by Dr. Bill Rawls
An exaggerated histamine response can lead to a host of troubling allergy-type symptoms, especially when compounded with Lyme disease. But what is the driving factor? In this webinar short, Dr. Bill Rawls discusses the connection between Lyme, mast cell activity, gut health, and how leaky gut can escalate histamine levels. Read more about mast cells and histamine here.
Question: How do histamines relate to gut health?
Tim Yarborough: Histamines, histamine intolerance, and how that relates to gut health. Any thoughts on that, Dr. Rawls?
Dr. Rawls: Right. Mass cell sensitivity. It’s your typical allergic reaction. Your body has different pathways. Our immune system is very, very complex, and it’s been dealing with a myriad of threats over thousands of years, so there are different pathways.
One pathway in the immune system is when microbes, like the ones that we find with Lyme disease, they work by infecting cells and infecting white blood cells. So part of the immune system is targeting cells that might have been infected by microbes or just gone bad; that is their cancerous cells. Other parts of the immune system are targeting worms. Other parts are targeting extracellular bacteria like pneumonia. Others are targeting food allergens.
So what happens, and I think this is just part of the chronic illness, chronic Lyme, is when you have these microbes in your system, in your tissues, they are manipulating the immune system. They infect white blood cells, and they manipulate the immune system to shift attention away from them. So it’s called a classic, the Th1 response is, and it’s a little bit more complicated than this.
This is a bit simplified, but the Th1 response is the part of the immune system that’s targeting the microbes that infect cells. So the microbes are pushing the immune system away from that toward other things, and what they’re pushing it toward is more of an allergic type reaction that’s affecting mass cells and activating histamine.
Plus on top of that, you’ve got all these leaky, these proteins that are leaking across the gut, that are activating the immune system and activating that part of the immune system, so we become very histamine sensitive.
This gets into what we call epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of environmental factors and how they affect our genes, how they turn on bad genes and turn off good genes. And so that’s what’s happening in this process of chronic illness and leaky gut and everything else, is we’re turning on genes that are turning on abnormal parts of our immune system that cause us to be more reactive to things that we shouldn’t be, so we get an exaggerated histamine response.