Index of posts

I wanted to have a index of what I think are my most important posts.

This is the one I think everyone should read first:
I think I’m histamine intolerant so what do I do now?

The following posts are about olive oil and omegas, as well as adrenal fatigue and inflammation:

The final theory on why I’ve healed is an in depth discussion on what I’ve learned over the last few months and what has worked for me to lower my histamine levels and reduce inflammation in my body.

Omegas is the discussion on why I think an imbalance of omega 6/ omega 3 was causing a big part of my problem with inflammation.

Olive oil, cortisol, and adrenal fatigue is where I started to really have an understanding as to how olive oil could positively affect adrenal fatigue.

Olive oil, polyphenols, and healing is the post where I first started to really make an argument for how olive oil was helping me get onto the healing path.

More on why olive oil might help heal is about how olive oil might help with intolerance because it has the ability to help the intestines produce DAO, the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine.

Adrenal fatigue, menopause, and histamine intolerance talks about the possible link between adrenal fatigue and histamine intolerance.

Do women really need to suffer? talks about whether women who are menopausal or peri menopausal need to suffer the “typical” symptoms, or can my findings make a difference to them too?

These posts are about the other issues you might not think of but can be causing you trouble, such as hot showers and razor burn.

Remember it’s not just food talks about how using products around your house that might trigger a reaction.

Give up the razor Shaving using a razor caused itchy legs for hours after.

Does your shower make you itch Hot showers can be a major hive trigger!

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Posted in olive oil, omega 3, polyphenols

The final theory on why I’ve healed

I feel like I’ve been putting a jigsaw puzzle together for the last three months. Everyday I snapped in another piece, until yesterday I finally put all the pieces together, stepped back and saw the whole picture.

Menopause triggered my histamine intolerance, but why and how?

As I said in my previous post, I think my histamine intolerance was triggered by the hormonal fluctuations of menopause. I now believe it happened because I already had an over-abundance of omega 6 in my diet and by supplementing with Evening Primrose Oil, thus creating a deficiency in omega 3. This caused my cortisol levels to rise and my DHEA levels to diminish. (The hormones released by the adrenal glands)

I believe my body was dealing with an inflammatory situation before menopause began.The drop in estrogen and progesterone basically unveiled the problem and had a direct affect on insufficient DHEA and cortisol levels produced by the adrenals, and the ensuing inflammatory response.The link between cortisol production and DHEA is an important one because, with long periods of chronically high cortisol levels, the ability to produce DHEA diminishes and your immune system becomes compromised. It’s that compromised immune system that then wreaks havoc with inflammation, and thus causes histamine intolerance.

In other words, one of the most significant effects of restoring DHEA seems to be the restoration of the normal balance between DHEA and cortisol. As DHEA levels increase, the propensity to overproduce cortisol is dampened—along with the spiral of symptoms induced by high cortisol.

In my earlier posts I thought it was the cortisol levels that were the direct issue, but now I believe ultimately it’s the production of DHEA. This has a lot to do with what olive oil has contributed to the big picture. The reason my body has begun to really heal is not due to the quercetin and other vitamin supplements, but is due to the omega 3 supplementation and the use of olive oil on my body and in my diet. Eliminating the Evening Primrose Oil, eating a low histamine diet, and the taking the other supplements managed my histamine intolerance, but I really believe the omega 3 and olive oil healed it.

What’s the olive oil connection? DHEA is the body’s natural cortisol antagonist and prevents many of the negative effects of cortisol. It is believed that olive oil helps the body absorb DHEA. Additionally, some researchers also suggest olive oil builds more healthy omega 3/omega 6 balance by displacing omega 6 acids.

I had stopped taking EPO and started taking omega 3 for about two months before I started using olive oil on my skin and adding it heavily into my diet. (I’ve always used olive oil but I started adding a tablespoon into my morning smoothie and taking a teaspoon before bed) My intolerance had been slowly improving, but once I started with the olive oil, it was within two weeks I became basically itch free. I also do not suffer from hot flashes or mood swings. Basically, I do not suffer from any of the “typical” menopausal symptoms right now.

I have to state one more time for the record that I am not in medicine and I am not dispensing medical advise. I am sharing a theory I have developed based on the results of eating a low histamine diet and my supplementation regimen, the research I’ve done, and how my body has reacted and ultimately healed from histamine intolerance.

I still maintain a low histamine diet and will continue to do so for quite some time. I also have added a list of “unsafe” foods based on their omega 6 content and their high inflammatory nature. I will also continue to supplement using my regimen of vitamins and other nutrients for at least the next three months. I consider myself healing, rather than completely healed and know that there are still some hurdles to jump. I probably won’t drink beer again or eat chocolate anytime soon, and still have not tried some of my biggest triggers like balsamic vinegar, tomato sauce, or spinach. I also threw out all of my razors and will only use my electric razor and will only take baths. It seems too risky to change anything right now since everything is working so well for me. It is early into what I consider a healing body and I am wary about tilting the balance backwards.

