Are Mast Cells the Missing Piece?
Today’s podcast is an interview with Beth O’Hara, Functional Naturopath, from the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. During this conversation, Beth and I talked about mast cells being the missing piece in your child's Autism, ADHD or SPD Protocol. Beth also takes us through her own experience living with Asperger's, which she’s never shared before publicly. We also talked about how she helps children with Mast Cell Activation and the clues you need to start making changes in your child’s health.
To watch or listen to more interviews from experts just like this one, head on over to www.mychildwillthrive.com/summit to sign up for free!
- Beth’s story about having Asperger's and her chronic health issues. (6:39)
- Working with Autism research experts in Louisville, Kentucky and why she had to quit that job. (10:43)
- The things Beth has done to heal her health issues and understand how to best connect and communicate with others. (13:17)
- Her turning point with Yasmina Ykelenstam and finding out about Mast Cell Activation. (15:01)
- What are Mast Cells? (19:05)
- What is Mast Cell Activation? (24:21)
- The seven most common root causes of Mast Cell Activation. (28:57)
- How Beth helps people in her practice. (40:39)
- Beth’s story of a patient who was able to gain self esteem during her process. (43:54)
Resources and Links
For more interviews from the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit, sign up for free!
A few research articles on mast cell activation:
Articles Related to Are Mast Cells the missing piece in your Autism/ADHD/SPD protocol
More about Beth O'Hara
Beth O’Hara is a Functional Naturopath, specializing in complex chronic health conditions related to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADD/ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorders, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Mold Toxicity, and Chemical Sensitivities. She is the founder and owner of Mast Cell 360, a Functional Naturopathy Practice designed to look at all factors surrounding health conditions – genetic, epigenetic biochemical, physiological, environmental, and emotional.
She designed Mast Cell 360 to be the kind of practice she wished had existed when she was severely ill with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Histamine Intolerance, Neural Inflammation, Lyme, Mold Toxicity, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue. After seeing over 50 practitioners and still not finding answers to the root causes of her own health conditions, she realized she would have to figure it out herself. She went on to become a Functional Naturopath, and then developed her Mast Cell 360 Root Cause Approach. Today, she has made a remarkable recovery, regaining her health and her life. Her mission today is to be a guiding light for others with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Histamine Intolerance and these related conditions in their healing journeys.
Through her Mast Cell 360 Root Cause process, she discovers the unique root factors affecting each of her clients’ health issues, building personalized, effective roadmaps for healing. She holds a doctorate in Functional Naturopathy, a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Bachelor's degree in Physiological Psychology, She is certified in Functional Genomic Analysis and is a Research Adviser for the Nutrigenetic Research Institute. She presents at Functional Medicine Conferences on Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance as well as the use of genetics and biochemistry in addressing chronic health conditions.
00:01 Tara Hunkin:
This is My Child Will Thrive and I'm your host, Tara Hunkin, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Certified GAPS Practitioner, Restorative Wellness Practitioner, and mother. I'm thrilled to share with you the latest information, tips, resources, and tools to help you on the path to recovery for your child. With ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, or Learning Disabilities.
My own experiences with my daughter combined with as much training as I can get my hands on, research I can dig into and conferences I can attend have helped me to develop systems and tools for parents like you who feel overwhelmed, trying to help their children. So sit back as I share another great topic to help you on your journey. A quick disclaimer, before we get started,
My Child Will Thrive is not a substitute for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. The information provided on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat your child. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before implementing any information or treatments that you have learned about on this podcast. There are many gifted, passionate, and knowledgeable practitioners with hundreds. If not thousands of hours of study and clinical experience available to help guide you.
Part of our goal is to give you the knowledge and tools you need to effectively advocate for your child so that you don't blindly implement each new treatment that comes along. No one knows your child better than you. No one knows your child's history like you do or can better. Judge. What is normal or abnormal for your child? The greatest success in recovery comes from the parent being informed and asking the right questions and making the best decisions for their child in coordination with a team of qualified practitioners in different areas of specialty.
Now on with the show. Today's podcast is sponsored by the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. In order to learn more about the summit and to sign up for free, please go to www.mychildwillthrive.com/summit.
2:08 Tara Hunkin:
Hi. Welcome back to the My Child Will Thrive Podcast. I'm really excited to share with you today. An interview I did with Beth O'Hara, a Functional Naturopath, on the topic of Mast Cell Activation for the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. I wanted to let you in on this interview here on the podcast, because it was a really special interview because Beth shares her personal journey with Autism with us for the first time in this interview. In addition to her deep expertise in the area of Mast Cell Activation, and how that played a role in her challenges when she was younger.
