Most of the time, when the word “histamine” comes up, people
are speaking about the dreaded symptoms that present with IgE-mediated
allergies, like runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing. These types of allergies tend to be seasonal
for most people, and they are typically quite predictable. However, histamine can be a part of so many
more problems than just those associated with seasonal allergies. Elevated histamine levels in the body can contribute
to indigestion, GERD, rashes, migraines, and even pain. Because these issues tend to be so global, it
can be a misdiagnosed or undiagnosed problem that is fairly easy to solve! Now, take that with a grain of salt because
while explaining the issue and how to correct it is fairly simple, actually
taking the steps to do so can be more difficult.
Where does histamine come from?
Histamine lives abundantly in immune cells called mast
cells. When mast cells burst, they
release all of their contents, including copious amounts of histamine. Anyone who has true seasonal allergies knows
exactly what that feels like because when you breathe in allergens, they attach
to the outside of mast cells and cause them to burst open. Boom.
Itching, watering, misery. Over
the counter meds, antihistamines, try to address all that excess floating
around; however, supplements actually stabilize the mast cell, so even in the
presence of allergens, the mast cell doesn’t burst. This allows patients to feel relief of
symptoms without having the drowsy-inducing chemicals that cross the blood
brain barrier. Not that that topic isn’t
important, BUT, we are here to talk about all the reasons someone can have histamine
issues WITHOUT seasonal allergies.
There are tons of things that cause mast cells to explode
and release all their histamine:
Heavy metals such as aluminum and mercury
Now, histamine doesn’t just live in mast cells. We eat food with histamine every single
day! Most of us know nothing about this because
when it reaches the intestines, our body produces an enzyme called diamine
oxidase (DAO) that breaks it down and we never feel any ill effects from
it. However, many people have damaged
gut linings where that enzyme is made and that means that when they eat foods
high in histamine, it goes unbroken down and ends up in our system, causing
issues like indigestion, brain fog, migraines, pain, or rashes. You may be thinking: “Can’t I just take that
enzyme and be good?!” or “Can’t I just avoid histamine foods and be good?!” The answer to both of those questions is “You
could absolutely take DAO or avoid histamine foods to decrease histamine load
in the body, but that doesn’t fix the problem and is a very expensive or difficult-to-sustain
bandaid. The better solution is to reestablish
the health of your gut lining, so your body makes enough of its own DAO, and
you no long have unbroken down histamine causing issues.
High histamine foods:
Processed meats like sausages and lunch meats
You can see how avoiding this list may be challenging, not a
long-term solution, and may even contribute to nutrient deficiencies!
What are the symptoms of histamine intolerance?
Skin issues (eczema, hives, rashes, itching)
Headaches or migraines
What are natural ways you can decrease the histamine load
and heal the gut?
Stabilize mast cells with supplements containing
quercetin and consuming plenty of onions, kale, broccoli, and asparagus
Healing gut cells by consuming bone broth daily and/or
taking supplements with glutamine
Getting your gut bugs in check by consuming
probiotics and/or eating fermented foods if tolerated
Treating any infections with antimicrobials like
Do yoga or meditation to decrease stress
Cut out alcohol for a period of time
Take B-vitamins or eat lots of colorful plants
because many medications deplete b-vitamins which are necessary for DAO to
function and breakdown histamine. Think
birth control, blood pressure meds, and mood regulators
Try to decrease the intake of high histamine
foods because histamine is dose dependent.
That means a little isn’t an issue, but it just takes a little once you’ve
reached the threshold to cause a response.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that, once again, lifestyle
choices matter for you to live a life free from histamine intolerance. There’s no magic bullet. There’s no quick fix. It takes a few months before you can really
see optimized gut restoration, so give yourself 3 months before assessing your
progress. Hope this was helpful, and if
you want to establish if this information pertains to you prior to trying the
things listed above, I encourage you to meet with a knowledgeable functional
Urinary tract infections are not something we sit around the dinner table discussing, but google searching on the internet, that’s another story. Believe it or not, this topic is one of the most highly searched health terms. That means, you are not alone, and let’s hope there’s valuable information out there. When I asked my audience on media the other day what conditions they wanted information for, this was what they decided! I had NO CLUE that so many people were interested in UTI solutions, but considering that if many people get them, especially women, elderly, and men with BPH, I shouldn’t be surprised. The other thing to take note of is that if you get them, they often reoccur, which means antibiotics over and over again if you go a traditional treatment route and are unable to prevent them.
