrenaline spikes that go with anxiety and stress.

Research shows that taurine supplementation can lower anxiety in stress-producing situations, thereby allowing for greater work output and performance. One study in Advances in Experimental Medicines and Biology found that giving rats a taurine treatment prior to an anxiety-inducing exercise maze resulted in less anxious behavior and better speed through the maze a rat group that were given a placebo.

Take taurine for better sleep, but make sure you are getting a magnesium supplement that your body can absorb as well. Together these nutrients are the answer to abolish stress, calm the nervous system, and help you sleep better. You’ll also have a better overall mood. People who are deficient in either magnesium or taurine are at greater risk for depression and poor motivation.

Magnesium is well known to calm the nervous system, while countering fatigue. Similarly, taurine raises GABA levels, calming the nervous system and lowering anxiety and stress hormones that hinder rest. I suggest magnesium taurate, a form of taurine that is bound to magnesium for best results.”

“Taurine prevents the neurotoxicity of beta-amyloid and glutamate receptor agonists: activation of GABA receptors and possible implications for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.”
Louzada PR, Paula Lima AC, Mendonca-Silva DL, Noël F, De Mello FG, Ferreira ST. Departamento de Bioquímica Medica, Instituto de Ciencias Biomedicas, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 21941-590, Brasil. FASEB J. 2004 Mar;18(3):511-8.

“Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and several other neurological disorders have been linked to the overactivation of glutamatergic transmission and excitotoxicity as a common pathway of neuronal injury. The beta-amyloid peptide (Abeta) is centrally related to the pathogenesis of AD, and previous reports have demonstrated that the blockade of glutamate receptors prevents Abeta-induced neuronal death. We show that taurine, a beta-amino acid found at high concentrations in the brain, protects chick retinal neurons in culture against the neurotoxicity of Abeta and glutamate receptor agonists. The protective effect of taurine is not mediated by interaction with glutamate receptors, as demonstrated by binding studies using radiolabeled glutamate receptor ligands. The neuroprotective action of taurine is blocked by picrotoxin, an antagonist of GABA(A) receptors. GABA and the GABA(A) receptor agonists phenobarbital and melatonin also protect neurons against Abeta-induced neurotoxicity. These results suggest that activation of GABA receptors decreases neuronal vulnerability to excitotoxic damage and that pharmacological manipulation of the excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter tonus may protect neurons against a variety of insults. GABAergic transmission may represent a promising target for the treatment of AD and other neurological disorders in which excitotoxicity plays a relevant role.”

ImageVALERIAN

from Wikipedia – Valerian (herb)
“Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Hippocrates described its properties, and Galen later prescribed it as a remedy for insomnia. Valerian root has sedative and anxiolytic effects. These effects are suspected to be mediated through the GABA receptor. The amino acid valine is named after this plant.”

from LIVESTRONG.COM
“The University of Maryland Medical Center says valerian root might increase the concentration of GABA within your brain. Because of this action, valerian is often prescribed as a natural remedy for anxiety and those affected by insomnia. It might take up to three weeks of consistent use for its effects to be felt.”

“Synaptosomal GABA release as influenced by valerian root extract–involvement of the GABA carrier.”
Santos MS, Ferreira F, Cunha AP, Carvalho AP, Ribeiro CF, Macedo T. Department of Zoology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Portugal. Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther. 1994 Mar-Apr;327(2):220-31.

“The effect of an aqueous extract obtained from the roots of Valeriana officinalis was investigated on the uptake and release of GABA in synaptosomes. It is concluded that valerian extract releases [3H]GABA by reversal of the GABA carrier, which is Na(+)-dependent and Ca(2+)-independent.”

OTHER NATURAL REMEDIES

by Dr. Mike Dow, The Dr. OZ Show

“You know that feeling you get in the middle of a frantic workday with 3 deadlines approaching while your kids keep texting you about dinner? If we were to take a look inside your brain, the chemicals that act like your car’s accelerator pedal – dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine – are surging. And GABA, the chemical that acts like your car’s brakes, is in short supply.

While there are several drugs that help to boost GABA, there are also some natural ways to get the peace and calm your brain needs. Finding natural solutions have a few benefits. First, they’re not addictive like many of the prescription medications. Also, they won’t leave you feeling groggy, so you’ll still be able to be productive at work and at home.

Here are 4 ways to get the GABA your brain is craving:

Swap your afternoon coffee for a cup of oolong tea.
When we feel overworked and worn out, coffee is a natural go-to. But its high levels of caffeine send the activating brain chemical dopamine soaring. The tradeoff for short-term productivity is a jittery feeling and insomnia hours later. Try oolong tea instead. It contains GABA, and sipping it may provide you with the break your brain and body needs. The break you’ll get may provide you with the stamina to get everything done without feeling worn out.

Swap the candy bar for cherry tomatoes and hummus.
The high levels of fat in that candy bar are not only bad for your waistline, it’s bad for your brain! High levels of unhealthy fat also increase dopamine levels. But cherry tomatoes are rich in GABA, and the olive oil in hummus helps to balance your omega-3 versus omega-6 ratio. This ratio can help balance all of your brain chemicals over the long-term which will leave you feeling peaceful and happy.

Swap the soda for a glass of kefir, a probiotic drink.
Soda is not only associated with obesity; a new study showed an association with soda (and diet soda) and depression. Kefir contains GABA, and the carbohydrates boost serotonin – your other main feel-good, peaceful brain chemical. Talk about a double whammy!

Swap orange chicken and fried rice for grilled shrimp and brown rice. The high fat in orange chicken and fried rice flood your brain with dopamine which can even set you up for food addiction. But the shrimp contains a healthy dose of GABA, and the high-fiber brown rice gives you nice, healthy release of serotonin.”

ImageYOGA

from Science Daily “Yoga May Elevate Brain GABA Levels, Suggesting Possible Treatment For Depression”

“Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and McLean Hospital have found that practicing yoga may elevate brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels, the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. The findings, which appear in the May issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, suggest that the practice of yoga be explored as a possible treatment for depression and anxiety, disorders associated with low GABA levels.