I have quoted a few things from each of the following sites. If you want an in depth knowledge on the importance of DHEA on overall health, look here. If you’d like to read about cortisol deficiency, take a look at this site.

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Posted in olive oil, omega 3, polyphenols

Omegas

I’ve been wanting to write about Omega 3 supplementation for a while. It’s a really important subject when it comes to inflammation in the body. If you have too little omega 3 in your body and too much omega 6, you might have a myriad of health problems because your hormonal system, and therefore your immune system can be compromised.

It’s especially important to speak to vegans and vegetarians about it because it is a lot harder for vegetarians to get the proper amount of omega 3 if they do not eat any animal products. If you are eating oily fish or taking fish oil capsules, getting omega 3 is probably not a big issue for you. But please read on to understand the link between omegas and some of the oils you might be taking to control your menopausal symptoms. Evening Primrose, Borage, and Black Currant are the oils women take to head off hot flashes and mood swings due to hormones, and they are high in omega 6. Flax oil is known to have a large amount of omega 3, but it’s complex when it comes to how it is synthesized, so if you have a problem with omega 6’s flax might still be a problem.(I personally do not touch flax seeds or the oil. There are many hormonal ramifications to using it. I’ll address that in another post.)

A little backstory first: I’d suffered from PMS, migraines, and mood swings my whole life. Very early on, probably in my late twenties, I went to the local health food store, the place where only old hippies went because alternative healthcare was relatively new, and loaded up on books about herbs and alternative therapies. I started taking tinctures from the the brand Herbs of Light, that were dedicated to women’s issues; I think it was called Female Balance. The tinctures were always a mix of the most popular herbs for adjusting hormone balance: dong quai, black cohosh, vitex…

After years of taking herbs I decided I wanted to get off them and that was right around the time soy was earning a strong reputation as a healthy phytoestrogen. I did well with soy for quite awhile; less mood swings and no cramps, but still suffered migraines.

But then there was a big backlash about soy and I started to get a bit worried that it might not be the healthiest alternative, so I went back to the books and decided on Evening Primrose Oil. That I took for about four years which brings me up to September of last year, when I started to feel like I was occupying someone else’s body.

I was feeling so badly in so many different ways I started to try to figure out if I should be off the Evening Primrose Oil and everything else, or should I find another alternative. I was moody, weepy, and angry. I was fatigued and restless. I was so uncomfortable with myself.

I started reading about whether Evening Primrose was ok to take for years, and many people felt it was fine but a couple questioned whether you suffer a backlash from it, so I determined maybe that was the problem. I tried Vitex next. That herb you’re supposed to take for about three months before it might start to work, but I was feeling worse yet, so I stopped that after two months. I decided to go back to the Evening Primrose oil at the end of November.

About a month later, my period left for good, so far, and the histamine intolerance started almost simultaneously.

So what does this all have to do with Omegas and histamine intolerance? Well, the entire time I was taking Evening Primrose Oil I thought it was a good source of omega 3, but I was completely mistaken. It is a soure of omega 6. (Borage oil and black currant are also high in omega 6) You are supposed to have the right balance of omega 3, 6 and 9 to remain healthy. If you are taking in too much omega 6 in your diet, it is inflammatory. Considering most people who eat a western diet get way too much omega 6 already, supplementing with an omega 6 would not be a good idea.

So I worried that I had really thrown my omega balance off so much that I had caused the histamine intolerance. I stopped the EPO and started to research omega 3 supplements. I found an article by Andrew Weil, whom I really think a lot of, about what vegetarians can take for omega 3 supplementation.

There are relatively new supplements on the market that vegetarians can take. (Non vegetarians can take fish oil or make sure they eat oily fish) If you are vegan or vegetarian, look for an omega 3 that has both DHA and EPA. The Weil article is older and when he wrote it supplements with EPA weren’t available but they are now. (Nordic Naturals makes one and another is called Ovega3.) Also, you need to eat a handful of walnuts to get the third component, ALA.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this little nugget about my precious olive oil:
Some researchers also suggest olive oil builds more healthy omega 3 : omega 6 balance by displacing omega 6 acids. Olive oil is also a very powerful anti-fatigue remedy.

I am not sure whether stopping the Evening Primrose Oil and taking the new Omega 3’s, and olive oil, has helped control my histamine intolerance. It absolutely can be part of why my body seems to be going back to “normal.” I don’t know how long it takes for the EPO to leave the system. But I’m sure my omega balance is much better than what it was so it’s possible my body’s inflammation is lower. I also would have no idea how long it might take to “normalize” the balance after so many years of overindulging in omega 6’s.

My suggestion is to take an omega 3 supplement if you think you might have an imbalance. If you do have an imbalance, that’s only going to exacerbate your inflammation. And that’s not a good thing when you are histamine intolerant. You want to lower any kind of inflammation in the body.

I realize I was taking the EPO for years before I ever had a histamine intolerance problem, but remember, everything about your hormonal system changes so maybe menopause was the trigger when it came to the balance of omegas. This is, of course, just a theory like my adrenal fatigue theory. I am not a doctor. But I have been working on putting all the puzzle pieces together, and I know it’s not just one thing that did it.

