I really wanted to call this post: “How meditation saved my life (again and again).”
You may have seen a number of my instagram photos of late – this among them….
Or heard me jabbering excitedly to friends about an orange, two oranges, a box of strawberries, two and now raspberries! Yes, I’ve added the aforementioned foods as well as kiwis, cacao, pecans, walnuts and grapes back to my diet this year.
A lot of it just in the last few months.
The five most important discoveries I’ve made on this latest stretch of my journey in 2013 sums it up:
- I believe my stress level, chronically elevated since childhood, is almost 100% to blame for my mast cell/histamine disorder.
- Mindfulness meditation is an antihistamine and a mast cell stabilizer  as well as a prostaglandin inhibitor . It’s so powerful that it brought me back from the brink when I went into anaphylactic shock and had no meds on me .
- I have identified the past events and behaviours that kept me mired in the illness mindset and no longer have ANYTHING to prove to anyone and so am ready to heal.
- A glass of green juice a day is great for the body, but 1.5 liters/quarts is even better.
- A balanced diet, comprising antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods, as well as (high nutrient) higher histamine ones, make for a very healthy and happy me.
Having spent the last 20 years convincing people that it’s not all in my head, I have to admit, though it’s still not all in my head, I am responsible for letting this escalate to the point it has.
I mentioned last week that though I didn’t have a horrific childhood, I certainly suffered quite a bit of trauma: born in a war torn country, where I lived on and off for about eight years, growing up in a place devoid of soul, of beauty, art and true friendship; left alone at home for much of my childhood, when not in the company of my grandmother losing it with Alzheimer’s; a big brother/father figure whose elusive presence left a gaping wound with every departure.
Don’t even get me started on starting a new school in a brand new country (to me) every six to twelve months for most of my life. Moving schools, making new friends, feeling out new teachers and learning new languages became the norm, but things like having to shake my mom awake to try and convince her to walk me to school on a cold day, the stress of tearing down the streets, school bag flapping in our wake, only to endure the shame of receiving the tardy award of the year for most late arrivals, the fear of not knowing whether our phone line or electricity would be cut from day to day, the days of loaning my mom what I had in my piggy bank to pay said bills, and wondering why I was being driven to school in a piece of crap banged up Ford one day, and a BMW the next, definitely took its toll on my developing nervous system.
It’s gotta be a little crazy when an 11 year old questions the sanity of purchasing a beautiful 12 person sailboat when we can barely feed ourselves.
Welcome to my past. It’s a murky place that you really don’t want to mire yourself in.
I have a tendency to brush off my past stress. And that’s not healthy. Neither is wallowing in it, and allowing it to colour every single decision you make and every every single stressed out, hyperventilating, anxiety inducing, diaphragm suppressing moment of your life.
At some point the past is just that. It can no longer have any bearing on your present reality. I’ve known this for years and it’s been easy to convince myself that I had let most of it go:
I had a long cathartic talk with my mother many moons ago (at the urging of a shrink), I shrugged off the shame of being a loser/beach bum/party girl in my teens/20s by getting one of the most highly regarded jobs in the international television news business, and began the arduous task of learning how to manage my finances.
I had good reason to believe I had dealt with most of it, and yet I still found myself in the Madrid airport infirmary soon after moving to the states for university, attached to a heart rate monitor, with a doctor telling me I needed to calm down or I was going to have a heart attack. I’m now pretty sure it was anaphylaxis. I had been running through the airport, about to miss my flight, before being pulled aside and interrogated in a bomb-proofed room because of a Libyan stamp in my passport.
The monitor would begin its high pitched screeching every time the armed policemen came into see if they could resume questioning. Yes, this would be a stressful event for most.
You’d think I would have learned since then to deal with my stress, and yet still I found myself running for a flight in Madrid airport 20 years later, about to have an asthma attack/mast cell meltdown because I was late for a plane.
I finally forced myself to slow down and accept that missing it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but if I kept running, I’d end up in a full on fukushima style meltdown. I’ve always been really bad at acknowledging that the world won’t in fact end if X were to happen. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in many, many life or death situations (not involving my health), but it doesn’t matter.
It stops here.