Using magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, the researchers compared the GABA levels of eight subjects prior to and after one hour of yoga, with 11 subjects who did no yoga but instead read for one hour. The researchers found a twenty-seven percent increase in GABA levels in the yoga practitioner group after their session, but no change in the comparison subject group after their reading session. The acquisition of the GABA levels was done using a magnetic resonance spectroscopy technique developed by J. Eric Jensen, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an associate physicist at McLean Hospital.

According to the researchers, yoga has shown promise in improving symptoms associated with depression, anxiety and epilepsy. “Our findings clearly demonstrate that in experienced yoga practitioners, brain GABA levels increase after a session of yoga,” said lead author Chris Streeter, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at BUSM and a research associate at McLean Hospital.

“This study contributes to the understanding of how the GABA system is affected by both pharmacologic and behavioral interventions and will help to guide the development of new treatments for low GABA states,” said co-author Domenic Ciraulo, MD, professor and chairman of the department of psychiatry at BUSM.

“The development of an inexpensive, widely available intervention such as yoga that has no side effects but is effective in alleviating the symptoms of disorders associated with low GABA levels has clear public health advantage,” added senior author Perry Renshaw, MD, PhD, director of the Brain Imaging Center at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital.”

KAVA KAVA

from LIVESTRONG.COM
“Consume 150 to 300 mg of kava kava standardized extract one to three times per day. Make sure the extract contains 30 to 70 percent kavalactones, which are this herb’s primary active compound. It is suggested that this herb increases the number of attachment sites for GABA in the brain. By creating more attachment sites, it is believed the effects of GABA might be more profound, which results in a mild sedated state. Use extreme caution when supplementing with kava kava, as this herb might have detrimental effects on the liver if consumed in excess. Thus, discuss the use of kava kava with your physician to ensure its safety.”

B-COMPLEX
from Paleo for Women
“Foods rich in B-complex vitamins, particularly inositol, prompt GABA production. In fact, B-vitamins are necessary for the functioning of nearly all brain processes and chemicals. Foods containing B-vitamins comprise a rich and varied list. They include: fruits such as bananas, figs, cantaloupe oranges and figs, and vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables, such as beets, broccoli, kale, and spinach, and nuts, and seafood, and beef and beef liver, chicken liver, all organ meats, and all game/ruminant meats.”

Comments (2)

Glutamate, Inflammation, Restless Legs and Insomnia: PART 1 of 2

ImageIn April of 2013 results of a scientific study were released showing that the presence of glutamate was much higher in Restless Legs patients than in the normal population. As you’ll read below, excessive glutamate makes your brain race uncontrollably. Not helpful if you’re trying to fall asleep at night before your legs start acting up.

This (as well as the presence of increased histamine levels in RLS patients) is hard evidence of why so many RLS sufferers have a racing mind at night when they are trying to sleep. 

I remember so many night, lying in bed exhausted, but unable to sleep. It didn’t make any sense? Now it makes perfect sense.

Fortunately, there are remedies to help lessen your glutamate level and slow the brain down. I’ll touch on those in the next post.

from Johns Hopkins Medicine
“The small new study, headed by Richard P. Allen, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, used MRI to image the brain and found glutamate — a neurotransmitter involved in arousal – in abnormally high levels in people with RLS. The more glutamate the researchers found in the brains of those with RLS, the worse their sleep.

For the study, Allen and his colleagues examined MRI images and recorded glutamate activity in the thalamus, the part of the brain involved with the regulation of consciousness, sleep and alertness. They looked at images of 28 people with RLS and 20 people without. The RLS patients included in the study had symptoms six to seven nights a week persisting for at least six months, with an average of 20 involuntary movements a night or more.

The researchers then conducted two-day sleep studies in the same individuals to measure how much rest each person was getting. In those with RLS, they found that the higher the glutamate level in the thalamus, the less sleep the subject got. They found no such association in the control group without RLS.

Previous studies have shown that even though RLS patients average less than 5.5 hours of sleep per night, they rarely report problems with excessive daytime sleepiness. Allen says the lack of daytime sleepiness is likely related to the role of glutamate, too much of which can put the brain in a state of hyperarousal — day or night.”

WHAT IS GLUTAMATE?

from the Vitality & Wellness Centre
“Your body has two sorts of neurotransmitters; one that excites you (keeps you awake) called Glutamate and one that relaxes you called GABA.

GABA is your body’s main relaxing neurotransmitter. Your body’s main excitatory neurotransmitter (Glutamate) is most active during your waking hours. So when you fall asleep your brain Glutamate levels should drop and your brain GABA levels should rise. This facilitates a great restful nights sleep.

People who have trouble sleeping, or more specifically are unable to switch their minds off, generally have lower than normal levels of GABA with elevated Glutamate levels. These people generally make the comment that their minds are always racing and that they are unable to fall asleep or when they wake up they are always thinking and are unable to get back to sleep.”

Below is an excerpt from a highly informative article by Dr. Nancy Mullan that gives a great overview of glutamate. 

from Nancy Mullan MD
“Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter. While I am thinking, talking, processing and sharing with you, the glutamate receptors in my neurons are functioning actively to take glutamate into the cell.

You need glutamate for learning, attending, and functioning. In fact, the more intelligent you are, the more glutamate receptors you have on your cells. But too much glutamate being taken in to your nerve cells will burn them out. It would be like turning a light switch on and off continuously until it breaks.

A number of other substances related to glutamate will also act as excitatory neurotransmitters at glutamate receptor sites. They include glutamate, glutamic acid, glutamine, alpha ketoglutarate, and monosodium glutamate or MSG. The aspartate family of molecules will do this also. They include aspartate, aspartic acid, and aspartame, commonly known as NutraSweet.

For the aficionados among you, cysteine can also act as a mild excitatory neurotransmitter, but N-acetyl cysteine does not. However, N-acetyl cysteine contains an acetyl and a sulfur group and so must be used thoughtfully.