Many women are taking those oils to help control the symptoms of menopause. And many women have histamine problems during menopause. It only makes sense that this is one other issue to address when trying to minimize, control and cure histamine intolerance brought on by menopause.

This post probably isn’t written as elegantly as I’d like, but I’ve wanted to get this information up because I think it is really key to some of what we might all be suffering with. Until I update with a link to the information, google omega 3-6-9 to find in depth explanations.

Edit

This is a great article on omegas.

I’ve started to plug in the words omega 6 and cortisol into search engines and have come up with some fascinating information. This is another site that has a good explanation of what omegas are, what the balance should be, and what foods should be avoided.

I’m going to add to this list, but take a look at that article. Remember, when researching on the web you always have to take what you find with a grain of salt, so I don’t stop at just one site. And I tend to try to hit the medical sites like Webmd and the Mayo clinic’s site too. I always want to hear from all sides of the arguments. But the above site was pretty succinct and backed up the other things I have read elsewhere. Again, if the site is selling something, I do not have anything to do with it. I am not promoting other’s products or even their sites. I am just trying to disseminate information.

And I just found this statement on a website about menopause and cortisol levels:
Symptoms of abnormal cortisol levels become more evident in menopause, when the masking effects of estrogen and progesterone diminish.

I’m still very much thinking the connection between menopause and histamine has to do with the adrenals and the amount of cortisol circulating though the body. The supplements I’ve taken helped manage the histamine intolerance, along with the low histamine diet, but the omega 3 and olive oil might just be the things leveling out the cortisol, which would be the underlying issue for menopausal histamine intolerant women, which would mean we don’t have to live with histamine intolerance. It’s fixable.

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Posted in olive oil, omega 3, polyphenols

Kefir is not a good choice if you have histamine intolerance

Let’s just start by saying I knew this might not end well. I saw all the signs and read all the material. But like anyone else being told to not do something that will affect you adversely, I decided to do it anyway.

I’ve been feeling really good lately so I decided to wade into the probiotic universe and make myself feel really bad… Actually, I had been having stomach and bloating issues for quite some time until I identified the culprit. I had been eating a few prunes every day thinking that would help keep everything humming along if you know what I mean but actually after some research I realized the prunes were the things making me sick. They are loaded with sorbitol which my body cannot process effectively, so not only was I putting on weight because they are little sugar bombs, I was bloating up like the Goodyear blimp!

After the prune debacle, I waited a few weeks until I decided to try to kill myself with something new. I was feeling good, my stomach was flatter and I thought maybe this is now the time I can try Kefir. I also thought, “hey you feel good so why mess with it?” But the “let’s try kefir” won out and off I went brewing up batch after batch.

For those who don’t know, kefir is an ancient probiotic that is brewed from kefir grains. There is a milk version and a water version. I used the water kefir grains which grow and ferment in sugar water. Every two days you decant the water and then replenish the sugar water mixture to do it all again. The grains actually grow and multiply. It’s like trying to keep a new weird pet alive on the kitchen counter.

Now if you have histamine intolerance, you know, or I hope you know, that fermented products might be a problem. They are already high in histamine. Probiotics can also be a problem depending on the bacteria in them. Kefir luckily is both fermented and a powerhouse of probiotics that are not good for histamine intolerance!

And just to step back a minute, the reason I really wanted to try using it is because so much of our health is linked to our gut health. Also, DAO is produced in the gut and that’s the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine in the gut, so if you have inflammation in your body, your gut biome is the first place to look.

Anyway, the first few days I only took a teaspoon of the kefir to ease myself in. I admittedly had gastro issues right away. Let’s just say the bus was way ahead of schedule. I thought, well good, it’s pushing all the bad bacteria out. I kept going and eventually my system settled down. I managed to ignore a nagging itch that seemed to pop up in a usual place and blamed other things for it because denial is a powerful antidote to common sense. I even thought it might be a Herxheimer Reaction which is when your body throws off toxins and you get gastro issues or feel like a cold or flu is coming on. But then the hot flashes started and that is not a Herx reaction. I thought let me push through. Let’s see if my body adjusts. But this morning I woke with a migraine. Even though that could also be a Herx reaction I’ve decided I’ve had enough. I am throwing in the towel on the kefir experiment. I know it’s all been a histamine thing. I will delude myself no longer!

It will take me a couple of days but I’m sure everything will stop once the kefir is out of my system. The good news is my gut will go back to having it’s own colony of bacteria quickly because without re-inoculating myself the kefir’s bacteria won’t take up permanent residence.

So what did I learn? A few things for sure.

  • I am still histamine intolerant. I can manage it to the point of having no symptoms but when I have an ill conceived idea of what my body can tolerate it will tell me so.
  • Hot flashes are a symptom of my intolerance. I’ve written about this often. I don’t need HRT to be hot flash free, but I do have to be low histamine.
  • Using the wrong probiotics can be a very bad thing if you are histamine intolerant. Based on limited research, there are species of bacteria that might be beneficial. The following are thought to downgrade biogenic amines such as histamine. Much more research needs to be done and I recommend using any with caution: Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus plantarum, and possibly Lactobacillus reuteri. 
  • I can be really dumb sometimes.