Please enjoy and listen to this interview with Beth O'Hara. And if you want to hear more interviews like this for free on the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit, please go to www.mychildwillthrive.com/summit and sign up today for free.
3:09 Tara Hunkin:
Hi everyone, I wanted to welcome you back to the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. I'm Tara Hunkin and with me today, I have Beth O'Hara. Beth is a Functional Naturopath specializing in complex chronic health conditions related to Mast Cell Activation s\Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, add ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorders, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Mold Toxicity, Chemical Sensitivities, and more. She's the founder and owner of Mast Cell 360, a functional naturopathy practice designed to look at all factors surrounding health conditions, genetic epigenetic, biochemical, physiological, environmental, and emotional. She designed Mast Cell 360 to be a kind of practice. She wished that existed when she was severely ill with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Histamine Intolerance, Neural Inflammation, Lyme, Mold Toxicity, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue.
After seeing over 50 practitioners and still not finding the answers to the root causes of her own health conditions, she realized she'd have to figure it out herself. Sounds familiar. She went on to become a Functional Naturopath and then developed her Mast cCell 360 root cause approach. Today she's made a remarkable recovery regaining her health and her life. And her mission today is to be a guiding light for others with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Histamine Intolerance, and these related conditions in their healing journeys.
So Beth, I'm really excited to have you here today. I really appreciate your time. And I think that everyone's going to gain incredible insights about what's going on with their kids. As we talk about our mast cells, the missing piece and that of your or their Autism, ADHD and SPD protocols. And this can go on more, as we talked about before, they're even more diagnoses that might encompass someone with Mast Cell Activation.
5:28 Beth O’Hara:
Exactly so many, and I'm just really excited to be here with you as well. So Autism Spectrum Disorders and ADHD and Sensory Processing, they're really close to my own heart. And we'll talk about that here in a little bit, but I think this is going to be a big game changer for people.
So I hope people will listen through to the end because they're going to be some pieces in here that can make some big light bulbs go off in terms of why some protocols may not be working for their kids. Why some things may be making their kids worse and what to do about it and what direction to go with these things.
6:07 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah, I'm excited for us to dig into that because just those things are going to trigger a lot of people thinking I better be paying attention to this talk. So let us talk about that first. Like you said, you have experience with this. Can you stare at some of your story with us having experienced Asperger's, ADD and SBD as a child? What was it like for you and how did you come to be a Functional Naturopath that's now helping others?
6:39 Beth O’Hara:
Yeah. So the first thing I'll say is that I have not shared this much publicly because when I share with people that I have Asperger's, they either, and I like the term Asperger's, that's just what I identified with. But people, either that know me, they don't believe me at first, or they don't know what to say, because I've done a tremendous, tremendous amount of work on healing my body, but also on building just the ability to have facial expressions or to know when to lean forward with somebody or to have modulating tone in my voice. I actually took voice lessons for four years so that I could modulate my voice because it was just flat-lined and I didn't know how to modulate. I just didn't pick those things up naturally.
So when I was a child, I was a very introverted child and had a lot of health issues. I grew up way out in the country and in an old farmhouse that we now know was full of toxic mold, but we didn't know that at the time. And I was outside a lot. I got bit by ticks all the time. I've had Lyme Babesia Bartonella. I've had so many, so many health issues. From the Autism piece of it, as a child, I had a really hard time understanding why people did the things that they did, and especially kids. I couldn't, I had a really hard time relating to kids. It was easier to relate to adults. And people often commented that I was like a little mini adult, because I just didn't have, I wanted to bury myself into an encyclopedia that was leisure time for me. And I really struggled socially in school so I didn't have, I really had pretty much one close friend throughout school. Other than that, I was never popular. I didn't know how to talk to kids.
And I would get feedback that I was intimidating because kids didn't know what I was saying, what I was talking about. And I wanted to talk about what I just read in this biology book that was two grades ahead, because I would go grab those and they didn't care. They wanted to play games and play sports. But from six years old, I decided I was going to become a physician and I was going to go to medical school and I was single driven. So this kind of illustrates some of the Asperger's. I would do things like when I was running out in the woods.
9:24 Beth O’Hara:
I remember finding a cow skeleton where it had been there so long, the bones were completely bleached. And I got so excited, gathered all these bones and his trash bag and brought them back home because I wanted to reassemble the skeleton. And for my 16th birthday, all I really wanted was Grey's Anatomy. So that was just like, if I could get my hands on Grey's Anatomy.