Let’s get down to business.
What causes Urinary Tract Infections?
The short answer? E. coli getting into the urinary tract, penetrating the cell lining and taking up shop. This is just another case of infection due to bacterial overgrowth.
How do you treat or prevent Urinary Tract Infections?
This is where visiting a doctor who can diagnose the infection and evaluate the severity is important. If there is a severe active infection, you may want to consider antibiotics as the treatment option that is needed because no one wants it to progress into a kidney infection! However, if it is somewhat early and benign, you may be able to get away with an antimicrobial combo like Uva Ursi and Berberine to get the job done.
In the case of prevention, my preference in practice is the use of cranberry extract that contains at least 36mg PAC (proanthocyanidins). These plant compounds found in cranberries have the ability to attach to E. coli and PREVENT them from attaching to the lining in the urinary tract. Having said that, that’s why we use this in folks who have the tendency to get them over and over. You know you want prevention for these patients, and cranberry extract supplements tend to be a great solution! Studies show that if you combine a cranberry extract with 36mg PACs with a broad spectrum probiotic, that it has even slightly better prevention rates (which were already great!) I’m pretty transparent about the supplement industry and what is pretty standard across the board and what you need to be intentional about in terms of quality, and this is one that is notorious for not having many PACs when tested. Be sure to ask your doc for a good cranberry extract!
In addition to antimicrobials for treatment or cranberry extracts for prevention, whether they be prescriptive or natural, you want to make sure to do implement the follow lifestyle habits:
drink plenty of water because hydration will help drive urination, flushing out the urinary tract
urinate after intercourse
wipe front to back, ladies. You don’t want anything bacterial from the back entering the front.
steer clear of too much sugar and simple carbs in your diet, because that tends to be a fuel source that bacteria thrive on!
take a probiotic or eat fermented foods to help keep your internal environment balanced
Implement these simple solutions, and you could avoid a trip to the doc, another round of antibiotics, and all of the time you waste not being able to pee, having burning during urination, or pain in the back and pelvis!
Everyone has heard that they need to have a more positive outlook or stress is bad for their health. Try telling that to someone who is sick and has more bad days than good! It’s not an easy place to be those with any chronic disease, let alone autoimmunity or cancer, but there’s some evidence to suggest that having a positive outlook and a healthy mental state pays dividends in the immunity department!
There is a field of research called psychoneuroimmunology. Let’s break that down: pyscho (mental)-neuro (nervous system)-immunology (immune system). There’s an entire of field of research targeted at uncovering the mysteries of how these systems work together. Do we have it figured out? Nope. I don’t even think that will happen in my lifetime. Just because we don’t have the mechanisms explained, doesn’t mean we don’t see some of the correlative effects of optimistic attitudes like:
-better natural killer cell activity (NK cells keep cancer in check and help you fight infections)
better ratios of helper to suppressor T-cells (T-cells tipped out of balance equals autoimmunity)
-increased sIgA function (this is crazy important for the gut barrier that can be compromised in autoimmunity)
Ways to improve mental outlook
There’s nothing more frustrating than recognizing that your attitude sucks, you have negative self-talk, and maybe even some depression and someone telling you to “stop, be more positive.” What does that even mean?! Of course, I’d be more positive if I knew how!!!! These tips are going to feel forced initially, but I will list some helpful suggestions in order of ease. The top of the list is where you should start if you feel stuck and “being positive” feels forced. The better you get, work your way down! Be gentle, because some people take years before they can do some of the lower list comfortably.
volunteer– find an organization that helps people, and simply show up to help. Animal shelters, soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, after-school programs. You ALWAYS have a positive mood when you’ve made another person’s life better.
random acts of kindness– randomly throughout your day, do something small for someone that you may not have done otherwise. Buy their coffee, open a door, let them out in traffic, give a stranger a compliment, look at someone and smile. Little things go a long way.