I’m still going to research gut health but without using probiotics. I am reading up on prebiotics now. These are foods that help your gut produce its own healthy gut bacteria by feeding the ones that are already there. Chicory and asparagus are just a couple to name. Chicory is one of those things they make coffee substitutes with that I know I can drink without ill effect.

I’m not sorry I took the chance on trying the kefir. A lot of people write in and tell me they are taking probiotics and this whole thing forced me to take a good look at them and why they are not to be dabbled with lightly if you are histamine intolerant. You could be making your situation worse and not even know it because you think you are doing something healthy for yourself.

In the meantime, if anybody knows someone who would like a cup of water kefir grains let me know. I need to find a good home for them.

Dale

 

 

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Posted in histamine intolerance, Women's health

It wasn’t the butler is was the buckwheat…

I know I owe my readers a post on motivation, neurotransmitters, and dopamine, but I have to tell you, bloggers with low dopamine and a lack of motivation don’t get a lot of posts written!

On the bright side, I have learned recently that quercetin, something a lot of you probably take for your histamine intolerance, also raises dopamine levels. And how did I find this out? Well funny enough not because of all the bad foods I was eating during the holidays but because of the one good thing I thought I was doing myself a favor eating: buckwheat.

And why am I calling out one food when I often do not assign blame to single food culprits? Because it’s one of those foods that a lot of people eat thinking it’s a great replacement grain to eat instead of wheat and other high gluten grains.

Here’s the story in a nutshell. I ate very badly during the last week of school because the kids were giving me gifts of chocolate and baked goods and I was going to more parties than usual and eating all kinds of crazy things. When I was finally off the week of Christmas I decided to clean up my act. I decided to eat cleaner along with limiting wheat products and bread. I started making buckwheat pancakes and flatbreads instead.

I have to tell you I was feeling really badly. Enough so that I bought some quercetin which I hadn’t needed to take in years. (I do still take ginger and olive leaf and use olive oil religiously) I was fatigued and my eyes felt “fat.” I thought maybe it was because I wasn’t getting up at five to run but getting up closer to seven, so  I was feeling almost jet lagged. I also started using my water app to monitor my water intake to make sure I wasn’t dehydrated. But I noticed I was starting to get hot flashes again which put me on high alert. They are definitely linked to high histamine with me, as is foggy brain, and fat eyes; all things I was feeling.

Now we are into my second week off and I am feeling way better, but still battling hot flashes and fat eyes. I started to think it might be the buckwheat and decided to stay away from it for a while. I admittedly was eating it almost every day in some form last week.

Last night I was making a bean soup and thought let me put some kasha in it, roasted buckwheat, without even thinking about my previous issues. At 57 it’s a miracle I remember anything at all it seems. After I was done eating I had a hot flash that could have warmed a room. And then I got completely congested.

But honestly, that penny didn’t drop until this morning when I woke still congested and thought about researching whether buckwheat is a known allergen. Yes, in case you were still in doubt, it is. And there is something called cross-reactivity that makes you possibly sensitive to other things. For example, if you are allergic to latex, you might also have a problem with buckwheat, avocado, tomatoes…all things I’ve had issue with, although I don’t think I have a problem with latex. But I’m not going to test that out anytime soon.

There are a few things I want to point out about this that might be helpful to you.

  • First, hot flashes are related to histamine intolerance. I’ve written about this before and am the only one who seems to believe this, but I can tell you from experience this is the case. Find your triggers and rid yourself of hot flashes. I am living proof.
  • Second, I am not cured of intolerance but manage it daily. A lot of people ask me this. I can tell you from this latest bout that we probably always have it on some level. It’s just how well we manage it and on what level histamine is on in the bucket.
  • Third, we must always be aware and alert to what we put in our bodies even if we’ve had it before. I had no issue with buckwheat before, but eating a lot of it brought forth a sensitivity to it and the more I indulged the more sensitive I became until last night the warning was bigger and uglier. And as our bodies change our food sensitivities also change.

As a side note, I can tell you quercetin does help with dopamine and motivation. I’m writing this aren’t I?! And I actually looked it up because I could feel the brain fog lift pretty soon after I started taking it.

I know I don’t nearly blog enough. I’d like to do it way more. But I do what I can with the time and energy I have, and I know you understand that because we all feel that way. But when we feel good, we get way more done, so here’s to feeling good in this new year. And buckwheat, I’m kicking you to the curb…

Happy New Year everybody!

Dale

PS: I always welcome comments. If you have a buckwheat issue or another food you’d like us to keep an eye on please do share in the comments section.

 

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Posted in histamine intolerance, Women's health

Goodbye dear friend

I just read the devastating news that The Low Histamine Chef as I will always know her, Yasmina Yekelenstam, passed away Monday.