So but my health kept deteriorating and by the time I got into college, I, well, one, I had severe chronic pain from a number of spinal injuries. And some car incidents had been in, I've been kicked in the head by a horse when I was nine, had a traumatic brain injury, and I had severe anxiety. So just off the charts anxiety, and back then I'm in my forties. So when I was growing up and where I was growing up, no one talked about Autism. The only experience I had with Autism was when Tim Peak, who was the model for Rain Man, came to my school, and I was fascinated by him. Because it was like he's very different than I am, but in some ways I could relate to how his brain worked.
And then my next experience was I did an independent research project with one of the top Autism research experts in Louisville, Kentucky. This is where I was going to college. And I remember, so my job, I was just a minion, a research minion. And then my job was to watch these videos of these children that were brought into the playroom setting. And then they were doing things like observing their behaviors when the lights were turned on and the lights were turned down, or they were given a toy or the toy was taken away, or mom left the room. And they would have these meltdowns. And I remember watching these and I was supposed to code the behaviors. And I just started sobbing from how much these kids were suffering. And I guess some of it was that I could relate to my own difficulty with loud noises and loud sounds and getting easily overwhelmed and overwhelmed by crowds and having trouble. I couldn't navigate the mall. It was just too much, smells were too much.
11:50 Beth O’Hara:
And I remember the researcher came in and she saw me crying. And she said, why are you crying? And I said, well, they're just, this is so hard for them. And this was kind of my first real introduction to Autism. And she said, well, they don't have feelings so don't feel sorry for them. And I was just flabbergasted and livid, but I didn't have the language to be able to explain what I was feeling. So the only thing I could do was quit. I just, it was done. I was like, this isn't for me, you might know a lot more about Autism than I do.
And she was working on the DSM entry at that time on the new entry. But I thought, you may, you may know way more than I do about this, but I know those children are hurting and that they do have feelings. And I didn't know until way later, reflecting back also why it triggered me so much. And a lot of people thought I didn't have feelings.
So with being monotone and not having facial expression, I would get a lot of feedback that people thought I was cold. They thought I was judging them, that I was angry. And the honest truth was just that I was either so overwhelmed, sensory-wise, or I had such severe anxiety, or usually both. I was just trying not to leap out of my seat and go to the bathroom and have a meltdown.
13:17 Beth O’Hara:
So that's how I used to be. And I've done a massive amount of meditation and yoga. I was a yoga therapist for quite a while, working on a system called the Enneagram Spiritual Personal Development. And then all these other things on body language and facial expression. And I've worked really, really hard. And I've always had huge feelings and I've always had a lot of empathy, but the bridge to communicate it or connect it out to the other person wasn't there. And so I always felt like I was in my own world with it, and no one could ever understand me because I could never reach the bridge out to them. And that's what I worked on developing in addition to healing my health. So I didn't get to go to medical school.
I became so ill that I was struggling to get out of bed when I was in my undergrad. So I had a number of full scholarship offers and I turned them all down and it was really devastating. I had no idea what was going to do so I became a yoga therapist and a computer programmer because that was what fell in my lap.
But I never lost that love for healing and that love for anatomy and biology and researching these things and how they all fit together. So my health crisis, I became a chronically ill patient instead of (I wanted to be a neurologist) but it took me through this whole journey, learning what it's like to navigate the traditional healthcare system and have it fail again and again and again, and then start to piece together these pieces.
15:01 Beth O’Hara:
So a real turning point was following Yasmina Ykelenstam who was really big and bringing histamine intolerance forward. And she was one of the absolute first to bring Mast Cell Activation Syndrome to the public way before we had a diagnosis code. And so I got to meet her online and follow her and communicate about these things and then be in a really small group of women that were working on this with her. And that was really a privilege. And that was a huge turning point and getting into a genetic analysis and all these pieces. So the last thing I share in our story is that one of the huge mysteries, because after I exhausted traditional medicine, I started the holistic route and then functional medicine kind of started to come in, there started to be practitioners in this. And this is really a 20 year journey. And I just, anybody that could help me, I was going to listen to, and I did diligently what they recommended.
But when I started in Functional Medicine, I would be recommended L-Glutamine for healing my gut and then my anxiety was off the charts. And like I already had massive sleep issues. And then it was severely worse. And then I was given curcumin because I had severe joint pain and could barely walk. I had to use a cane to walk for a number of years. And the curcumin would make me more inflamed and make me anxious.