write and send thank you cards– not only does this task make you think of people who mean something to you, but it also gives you a purpose to remember why your thankful for them, and then you will also feel amazing when they feel good about someone recognizing them and being grateful for their presence. I do this every year around Thanksgiving, but this is an insta-feel-good anytime you’re feeling down.
start a gratitude journal– simply writing 3 things you are grateful for down every day for 21 days without repeating any will force your brain to focus on the blessings. Your brain will begin to search for these things as a part of everyday life.
meditate– being able to practice checking in with yourself, letting go of expectations, knowing that how you are in the moment is enough and exactly how it’s supposed to be is extremely freeing. Try downloading the headspace app or purchase one of Chopra Center’s meditation series. I LOVE the Chopra meditations because they start with telling you what to focus on and how to relate it to your life. You’ll be better at starting yourself as time goes by.
When you think about the fact that cancer patients in studies have been proven to have better outcomes when they visualize and create positive environments over those with negative thoughts, it’s definitely worth a shot. If for no other reason than the opening the door of opportunity in a time when your immune system needs some help, smile and make a small step towards finding the silver lining! It will pay you back in ways you never imagined.
What health issues were you struggling with when you began to work with Dr. Angela?
I had just gotten diagnosed with Graves’ disease, and I also just had an open surgery to remove a benign tumor the size of a cantaloupe, as well as one of my ovaries. My symptoms were fatigue, racing heart, high blood pressure, hand tremors, excessive sweating, and more!
2. What treatment methods had you tried prior to Dr. Angela’s program?
I had just started on an anti-thyroid drug after seeing an endocrinologist.
3. What health benefits did you gain from working with Dr. Angela?
I feel like a completely different person than I did before starting this program. I feel so much better when I ate real whole foods compared to processed foods I was eating before. (Also, got pregnant of first try even when the medical doctors told me it would be a problem for us. ;) )
4. What did you find most beneficial to you in the program?
Dr. Angela does a really good job of educating her patients. It’s easier for me to follow through with something when I know the “why” and not just instructed to do it.
5. What was your biggest struggle during the transition to a healthier lifestyle?
Wanting to have cheat meals!!
6. Did you food options taste good?
Yes! There are so many good meals we could make and most were more satisfying than our previous meals.
7. Did you have an ah-ha moment that helped you commit to the change? If so, what was it?
I know that if I didn’t try this, I would have to most likely have my thyroid removed or destroyed, and I did not want to have to do that.
8. If you were going to give a piece of advice to someone on the fence of following a program like Dr. Angela’s, what would you say to them in order to help them decide?
Anything is worth a try, especially before taking medications with harmful side effects, or having a definitive surgery. Dr. Angela really cares about her patients and devotes everything to help them heal naturally. I would recommend her to anyone!
Dr. Angela side comments:
Graves’ disease is a very serious condition, and this patient speaks about food and natural healing, but there were also components of medications and supplementation that played a role, too. These patient journeys are for me to help anyone trying to make decisions about their health get answers to the questions from a patient perspective. I have every patient do this voluntarily, and I do not alter any of their words. I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of this person’s health journey, and wish her all the abundance moving into motherhood!
Every winter I make my way to the sauna and I would go everyday if my schedule allowed! For me, it started with the desire to be warm to the core and sweat during a season where it didn’t matter how many layers I worked out in, there was not a bead of sweat. While the sauna certainly helped me warm up, and allowed me to sweat, I started to realize there was more to it than that. There is valid research on the health benefits of the sauna, thermogenesis, activation of heat shock proteins, etc, but I just want to keep this simple. After all, if you’ve never been to an infrared sauna, you are problem wondering whether it’s worth the time and effort. I’m here to tell you that if I had one therapy in my office that wasn’t delivered by a person, an infrared sauna would be it.
Here we go…
Detoxification– Sweating is one of the body’s ways to detoxify through the largest organ: the skin. When I am working with patients that have chronic diseases, there is always a need to provide detoxification support. Heavy metals, pesticides, endocrine disruptors…they can all keep you from healing. Sweat it out!