I know Yasmina was fighting breast cancer more than a year ago and do not know if it recurred. I have no details.

What I can tell you is that although I never met her in person, she was my friend. We worked together to get the message out about histamine intolerance and it was one of my proudest moments to guest write a post for her blog. I wanted her to write for my blog too but we just never got to it. Now we never will.

There is a lot I’d like to share but I can’t put the words together right now so I’ll finish by saying goodbye to my dear friend. I’ll miss you.

Dale

 

I encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comments below. She helped so many people. It would be nice to share. 

Posted in histamine intolerance, Women's health

Stop hitting the snooze button!

I know I owe you all a post on dopamine, motivation, and how to start feeling better and happier, but I just haven’t had time to get it all together. Happily it’s not because I lack motivation but because we went back to school and I’ve been crazy busy!

But I just had to come on here and tell you that I am actually getting up at 5AM to run every morning before school. I can tell you I feel dramatically different than when I used to crawl out of bed at 5:45 and make my way to my car by 6:45. Now I’m actually out of the house and in the car by 6:35 wide awake and ready to go teach the children somethin’.

So what’s changed besides the dose of neurotransmitters blasting through my brain while I run? It’s the not hitting the snooze button thing anymore. I’ve done a lot of reading about sleep and I’ve learned hitting the snooze button is pretty bad for me. It’s probably bad for you too.

Maybe you know this already, but hitting snooze is a really bad thing to do when you want to wake up refreshed. The short explanation is that once you have an alarm set, your body gets used to it and starts to wake up before it goes off. When you hit the snooze button and fall back to sleep, even for just ten minutes, you send yourself into the start of a new sleep cycle. Then when the snooze goes off again you wind up waking up in a part of the sleep cycle you shouldn’t wake up in. If you wake up feeling foggy, now you know why. And that feeling can last up to two hours!

Don’t get me wrong, my running before work, I believe, has made a big difference in my overall mindset too. But that no snooze thing has made the difference as to how easy it is to get out of bed to even get out to run.

So don’t hit snooze! And I promise to post my help for the unmotivated soon!

Dale

 

Post a comment below if you knew about the snooze thing or try it and see a difference in your morning. I always like to hear from my readers.

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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, Women's health

Are you menopause-aly unmotivated? (Part 1)

I was having dinner with one of my kids the other day, and when I say kids I mean an alumnus who I keep in touch with, when we had a conversation about ADHD. She is twenty-five and newly diagnosed as having it. She explained what some of the symptoms were, and as she was talking I thought “my gosh she’s describing me.”

I went home that evening and started to do some research. I know I was thinking it would be great to get a diagnosis like that because it would explain so much. I’ve always been preternaturally lazy among other things, as I’d been told since being a kid, so a diagnosis with a label would be great considering how deeply unmotivated and burnt-out I’ve been. If it were my brain’s lame executive function I would finally have something to blame for my bad habits and seeming irreversible stagnation .

Unfortunately, all the online tests I took basically pointed to a mild problem at best. And really who doesn’t have issues focusing and getting things done? But I’ve had a lot more issues in recent years, so it was game on to figure out if there was really something more to it.

As I began researching in earnest the ADHD jumping off point led me to my research into neurotransmitters, which led me to dopamine, which circled back towards menopause, histamine, and my unmotivated self.

So before I go on, let me ask you: is your peri or post menopausal self lacking in motivation? Or are you unhappy? Or both?

I’m going to go into more of the science of motivation and happiness in part two of this post. But right now I want to give a little background into my story. I think it helps because it will give my research context and it helps when others see themselves in the story.

As I said before, I can be really lazy and unmotivated. But I’m going to actually put that in perspective. If I have something to do, I am very focused. I have a great work ethic and miss almost no work. I cannot remember the last time I took a day off because I didn’t feel well. I’ll usually take a day here or there for fun reasons like I stayed out late at a concert the night before. I like to have fun and will do anything or go anywhere if it’s something worth while. I get up early every morning to run two miles (which is key to the conversation and will be discussed at length later) and I ride my bike Saturdays and Sundays pretty much without fail.

The flip side is when I have nothing to do, I can lay on the floor and watch Netflix for hours at a time. I had the summer off, (remember I’m a teacher) and waited until last week to get all my big things done. I do tend to beat myself up for not going out to save the world with those few extra weeks I have to actually accomplish something. I have a half written book of poetry waiting for me, and a play I started is shriveling up on the writer’s vine, not to mention all the art that didn’t get made. But moreover, I feel like I just can’t get up and do anything. Like I’m weighted down. It’s not a good feeling.

The logical part of my brain understands that I do work really hard in a profession that chews me up physically and mentally, but I also feel badly that so many projects get back burnered for HBO.

I wrote (on August 2, 2014) about being a struggling artist with a lack of creativity when I was nearing the end of the transition to full menopause, but funny enough I never used the word motivation.  A lot of what I wrote is what I just re-wrote about running and being physically active, but some of the ideas of what the problem might be are different. Or maybe better yet unformed. I blamed my lack of creativity on dropping estrogen. I never did any more research about it.