And that we didn't know back then about the GAD genes for glutamate to GABA conversion. We didn't know about over methylation with these methyl-donors and all the stuff we know now. So I was just a major paradox and nobody could figure me out. Every person I went to told me you're the most complicated case I've ever seen, and I don't know what to do with you.
16:53 Beth O’Hara:
The worst experiences were the people who told me your lab markers looked normal, everything we try, you react to and you feel bad. And so it must be in your head and I think you're crazy. And I would walk out with a prescription for an antipsychotic. That happened so many times, I started to believe it for quite a while, until we got to genetic analysis. And I was like, boom, I have glutamate variants. I have everything in the way of over methylation. These things are making sense. Maybe I'm not crazy because I did all this emotional healing and therapy too. So that's kind of the gist of my story mixed in with Autism and ADD and the Sensory Processing issues.
17:40 Tara Hunkin:
Well, it's an amazing story, which I appreciate you sharing it with us because I know that the parents that are listening are going to relate in so many ways to that. But also our hearts break when you describe that story of when you were doing the research and when people don't recognize that the kids are inside there and they just aren't able to communicate how they're feeling. And I know the parents that have kids like this, they know that. But unfortunately, we're still seeing that in terms of the outside world and that people don't understand how they treat these kids.
So it is really important, but it's very evident that you've done lots of deep work in lots of different ways which is amazing, but it's also incredibly helpful to everybody that's watching. So I do appreciate it, I know that it takes a lot to share that much history with everybody. So thank you for doing that. Let's talk about, because some people here will have heard the term Mast Cells and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome before, but not everybody will. So just to give that foundation for those who have no exposure to this. What are we talking about when we talk about Mast Cells?
19:05 Beth O’Hara:
So Mast Cells and they're spelled M A S T (as in tango), the mast cells are immune cells so they're part of our immune response. And they are the frontline defenders of the immune system. So most people are familiar with getting kind of a cut or scrape that they don't clean out really well, or they don't clean out soon enough and it gets red and puffy might get a little itchy. And that's the Mast Cells immediately going into action surrounding the bacteria that's been coming in, creating inflammation to isolate and localize that bacteria and then they signal to the rest of the immune system to come in. So they kind of orchestrate the immune response. So they'll do that on a very small level with a cut, but the mast cells are involved 24/7 responding to any pathogens coming into the system, toxins, injuries. They're part of the healing process.
They are essential. We cannot survive outside of a bubble without mast cells. And they've gotten a bad rap. So there's some people that kind of think, well, if we just knock these mast cells out of commission, people at these mast cell issues will be better, but that's not true. Because if we knock them out, it's kind of like, they're the guards of the castle gate. And then if you take a lot of mast cell stabilizers and anti-histamine medications to calm this down. I think this is why I got so sick because I had severe allergy symptoms when I was young and I was put on a ton of medications and it helped the symptoms, but then the mold toxicity, the Lyme, the Bartonella Babesia, all these other things, Epstein-Barr, had full reign in my body. And those infections just continued to race out of control because there was no check on them. So that's what they're doing. And they're mast cells in almost every system as well they're in every system and almost every tissue of the body.
So when you think about the skin, anywhere where we have hollow cavities, so nasal passages, the entire GI tract, the bladder, huge concentrations in the brain. And they're in the muscles, they're in the bones, they're in the different organs. So they're all through the body. When they get dysregulated, which is what happens when we have chronic toxicity, chronic pathogens, they can get dysregulated, and then they can be over releasing inflammatory molecules.
21:48 Beth O’Hara:
So these mast cells have over 200 different mediators inside them. And they're stored in these little granules and these mediators, and then they have all these receptors on the outside. So a lot of these mediators, their role is to create inflammation and we need a certain amount of inflammation. So we don't want to shut down all inflammation. We want to modulate that response.
But we don't want to modulate it too soon, because if we're dealing with infections and toxicity, again, the mast cells are doing what they have to do to keep the body alive. They're doing it for survival. So when these mast cells, when we're having this Mast Cell Activation, we can get all kinds of symptoms. And this is also why it's hard to recognize, because it depends on which systems are involved. So the classic symptoms are things like hives, itching, flushing. There's a common one, you can see my cheeks are always rosy. I never wear blush. It's kind of that rosy complexion or ruddy complexion is common, but not everybody has those or things like postnasal drip, itchy, watery eyes. Those are like the classic, but there are people that I have clients who just have GI symptoms and brain symptoms.
