An allergy-sufferer in my life recently complained about her frequent need of an antihistamine. “My body makes too much histamine,” she said. “If I could just find a way to get rid of the extra histamine, my problem would be solved.”
I had never given much thought to histamine. I didn’t know what it was; I just assumed it was not good since an antihistamine relieves congestion and itchiness and all those uncomfortable allergy symptoms.
Well, I just found out that histamine has a very important role in the body. Its primary job is to regulate the thirst mechanism. And, when there’s not enough water to go around in the body, histamine works to ration the available water. So, we don’t want to get rid of histamine. But why do some people seem to have too much?
I learned from Water: For Health, for Healing, for Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty!, by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, that when the body is dehydrated, histamine production ramps up to produce emergency thirst signals. So, histamine isn’t the bad guy after all! It’s actually trying to tell us something very important: drink more water!
In the lungs, this extra histamine can cause some trouble. The bronchial tubes, in their effort to conserve water, constrict. Lung tissue must be kept moist at all times, and normal breathing causes evaporation to occur. This is not a problem when we’re drinking plenty of water (half the body’s weight in ounces each day). But when the lung tissue becomes dehydrated, histamine comes to the rescue. It cuts down the rate of airflow through the lungs and it stimulates the production of thick mucus to plug the bronchioles. All of this is to PROTECT the body.
But, my dear allergy-sufferer can testify, it doesn’t feel like protection when she can’t breathe. What if instead of an antihistamine, what she really needs is water? What if increasing her water intake brings her histamine levels back down to a normal level? What if she can relieve her uncomfortable symptoms without making another appointment or purchasing another product? I’m so excited about this possible solution for her problem!
You know, it just occurred to me that antihistamine labels always recommend taking with large amounts of water. I didn’t understand why that was important before I realized the role of histamine. Now, I think of increased amounts of histamine as a warning signal. Just as we wouldn’t rush in to turn off a smoke detector without putting out the fire that triggered it, we don’t want to turn off the histamine signal without answering its call for more water.
This post has been my attempt to condense what I’ve learned from Dr. Batmanghelidj’s Water: For Health, for Healing, for Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty! If you’re dealing with allergies or asthma, you’ll probably want to read the book for yourself. Next time, I’ll share another exciting possibility for allergy sufferers. Until then, go pour yourself a big glass of water!