What changed from four years ago is what I did to change how I feel and where that is leading me in my research. A lot of this is based on my new running regimen.

Now don’t panic. I am not going to suggest everyone must go out and run two miles a day. This is my thing. There are other things that I can suggest to help motivate your stagnant soul. I just want to explain how I’ve gotten to this moment of writing about how to help fix a lack of motivation and maybe, for some, a lack of happiness.

At the end of the school year I was probably more run down than any other year. The Sunday after the last day of school I had a scratchy throat that turned into a cold; one that lingered in some form for a couple of weeks. In that time I had a lot of time to think about what I was doing wrong with my fitness. I always thought I was keeping fit running and riding my bike, but honestly I was hardly running from about April and I was riding only on Sundays at that point. I was exhausted after school every day. It was also way too hot to run in the early evenings. I don’t even know what I was eating anymore. Nothing good I’m sure. I was a big mess with many reasons to not feel good about myself.

While recovering from my cold and getting some much needed rest, I decided that what I really needed to do was run in the mornings. It would be cooler. I can make it a habit. I’ll feel good about myself, and I could do it before school when we go back. Mind you, I’ll have to get up at 5 to do this, but let’s not focus on that detail right now.

Once I put my mind to something and decide than that’s it. I do it. So I started running a mile a day. I have to say from day one I felt great. I remembered that when I was in high school I used to run in the mornings. I guess I forgot how good it feels.

I ran a mile a day for a week and upped it to two. I gotta say, I felt really good. I started getting up earlier and earlier to beat the Miami sun and heat, and I never minded. I just had to go to bed a little earlier.

Now, about two months later, I can say I still feel really good. I look forward to my morning runs. Some mornings I lay in bed and think wow, I’m not sure I can do this, maybe I’ll just run a mile, but when I get out of bed I get ready and dressed and just go. They say once you do something for two weeks it’s a habit.

So how does the ADHD, menopause, lack of motivation, and running all link? It all lead me to research neurotransmitters. Especially dopamine.

See, before I read about ADHD and followed the neurotransmitters down the rabbit hole I thought, like everyone else, runners high was endorphins. But there is much more to it than that. It’s an increase in dopamine that makes you feel good after a run. And when I started to take a good look at dopamine I found it is linked directly to motivation and happiness. I started to then look for a link to menopause and found dopamine drops when estrogen drops. And then I found a link between histamine and dopamine. Mast cells carry dopamine. When mast cells break open they spill histamine and dopamine.

I started suffering from teacher burn-out about three or four years ago. I always thought it was one of the major reasons I became unmotivated across many avenues of my life. But now I’m thinking my teacher burn-out is directly related to menopause, histamine intolerance, and the loss of dopamine.

The good news is I’ve seen a change in myself. I still can spend a day laying around watching Netflix, but hey, who can’t. But the very fact that this is the third post in a month after not writing anything for this blog in an entire year is proof enough. I also have a sketchbook filled with new work. You can follow me on Instagram @theartofbroox. Lastly, teachers go back to school next week and I’m not completely horrified, so that’s a good sign… All in all I see changes in my mood and feel better about a lot of things.

I’m going to end Part 1 here and let you chew on it. Part 2 will be more of the science and the technical results of my research. Until I finish it, if you see yourself in any of this, take a look at dopamine and what you can do to increase it. Besides running there are aromatherapy oils that have real merit (clary sage) and many foods. Or exercise might be an alternative you can exploit. Whatever works for you.

At this point, I hope I’ve given you something to think about. I’ll be working on Part 2 while you’re busy mulling it over. Keep in mind that I spoke a lot about motivation or lack there of, but feeling happy is a big part of dopamine’s job too so if you’re feeling unhappy about things or don’t feel a lot of joy in the things you do maybe you should also be looking to increase your dopamine.

As always, leave a comment below if you’d like. I always like to hear what people are thinking.

Now go make some dopamine!

Dale

 

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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, Women's health

Common questions I answer all the time

Before I move on to writing about new things I wanted to write a post addressing the questions I get all the time, to shed a little light on what the future might look like to someone who’s just discovered histamine intolerance might be the issue that’s been torturing them.

There are two or three things that people always want to know.

  • What food list did I use to identify histamine in foods?
  • What supplements do I still take?
  • How long did it take to heal?

Let’s start with the easy one first. What food list did I use? I started by going from site to site, but did find one list I really liked. The person whose blog it is also went from site to site but they made a list and marked by the food how many times they found it listed on other sites as a high histamine food. So they did a lot of the work.

This is the site.

Remember that lists are only the starting point. I found keeping a journal was an  important step to keeping track of what made me react. I reacted to a lot of things that were not on any list. So I made my own lists early on and stopped worrying about what I found on the Internet. What makes me itch might not make you itch! I could eat a lot of things that were high histamine, like strawberries, but could not eat cauliflower, which was not a high histamine food or even a histamine liberator. It was on all the “safe” food lists. So you can start by looking at lists but then figure it out for yourself from there.

