Me on the right and Portland based private chef Beth Eakin on the left
I can’t believe how long it has taken me to sit down and write about one of the most incredible experiences of the last few years. I’m referring to what was the first ever histamine-free wellness retreat, Wellapalooza that took place this April in Colorado Springs. My partner on this gig, Jan, is a Colorado gal, which is one of the reasons we decided to go at it, at altitude, rather that in Tulum, Mexico, which was my first choice.
26 attendees with histamine intolerance, mast cell activation and mastocytosis made it out, braving the freak snowstorms that engulfed us almost immediately upon arrival in CO. Some were there for the long haul – the entire six day retreat, others came for workshops or to press the flesh with world-renowned NIH funded mast cell researcher Dr Theoharides, creator of the mast cell stabilsing Neuroprotek supplement.
Looking not so glamorous but kitchen fabulous with Dr Theoharides
Having kindly donated his time gratis (the man is a saint – please contribute to his research fund here: https://tuftsgiving.org/giving-form.html?id=1&appeal_code=U0105/ click on the box “I have additional comments about my gift” and “adding for Dr. Theoharides’ research” in the dialogue box), Dr Theoharides shared with us one of the most exciting bits of news I’ve heard in ages – that he has developed a histamine-lowering, mast cell stabilsing luteolin cream for transdermal application. There were squeals of excitement (ok, mostly mine) as we dove into the samples and I don’t believe anyone who tried it had a negative reaction to it. Very much looking forward to that one coming to market.
Yummy gluten free saffron almond blueberry tart I made for tea (recipe here)
The retreat program included: Dr Theoharides on mast cells, Dr Brown on nutrition, Kristine Elmore Greer – cancer and mastocytosis thriver, as well as the lovely Julia MacDonnel who gave one of the most inspiring speeches I’ve heard this year. There was daily meditation and visualisation as well as trips to the healing mineral rich hot springs.
To be completely honest, I wasn’t really prepared for the intensity and demand on my energy levels. The day began at 6am on average, ending with food prep for the next day at about 2am. I managed to squeeze in a nap here and there, as well as spending a great deal of time worrying about the disintegration of my relationship, which was in full swing upon my arrival to the states.
Thankfully work isn’t really work when you’re surrounded by the most incredible group of people you’ve ever known.
I mean really, I’m talking about a healing energy exchange. As exhausted as Jan and I were, starting the retreat with a group of people, who between them were subsisting on a paltry list of foods and seeing them blossom into an empowered group of healthy eaters was one of the most life affirming experiences thus far. I’m not kidding.
See, thing is, no matter how much progress I make, it means nothing to me if others suffer.
This is something I’m working on changing. Thankfully a friend is helping me understand that I can’t hang my own recovery or indeed my happiness on that of others. It’s going to take a lot of re-programming – I think I have a lot of “healing” guilt. It’s almost a punch in the stomach every time someone tells me they’re following my path but not experiencing the same relief. I go over it time and again, trying to figure out what’s going wrong, trying to offer as much guidance as I can, but I’m finally accepting that I need to keep focused on my own health, otherwise there’ll be nothing to share.
Working away with the help of Julia’s mom!
Back to the retreat:
Day 1 was challenging. Upon posting the daily menu, I kid you not, almost every single person there told me there was at least one thing they couldn’t eat. So I asked everyone to please bear with me, to be open to healing and then launched into an explanation of why each ingredient was chosen, the healing they would provide, and then we started in on the meditation. I made different recipes for people who had anaphylactic episodes to any of the ingredients of course.
After eating, a couple of people expressed some discomfort, so we went upstairs for individual visualisation and meditation, which, for the most part, helped diminish the reactions.
Sadly it was a few hours later that two people went into shock (not from my food – we figured out what happened) and I was there for one of them. Dr Theoharides was a stone’s throw away, the lovely JFS, our friend in need and I went upstairs and began a visualisation that I taught at the retreat. I call it the beach visualisation – you’ll find a version of it here.