Cardiovascular health– Cardiovascular events kill more people than any other disease. It’s a real thing. Just like exercise gets your blood pumping, so does heat. That means you get some of the same exact cardiovascular benefits from using an infrared sauna as you do hitting the gym! That also means it’s a great way to continue “training” when you have an injury that keeps you from pushing your limits. It has been shown to dramatically reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events in men due to having positive effects on blood pressure and vessel pliability. The more the men used the sauna, the greater they reduced their risk in a Finnish study that has been following people over the course of a lifetime to study impacts of sauna use. They aren’t quite sure yet, but it appears that 20 minutes or more is the magic threshold.
Energy-It’s no surprise that getting your blood pumping to tissues like your muscles and brain make you feel more alive, alert, and energetic. When I leave the sauna, I can honestly say I feel rejuvenated! I’m starting to sound like an infomercial, but this is the real deal.
Weight management– Ok, I have never used the sauna for weight management, but there are a few reasons why saunas help do this: metabolic expenditure, increased growth hormone, increased nutrients to organs that regulate metabolism like the thyroid, and increased mitochondrial activity. Let’s call it the lazy man’s weight loss program not just because of lost water, but because of the cellular influence and hormonal impacts.
Sleep– I have always been a deep sleeper, but I have many patients that struggle with sleep. There are tons of things that impact someone’s sleep quality, but drastic changes in body temperature is one that has an amazingly positive impact. Exercise can do the same thing. Think about a hard day’s work of manual labor, or how wiped out the kids are after a day in the sun, or how sound you sleep on the days you do heavy lifting. Outside temperature or physical activity have an influence on core body temperature that helps you fall deeper into restorative sleep.
When I was a kid, my parents were pretty generous in the activity and toy department. I honestly don’t remember wanting to do or be involved in something that they turned down…well Mom…because we all know who makes the decisions. However, there was one line I couldn’t get her to cross, and that was getting a trampoline. Back in the day you didn’t have to have the cages around them, but they did mess up a huge patch of grass. So, that was a no-no in the beautiful backyard oasis department. However, my friend that lived next door had one, and I’m pretty sure kids can jump on those things for hours without getting bored. Ah the fond memories.
Fast forward 20 years later and I find myself at a trampoline park, bouncing my heart out with a few gems from the new generation. I have read some articles about rebounding and how it’s good for your health, I’ve watched really funny workout videos where people are on trampolines with sweatbands, and I even had a small trampoline in my PT room at the chiropractic clinic to help with rehab, but is this rebounding thing actually good for your health? Much of the studies done to prove that it’s beneficial were done of astronauts because when they come back to Earth, they were having issues with injuries trying to retrain their bodies to acclimate to gravity.
Anyway, that data basically says that the change in velocity that you receive when you rebound off of something has systemic health benefits. However, other than that, I feel like the data out there really only shows the same amount of benefit you’d get from doing any other form of exercise!
The benefits that I could see over other forms of exercise are:
dispersed impact, so less injuries (although tell that to the kids that break their ankles landing wrong or on each other!)
it’s fun! and doesn’t really require any skill
you could likely do it despite many types of injuries, so that’s a positive in rehab
it trains your feet, which we often support to the point of weakness when barefoot
you can get the same amount of cardiovascular improvement or more than running with less work from your heart
Conditions I love rebounding for:
Training the nervous system for balance and proprioception
Otherwise, I hate to burst the rebounding bubble, but I don’t think it’s any more beneficial for your health than other forms of activity. I will say that I laughed the entire couple hours of jumping though and felt like a kid for second, so there’s that. So, before you invest in something that could take up lots of space or burn patches in your yard, decide if you’re just as excited to do another activity. I may opt for an alternative, however, a little part of my soul is probably secreting still requesting a trampoline on every Christmas list.
The best strawberries I have ever tasted are the ones out of my own garden and the one in this picture. This little guy was straight out of the garden at a California vineyard. Either way, I think it is because both scenarios mean the berries are fresh, perfectly ripe, and have zero chemicals.