Glycine is also a special case neurotransmitter. If the balance in your body is towards glutamate, glycine will be excitatory. If the balance is toward GABA, it will be inhibitory. So if you tend toward glutamate excess, avoid glycine.

The number of glutamate receptor sites on your neuron surfaces are an important determinant of the level of glutamate in your cells. The more glutamate receptor sites you have, the more glutamate you take in. Your resting level of glutamate is higher. Your balance tips to favor excitotoxicity. Glutamate excitotoxicity produces nerve damage or death. It does this by setting off inflammation.

Increased numbers of glutamate receptors have been associated with certain neurologic disorders. Lou Gehrig’s Disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Fragile X, schizophrenia, and seizure disorder are among them.

Increased glutamate produces insomnia, decreased eye contact and may lead to too much acetyl-choline which can lead to bladder contraction and abnormal eye movements called strabismus. And increased glutamate causes an increase in self-stimulatory behavior (stims).

One of the ways your brain deals with excitotoxin damage is to increase the level of opioids that are produced. Opioids are opium-like substances. Obviously they will interfere with your ability to function.

Elevated levels of glutamate deplete your levels of glutathione (GSH). GSH is a central antioxidant and metal detox agent in your body. Depleted GSH leads to increased inflammatory mediators, including TNF alpha, and helps to exacerbate leaky gut.”

WHAT IS EXCITOTOXICITY?

from Wikipedia – Excitotoxicity
“Excitotoxicity is the pathological process by which nerve cells are damaged and killed by excessive stimulation by neurotransmitters such as glutamate and similar substances. This occurs when receptors for the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate (glutamate receptors) such as the NMDA receptor and AMPA receptor are overactivated by Glutamatergic Storm.”

Pictorial Review of Glutamate Excitotoxicity: Fundamental Concepts for Neuroimaging.”
Leighton P. Marka, Robert W. Prosta, John L. Ulmera, Michelle M. Smitha, David L. Danielsa, James M. Strottmanna, W. Douglas Browna and Lotfi Hacein-Beya. From the Neuroradiology Section, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Froedtert Hospital, 9200 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53226. AJNR 2001 22: 1813-1824

“There is a growing list of neurologic disorders are now understood to share a final common destructive metabolic pathway called excitotoxicity, which has been the focus of intense investigative efforts in the neurosciences over the past several decades (3–31). Excitotoxicity refers to an excessive activation of neuronal amino acid receptors. The specific type of excitotoxicity triggered by the amino acid glutamate is the key mechanism implicated in the mediation of neuronal death in many disorders.

Glutamate excitotoxicity is the final common pathway resulting in neuronal injury for many seemingly unrelated disorders, including ischemia, trauma, seizures, hypoglycemia, hypoxia, and even some neural degenerative disorders. Familiarity with this process is important for neuroradiologists because of its central position in many of the disorders encountered in daily practice. This area has been one of the most intensely investigated fields in the neurosciences over the past several decades, and the information generated from this work will clearly influence our basic understanding of many neurologic disorders.”

ImageTHE LINK BETWEEN HIGH GLUTAMATE LEVELS AND INFLAMMATION

When I see a report like results of the John Hopkins study, I am 100% certain that if I do a bit of digging, there will be an undeniable bond between whatever the agent happens to be (in this case glutamate) and inflammation.

Sure enough, the evidence is OVERWHELMING that inflammation is directly involved with the excessive glutamate levels.

Below are some studies that identify this connection. I’m only posting a few here. You can read the results from several other studies at my website.

from Russell L. Blaylock, M.D. on the Vaccine Risk Awareness Network

“Neuroscientists have known for sme time that inflammatory cytokines cause the brain to release higher levels of glutamate — the more intense the inflammation, the higher the brain glutamate level. The highest levels are found in the prefrontal lobes and limbic system, the areas most related to mood control. MSG also increases brain inflammation.”

from Emily Deans, M.D. in Evolutionary Psychiatry
“Inflammatory cytokines interfere with the regulation ofthe neurotransmitter, glutamate. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that, if left to go wild, can pound our NMDA receptors in the brain and wreak major havoc. No one wants overexcited NMDA receptors, and clinical depression is one among many nasty brain issues that can be caused by overexcitement. Astrocytes, little clean-up cells in the brain, are supposed to mop up excess glutamate to keep it from going nutso on the NMDA. Turns out inflammatory cytokines interfere with the clean-up process. The horse tranquilizer (and club drug) ketamine, when administered IV, can eliminate symptoms of severe depression pretty much immediately in some cases (do NOT try this at home) (2). Ketamine helps the astrocytes mop up glutamate, and it is assumed that this is how ketamine instantly cures depression. Unfortunately, the effects of ketamine don’t last, otherwise it would be a nifty tool, indeed.”

“Effect of glutamate on inflammatory responses of intestine and brain after focal cerebral ischemia.”
Xu L, Sun J, Lu R, Ji Q, Xu JG. Department of Anesthesiology, Jinling Hospital, 305 East Zhongshan Road, Nanjing 210002, Jiangsu Province, China.

“Glutamate is involved in the mechanism of intestinal and cerebral inflammation responses. The effects of glutamate on cerebral and intestinal inflammatory responses after ischemia are up-regulated at the transcriptional level, through the NF-kappaB signal transduction pathway.”

Don’t worry, it may seem bleak, but the news gets better. In the second post of this series I’ll feature some natural methods for lowering your glutamate level –  hopefully opening the doorway to a better sleep.

Comments (10)

A Doctor that Actually Recommends Natural Treatments for RLS

ImageI’m currently gathering information for a post that will connect high glutamate levels (because of a recent study that shows that RLS sufferers have a higher presence of glutamate in their brain), inflammation, RLS and insomnia.

It’s exciting what I’ve found so far, and should be helpful to many of you, if not all of you. I’ll hopefully be able to have this posted by the end of today.

