I often feel like a street preacher, proclaiming time and time again the interconnectedness of our body systems. At other times, I feel a little crazy, talking to myself about the very same things. Here, both déjà vu’s come to the fore as I did not see this one coming but “feel” like I should not be surprised. Researchers report uncovering a direct link between the immune system’s versatile mast cells and metabolic central control systems.
Without access to the full study and depending on summaries of the article, their abstract explains the experiment. Mast cells in the gut, when stimulated by fasting or intense exercise, were found to release histamine into the portal venous system. This system drains the intestines and filters through the liver before emptying into the general circulatory system. The histamine triggers H1 (histamine type 1) receptors in the liver to produce oleoethanolamide. This OEA substance binds another receptor called PPAR-alpha (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha) which leads to ketogenesis. Ketogenesis takes fatty acids and turns them into “ketones” that various other body tissues can use when glucose is low. This same process occurs when triggered by intense exercise.
In caring for countless patients with mold toxicity or mast cell activation disorders at our office, my brain is work through the ramifications of this for my patients. The PPAR system sits in the middle of metabolic processes. The mast cells participate in coordinating the immune system and contribute to many of the symptoms of mold toxicity.
My patients present with overactive mast cells or develop many of those symptoms during mold detox. Knowing that fasting may stimulate their gut’s mast cells means I may want to avoid ketogenic diets for them during detox. I emphasize “may” as that is just a hypothesis, not a proven fact. On the other hand, I have so many mold toxic patients who can not tolerate multiple foods due to sensitivities. They often are forced into a semi-fasting state by their restrictions and lose weight unintentionally. We have to find a balance for these patients.
Then I consider the effects of exercise or exertion on my mold toxic patients. They often feel wiped out when they push themselves. Many who were once marathoners or otherwise into intense sports become unable to jog a mile. Disheartened and depressed are understatements for these athletic types. Could part of the post exertional fatigue be from excess mast cell release of histamine? I do believe VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) depletion plays a part as do other vasoconstrictive mechanisms, but maybe this is another piece of the puzzle.
If that were not enough to keep my curiosity on overdrive, the research abstract mentions genetic mechanisms which altered this interaction between immune mast cells and the metabolic machinery of the liver. I am so amazed at the complexity of our body systems and look forward to not only working out my own hypotheses and clinical connections, but also to hearing more from future research in this field. Feeling excited that this may help my patients live healthier more abundant lives.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.