Strawberries are in full swing, but they are something that have porous skin and therefore, absorb a lot of chemicals if they are sprayed. If you have ever tried to grow berries yourself, you know that they ripen and get sniped by insects quickly if you don’t eat them first! That’s why they tend to be heavily sprayed. So, make sure to buy organic on this one! I love getting organic strawberries by the flat from the farmer’s market because they are so cheap. I’ll cut them up and throw them in the freezer for use throughout the year. However, there are plenty of options to include them in your daily food, and you should try each and every one of the recipes listed below!! Eating in season is such an important (and overlooked) aspect of nutrition. So, now’s the time to eat strawberries like they’re goin’ outta style because blueberries will be in season quickly!
One of my favorite parts of summer is gardening, watching the plants grow, picking what they produce, and then getting to create a delicious dish that ultimately nourishes me and those I love. Talk about being close to your food! You know where it was grown, how it was grown, and you can’t get much more ripe than “just picked from the back yard!” However, I know that many people think they don’t have time, it’s too complicated, or get overwhelmed at the idea of figuring it out. I’m here to tell you that I am not a gardener, I have never researched it, I don’t know what I am doing, and yet I LOVE it and do it every year. So, I’m here to share some basic tips because I think the single best piece of health advice I can give is for someone to grow their food.
Decide which is you:
I have a space prepared and ready for a garden in my yard, but just haven’t done any planting
I have never had a garden and would have to create a space
I don’t even have a yard, Dr. A
If you are:
Then stop making excuses, go get some veggie plants (see below) and start planting
Consider buying an above ground garden box (or making one but we are keeping things simple here) and fill them with soil
Go get some pots, you can easily grow plants on your porch
I like to plant things that give me the most produce per plant. Here is a list that I like to plant that will give you tons of produce to pick on a regular basis and it’s totally worth your money to plant it in the ground and make sure it gets watered:
These sort of need the ground:
Summer squash like Zucchini and yellow squash- they need lots of room to sprawl; they produce in mid-summer
Winter squash like Butternut and spaghetti Squash- the need lots of room to sprawl, but I can keep butternut that I pick through winter in the house!; they are late summer, early fall producers
Strawberries-this one can be fickle but I plant them in my landscaping and they come back every year with more berries
Blackberries-Patience, these take 3 years to start making berries, so don’t even go there if you are going to move, but if you’re staying put, they will give you berries in your backyard! They come back every year
These could go in the ground or a pot:
Cucumber-throw a cage around it, let it climb and produce like crazy all summer
Tomato- Throw a cage around it and it’ll produce all summer
Bell peppers- They all start out green, so have patience if you want red/orange/yellow
Hot peppers- They will produce more than you could ever eat, so you’ll be giving tons away or drying them to make crushed hot pepper spices, etc.
Kale- This an early producer and you will be able to start picking kale early and throughout the entire season into the fall
Swiss Chard- This is an early producer and you’ll never have to buy greens at the store
Herbs: The ones that come back every year, I plant in the ground and make them part of the landscape: Sage, Chives, Thyme, Oregano, lavender, lemon balm. The ones that I have to replant every year either go in the garden or in pots: Parsley, Basil, and Mint (mint spreads and is invasive, so it always get a pot regardless of coming back yearly).
I have planted tons of other things and often do more than the above, but the one’s above are hard to screw up. I also prioritize the things that are more expensive to buy. For example, you can plant one bell pepper plant and save $2-3 with every pepper it produces or you can take the same space to grow and onion or two that costs you pennies at the store. Things that grow underground don’t give you as much bang for your buck: onions, carrots, potatoes. They are cheap and take up lots of growing space.
Don’t get intimidated, you just have to go buy a plant and plant it. Just one! Start with herbs! I love having fresh herbs all summer and many come back every year, flower, and look just as pretty as your landscaping that you can’t eat.
*The picture is the outer peel of a tomatillo that I planted the year before. I was fascinated that it stayed in tact, but I found it when I was planting my zucchini for this year!