I’m doubly excited because during my research I found an article by a doctor, Dr. Tim Gerstmar, that suggests a good place to start for RLS recovery is my website www.rlcure.com

The author recommends using a micellized curcumin product, cayenne, and ginger, and drinking carrot juice as a starting place. He suggests you’ll begin to see relief within 2 weeks of following this regimen. From there he recommends a repair/healing phase and then a maintenance phase. This seems like a inexpensive, safe place to start the non-drug treatment of RLS.

Dr. Gerstmar summarizes by saying “Based on my review of the literature and the science behind RLS I think the best place to start in the natural treatment of RLS is with an ‘anti-inflammatory’ diet and lifestyle, followed by repleting the nutrients needed to create dopamine.”

This is VERY hopeful. As more doctors concede to the obvious advantages of natural healing, it should help get the word out and educate RLS sufferers, and let them know, at the very least, that they have options.

Leave a Comment

Histamine Intolerance, Inflammation and RLS (PART 5): TREATMENT

ImageI have thoroughly scoured the web to see if there is a supplement or herb on the market that can naturally and effectively increase the level of DAO (you’ll read below that this is the enzyme the keeps the histamine levels in check). There are a few products on the market, but the reviews are POOR. I don’t recommend that you purchase them. My belief is that you’ll find more success in using natural antihistamines along with a low histamine diet.

However, there have been several scientific studies that show how copper increases the activity of the DAO enzyme. There is a direct relationship between the two.

“Copper supplementation of adult men: effects on blood copper enzyme activities and indicators of cardiovascular disease risk.” Jones AA, DiSilvestro RA, Coleman M, Wagner TL. Department of Human Nutrition and Food Management, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210-1295

“Although copper had no significant effects on any parameter for the entire study group, it did significantly increase two enzyme activities (SOD and DAO), as well as lipoprotein oxidation lag times, in 10 subjects in the lower half of a median split for precopper values. Thus, copper supplementation appeared to influence some types of measurements in subjects beginning with less than median values.”

There are a lot of options available to you (many of them are listed below). There are tests available, diets, books, websites and blogs that can guide you and help you to lessen your histamine level. By lessening your histamines, your inflammation will lessen, which in turn will lower the intensity of your Restless Legs. It will also help you to sleep better. What more could you ask for.

Because you have Restless Legs, you’ll have to keep in mind that sugary histamine inhibitors like chocolate are not an option for you. It’s important to keep the main Restless Legs triggers in mind (sugar, msg, alcohol, caffeine, gluten etc.) when you’re developing your low histamine diet.

It’s a bit of a challenge, but it’s not hopeless. I’ve done it, as have many others. All I can tell you that it’s worth every sacrifice and effort that you’ll need to make.

PART 5 of this series on Histamine Intolerance, Inflammation and RLS will feature a MASSIVE list of natural antihistamines for you to choose from.

from Healthy Pixels
Copper is required to form the DAO enzyme and copper deficiency associates with low DAO enzyme activity in animals. More research is necessary to confirm that copper supplementation increases DAO activity. Foods high in copper include fresh basil, cocoa powder, cashews, soybeans (mature), herbal tea, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans and lentils.

from Dr. Janice Vickerstaff Joneja, Ph.D., R.D. on Swanson Health Products
Diamine oxidase (DAO) is an essential enzyme in the body that breaks down histamine. The body then takes the break-down products (called imidazole compounds) and excretes them through the kidneys into the urine. When the body’s level of histamine exceeds its requirements, DAO breaks down the excess so that histamine is kept within the “normal” level. A normal level of histamine is required for its vital control of some brain and digestive tract functions, and immune defenses. If a person has a slightly lower level of DAO, or has eaten too many foods with high levels of histamine that exceed their enzyme’s capacity to break down the excess quickly enough, signs of histamine excess result. Each person has his or her own “limit of tolerance,” which is determined by his or her DAO’s ability to keep histamine at a tolerable level.

Once a person feels comfortable, he or she might try one histamine-rich food, while continuing to take DAO. If they do not develop the familiar signs of histamine excess, they should be able to eat the occasional histamine-rich food while continuing to take a DAO supplement. This should allow them to be less rigid in their dietary choices and to eat some of the high-histamine foods they especially enjoy on occasions. It’s important to recognize, however, that while DAO can help maintain a healthy histamine tolerance, a person can still exceed his or her limit.

Finding a balance really depends on your body’s ability to handle histamine. People who have very low levels of natural DAO will need to restrict their histamine-rich foods as well as taking a regular DAO supplement. If you experience only the occasional “histamine reaction” after indulging in too many histamine-containing foods you should be able to simply take a natural supplement when you plan to consume high-histamine foods and beverages such as wine and cheese at a party, or a large pepperoni pizza with double cheese and tomato sauce.

It is possible for anyone to exceed his or her DAO’s capacity to break down their excess histamine. For example, people who have quite normal levels of DAO may break out in hives after eating a large basket of strawberries. I have a client who breaks out in hives due to histamine excess when she eats ripe cherries from the tree in her garden; however, she can eat unripe cherries without difficulty because the unripe fruit has not yet produced a high level of histamine. Many people seem to develop a stuffy nose after consuming alcohol, especially if they consume a high-histamine food at the same time. Beer and pizza is a common combination that often results in headache, not so much from too much alcohol (although of course that will happen on occasion!) but from the excess histamine. If a person regularly experiences these signs after eating high-histamine foods it would be a good idea for them to try taking DAO prior to eating, and to find out if this helps. But again, I do want to caution that it is important to visit a health professional if your experience seems like it may be due to an allergy. We certainly do not want to encourage people to self-diagnose something that could truly be a medical condition. But in those instances where allergy is ruled out, histamine excess could be in play and in my experience, DAO has proven to be very helpful for many people.

Imageby Jamie Scott on That Paleo Guy
The main treatment is adherence to a low histamine diet. This is quite a separate entity to a histamine-free diet which would be practically impossible to adhere to, nor is it required for the patient to enjoy relieve from the typical symptoms of histamine intolerance. The key is to identify low histamine-containing and inducing foods and to bulk up the diet with these foods. I advise people to run a three day rolling average with their histamine loads. This allows a degree of freedom to perhaps consume some higher histamine foods, e.g. bacon, but still stay on top of histamine levels overall.