23:11 Beth O’Hara:
So I have a young man who's 16 and he's on the spectrum, diagnosed on the spectrum and he doesn't have these skin symptoms and things like that. But he has a lot of brain fog. He has a lot of issues with ADD, and his speech is very slowed and measured, and it's really hard to get his speech out. And then he has some GI complaints. So these are some of the presentations that we can see, or we might see a lot of chronic fatigue is common. And that could go along with bladder symptoms and issues like interstitial cystitis. Anytime we have brain inflammation, we're looking at mast cell involvement, and that's what we're seeing in terms of Autism, looking at sensory processing issues, looking at ADD/ADHD, we can tie it all into there's going to be a mast cell connection there.
24:06 Tara Hunkin:
Now that we understand what the mast cells are, when you just talked about when someone has overactive masts, what some of the symptoms are, but what is Mast Cell Activation Syndrome itself?
24:21 Beth O’Hara:
So it's a type of mast cell disorder. There are a number of different mast cell disorders, and most of them are rare. And there are still a number of traditional practitioners who were trained in medical school that mast cell disorders are rare. And that was the belief when they went through medical school. Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, as opposed to say, Mastocytosis is where there's too many mast cells.
Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is where we have the normal number of mast cells, but we're having it's often described as too much inflammation or too much activation, but I'm really seeing it as the mast cells are being overly triggered by these underlying root causes. So it's, again, that's a slight shift in the perspective, but it's not that the mast cells are doing something wrong.
But the other thing that can happen is after people go through protocols for things like Mold Toxicity, Lyme, or whatever protocols we're doing, Autism protocols, sometimes those are fairly aggressive and sometimes they're using things that are not mast cell friendly or that increase Mast Cell Activation. So these could be things like Niacin triggers histamine release, and I've had kids come in that were on a ton of Niacin that are on the spectrum. Or I've had a child on the spectrum come in, who was on five milligrams of Methylfolate, which is a lot of Methylfolate and Methylfolate in high doses will trigger Mast Cell Activation and increase in it.
So again, the Mast Cell Activation is where we have these inflammatory molecules from the mast cells being released and creating inflammation in a way that is too much inflammation, but we have to think about again, why and what's underneath it. And this Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is way more common than most people realize. So the estimates are anywhere from nine to 17% of the general population. That's huge. That's 1 in 10, maybe 1 in 8 people in the world. On the chronically ill population, I think it's very conservative to say we're looking at about 50% of the chronic population. And we may find that it's much higher than that because these mast cells are everywhere in the body. And if you have chronic inflammation, you have mast cell involvement and that's just the way it is.
26:58 Beth O’Hara:
And so the more that we can work on regulating them, but also dealing with the underlying pieces. And where it was going with these aggressive protocols is that they can, the mast cells can get stuck in an over-inflammatory state. So sometimes what I've seen too is when the root triggers are handled, but somebody's still in a lot of inflammation. This is called Cell Danger Response, and we can get stuck in Cell Danger Response. And there are ways to start to modulate that and help the body move out of it and back into normal functioning.
So sometimes after these long protocols, people may think they still have Mold or Lyme and the protocol didn't work, but it may just be that the mast cells are stuck and they need a little help to get back to their normal function.
27:45 Tara Hunkin:
And I'm really glad you brought that up about Cell Danger Response because actually we had a conversation with Dr. Elisa Song has gone in depth into the Cell Danger Response. So I recommend everybody dives in, goes over there. So we won't focus on it too much here, but it is a really key, I loved what you just described there because there's so many of these kids that you think that you've done, you've found the right underlying cause, you've done the work and then their functional lab work comes back and you think you've taken care of the problem, but they're still having issues. So, and I think we're starting to understand that Cell Danger Response is where that's coming from and how to deal with that. So Dr. Song's, for anybody that's interested, interview talks about some of the things we can do to work on, on modulating that and the work of Dr. Robert Naviaux, so that we all know in there. So that's really great. So what do you find in your practice and experience are the most common root triggers for Mast Cell Inflammation and neuro-inflammation?
28:57 Beth O’Hara:
So I have seven most common ones that we'll talk about. There are definitely a lot of others, but these are the most common ones that I see in my practice. The first one are food triggers, and this is way beyond when we think about gluten dairy, soy corn, you know, these top ones that we talked about. Those are very important, but when we're looking at mast cell issues, we've got to get even more nuanced and it gets tricky because we don't want to take kids off of more food varieties than we have to.
