MCAS and Minerals

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MCAS and Minerals

What Is MCAS?

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) is a condition that causes repeated allergic reactions, even when no allergen is present. [*]  MCAS is the result of hyperactive mast cells, cells in your immune system that control your allergic response. 
Mast cells contain granules, little balloon-shaped sacs that hold inflammatory compounds. 

These granules are full of several inflammatory compounds, including histamine, cytokines, tryptases, and prostaglandins.

These are the same things your body releases in response to seasonal allergies and bee stings. If you’ve ever experienced those, you know what a mast cell episode is like—but in MCAS, the symptoms are much more severe.

In a healthy person, mast cells release these inflammatory compounds in response to medications, bacteria, poisons, or physical wounds. By causing an inflammatory response, mast cells can help fight off foreign invaders, keeping your body healthy.

In people with MCAS, however, mast cells trigger inflammatory attacks repeatedly and at random, without any allergic substance present. The result is that with MCAS, you can have a severe allergic episode at any time. 

Symptoms of MCAS include: [*]

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the throat, lips, eyes, hands, and face 
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Trouble breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps

What Causes MCAS?

While causes of MCAS aren’t entirely clear, the leading cause seems to be genetic. People with MCAS typically have mutations of the KIT gene, which codes for growth of mast cells. [*]

Epigenetics of the way the KIT gene expresses, can vary widely, but the current theory is that KIT mutations cause you to grow too many mast cells. That this proliferation on KIT cells are deformed in a way that makes them hyperactive.  This causes them to respond as if they’re detecting allergens even when none are present. 

Standard Treatments for MCAS

Standard treatments for MCAS include: [*]

  • Mast cell stabilizers, medications that block the calcium channel responsible for opening granules and releasing mediators. Mast cell stabilizers prevent mast cells from triggering inflammatory responses.
  • Antihistamines, drugs that prevent the histamines released by mast cells from causing allergic responses.
  • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. 

Humic/Fulvic and MCAS

There’s no direct research on humic/fulvic and MCAS to date. However, research (mostly in animals) suggests that humic and fulvic can help limit allergic responses by regulating mast cell activity.

A 2022 study found that humic has anti-allergic properties. It prevented allergens from activating mast cells in mice and guinea pigs, reducing their inflammatory responses. [*

Another 2022 study found that humic reduced degranulation (the release of inflammatory compounds from the granules of mast cells) and limited the severity of anaphylactic shock in mice. [*]

A 2007 study found that fulvic decreased histamine release from rat mast cells in response to an allergen. [*]

A 2002 study found that putting fulvic on skin reduced allergic rash response in humans, to a degree similar to that of 1% hydrocortisone steroid cream. [*]

Minerals and MCAS

There’s no direct research on minerals and MCAS. However, a large body of research shows that minerals support regulation of allergic and inflammatory responses.  Thus, replenishing and balancing your mineral stores could, in theory, help to reduce symptoms of MCAS. 

Zinc is an important mineral for mast cell regulation. Mast cells contain large amounts of zinc, especially in their granules (the part of the mast cell that releases histamine, cytokines, etc. and causes the allergic response in MCAS) [*][*]

  •  A 1986 study found that increasing zinc inhibits histamine release from human mast cells, reducing the body’s allergic/inflammatory response. [*]
  • A 2003 study found that low zinc caused increased mast cell-driven inflammation in mice, and that restoring healthy zinc levels with a supplement reversed the inflammation and normalized the allergic response. [*]
  • A 2005 study found that zinc deficiency is a major risk factor for developing asthma. [*] Asthma is caused by hyperactive mast cells, much like MCAS. [*]
  • Your body breaks down histamine with an enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO). DAO stops inflammatory/allergic responses by clearing histamine from your system. 
  • Research shows that you release huge amounts of DAO during an MCAS reaction in an attempt to break down histamine and stop anaphylaxis. [*]
  • A 2017 study found that suppleenting with phosphorus, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron increased DAO levels in healthy women, helping to boost anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic activity. [*]

Copper is also a major regulator of mast cell activity, and research shows that increasing copper levels prevents mast cells from releasing histamine. [*]

  •  In rats, copper deficiency increases mast cell production and allergic response. [*]
  • A 2017 study found that copper level also regulates tryptase, another inflammatory compound released by mast cells, and that low copper levels increase the risk of hyperactive allergic responses. [*]

Summary: Humic, Fulvic, Minerals, and MCAS

There’s no direct research on how humic, fulvic, or minerals affect MCAS.  However, research shows that both humic and fulvic have anti-allergic properties and can reduce mast cell activation, as well as decrease the intensity of inflammatory compounds like histamines. 
Minerals also play a role in mast cell activation, and there’s a rationale for mineral status affecting allergic and inflammatory responses driven by mast cells. 
Zinc regulates histamine release from mast cells. Low zinc increases histamine release, and supplementing with zinc decreases histamine release, lowering inflammatory response. 

Phosphorus, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron may help increase levels of diamine oxidase (DAO), the enzyme that breaks down histamine. People with MCAS release DAO after an anaphylactic attack, and increasing DAO levels with minerals may help reduce MCAS symptoms. 
Copper is a major regulator of histamine and tryptase activity. Increasing copper levels makes mast cells less reactive and reduces histamine release, while low serum copper causes greater inflammation and makes mast cells more sensitive. 

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