The meds were at the ready, phone primed for an ambulance call, Dr Theo on standby. Just three ladies, on a bed, giving each other support, a truly intense exchange of energies. I held her hands, watching in calm alarm as red blotches appeared all over over and the trembling picked up steam. Tears began pouring down my face as her hands communicated the pain, fear and loneliness engulfing her. Gripping her fingers as lightly as I could, I prayed she could feel every ounce of positivity, good will and pure love I was sending out to her. And I began to speak, to allay the fears, to explain the healing wave of inflammation healing water and how it would help. I poured every ounce of my energetic strength into our bond, and then suddenly, the redness began to abate, retreating downwards from the forehead, almost in synch with each wave of healing I asked her to visualise.
And then I began to cry in earnest, out of fear, out of love, out of relief that something I thought to be a one off event (my own experience meditating myself out of anaphylaxis) had seemingly helped another.
This all took not more than 15 minutes.
The power of the mind over body never ceases to amaze me, though of course I must say, as I always do, please do not try this. I can’t tell you how much it scares me that someone may one day hurt themselves on the basis of something I share on this blog. That said, I don’t see why it would be a bad idea to meditate/visualise while the ambulance is on its way and the epi pen has been deployed.
One thing I really wish I had been able to do was spend more time with people one on one, especially during food preparation. Since arriving back in my home town in Spain, I’ve come to appreciate the hands on healing approach of involving people in my kitchen. It seems a number of my friends now also suffer from some kind of mast cell/histamine disorder, and to see the healing process up close in others, for the first time (the retreat was too short in my opinion), I can feel that same exchange of energy as I nurture them with nutrition and love. In these cases, I’m also learning from them and blossoming in their care. I think that’s what makes these events so powerful.
But at the time of the retreat I was still suppressing something I knew a long time ago: that energy, spirituality, the exchange of experiences and creation of new ones based on understanding, trust and some kind of emotional connection (not speaking of physical love, but hey, why not if that’s what floats your boat!), is just as important as the science.
And at the end of the day, no matter what the lists tell you, no matter what your brain tells you that you can or can’t eat, no matter how in your own way you get, there’s a way to unwind it all and walk away from a healing experience all the richer for it. I’ll never forget the lovely DT’s heartfelt hug when she thanked me for adding so many new foods to her diet – it meant more to me than I was able to tell her at that moment, but I like to think she knew (or does now at least!).
Healing in the kitchen doesn’t get any better than when it’s a team effort by the way – the amazing Beth Eakin (soon to be Bogren!) who (unlike me) is an actual private chef, who is well versed in my approach to the low/antihistamine and anti-inflammatory diet. She offers personal catering in Portland, Oregon – see below for more on her services. We were joined by the incredible KS and were soon whipping up some incredible juju on the final night of the retreat (gluten free rice fettucini served up with swiss chard and the Lebanese meatballs recipe in the anti-cookook). We served over 30 people that night! Dr Theo took to the guitar while we cobbled together a coconut ice cream with extra special sauce. How special? You’ll have to join us on the next retreat to find out
I met so many incredible people on this retreat, too numerous to mention all in one post (LV I will love you always!!). I hope that the healing we experienced stayed with you far beyond the trip down the mountain. Thank you for being my first group – here’s to many more xo
Don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter to download a 25 page PDF sample of my personal diet and to be the first to know when registration opens up for webinars, histamine wellness retreats and workshops in Europe and the United States, to get great freebies like antihistamine and anti-inflammatory recipes and lifestyle tips.
*Beth Eakin provides small caterings as well as working as a private chef in the Portland, Oregon area. She works closely with people to attain their diet goals, like implementing a new way of eating and showing them how to clean their kitchen out, shop, and change their eating habits for their health. Please message me through the contact form of the site and I will put you in contact with her.
The Anti-cookbook, while it doesn’t treat any conditions, due to its high nutrient, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory ingredients, has been instrumental in helping me feed myself on a limited diet. It features a six page list of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods. It comes in regular and Paleo.
The Low Oxalate Cookbook features antihistamine and anti-inflammatory rich recipes.
Don’t miss the Low Histamine Beauty Survival Guide for non-toxic beauty tips, the skinny on histamine releasing (mast cell degranulating) beauty ingredients, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory beauty alternatives and the top brands natural brands I’ve found.
Take a peek at my other 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.