At the same time, we don't want kids continuing to eat foods that are worsening inflammation. So I find that if we do an elimination, that's a mast cell kind of elimination and then calm things down. And then we add things back in as soon as we can. So some of these foods, particularly histamines, and one of the things that I see happening a lot is that there are these food fads.
And I can tell you one of the ways I really crashed my health, not knowing about histamines and not knowing about mast cells at the time, was I was a really early adopter of bone broth, kombucha, Keifer, ferment. And when I get into something, I really get into it. So I was, I'm making six different kinds of ferments, and I have my kombucha jars and drink that every day. And I had all my bone broths constantly, and it was actually making up chicken feet. So if something might make me well, I do at 120%, right.
30:29 Beth O’Hara:
But I got worse and worse and worse. Well, those are all really high histamine and I didn't know it at the time. Spinach, very high histamine and high oxalate, which I'll talk about in a second. So I tell my clients, spinach is really supposed to be a condiment, not a smoothie. Celery juice seems to work well for some people, but celery juice also has a very high oxalate. And these oxalates are well-known in Autism. Oxalates are these little, their structures inside plants.
They use them to protect themselves from animals like us, from eating them. And they look like little razorblades or little shards of glass under a microscope. And you can imagine what that does to the tissues as they come through, say the urethra, or that's actually why I was on a cane because I was doing a lot of spinach, a lot of sweet potatoes, a lot of beets, almonds, all these high oxalate foods. And those oxalates were just lodging in my joints and causing it was horrific. I can't even tell you how horrible the pain was.
And then there's salicylates which are well-known in Autism. Glutamates are a trigger for many with Autism. I don't know for sure if it's everyone, but certainly those that are on the Asperger's side, the ADD side and Sensory Processing issue side of things. All of these food categories, there's also solid research showing that, when the levels are too high, they will activate mast cell inflammation. So that's where that's really important. So we have to look at, and I don't put everybody on a low salicylate. I don't recommend low glutamine for everyone, but it's about looking at the profile and seeing where the patterns fit. The next one is infections and chronic infections, and this can be Mold Toxicity, Lyme, Epstein Barr, Herpes like HHV 6 & 7, that can attack the nervous system. Any of these different types of chronic infections, gut infections. So all of these things we know and the widely talked about Autism also are mast cell triggers.
32:55 Beth O’Hara:
Mold toxicity is huge. Over 70% of people in my practice have Mold Toxicity now, it seems to be progressing. And there's a lot of theories as to why, but we know that this is a bigger issue than it was 20 years ago. And then chemical toxins, metal toxins, all of those things that are talked about glyphosate, which is wrapped in Roundup. Genetic factors, so there's a lot of research on the genetics in Autism, and there's an overlap of genetics in Autism and mast cell activation. But anything on a genetic standpoint that is creating chronic inflammation is what we need to be looking at. There are specific nutrient deficiencies that are involved, and I get a lot of people that are down to 10 foods.
And when we get down that low and people just doing the best they know to do, to try to avoid reactions because they're reacting to everything, but there's a lot of certain nutrients that are critical for degrading histamine, like B6 and Vitamin C and also for stabilizing mast cells like sulfates. So sulfur has gotten a bad rap in some places, especially with certain genetic variants, like CBS, every person I've seen that put themselves on a low sulfur diet got really, really worse.
So I encourage people to work on that pathway, not just put kids low sulfur long-term because sulfur is critical for detoxification, but it's also that mast cells use sulfates to make heparan sulfate to stabilize themselves. So if we take out all sulfate sources, the mast cells don't have any way to calm back down. Another one, hormone imbalances. So estrogen stimulates Mast Cell Activation, stimulates histamine release, histamine increases estrogen so it creates a cycle. Progesterone and cortisol are mast cell stabilizing so we look at those quite a bit.
34:58 Beth O’Hara:
Another one I look at a lot is that not not enough people are talking about yet, but I hope this changes soon, is airway issues. And so this is why I've got all this stuff in my mouth and braces and these rubber bands, because my dental arch was very narrow. And I see this in a lot of kids on the spectrum. And also a lot of my other types of clients, very narrow dental arch. And what'll happen is when people smile, there'll be a tunnel here and you can see a gap between the teeth. And I used to have a big gap before my teeth were in braces and you'll see teeth marks on the outside of the tongue so it looks like a little bit of scalloping on the edge of the tongue. And what that means is because the tongue connects down here in the throat, that the tongue can't lift up all the way into the mouth, so it falls back. My airway was actually 70% blocked standing up, which meant when I laid down, it was even more blocked. So this has made a huge difference in having a sleep appliance.