Once awareness is created around which foods are highest in histamine, constructing a low histamine ‘paleo’ diet is actually relatively easy to do. It is also important to recognise that a degree of additional tolerance is gained by removing the major inflammatory agents from the diet (grains, sugars & vegetable oils) – something that should already be taking place within the context of a paleo diet and which may explain either the full or partial relief people experience when they begin eating such a diet.

Where high histamine foods are unavoidable (e.g. you want to drain a bottle of red one night), then prophylactic dosing with antihistamines may buy you a bit of extra breathing space. However, in the general run of things, the taking of antihistamines appears to not add any additional benefit over the adherence to a low histamine diet. If an individual has been following a low nutrient diet for some time, then perhaps additional vitamin B6, copper and vitamin C may be of benefit. Diet should be assessed to ensure it is providing these nutrients in adequate amounts moving forward.

It is useful to assess all medications that are being used, including the oral contraceptive. It is quite on the cards that many of the medications that might be in play and which may interfere with histamine metabolism, are being used to treat individual symptoms of histamine intolerance, e.g. blood pressure medications, anti-depressants, and (ironically) histamine antagonists.

from Purehealth Clinic
Histamine intolerance (HIT) is defined as an intolerance to histamine. The cause can be a lack of the DAO enzyme needed to break down histamine, or be a discrepancy between DAO and histamine. In other words, you could have a high or normal level of blood histamine but not enough DAO to break it down. There is a test to measure the levels of DAO enzyme you have in your system to see if the lack of enzyme is your problem.

from Allergy UK
It should be noted that allergy tests measuring IgE levels, such as skin prick testing and specific IgE blood tests for these foods will be negative. This is because reactions to histamine are not caused by an IgE food allergy – the cause is histamine intolerance.

Diagnosis of histamine intolerance is usually made by a person trialling a low-histamine diet for a couple of weeks, and seeing if their symptoms improve. Blood tests that claim to be helpful in measuring levels of histamine or the level of the enzyme that normally breaks histamine down are not reliable.

Food exclusion should always be followed by a period of reintroduction in order to confirm a diagnosis. If this is not done the diet can easily become over restricted and unmanageable.  At worst it can become nutritionally deficient.

Imagefrom Healthy Pixels
If any type of food allergy is suspected, consult with an allergist and start carefully taking notes about diet and symptoms. ChartMySelf.com can help you keep online records of your health. Blood tests for both immediate and delayed food allergies are available to doctors from Great Plains Laboratory, US Biotek and many others. Depending on the type of allergy exposure and related damage, a body may require days, weeks, or even months to fully recover.

Histamine on the horizon
We can now begin to imagine how to change our diet, avoid certain drugs, and adjust our lifestyles to better regulate our histamine levels. By first identifying our allergens through food or skin tests, we can reduce exposure and dramatically empty our “histamine bucket” and lower inflammation. Even if we have no allergies to avoid, we can improve our ability to breakdown non-allergic histamine with C and B vitamins. Ideally we can better prepare our bodies to handle histamine “spikes” as needed for fighting disease, increasing motivation, or simply tolerating delicious leftovers.

We desperately need a way to identify and “scan” histamine content in our food and supplements prior to purchase and consumption. Packages can differ widely based on their microscopic bacteria content – even within expiration dates. Austrian scientists have made suggestions for tolerable levels for certain foods including sausage, fish and cheese, but we need global standards for all foods and awareness of the risks surrounding fish, fermented foods, canned meats, alcohol, prepackaged meals and other high-risk products.

Similarly, daily tracking of our own histamine metabolism would help guide our diet and lifestyle. Recognizing the triggers can help us map our journey to good health and beyond!

Imagefrom Judy Tsafrir, M.D. of Boston Holistic Psychiatrist
I stopped eating left overs. I cooked smaller pots of food and froze the left overs in individual containers. I stopped eating cheeses, bacon and avocado. I began eating more salads. Most foods contain histamine, so you cannot have a histamine free diet like you can have a gluten free diet. But it is the relative quantity of histamine in relationship with your own capacity to handle it that translates into symptoms. I clearly was overwhelming my capacity to metabolize the histamine quantity that I was ingesting.

Within days of instituting the dietary changes, I slept better than I have in years; very deeply and I dreamt. This is unusual for me. I have had insomnia since I was a child, probably due to life long undiagnosed histamine intolerance. A sense of calm and peace replaced the chronic anxiety I was experiencing, my spirits lifted and I felt much less tired and more alert. Given the strength and immediacy of my response to lowering the histamine content of my diet, I believe that histamine intolerance should be considered in every case of anxiety disorder, depression, sleep and attentional disorders, especially if a person is aware of food sensitivity issues. My father could not tolerate eggs, shellfish, strawberries and alcohol, all which either contain high levels of histamine or liberate histamine. There may be genetic vulnerabilities.

Imagefrom The Failsafe Diet
FAILSAFE stands for Free of Additives, Low in Salicylates, Amines and Flavour Enhancers. It was originally designed to treat ADHD children, but has proven useful for a wide range of symptoms.

FAILSAFE is Sue Dengate‘s term for the low-chemical exclusion diet formulated by allergists at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia. It is designed to treat sensitivities to specific natural and man-made flavouring, colouring and preservative chemicals found in foods.

Sensitivities to food chemicals are pharmacological and dose-related (like the side effects of drugs), rather than immune-mediated like allergies. Different people have dramatically different tolerance levels to salicylates, amines, glutamates, sulphites, food colourings and other additives, and sensitivity symptoms (intolerances), occur when a person’s tolerance levels are exceeded.

The symptoms caused by food chemicals appear to be allergy-like which can make determining their true cause very confusing. Despite food chemical intolerance being more common than true allergy, a lack of knowledge about this syndrome means that the symptoms are rarely understood properly by the layperson or the medical practitioner. There are specific metabolic reasons for these symptoms.