2018 Flu Pandemic. In full swing. What should we do?
Well, flu statistics tell us that February is the month with the highest rate on infections. So, the worst is yet to come. Pharmacies are having difficulties keeping Tamiflu in stock, and they are saying this could be the worst flu season since the bird flu scare. As a functional medicine practitioner, I have never been a fan of the flu shot for a couple reasons:
The flu shot is a vaccine that we produce BEFORE flu season. This means that we GUESS which pathogen will be the issue, and we are notoriously wrong. That means that massive amounts of people are convinced to get a shot that includes adjuvants. What are those? Things that wake up the immune system. Often times they use things like components of an egg. It always makes me wonder if they has anything to do with why so many people have egg allergies now. It’s just not normal to have egg anything in the bloodstream and it actually makes sense that the immune system would recognize this as abnormal and produce antibodies against it. Hello food sensitivities. Anyway, that’s exactly what happened this year. We dispersed vaccines against a strain that was not the correct one. So, even if you had a flu shot, you are just as susceptible as everyone else. Sorry, Charlie.
The flu vaccine was created specifically for immunocompromised populations. The elderly, HIV patients, you know, people that will DIE if they catch the flu. However, a healthy individual may be down for a few days, but then they will be fine. We shouldn’t need to intervene with toxic therapies.
We can’t take back the fact that the vaccine was against the wrong strain. So, is there anything we can do now? Yup. Here are my tips for preventing and treating the flu naturally and effectively:
Wash Your Hands. When you go around touching surfaces and then touching your face, you expose your mucus membranes to all the organisms that may have been resting on those ledges, hand rails, door handles, dollar bills, pens, you name it. So, washing your hands before you eat is huge deal right now. Just do it.
Eat plenty of plants and organ meats. Plants are full of phytochemicals that keep your immune system robust. Spices also contain compounds that can stimulate the immune system, so use them generously. Organ meats (from appropriately-raised animals) are full of fat soluble vitamins like A and D. These are heavy-hitters for the immune system. They also have minerals like Zinc. Zinc is a well-known immune-supporting mineral, which is why zinc lozenges adorn the shelves of every pharmacy.
Get 8 hours of sleep. When you sleep, cortisol levels go down. When you wake up, cortisol levels go up. Cortisol levels are inversely related to immune system function. That means that you immune system is allowed to its best work at night when cortisol is down. If you deprive yourself of sleep, then you don’t do much to support your immune system’s ability to fight infection. Why do you think people just want to stay in bed when they are sick? Sleep matters.
Take supplements. I’m not a huge supplement person, but there are a couple supplements to consider in these types of situations. The first one is colostrum. Colostrum contains antibodies. The antibodies have the ability to bind up viral antigens like those present in influenza to eliminate them before they would get into your bloodstream. The other supplement is one that has a mixture of herbs and nutrients that specifically support immune function. You should be looking for beta-carotene, zinc, Vitamin C alongside herbs like Echinacea and Andrographis. If you feel the slightest tickle in your throat or “off-ness” start taking an immune stimulating formula right away.
A word of advice:
The flu is caused by a virus, which means antibiotics have absolutely zero impact on it’s treatment. If you have confirmed flu, consider denying the antibiotics and letting it run its course if you are healthy. Most people will be just fine. Keep hydrated, get rest, get some nutrients, and consider taking some supplements to boost immune function, but DO NOT take antibiotics and expect them to treat your flu. What they will do is wipe out the healthy bacteria in your gut that is fighting for you It will take 3 months to rebuild that bacteria, so think about it!
You want to know the tragedy about peanut butter cup Christmas cookies? The peanut butter cup is often gone in one bite! I like cookies that have the goodness in every bite, personally. This cookie recipe has peanut butter and peanut butter cups, so it is not paleo. However, you could sub sunbutter for the peanut butter and replace the top with your favorite flavored chocolate bar….or….you could make paleo almond butter cups and chop those up if you are feeling really ambitious! I tried a few different versions of this recipe, and I’m here to tell you that butter is where it’s at! So, don’t mess with the butter!
2 packages Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, frozen, chopped
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together almond flour, butter, peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla, salt until well-combined. Create tablespoon balls and roll in a shallow dish of coconut sugar and place on baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until the coconut sugar starts to brown. Immediately after removing from oven, press peanut butter cup pieces into the top. Let cool. Enjoy!