Conditions, Interstitial Cystitis

5 Tips for Dealing With Mast Cells

Last week I talked about the theory that some cases of interstitial cystitis may not be IC per se, but rather a mast cell activation disorder affecting different systems in the body.

Today I would like to offer a couple of natural options that may help to reduce mast cells or at least their effects in the body.

I’ve previously written about mast cells, their role in the body and how they can contribute to IC symptoms here and here.

Now here are some natural options to help counteract their effects:

  1. A Low Histamine Diet

People who suffer from mast cell activation disorders may react negatively to high histamine foods.

This is not because these foods activate mast cells but because they can add to the potentially already high load of histamine in the body. Therefore these foods may increase symptoms.

To reduce symptoms it may help to reduce these foods for a while until other measures have been taken to help reduce mast cell activation.

High histamine foods are mostly foods that area aged and fermented. A full list can be found here.

  1. Stress Reduction

Stress can trigger the degranulation of mast cells, which results in the release of inflammatory compounds such as histamine. This is why stress may play a role in IC flares.

Stress management such as mindfulness based stress reduction, deep breathing exercises or yoga may therefore help to reduce mast cell activation.

  1. Foods and Nutrients that may help Stabilize Mast Cells

  • Quercetin [1]
  • Vitamin C [2]
  • Vitamin E [2]
  • Selenium [3]
  • Holy Basil [4]
  • Ginger [5]
  • Thyme [6]
  • Estragon [6]
  • Curcumin (from Turmeric) [7]
  • Black Seed (Nigella Sativa) [8]


  1. Treat Infections

Raised mast cells could be a sign of hidden infections in the body. This may be in the gut, stomach or perhaps the bladder. A comprehensive stool test can show infections in the gut. Blood tests can also show antigens for fungi, viruses or certain bacteria.

Unfortunately there are no comprehensive urine tests readily available in the UK yet. Raised white blood cells and blood in the urine could be a sign for infection in the absence of a positive urine test.

High CRP, iron overload or high eosinophils may also point to infections.

  1. Reduce Heavy Metal Load

A hair mineral analysis can help to show heavy metals that are stored in the body.

Beneficial minerals can oppose heavy metals, so the better the nutrient status the harder it may be for the body to store heavy metals. Balancing minerals may therefore be beneficial.

Heavy metals can also be chelated but always work with your healthcare professional if you want to attempt this.

Now I’d like to hear from you: Is there anything I should have added? Have you tried any of these options? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Weng, Zuyi et al. “Quercetin Is More Effective than Cromolyn in Blocking Human Mast Cell Cytokine Release and Inhibits Contact Dermatitis and Photosensitivity in Humans.” Ed. Christian Taube. PLoS ONE 7.3 (2012): e33805. PMC. Web. 25 June 2017.
  2. Anogeianaki A et al Vitamins and mast cells. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2010 Oct-Dec;23(4):991-6.
  3. Safaralizadeh R et al Influence of selenium on mast cell mediator release. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2013 Aug;154(2):299-303. doi: 10.1007/s12011-013-9712-x. Epub 2013 Jun 20.
  4. G Sridevi et al Pharmacological Basis For Antianaphylactic, Antihistaminic And Mast Cell Stabilization Activity Of Ocimum Sanctum The Internet Journal of Pharmacology Volume 7, Number 1
  5. Bing-Hung Chen et al Antiallergic Potential on RBL-2H3 Cells of Some Phenolic Constituents of Zingiber officinale (Ginger) Journal of Natural Products 2009, 72 (5), pp 950–953
  6. Jun WATANABE et al Coumarin and Flavone Derivatives from Estragon and Thyme as Inhibitors of Chemical Mediator Release from RBL-2H3 Cells Journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry Volume 69, 2005 – Issue 1
  7. Lee JH et al Curcumin, a constituent of curry, suppresses IgE-mediated allergic response and mast cell activation at the level of Syk. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 May;121(5):1225-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2007.12.1160. Epub 2008 Apr 18.
  8. Kanter M et al The antioxidative and antihistaminic effect of Nigella sativa and its major constituent, thymoquinone on ethanol-induced gastric mucosal damage. Arch Toxicol. 2006 Apr;80(4):217-24.


  • Reply


    April 8, 2018

    Hi Layla
    I just been diagnosed with excess mast cells in my bladder could you help with a diet what to eat and not what to eat / drinks I ve been suffering with itching skin hives blurred vision also I think this is all related
    Thank you

  • Reply

    Esa Salonen

    April 11, 2018

    According to some studies vitamin D stabilize mast cells. Vitamin D normalises their cell apobtosis and due to vitamin D they also produce less histamine. Sick mast cells live longer than healthy ones. This also leads to more histamine. More information can be found from Pubmed.

    • Reply


      April 12, 2018

      Thanks for sharing!

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