The failsafe diet excludes strong tasting and smelling foods and environmental chemicals, in particular:

About fifty additives including colours (like tartrazine, sunset yellow), flavours, preservatives and antioxidants (sulphites, nitrates, benzoates, sorbates, parabens).
Salicylates (aspirin) and polyphenols (natural flavours, colours and preservatives) found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables as well as in man-made NSAIDs and COX II inhibitors.
Neurotransmitters: free glutamates (MSG) and amines (histamine, serotonin, dopamine, phenylethylamine, tyramine and others) in aged proteins and fermented foods like cheese, game and hung meat.
Environmental chemicals and strong smells like perfumes, most commercial cosmetics, scented and coloured toiletries and especially mint and menthol products.
Some pharmaceutical drugs, including aspirin, all NSAIDS including ibuprofen, and the methyl-salicylates found in decongestants and anti-inflammatory creams.

Leave a Comment

Histamine Intolerance, Inflammation and RLS (PART 4): INSOMNIA

ImageRestless Legs Syndrome and Insomnia go hand in hand. However, the insomnia is not caused by the restless legs. The restless legs result in a “lack of sleep”, which sounds like the same thing, but really isn’t.

Insomnia is caused by a racing brain, a stress or an overall intensity within. Having suffered from both insomnia and RLS, I can tell you that when my legs got better, my insommnia lived on. It took a long time and a lot of work, but I managed to retrain my mind and body so that I was able to get to sleep relatively quickly at night. I was also able to totally change my sleep cycle and get to bed and fall asleep before midnight almost every night.

Having said that, I still have periods of unexplained intensity, racing mind and stress that prevent a good night’s sleep. I think I now know why.  
 
In this segment of the series on histamine, I am presenting information on how increased histamine levels lead to a “racing” mind often resulting in insomnia.

It’s not all bad news. The next post will feature many natural solutions to histamine intolerance and the “racing brain” that the increased histamine levels can cause.

from Dr. Joan Mathews-Larson
I’ll bet your concept of histamine is of some vague body fluid that gets released in allergic reactions and causes sneezing, mucous and swelling. You may not realize what serious mischief this chemical can do. Inside the brain it has an important role, in all sorts of reactions. It causes our tears to flow, determines our pain sensitivity, and our sexual libido. If brain levels get too low we become paranoid and suspicious, our ears may ring, we may see or hear things abnormally. We will probably make grandiose plans but never have the energy to carry them out.

ImageWhen brain histamine levels soar out of control, other frightening symptoms occur. The tendency to hyperactivity, compulsive behavior and black depression increases as histamine rises abnormally. We may grow obsessive about sex, have abnormal fears, compulsive rituals, cry easily and may even think about suicide often.

Many high-powered, energetic politicians and public figures show this high histamine combination of obsessive drive and high sexual libido. Without their abnormally high histamine, they would lack the stamina to fuel their careers so intensely. Unfortunately, their accompanying high sex drive sometimes is their undoing, despite being splendid statesmen in every other way. Once we see ourselves and others in the light of the chemistry we are dealt, we tend to become more understanding about the corresponding behaviors.

In your hypothalamus, histamine stimulates the release of the important neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Another role of brain histamine is to counterbalance dopamine in that area of the brain that filters sensory information coming into your brain. With too little histamine, dopamine levels are elevated. The result of too low histamine can be thought disorders or even hallucinations that feel like your mind is playing tricks on you.

Other psychiatric symptoms develop when too MUCH histamine heightens and distorts the release of these key neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. When abnormally high, histamine will cause over stimulation, aggressiveness, compulsivity, and a racing brain (among other symptoms).

Imagefrom the Histamine Intolerances Blog
A lot of histamine patients seem to have issues sleeping. As my allergist so eloquently put it and I quote: “histamine is a wake-amine”. As for me, I wake up from the slightest light or sound. It gets so bad I wake up multiple times per hour. You can imagine this is quite hard. It means waking up just as tired as when you went to bed. I’ve tried a wide variety of tricks, but nothing really does seem to do the trick.  

from Medical News Today
A study by scientists with the Veterans Affairs’ Neurobiology Research Laboratory and UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute shows that brain cells containing the chemical histamine are critical for waking.

Detailed in the May 27 edition of the journal Neuron, the findings show that the cessation of activity in histamine cells causes loss of consciousness during sleep The findings also help explain why antihistamines, often taken to control allergies, cause drowsiness.

from American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Histamine is found in the brain and helps keep you alert and awake. An “anti”-histamine crosses over into the brain and makes you sleepy. In addition to helping treat allergies, antihistamines are also known to make you very sleepy.

Antihistamines are the most common ingredient in sleep aids that you can buy at a local drug store.

Studies show that antihistamines do help patients sleep better.

(Editor’s Note: Please keep in mind that as a RLS sufferer you cannot take over-the-counter antihistamines. You have to take “natural” ones. There are hundreds of articles and studies that demonstrate that over-the-counter antihistamines increase the intensity of Restless Legs dramatically!).

from The Last Psychiatrist
Most people think of sleep as the opposite of wakefulness, a line with two poles, you slide the switch back and forth.

In fact, there are two regions in the brain, working at the same time. A wakefulness promoting region and a sleep promoting region, battling each other, and your mind, for supremacy.

Simply as a convenience to me for the purposes of writing this post, I’ll call the “wakefulness promoting region” the tuberomammillary nucleus, and the “sleep promoting region” the ventrolateral preoptic area of the hypothalamus.

The tuberomammillary nucleus (TMN) is the sole source of histamine in the brain. The TMN sends histamine projections all over the cortex. Histamine causes arousal, increased attention, perhaps increased learning and memory.   

Imagefrom Dr. Judy Tsafrir MD.  
I have had insomnia since I was a child, probably due to life long undiagnosed histamine intolerance. A sense of calm and peace replaced the chronic anxiety I was experiencing, my spirits lifted and I felt much less tired and more alert. Given the strength and immediacy of my response to lowering the histamine content of my diet, I believe that histamine intolerance should be considered in every case of anxiety disorder, depression, sleep and attentional disorders, especially if a person is aware of food sensitivity issues.

