More and more people are realizing that they may have a condition called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), or related conditions such as histamine intolerance and mastocytosis. People are going to specialists, functional medicine doctors, and all sorts of practitioners trying to get to the root of these debilitating and confusing syndromes. Many people are getting genetic tests and showing mutations on the HAT or KIT gene, which shows a genetic susceptibility to allergic disorders, including MCAS. Many people truly give up at this point, resigning themselves to a lifetime of heavy medication and constant avoidance of triggers. They buy into the idea of “genetic destiny”, and assume that there is nothing they can do to resolve or recover from it.

I want to erase that myth right now. There is no need to have despair. You are not genetically “defective”. Your body is not broken. It is not as simple as having the “wrong” genes.

The reality is, these are new conditions. They do not exist in cultures living traditionally. In the western world, they have only started developing over the last few decades. In fact, the first diagnostic criteria was only written in 2008! It is not because it took that long for doctors and other clinicians to “notice” these conditions. They are truly NEW conditions. They were not described before because they were not observed before.

Having these genes simply means that when your body is under environmental stress, you are going to be more likely to develop these conditions as opposed to a different set of conditions. Genes are a map of potentialities. It is never destiny. We have been under incredibly unique stressors that have grown the more we have separated ourselves from nature, starting nearly 10,000 years ago with the advent of agriculture and the escalating largely with industrial revolution of the 1800’s and the chemical revolution of the 1900’s. We are now at least 3 generations into a lifestyle incredibly far removed from our natural roots, and experience an immense amount of stressors that are totally knew to our immune system and nervous system. These changes keep accelerating, far faster than our bodies can keep up with. Pesticide and heavy metal exposure, high amounts of processed foods and additives, artificial light, excessive pharmaceutical use, heavy work schedules, and so many other factors have contributed to the state we find ourselves in now.

The people with genetic predispositions are the people who are most likely going to have the the biggest responses to these stressors. That is the reason why not everyone has developed Mast Cell Activation Syndrome in the wake of all these major stressors and changes to our environment, but more and more people are. At first, it was going to only be the absolutely most sensitive people to develop these conditions, and it was incredibly rare. Now, more and more people are going to develop it, with less resilience and more stressors on our bodies. More and more people are becoming susceptible, regardless of their genes. These people used to truly be the “canaries in the coal mine”. Now, more and more people are developing these syndromes, because we did not listen to the earlier warnings that what is happening in the world is not working for the ways our bodies are designed to thrive.

Even leading mast cell doctors such as Dr. Afrin will admit that these conditions are “exploding” over the last 10-20 years. Human genetics have not changed in this span of time. Human genetics take at least thousands of years to shift. If our genetics are the culprit, and genetics are destiny, we would not be seeing the massive shifts in our health as a society over the span of decades. Genetics are not the culprit. The environments we find ourselves in are.

So what is happening in the immune system? Mast cell activation is a state of chronic allergic reactivity. It is the last ditch effort of the immune system to save your life in a state of extreme stress and fear. The body is in a state of chronic inflammation, working to fight off potent threats, desperately trying to keep you alive. The body creates these extreme states due to a perception of extreme stressors. It only creates these patterns of symptoms because it feels like it HAS to.

These stressors, as I mentioned before, are from microbial overgrowth, nutritional imbalances, toxic overload, and unresolved traumas and stressors. Everything your body is doing is trying to save your life in every moment. We have to understand that the body believes you would be worse off if it was not having these reactions. I know it is hard to believe this now, when you are suffering so much, your body has your best interest in mind.

When we address the underlying stressors, when we support your body properly, your body can see relief from these extreme stressors and it starts to rebalance. The responses get less extreme and less severe. Your body starts feeling safe in the world again. Genetic susceptibility or not- your body no longer has a reason to be chronically activated and inflamed. This is when the symptoms start to resolve and even reverse.

This is why we cannot walk on eggshells around your symptoms and just try to suppress, suppress, suppress. We do want to stabilize your symptoms as much as possible so you have the capacity to do the things that need to be done for recovery. Low histamine diets, supplements such as Quercetin, Nettle, Vitamin C, and Calcium can all help, even pharmaceutical anti-histamines as needed- but they do not resolve the underlying problems that are causing the issues in the first place. And things that may trigger some symptoms could actually be very important for your recovery. We need to refeed key nutrients you are likely depleted in, rebalance the gut microbiome, detoxify and support the liver, and regulate the nervous system. You do not have to walk on eggshells around your body forever. The key is to slowly build resilience, so you do not have to stay on a low histamine diet or take anti histamines forever.

My story is a perfect example. It was hard, winding, and took a long time: about two years to fully recover. When we stop focusing on band aids and start actually addressing the roots, deep healing can start unfolding in the body. This takes time, patience, and discipline. I had so many stressors that my body had been struggling with. I had severe lead toxicity, leaky gut, SIBO and other bacterial overgrowth, parasitic overgrowth, viral overgrowth, mold toxicity, had a lot of stress and trauma that was unresolved, and overall had a negative mindset about my life.

I realized that my life needed a complete overhaul. My symptoms were so severe I could no longer reliably work or even leave my house without getting extreme symptoms. So I went all in: I started a low histamine gut rebuilding diet, slowly eliminating all starch from my diet to rebalance my microbiome, and started meditating and doing nervous system regulation practices daily, as well as supporting my liver through basic detox support. I reset my circadian rhythm, started changing my perspective and mindset, got sober, and shifted my friendships, relationships, and work life. I truly became a new person, because I knew that was what my body needed. Most of all, I put all my faith in my body’s innate ability to heal. I knew that regardless of my genes, or what had happened to me in my life, my body would be able to build resilience.

That is why I call our coaching program now Immune Resilience. Because I have seen first hand in myself and now hundreds of people what is possible. It is one of the most powerful things I have ever experienced, and it completely changed my life forever in the best way. My favorite thing is seeing my clients go through the same transformation. We can rebuild, no matter what we have been through.

About the Author
Jen Donovan completely rebuilt her life and career as a result of her experience with severe chronic illness. After finding no answers from conventional medical approaches, she took matters into her own hands and with the help of key mentors, found a path to healing.
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