Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

What is mast cell activation syndrome?


Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) is a condition where important immune cells called Mast Cells have become out of control. They become overly sensitive to things that wouldn’t usually affect others, resulting in the body perceiving normal environmental and physical factors as a threat. This leads to an excessive release of histamine, among other chemicals, as the body tries to deal with the perceived threat even though there isn’t one!

Mast Cell
Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

What are mast cells?

Mast cells are a type of white blood cell. They are an important part of the immune system. You have mast cells in almost every tissue in your body. This is why two people’s symptoms can be so different. Just because one person feels a particular way doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have the same symptoms.

Mast cells have over 200 different types of receptors. This is how they can respond to everything happening inside and outside of you. Things can trigger these receptors all the time. As a response, mast cells release chemicals called mast cell mediators, with one of the 1000+ being histamine.

What causes mast cell activation syndrome?

This condition can be hereditary, although it can develop after trauma or as a result of an underlying pathology e.g. bacterial infection, viral infection, heavy metals, mould illness, food and environmental allergens and leaky gut syndrome, causing immune system dysfunction. Mast cell treatments help but if there is an underlying root cause it can really help patients to address this.

What are the symptoms of mast cell activation syndrome?

It can cause numerous physical and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, digestive disorders, bladder pain, fatigue, brain fog, rashes, hives, neurological symptoms, excessive allergic reactions and many more. Sufferers can experience excessive reactions to light, sound, touch, vibration, smells, foods and medications.

All of these symptoms are worsened by stress and anxiety, which of course is inevitable when living with this condition. When in a flare, symptoms start appearing; something has triggered you and you automatically panic and therefore the panic and emotions will take over.

But then, when in a state of high anxiety or feeling stressed, the brain goes into the sympathetic nervous system, which is also known as the fight or flight response.

What triggers mast cell activation syndrome?

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) is a condition in which mast cells, a type of white blood cell, release excessive amounts of histamine and other inflammatory mediators in response to triggers. These triggers can vary widely from person to person but some of the common ones are:

  • Allergies: such as food, pollen, pet dander, or drugs
  • Infections: such as bacterial, viral, or fungal
  • Physical triggers: such as heat, cold, sun exposure, exercise, or stress
  • Chemicals: such as perfumes, pesticides, cleaning products, or certain medications
  • Hormonal changes: such as those that occur during menstruation or pregnancy

MCAS can be a complex condition and it may take time and effort to identify the specific triggers that affect an individual.

Although this is an essential survival mechanism, designed to keep us safe in times of danger or when under threat, in those people with mast cell activation syndrome, the brain perceives there to be an imminent threat even though this isn’t the case.

So in response, the brain prompts the body to produce adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol, the stress hormones. As a result, the mast cells are activated and the body produces histamine. On top of this, the immune system is literally turned off, as the brain focuses all of its energy on the imminent threat.

For some, the fight or flight stays turned on and doesn’t turn off, making you feel constantly on high alert. This is where limbic system dysfunction comes in.

Your body starts constantly scanning for anything that will make you ill. It is a protective mechanism that is in hyperdrive. It is essential that you address your environment, but you should also address your limbic system, whether it be by brain retraining e.g. Gupta or DNRS or by hypnosis, because changing the environment alone won’t shut down the dysfunction and you will still be on high alert.

It’s going to take time…

Treating mast cell activation syndrome isn’t a quick and easy fix. It takes time and work, and for some people, it may take a year or more, but with perseverance, it is possible to get your life back. 

There are 3 main objectives when addressing Mast Cell Activation Syndrome:

  • Identifying the root causes if possible by working with a functional medicine practitioner who specialises in this issue.
  • Calming the mast cells, for which a practitioner may suggest supplements or medications, like antihistamines or mast cell stabilisers.
  • Calming the nervous system. (If your body has been under chronic stress for a while your nervous system has likely gone haywire)


Hypnotherapy in Treatment of Mastocytosis: A Prospective Study

In this study, the authors aimed to measure the effect of 2 hypnosis sessions on mastocytosis symptoms in a clinical setting.

Compared to baseline assessment, patients exhibited a significant improvement immediately after the first and second hypnosis sessions with regard to the number of days with abdominal pain, abdominal pain intensity and fatigue Perceived severity of symptoms was significantly improved throughout the study (p = .0075). Long-term improvement in global impression of change was observed in half the responders (8/16). Patients with mastocytosis had an improvement in disabling symptoms with the impact of hypnotic intervention persisting at 1 month. Several patients experienced long-term improvement.

Read more…

How can hypnotherapy help?

By using hypnosis I can help to deactivate the threat system, so you are able to stay calm and relaxed in the situations that previously kept you feeling anxious and stressed, thus keeping your body out of fight or flight and putting it into a rest and digest state, which prioritises blood flow to our internal organs, slowing down the heart, prompting digestion and creating balance, all in aid of helping us relax and heal. 

In addition to this, I can help you with insomnia, depression, reduce pain, reduce the inflammatory response within the body and regulate the systems within the body. This is referred to as balancing the homeostatic state. 

Anxiety and stress can have a huge impact on this condition, so learning to stay calm and relaxed can have a real impact on how you feel.

Having suffered with this condition myself, I know how it can have a great impact on your life.

Not only is it a challenging condition to live with, but getting a diagnosis can be a stressful and long journey for some, with not many doctors understanding the condition, which can be extremely frustrating causing additional stress and anxiety, in turn causing the symptoms to exasperate. 

Don’t let a symptom become more than what it is. Your body is misbehaving and it just needs to be put back in check. You’re in control of your emotions and that’s where I can support you.

If you would like to discuss your issue