And the other one that I can never seem to find a way to really hammer in with people, but is so crucial, is stress and traumatic experiences. And I can tell you just living in the world that, that we have as good meaning as people absolutely are, is a little traumatic when you're on the spectrum, because the world isn't set up for that.
And so I just remember being at a fireworks show a couple of years ago at a big outdoor park and I thought maybe this is going to be okay. And I've had a ton of recovery, but even just being around all the electromagnetic fields from 10,000 people with cell phones, that alone was too much before the fireworks started. When the fireworks started, I just had to excuse myself and go to the other side of the park because I couldn't take it. I couldn't take the smells, the fireworks and that's really stressful on the system. I've learned how to center and ground and meditate and breathe, but for kids that don't have those tools, these meltdowns are really, really stressful.
And so giving kids as early as possible, the tools to reground themselves to recenter themselves. So there's a direct link between the mind states, the immune system, the nervous system, the hormone system, and the field of studies called psycho neuro endocrine immunology. And it's well documented in the case of these mast cells in the immune system and also has a huge role in Autism and ADD, and the sensory processing issues.
37:41 Tara Hunkin:
That is a fantastic list. And I have to concur that the last one in terms of the stress response, because it's probably the one that, I think it is the one that we let slide the most because it seems accepted that life is stressful these days. But without addressing that, it's incredibly difficult for them to heal.
38:08 Beth O’Hara:
I don't know that it's possible. So I mean, maybe I hate to say never, but I can tell you that I got really into meditation and there's kind of a belief in some of those circles that if you just centered yourself enough, that it's mind over body and you can meditate your way out.
And I had that belief and I can tell you if I could have meditated and breathed my way out, it would have happened because I had like a three hour practice, three hours a day practice, but it didn't happen. And then I tried just doing supplements and foods and I kind of abandoned some of it for a while and that didn't work.
But it was bringing together supplements, foods, cleaning up my environment with the EMFs, other toxins, having clean air, clean water, and working on the parasympathetic all at the same time. That all came together and that's when my health tipped over. Now, I do great. I mean, I hike, I can go on three mile hikes.
I can wear heels. I couldn't wear heels for years and years. I have a very, very busy practice and I was bed ridden and debilitated for over a year and only about maybe 25% functional for many years. So huge change. And just, I just want to let people know that shifting these things makes a huge, huge difference.
39:33 Tara Hunkin:
It's a really great point. And there are a number of people that speak about, practitioners that are out there, about until you can get that stress response fixed. And it goes back to what you were talking about with the Cell Danger Response just ties right back into that.
And actually that part of what Dr. Song talks about in her talk too, is about how to get vagal tone back to get that parasympathetic state back in play. So I do thank you for that because it is such an important point. Because it isn't about a supplement or a meal plan or something like that, we do tend to dismiss it a lot of the time.
You've just talked about all those pieces that you do to address Mast Cell Inflammation. Can you just go into it a little bit more in terms of when you have someone in your practice, what are those steps and the pieces that sort of, as you peel the onion to figure out what needs to be done for that particular person?
40:39 Beth O’Hara:
So the first thing I do, and I do want to let people know that we're, we are full for this year, unfortunately, but we'll be opening at the end of the year, then we will open up some new client spots. But what happens when somebody comes in the first appointment, there is an extensive intake because I'm a pattern-seeker. And I'm looking for one of the things that I'm good at is looking for stones that haven't been unturned and then piecing them together. And this is where having Asperger's is really helpful in what I do is that I am holding about 10,000 points of data when I'm doing a case review.
So I'm looking at these genetics and I'm looking at all of these other things and just kind of running through them like you would run through a computer program, looking for patterns in here. And that's the first thing I do is this root cause analysis. And then from there, that's the roadmap in terms of what other functional tests do we need to look at? How likely is it from this history that we have Mold Toxicity, or that we have some chronic neural infections. When people are on the spectrum,or they have ADD and sensory issues, I really like to look at what's called a neural zoomer, which has to do with brain auto antibodies and viral infections in the nervous system. So I build off of that.
42:07 Beth O’Hara:
In terms of what parents can do, the first thing is to look for what are these root causes and be really thorough about it. And what I find is everybody has some denial somewhere in their life about something in their life.