Ok, next. What supplements do I take? Keeping in mind I’m vegetarian, I use nutritional yeast for the B vitamins. B12 is hard to get if you don’t eat meat so I’ve used that for many years. It’s also good for the rest of the B vitamins that are very important to combat intolerance. I don’t take an Omega 3 anymore but eat a lot of walnuts. Chia is also a good source. I still use my beloved olive oil religiously. I use it in my morning smoothie and I still use it as a moisturizer on my legs. (I keep it in a little roll top perfume bottle and roll it on)

I also take a half a teaspoon of olive leaf in my smoothie. Notice I did not say extract. That’s because I use actual olive leaves. I buy them from someone on Etsy and then grind them up in a little coffee grinder. I used to buy them from a grove in Florida but I think they might have gotten hammered by hurricane Irma. Olive leaf keeps hot flashes away.

Lastly I take a ginger capsule, one in the morning and one at night. There’s about a quarter of a teaspoon of dried ground ginger in a capsule. I put it in a capsule because I forget to take it otherwise. It’s too strong to put in my smoothie flavor wise. I buy fresh ginger, peel it and chop it, and leave it to dry on a paper towel for a few days. Then I grind it into powder. Yes it’s a lot of work to stay healthy isn’t it?

But that’s it. I’m off everything else, and as you can see I’m really just using food as supplements.

Now how long it took me to heal… This is trickier to answer because I don’t think I ever really healed. I think I brought my body into balance and now I’m in control. What’s the difference? Healing implies it all goes away. Being in control means it’s an issue I still have to deal with but I don’t suffer from it anymore. But I can tell you there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it at some point in the day. I am constantly assessing the things that go in me and on me. I am always measuring how I feel against what I ate or drank. And I am always deciding about whether I should or shouldn’t eat something based on how I know I’ll feel in an hour or in a day.

I wrote something down the other day that I think explains it in a nutshell: Is the payoff greater than the pain?

A lot of people write me and lament the fact that they are doing everything possible to feel better, except, you know, for that glass of wine they drink every night. I always tell them when you decide it’s not worth the itching or the migraine you know you’re going to endure you’ll give it up. The payoff of feeling better is way better than the pain, trust me. But it seems to be human nature to not want to give stuff up that we love.

I’ve given up a lot of things and I’m way better off for it. The things I can think of off the top of my head are that I don’t eat chocolate anymore. I don’t eat packaged foods except every now and again when I fall off the wagon at a party and stand by the chip and dip bowl. I never went back to eating spinach. I don’t drink green tea. (I love it but it gives me hot flashes) And I don’t drink alcohol anymore. Well except for last Friday night when I tried clear tequila in a mixed drink and regretted it the entire next day when I woke up feeling as if a bus ran me over. So now I don’t drink alcohol anymore…

If you need a timeline of getting myself right again I’d say it took me three months until I could eat anything other than butternut squash, apples, and broccoli. (I always ate nutritionally dense foods even if the selection was limited. This is very important to rebalancing the body.) I slowly reintroduced foods back into my diet, and by about six months I was on summer break in Florence eating gnocchi in the plaza.

It was another year before I tried the things that really made me itch, and maybe another two or three to eat some of the big scary things that gave me the worst reactions. Like I finally did try spinach but I was pretty afraid of it and still don’t eat it. After about five years I finally eat avocados pretty often. But the minute I start to feel foggy, I stop buying them for a couple of months. Mangos give me hot flashes but I’m willing to have them for a couple of months when they are in season in Miami. There are some things worth suffering for!

Oh, and it took me about year or more before I went back to showering. I had to take cool baths because hot water gave me hives. And I couldn’t use a razor on my legs for a few years. I used an electric shaver. But I use a razor now.

The point is, it took some time and a lot of work to get back to normal, and it takes a lot of work to maintain. I am ever vigilant. I know when I’ve stepped over the line when my eyes feel fat or I wake up in the morning with brain fog. Every once in a while I’ll see one hive, freak out, and go on high alert! I grab the butternut squash and apples and I start looking around at what little things I’ve let seep back in and clean up my act right away.

I do believe if I were to let everything slide; if I were to eat anything and stop using my olive leaf, ginger, and olive oil I’d be right back to square one itching and flashing away. That’s why I say I don’t think I’m healed as much as controlled.

I hope this gives you a little insight into what I do to maintain a reaction free life and how long it took. And let me just say that some things that bedeviled me for years before I went acute with intolerance have not come back. For example, I scratched my legs bloody for most of my life. I don’t anymore. I’m in better shape now because I was probably intolerant to some degree my whole life.

To give you a little more info on me for context, I am pretty fit hundred pound gal. I run two miles a day and ride my bike on weekends. (I know some people are afraid to exercise because sweat makes them itch but I never cared. I always ran right through it. It was too important to me to give up.) I get eight hours of sleep a night and take no medications. I do sun salutations, when I remember, to work my upper body, and although I work hard to stay fit I am also the laziest person I know. I love to watch Netflix laying on pillow on the floor, and can do that all day if there’s nothing going on. In essence, I take pretty good care of myself because I believe it gives me a good quality of life and it’s all worth it.