I’m not the only one to make the mast cell/histamine stress hormone link. Drs Theoharides, Castells and Escribano all speak of it. The mastocytosis/mast cell activation trigger sheet I was given upon diagnosis last year listed is as the second highest on the list, and everyone I’ve met online also acknowledges it.
I’ve been on the re-training the hyper aroused brain gravy train for some time now. I mentioned this year that I had come up with a number of meditations to kill the histamine itch and a particularly nasty reaction.
How does meditation work?
A recent study  specifically found that just eight hours of mindfulness meditation down regulates (dampens) HDAC and COX2 genes – meaning that mindfulness is an antihistamine and a mast cell stabiliser  as well as a prostaglandin inhibitor . According to a conversation I had with Dr Castells (you can read some of it here), prostaglandins are the inflammatory mediators highly responsible for the dreaded brain fog we with histamine/mast cell issues are prone to and mast cell stabilisation means less histamine and inflammatory molecules being released into the body.
Having now dipped in and out of mindfulness meditation since the age of 18, I can honestly say that nothing I did in the past compares to what I’m doing now. No course I’ve taken allowed me to go as deep, to address my unique situation, in the way that I have in these last few months. As dedicated as I was to meditation before, hell, it brought me back from anaphylactic shock (read more here), I didn’t truly understand its power till reading about the incredible recoveries of others, most notably of New York Times reporter Donna Jackson Nakazawa’s recovery from paralysis . I do still use the Silva Method I used when I was caught out in a deadly reaction with no meds (please please please do not try this, I had no alternative at the time).
I sleep more deeply and easily than ever before.
I’m no longer wound up as tight as a jack-in-the-box, ready to lash out in anger at the drop of a hat.
The adrenalin surges that have plagued me for most of my life just don’t happen anymore. At all. Simple things, like thinking about something I needed to do the next day (good or bad) would send waves of fear/excitement that would start my heart palpitating and make my brain feel funny. Kind of like when I stepped out into thin air when I went trapezing this summer – but over needing to go pay a bill the next day or talk to my landlord.
My heart rate is constant. No more all over the place fluttering and weirdness.
I’m more in touch with my surroundings and my body.
Something about meditation has allowed me to begin re-introducing foods at an incredible rate. I have my theories but need to confirm them with a few more experts before I write them up.
So what now?
I am SO convinced that meditation is a cost effective, non-invasive, adjunct or solo therapy for what ails us, that I have committed to getting my teaching certificate so that I can share this with you.
In order to get insurance to be able to teach meditation courses, I need to raise $2,600 in tuition by January 22nd. To do this I have set up an online fund, offering 50 places at $75/£50 each for a spot on a two-hour session per week, 8-week mindfulness meditation course (similar to the ones I have taken that helped me develop my personal approach) to begin in February. The sessions will be live, with taped replays for those who couldn’t make it, as well as Q&A for those who wish it. 48 spots remain…once those are gone, I’ll be offering this course at the going internet rate of $150/£100.
I’m not saying the ultimate goal of this meditation is to be able to eat strawberries or other high histamine foods, but rather to improve our stress response, which will hopefully allow us to better control our inflammation and to hopefully induce positive genetic changes, as recently shown in this wonderful study and others.
Being able to eat more normally, to me, is just a bonus of influencing inflammation on a genetic level.
Strawberries are just the icing on the cake (so to speak).
You can book your spot on the course here. Not into meditation but love the information on this site? There’s other ways to contribute, including booking a Skype consult at a discount, as well as buying a personalised cookbook.
As with my books, in the future I will be offering spots on the course at a discount to those who are unable to pay.
I absolutely do not recommend using meditation to try and re-introduce foods without the go-ahead of a doctor and certainly not in cases of allergy or severe reactions of any kind.
Join my mailing list for more recipes and to be the first to know when registration for my low histamine webinar opens!
Take a peek at my low histamine and antihistamine cookbooks for more high nutrient recipes.
If you’ve found this information useful I’d appreciate your support (at no extra cost to you!) – please check out my online store for your health foods, supplements, kitchen items and beauty product purchases. Affiliate sales through my online store go towards maintaining the website, funding travel to interviews and purchasing all the lovely foods for my free online recipes. You’ll find these items in the “Shop with us” drop down menu on my homepage.
Please don’t forget antihistamine, pain killing foods can still hurt us, so please always check with your doctor before adding new foods to your diet.