Too Much Histamine?

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!

glass of water

More About the Water Cure

The Water CureHave you ever wondered why it matters if you drink water?  Why not tea or orange juice or Gatorade?  I mean, everything we drink is made from water, right?

In Water: For Health, for Healing, for Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty!, Dr. Batmanghelidj says,

“As far as the chemistry of the body is concerned, water and fluids are two different things…  The body needs water- nothing substitutes for water.  Coffee, tea, soda, alcohol, and even milk and juices are not the same as water.”

If you read The Water Cure earlier this week, you’ve probably figured out how many ounces of water you should drink each day.  When I first realized that I needed to drink 65 ounces of water every day, my first thought was, “No way!”  I started out sipping water throughout the day.  I couldn’t get 65 ounces in before the end of the day, and I spent most of the day in the restroom.  Then my daughter suggested drinking more at one time and that helped tremendously.  I now drink 24 ounces when I first get up, another 18-24 between breakfast and lunch, and about 18 ounces between lunch and dinner.  I also drink water with meals and before and during exercise.

Here are some tips from Dr. Batmanghelidj:

  • Drink water about 30 minutes before eating to prepare the digestive tract.  This is especially helpful for people who tend to have heartburn or gas-producing indigestion.
  • Drink water any time you’re thirsty, even during meals.
  • Drink water 2 1/2 hours after eating to complete the process of digestion.
  • Drink water when you first wake in the morning.
  • Drink water before exercising.

The doctor also recommends taking a half teaspoon of salt every day, and there is a fascinating discussion of the role of salt, particularly unrefined sea salt, in the body.  If you deal with hypertension, asthma, depression, or loss of bladder control, you will find the “hidden miracles” of salt in chapter 13 particularly interesting.

There are so many amazing claims in this book and I want to blog about all of them!  Since that’s an impractical goal (and probably a violation of copyright law!), let me just encourage you to read this book for yourself–and to drink plenty of water!  🙂

The Water Cure

IMG_4890[1]I’m back with another glass of water and another excerpt from the very inspiring book, Water: For Health, for Healing, for Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty!

Today, I’d like to tell you about the Water Cure which is explained in chapter 12 of the book.  The previous chapters discuss dehydration, thirst perceptions, and the effect of dehydration on every system of the body.  Here are just a few of the facts Dr. Batmanghelidj discusses before his explanation of the Water Cure.

From chapter 1:  “The various signals or symptoms produced during severe and lasting dehydration have been interpreted by doctors as various disease conditions of unknown origin.  The signal, however, is actually for water shortage, and the local damage is because of water shortage.”

From chapter 2:  “When the human body is dehydrated, it redistributes and regulates the amount of available water.  Within the body, alarms signal to show that areas in question are in short supply…  The available water is rationed and used where needed.”

Chapter 3 provides a list of 46 reasons why your body needs water every day.  Here are two of them:  “Water is the main lubricant in the join spaces and helps prevent arthritis and back pain.”  “To lose weight, water is the best way to go…  You will not eat excessively when you feel hungry but are in fact only thirsty for water.”

From chapter 4:  “The early-pregnancy morning sickness of a pregnant woman is a most meaningful thirst signal.  In fact, it is the very first sign of dehydration of the mother and fetus together.”

In chapter 5, Dr. Batmanghelidj suggests conditions that represent indicators of dehydration.  These include asthma, allergies, hypertension, constipation, type II diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.

The following chapters explore these conditions as well as others and explain why dehydration is so devastating to the body.

But don’t stop at devastation!

Take the Water Cure!

Dr. Batmanghelidj:

“every twenty-four hours the body recycles the equivalent of forty thousand glasses of water to maintain its normal physiological functions.  It does this every day of its life.  Within this pattern of water metabolism and its recycling process and depending on environmental conditions, the body becomes short of about six to ten glasses of water each day.  This deficit has to be supplied to the body every day…  It needs on average upwards of half its weight in ounces water per day…  glass of waterWater should be taken in eight- or sixteen-ounce portions spaced throughout the day.  In the same way you don’t let your car run out of gas before you fill the tank, the body must not be allowed to become dehydrated before you drink water.”

So, how much do you weigh?  120 pounds?  200 pounds?  Divide that number by 2 and determine to drink that many ounces of water today and the next day and the day after that…  I’ll share some other suggestions in my next post.