Anyway, now that I’ve dispensed with old business and shared a bit, I will start to focus on new stuff. So stay tuned! I’m off to make some butternut squash and apple soup; rebalancing after my tequila sunrise lapse in judgement!

Dale

 

As always, I welcome all comments.

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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, olive oil, Women's health

I know it’s been a while…

I have not written anything on this blog since May of last year. The last post touched on how one of my beloved cats recently died and I was learning how to make soap with the big idea of selling it because it would be so free of additives and amazing that people would be knocking down my door to buy it. Ok well, maybe not that, but I did want to sell it.

Problem with soap is, even when you get good at making it, it has a bit of a mind of its own, and if the oils you use are a little older, and you don’t know it when you make it, orange spots show up on it months later and ruin the whole batch. It didn’t take much to convince me that this was not going to be my lot in life…making soap for the masses.

I actually didn’t ever think I was going to quit my job making soap. I just really wanted to make available something that my blog readers might find useful and healthful. I am about to embark on another round using only olive oil. That would eliminate the wondering about which oil was old. When you make soap with four oils that you just bought, how do you know which one was sitting around on a shelf too long. Not all oils are dated. And we all know how much I love olive oil anyway…

So stayed tuned for the next soap event. 🙂

But now let’s get back to the not writing thing. Why haven’t I written? Well, I feel like I have less to say because once I reached conclusions and got myself under control I didn’t know what to write about anymore. But that’s not all of it.

There was a hurricane. Irma. I live in Miami and we were pretty beat up after Irma pushed through. I went through a rough time of it because I was still grieving the loss of my cat, and then the bayside park I ride my bike to on the weekends to meditate at was closed due to the destruction. I waited anxiously to get down there and even snuck in one day to see if the palm tree I visited and spoke to, yes I am that kind of tree hugging weirdo, survived, and was breathless with grief when I saw my old dear friend had vanished into the bay.  So another loss to deal with along with getting electricity back and cell service and just driving through streets filled with piles of what used to be trees. We were out of school for almost two weeks so there was a lot of catching up to do there too.

In the midst of all this my best friend and fellow teacher of twenty years, a woman I carpooled with for the last ten of them, retired weeks after the storm. That was a lot to deal with emotionally.

Things were getting back to normal and I was feeling myself again when a beloved math teacher at my school was killed in a car accident January 2nd. We were still on winter break and the thought of going back to deal with the kids and yet another loss was a daunting one. But what are you going to do? Life has a way of handing you these things to deal with so you do.

It was February 14th and the Parkland shooting was the next event that really spun the world into a new and awful direction. My school is just an hour from Parkland and we had a little girl who knew a victim. But dealing with the emotional fall-out, the fear, the political rhetoric was a lot for everyone to navigate. We participated in the walk-outs, had seventeen minutes of heartbreaking silence, and had rallies where kids spoke from their hearts about their fears and their futures.

It was all a lot to handle.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know every single person has their own issues. Mine are not bigger or worse. They are just mine. But what these issues have done to my overall mental health is what I am going to be writing about in the next few weeks. But if you know me and have been a blog reader of mine, you know I’m not hear to tell you just what’s wrong. I’m going to tell you how I’ve gone about fixing it. And as a side note, let me just say, the fact that I’m sitting here writing this is proof that the changes I’ve made are starting to work already.

I thought I was just dealing with teacher burn-out for the last few years, but now I think it’s more complex than that. My burn-out coincided with my getting all the way through menopause, and although I feel really good on the whole, I can be unmotivated and feel stagnant often. I can be restless and fidgety and unfocused… all the things that prevent me from feeling as if I’m moving forward in life rather than standing still. And these are the things that keep me from the big important things like making art or keeping up with this blog, or the little things like vacuuming the darn floors.

It turns out there is a strong link between estrogen loss and the loss of dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for motivation and happiness. I’ve started doing quite a bit of research on this and on neurotransmitters and want to write about it in the hope it will resonate with my readers and put some of you on a healthy path to feeling better because if you are anything like me, you might be feeling less than peppy!

I plan to discuss aromatherapy again, which I did previously, when it came to migraines, and I want to talk about exercise and why you should be doing it even if it makes you itch. I want to talk about fidgeting and focus and how to reign in some of the things we do, or don’t do, that keep us from getting a good night’s sleep.

In essence, I want to now start talking about the other things we can do besides eating right and focusing on lists of foods to improve our lives while adding the new connections I’ve learned about between menopause, histamine, and neurotransmitters.

Why, you ask, are you getting all up in my brain with this neuro stuff? Because listen to this…dopamine is in mast cells, so when your mast cells break open and spill histamine they also spill dopamine. Those damn mast cells are quite literally spilling your happiness all over the place! Interesting huh?

Stay tuned ladies!

Dale

Hey, don’t go away without commenting. Let me know if you want to know more or if you’ve missed me. I’ve sure missed you!

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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, peri-menopause, Women's health

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