There is a good deal of confusion regarding the role histamine plays in the body and what are factors that cause the release of histamine, increase the receptor sensitivity to histamine and the impact of histamine disorder, Mast Cell Activation Disorder.
Whole Blood Histamine as a means of measuring methylation status:
When treating mood disorders utilizing the Walsh Protocol, doctors will order a lab test that measures whole blood histamine. Histamine in blood cells is regulated primarily by an enzyme called histamine N-methyl transferase, HMT. The levels of whole blood histamine are a reflection of one's methylation status. This is because of the methyl compound that limits the ability for the HMT enzyme to break down histamine. Persons who are "undermethylated" lack, this methyl enzyme and so typically have elevated whole blood histamine levels. When treated with methyl supplying amino acids such as methionine and SAMe, the mood related disorders are often improved. Because HMT is also present in the plasma, histamine levels may be controlled to some extent with methionine and SAMe. But when suffering symptoms of elevated plasma histamine (rash, seasonal allergies, inflammation, itching, hives, conjunctivitis, congestion, etc), the enzyme diamine oxidase, DAO, is more responsible for histamine breakdown and control of these allergy symptoms.
This post below does not discuss the role of whole blood histamine and methylation for the purpose of determining cause managing methylation related mood disorders. To understand the use of whole blood histamine as a test for determine one's methylation status and serotonin and dopamine levels, please see this article. For the record, Walsh providers prefer Whole Blood Histamine values for predicting methylation status vs genetic testing such as MTHFR and COMT genetic mutations. Walsh trained practitioners are taught that whole blood histamine is a better measure of methylation status and so is used to determine whether the causes of mood disorders such as depression are due to increased or decreased levels of serotonin and dopamine activity.
While there are many persons with elevated histamine who suffer from mood disorders, Mast Cell Activation Disorder itself if a diagnosis made from symptoms and blood tests associated with the accumulation or over expression of Mast Cells or the over response by histamine receptors. This blog post is intended to clarify the role of mast cells and histamine as an immune reaction to antigens, foods and microbes and the symptoms plus labs used in establishing diagnosis.
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Mast Cell Activation Disorder is a diagnosis based on lab tests and symptoms that indicate there is a significant immune reactivity taking place in response to various allergens, foods, microbes and other triggers.
Histamine is released from mast cells that are present in bone marrow, in circulating blood cells such as basophils and eosinophils. They accumulate along the lining of the intestines, the respiratory and sinus tract and in the vascular system. It is here where they respond to irritating or threatening triggers and lead to a cascade of immune reactive conditions that either contain the insulting element or cause harm to the body, or both.
Until recently, the only condition that was attributed to abnormal levels of mast cells and histamine was referred to as mastocytosis. This is a rare condition that required a bone bioposy to determine the degree of mast cell accumulation. Today, MCAD or Mast Cell Activation Disorder is used to describe the condition of overreaction by the mast cells and excessive release of and reactivity to compounds including histamine, tryptase, heparin and even serotonin.