Leave a Comment

Histamine Intolerance, Inflammation and RLS (Part 3): WHAT CAUSES AN INCREASE IN HISTAMINE LEVELS?

Imagefrom Healthy Pixels
The most common food allergies include dairy, wheat, shellfish, eggs and nuts. Contact allergies can include a wide range of substances such as rubber, nickel (in jewelry), acrylates (artificial nails), pine resin, and sunscreen or shampoo ingredients (such as benzophenone). Some people experience an early response to allergens, while others might only notice a late-phase response that can appear up to 10 hours later. Symptoms of this delayed response can last up to 24 hours.

If any type of food allergy is suspected, consult with an allergist and start carefully taking notes about diet and symptoms. ChartMySelf.com can help you keep online records of your health. Blood tests for both immediate and delayed food allergies are available to doctors from Great Plains Laboratory, US Biotek, and many others. Depending on the type of allergy exposure and related damage, a body may require days, weeks, or even months to fully recover.

Air pollution and pollen
New research shows that air pollution contributes to cardiovascular disease by the increase in histamine and inflammation. Genetics also play a role in a person’s susceptibility to pollution.

These collective studies suggest that both short- and long-term PM inhalation can enhance thrombotic and coagulation tendencies, potentially via increases in circulating histamine and inflammatory cytokines and/or activated white cells and platelets.  

Interestingly, new research shows that some of us can experience inflammation from pollen without any specific allergy! Future studies will undoubtedly reveal how particles in our environment can affect our immune system beyond the classic allergy response.

Water pollution
Studies have shown that common environmental contaminants trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene raised histamine levels in lab rats by increasing their sensitivity to allergens.

Symptoms can often be prevented by avoiding foods high in histamine

ImageFermented foods like wine, aged cheese, aged or smoked meats, fermented soy products (including tofu and soy sauce), vinegar (including pickles, ketchup and prepared mustard) and sauerkraut.
   

Foods exposed to high amounts of bacteria such as fish/shellfish.
   

Leftover meats can quickly accumulate microorganisms which result in histamine formation.

Chocolate/cocoa, spinach, eggplant, nuts, pumpkin, tomato, strawberries, citrus fruits, and seasonings like cinnamon, chili powder, and cloves can stimulate the release of histamine.

Wheat-based products.

Beverages such as tea (herbal or regular) and soy milk are high in histamine.

Any type of alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to break down histamine.

Prepackaged meals.

Yeast – even though it does not contain histamine as such, yeast serves as a catalyst for histamine generation during manufacture. There is no yeast in the end product

New studies show that fat absorption may dramatically increase the release of histamine and contribute to chronic inflammation.

ImageNutritional imbalances
When the body is low in B vitamins, vitamin C, and copper, histamine may not break down sufficiently to overcome symptoms of intolerance. Foods high in Bs include potatoes, sunflower seeds, and soybeans. Foods high in vitamin C include bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, and kale. Researchers found that vitamin C may work by increasing the activity of the DAO enzyme.

Some foods like potato are also high in oxalate which can release histamine in certain people. Keep in mind that while citrus is high in vitamin C, it releases histamine within the body and can aggravate symptoms. A food allergy to any of the above foods will also increase histamine.

Heat and UVB light
Studies show that UVB light caused histamine release in vitro, though it was protected by ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Some people notice that rashes and skin conditions can worsen with exposure to sun and heat.

Exercise
Some episodes of anaphylaxis have been triggered by moderately intense exercise, particularly in warm environments. These extreme reactions are typically related to food allergens that were consumed prior to physical activity. Strict avoidance of allergens may help prevent symptoms of histamine intolerance that occur during exercise – particularly dynamic exercises such as jogging, running, and aerobics that involve less resistance. Recent studies indicate that the amino acid L-carnosine is released during these exercises and then converted to histamine.

Hormones – including stress hormones
Rising estrogen levels have been associated with elevated histamine, and women might notice increased sensitivity and symptoms of histamine intolerance at different times in their monthly cycle. Periods of high estrogen link to sinus sensitivity to histamine. Environmental estrogens such as pesticides, agricultural growth hormones, and PVC in plastics may also activate histamine release. Conversely, histamine appears to stimulate estrogen levels as well and exacerbate symptoms. Diamine oxidase levels are much higher in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, theoretically reducing the risk of excess histamine during that phase.

The “stress” hormone cortisol appears to increase histamine in stomach and intestines in lab studies. Reducing stress can lower the amount of stimulating hormones that activate mast cells which release histamine and other factors of inflammation.

Imagefrom Stephanie Faris of Healthline Networks

Basic Symptoms of Mold Allergies
If you’re allergic to mold, you’ll likely experience histamine reactions similar to those from other types of airborne allergies. Those symptoms include: sneezing, coughing, congestion, watery & itchy eyes and postnasal drip

You may initially mistake your mold allergies for a cold or sinus infection, since the symptoms can mirror each other. If your allergies are compounded by asthma, you may notice your asthma symptoms worsening when you’re exposed to mold. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, and chest tightness. You also may experience wheezing and other signs of an asthma attack.

Mold Allergies in Children
If your children are the only ones in the family suffering histamine-related allergy symptoms, it may not be related to mold in your home. Some school buildings have unchecked mold, resulting in asthmatics suffering increased attacks while at school. But it could also be that your child has a sensitivity to mold, whereas no one else in the family does.

Since some children spend time playing outside in areas parents might not venture, mold may be prevalent in the outdoor air. Asthmatic children may experience more attacks while playing outside for this reason and you may note more symptoms in the summertime months, when your children are playing outside more often.

Is Mold Toxic?
You may hear many myths about the toxicity of mold—for example, that inhaling mold can cause permanent damage. The truth, according to scientists, is that it would be very difficult for someone to inhale enough mold to do that kind of damage. If you aren’t sensitive to mold, you may never even experience a reaction.

