It took me about 5 years to get an official diagnosis of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) after getting stung by a wasp and having my body then experience allergic-like symptoms, an inability to eat many foods without a reaction, ongoing stomach aches, diarrhea and acid reflux. Sadly, many people today are still having difficulties getting an MCAS diagnosis. I know this because I hear from so many of them asking for assistance.
I’ve also had the question posed to me, “What helped you feel better quickly?” Depending upon how long you have been suffering with MCAS symptoms, your body may be able to tolerate different medications that can alleviate your symptoms. However, if you’re like me and have had a long list of issues for years, feeling better can be a slog that takes years to find the right combination of medications and other modalities to begin to help you heal.
I was prescribed Zyrtec and Zantac (it was still on the market in 2006 when I began to have symptoms) initially. For about 2 weeks, these medications were wonderful. Everything calmed down and I was able to eat any food I wanted, and I then went off both meds only to have my acid reflux and gut issues come roaring back. After that, I continued to feel worse and worse with each passing year. All of the gut issues I was having didn’t immediately respond to medications. And some of the prescription meds my doctor prescribed made me feel worse rather than better. Antacids like Zantac or Pepcid gave me more symptoms than what they were helping, which was very frustrating!
After 5 years, I was prescribed Ketotifen, a compounded prescription mast cell stabilizer and immediately felt better with the first pill. This was the first and only medication that provided relief to me without a horrible array of side effects. I eventually ended up taking the maximum dose of 4 mg per day, yet I was still having numerous other gut issues that weren’t helped by the medication.
That led me to a modality called Network Spinal Analysis, (which is now called Network Care), a type of chiropractic practice that focuses on energy in the body. I have written about this here. I was able to get my stomach churning and nausea to cease after each session, which was a wonderful relief! However, this calm body wouldn’t last but about 24 hours at first. I continue to see a practitioner twice a month to keep my body tuned up, and I’ve found other modalities to help the gut problems.
A real key for me was to switch to eating organic, and I ate food that had no spices or oils on them. I didn’t realize how important this was until I could feel the difference in the lessening of acid reflux that I had been experiencing daily.
I tried Traditional Chinese Medicine, which was helpful but VERY slow in progress. For someone looking for more information, you can read about that here. Some MCAS patients are able to tolerate ingested herbs and supplements easily. I was not. That is likely why it took years to build up any type of tolerance and get to a therapeutic dose. And Chinese herbs aren’t meant to be taken forever. I was certainly helped by them, but it wasn’t a quick, easy fix.
I was then introduced to Zhineng Qigong in my pursuit to heal my body. This type of Qigong was created by Dr. Pang Ming, a medical doctor, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and a Qigong Grandmaster. In 1979 he created Zhineng Qigong to help his patients heal at a medicine-less hospital in China, and the results were amazing. Patients were being healed of cancer and gastritis along with many other issues. I have been practicing Qigong daily for 3 years now and I continue to learn more of the nuances of the breath, posture, movement and energy. I could immediately feel a release of tension in my shoulders and hips, and my immune system got a boost during every practice where I would feel like I was catching a cold before practicing, and afterward I no longer had that feeling! It also put me much more in tune with my body which I needed to continue my healing journey. There are wonderful teachers of Zhineng Qigong which you can read about here and here.
Lastly, a modality that has calmed down my nervous system is Neurofeedback. I have found that my mast cells and nervous system have a communication going between them that has continued for years, and isn’t positive! If I get stressed, my nervous system calls in more mast cells. And if there’s pollens, my mast cells activate my nervous system and suddenly I feel anxious. And many times, I wasn’t able to stop this process, which meant the source was somewhere other than my body. In fact, I learned that my brain was creating a lot of the issues I was having. I began Neurofeedback in my city of Colorado Springs at this practice. I have been thrilled with the results. Within 2 weeks, I was sleeping again! I didn’t realize how much my sleep had been compromised with all the mast cell activation that was still occurring. If I had work stress during the day, my nervous system would be so activated that I would be itching through the night and unable to get a good night’s rest. Part of my Neurofeedback session is also HeartMath which I wrote about here. Now, I have a paced breathing practice that calms my nervous system down and I’m able to stop my mast cells from activating! I wish I would have discovered Neurofeedback years ago to help my brain not get into the patterns I’ve lived with where anxiety was so heightened. However, I’m very grateful to have found it now to be able to create new neuropathways in my brain which is calming down my body.