We're just human and that's just part of human nature. It's not wrong. I have denial about chocolate I'm working on right now because chocolate is very high oxalate and I did not want to give it up. And years and years into doing this, I'm finding some replacements for my chocolate. So we all have this, whether it's EMFs or whatever it is. So just really trying to shake up any of those denials, because those are the places that you're going to miss looking at for yourself or for your children. And then I have, because there's so much on these root causes, I do have a report that people can download, a free report and step through these and really be thinking about them.
And it goes into details about different kinds of infections, different kinds of toxins, things like this, really be thinking about them for your children and documenting them out. And then look at what the plan is with your provider and are all of these pieces being hit and which ones have not been explored. And then where are you going to get more information about it?
Where are you going to find out if this is a problem? And just about being really thorough, it's a lot of work and I wish it wasn't a lot of work and I wish we had easier approaches, but I can tell you that it's worth it. And I see over and over in my practice, kids start to get some language that didn't have language, or if they've had languages, language starts to improve, their social connections, their eye contact should improve.
43:54 Beth O’Hara:
One of the biggest things I see, and this is why this is so dear to my heart, is I see their self esteem start to improve. As we started talking about this and the young man I referenced earlier, people thought that he was really low intelligence. And I asked him, I said, well, do you have anything you are really good at? And he said, well, I'm really good at math. And he said, I'm better at math than my other classmates, but I have a hard time with writing in English and speaking so everyone thinks that I'm not very smart. And I just said to him, I said, you are likely very, very smart. And he just lit up. And that just, I don't know, I guess, because it's also healing for me.
44:36 Tara Hunkin:
It's amazing to see the changes and the kids and when they realize that other people realize what they're capable of as well. And I can say from my personal experience with my daughter too, people underestimated her for years. So she actually had both things going on. She was very big for her age. So everybody expected a lot from her because she was a bunch taller, she was at least two years ahead on the growth charts and never quit.
But on top of that, because she had trouble with her speech, people assumed that she wasn't very smart and when they did interact with her and that's very tough and it's very hard on their self-esteem, especially when they are very bright and they don't have an opportunity to be able to demonstrate that in a way that people can receive it.
So I totally, I hear you on that. It's heartbreaking, but it's also really helpful because when you get to unblock those pathways, that really makes a big difference in their lives.
45:45 Beth O’Hara:
It does. And I didn't know when I was so sick, if I was ever gonna do, ever get to come back full circle with my dreams. So I didn't go to graduate school until my thirties because I was sick, but I was a late bloomer and it still worked out. So I just, I really encourage parents not to give up on their kids and just to really highlight their strengths because it makes a huge difference.
46:14 Tara Hunkin:
I cannot thank you enough for what you've shared with us today, because aside from the science that you brought to this, your story and the story of the people that you work with is incredibly helpful. I think for everybody that's listened to this and I encourage everyone. There's a link below to download the guide that Beth talked about, and also that will get you on her wait list. So if you are interested in working with her, which I highly encourage, it will get you on a list that will notify you when her practice opens back up, that she's taking new clients into her practice at that time. So we'll also make sure we link to her website because I know she has lots of really great information available there as well. So you can continue to educate yourself and the practitioners that you might be already working with too, if they are not as familiar with what Beth has talked to us about today.
47:10 Beth O’Hara:
Well, I have a book coming out, so that'll be out later this year. So if people want to sign up on Mastcell360.com and I'll announce that when it's out. I've got a few custom formulas coming out, and one is for Cell Danger Response and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. So that'll be out this year and lots of resources for people, lots of stuff on the blog. There'll be a chapter on the link with these different disorders we're talking about in that book too. And then I lay out the protocols there.
47:43 Tara Hunkin:
Fantastic. Oh, that's amazing because that's going to help all those people that can't get to you directly. So that's fantastic. And of course, I'll all be sharing that when it comes out as well. So I look forward to being able to share that with everybody. Thank you again. And I look forward to doing this again, when your book comes out.
48:03 Beth O’Hara:
Oh, thank you so much. I just love that we can come together and help people heal from these things faster than I did or faster than your daughter did. And then we can all rise up together.
48:15 Tara Hunkin:
That's why we're here. So that's a wrap. Thanks for joining me this week on My Child Will Thrive. I'm so passionate about giving you the tools and information you need to help your child recover. And as they say, it takes a village, so join us in the My Child Will Thrive Village Facebook group, where you can meet like-minded parents and stay up to date on everything we have going on at My Child Will Thrive. This is Tara Hunkin and I'll catch you on the next podcast or over at mychildwillthrive.com.
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