Furthermore, the mold that asthma has been associated with is generally found outdoors, not indoors. So that leaky window at work isn’t likely to cause you to develop asthma. Outdoor mold will only exacerbate symptoms for asthmatics, and not cause asthma itself. However, a serious condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis is rare, but attributed to prolonged mold inhalation in patients who are sensitive.

Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis can develop over time in patients who are sensitive to mold spores in the air. One of the most often seen types of hypersensitivity pneumonitis is known as “farmer’s lung.” Farmer’s lung is a serious allergic reaction to mold found in hay and other types of crop material. Because farmer’s lung is so often undiagnosed, it can cause permanent damage in the form of scar tissue on the lung. This scar tissue, called fibrosis, can worsen until the patient begins to have trouble doing simple tasks.

Once farmer’s lung progresses to a more chronic form, symptoms may become more severe than simple histamine reactions. Farmer’s lung patients may experience fever, chills, blood-streaked sputum, and muscular pain. Those who work around potentially moldy crop materials on a regular basis should watch for early histamine reactions and seek treatment if they suspect farmer’s lung may be developing.

While mold exposure is generally not deadly, increased exposure can make symptoms worse. Mold allergies are progressive—that is, over time the attacks become more severe. The key is to prevent moisture from building up by repairing any leaks in your home.

If you notice a water build-up in any part of your home, stop the leak immediately. When working in situations where outdoor mold may be present, wearing a face mask can drastically reduce your exposure to the allergen. Masks that will protect your respiratory system from being affected by mold spore exposure are available.

Histamines and Electromagnetic fields (EMFs)

Image“A theoretical model based upon mast cells and histamine to explain the recently proclaimed sensitivity to electric and/or magnetic fields in humans.” Gangi S, Johansson O. Experimental Dermatology Unit, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

 

ABSTRACT
The relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and human health is more and more in focus. This is mainly because of the rapid increasing use of such EMFs within our modern society. Exposure to EMFs has been linked to different cancer forms, e.g. leukemia, brain tumors, neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, asthma and allergy, and recently to the phenomena of ‘electrosupersensitivity’ and ‘screen dermatitis’. There is an increasing number of reports about cutaneous problems as well as symptoms from internal organs, such as the heart, in people exposed to video display terminals (VDTs). These people suffer from subjective and objective skin and mucosa-related symptoms, such as itch, heat sensation, pain, erythema, papules and pustules. In severe cases, people can not, for instance, use VDTs or artificial light at all, or be close to mobile telephones. Mast cells (MCs), when activated, release a spectrum of mediators, among them histamine, which is involved in a variety of biological effects with clinical relevance, e.g. allergic hypersensitivity, itch, edema, local erythema and many types of dermatoses. From the results of recent studies, it is clear that EMFs affect the MC, and also the dendritic cell, population and may degranulate these cells. The release of inflammatory substances, such as histamine, from MCs in the skin results in a local erythema, edema and sensation of itch and pain, and the release of somatostatin from the dendritic cells may give rise to subjective sensations of on-going inflammation and sensitivity to ordinary light. These are, as mentioned, the common symptoms reported from patients suffering from ‘electrosupersensitivity’/’screen dermatitis’. MCs are also present in the heart tissue and their localization is of particular relevance to their function. Data from studies made on interactions of EMFs with the cardiac function have demonstrated that highly interesting changes are present in the heart after exposure to EMFs. One could speculate that the cardiac MCs are responsible for these changes due to degranulation after exposure to EMFs. However, it is still not known how, and through which mechanisms, all these different cells are affected by EMFs. In this article, we present a theoretical model, based upon observations on EMFs and their cellular effects, to explain the proclaimed sensitivity to electric and/or magnetic fields in humans.

CONCLUSION
Results from the above-mentioned studies show that EMFs affect the MCs and may result in MC degranulation and release of inflammatory substances, including histamine. It is obvious that the MC, and also the dendritic cell, population is affected by EMFs. However, it is still unknown whether EMFs affect these cells directly or indirectly. EMFs may primarily affect the MCs, and they will consecutively release mediator substances which, in its turn, activate dendritic cells and their release of somatostatin. However, EMFs could affect the dendritic cells directly and these cells could then activate MCs’ release of inflammatory substances, such as histamine, heparin, serotonin, VIP, etc. The third possibility would be that EMFs affect both MCs and dendritic cells directly and degranulate these cells.

The release of inflammatory mediators from MCs in the human skin results in a local erythema, edema and sensation of itch and/or pain, and maybe the release of somatostatin from the dendritic cells in the skin gives rise to subjective sensations of on-going inflammation and the reported sensitivity to ordinary light. All the above-mentioned cutaneous symptoms are the common symptoms.

SUMMARY OF KNOW EFFECTS OF ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS (EMFs) ON MAST CELLS (MCs)
Interactions of EMFs with MCs may result in MC degranulation and release of inflammatory mediators, such as histamine. In addition, cardiac symptoms have also been reported. MCs are, as described before, also present in human heart tissue. From the results of studies on the interaction of EMFs with the cardiac function, it is clear that relevant changes are present in the heart after exposure to EMFs. These changes may be due to the influence of EMFs on the cardiac MCs and their release of inflammatory mediators. One could argue that the cardiac MCs, with their intimate relationship to the nerves, could be affected and degranulated directly by the EMFs, or indirectly through a neuropeptide pathway.

Thus, it is clear that certain changes occur in different MC populations after electromagnetic / magnetic exposure, and these changes may consequently be a direct cellular response to EMFs. The results of the previously discussed study of Donnellan et al.confirms this assumption.

Finally, if the above reported effects, seen in different laboratory animals, such as mice and rats, as well as in various in vitro situations, would occur in human beings exposed in similar ways, it is not surprising at all to find persons claiming different subjective and objective symptoms, such as itch, flare, edema, etc., after exposure to e.g. mobile telephones, VDTs or fluorescent light. On the contrary, these persons may very well function as biosensors, thus revealing to the rest of the human population a warning signal that has to be taken seriously!

Comments (2)

Older Posts »