MCAS is an acronym for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. Mast cells are a critical feature of our immunity, responsible for releasing histamine, prostaglandins, heparin, and inflammatory cytokines as a 1st line response to allergen, pathogen (certain bacteria and parasites), and other antigens entering our body.
Histamine is an immune-signaling protein with many functions. Although commonly recognised as a cause of allergies and inflammation, histamine also regulates stomach acid production, helps stimulate brain and sexual libido, as well as some vaso-dilation and broncho-constriction influences.
Aside from the misery caused to chronic allergy sufferers, MCAS can be a particular problem for women in the menopausal stages due to their fluctuating oestrogen levels. Oestrogen increases mast cell histamine release as well as downregulating the enzyme which clears histamine from the body (1).
This then becomes a bi-directional problem because histamine stimulates excess oestrogen, leading to further histamine release. Heavier periods and increased period pain are the common gynaecological issues of MCAS (Briden:2021).
Other commonly reported symptoms of MCAS are rhinitis (nasal congestion), hives (termed: urticaria), fibrocystic breasts and breast pain, chronic headache, sinus pain, tinnitus, poor sleep patterns, irritability or other mood disturbance, fluid retention, joint pains.
Minimising the symptoms of MCAS:
- Avoid all dairy products containing the A1 beta-casein protein. A1 is mainly found in cheeses and yogurts, milk lattes and ice cream, whilst butter, goat and sheep cheeses have no A1 casein. Consume A2 milk only which is readily available.
- For at least two months trial a low histamine diet. Items to be avoided would be:
- No consumption of alcohol.
- Canned or smoked fish and all shellfish.
- Aged cheeses and processed meats.
- All forms of fermented food additives including yeast and vinegars.
- Avocado and other amine containing foods.
- Consider a gluten-free challenge.
Seek professional guidance regarding your current menopausal symptoms, and ways best to metabolise unwanted oestrogen:
- Iodine supplementation where levels are found to be deficient.
- Bio or body identical progesterone supplementation (where appropriate)
- Assess thyroid function and liver detoxification pathways (phase 1+2) – again where appropriate.
- Improving general gut health if dysbiosis is an issue.
- Supplement an indole-phytometabolite (as DIM – diindolylmethane) or a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables.
The above points are some examples to aid in better metabolising excess oestrogen and reduce mast cell histamine release.
At 30mg twice daily Vitamin B6 up-regulates the enzyme (DAO) which clears histamine.
Zinc and Vitamin D are known immunologically calming nutrients, so optimised levels of these should always be considered.
In all of this scalp hair in women is adversely influenced by falling progesterone, fluctuations in oestrogens levels, and the temporary phase of testosterone dominance.
This hormonal disruption during the stages of menopause often reveals a non-genetic pattern thinning with temple recession to varying degrees of severity.
Thinning hair density can be readily treated but ALL contributing factors should be evaluated and addressed to achieve an across-the-board optimal outcome for the client.
Copyright Anthony Pearce 2024.
- Diamine oxidase (DAO).