Potty People Logo Microscopic Colitis Support Go to the Discussion and Support Forums

This website is dedicated to the OTHER Inflammatory Bowel Diseases — Microscopic Colitis, Collagenous Colitis, Lymphocytic Colitis, Mastocytic Enterocolitis, and Associated Issues


How do I know if mast cells are causing problems for me?

As discussed in the previous article (How are mast cells associated with microscopic colitis?), research shows that approximately 70 % of people who have an inflammatory bowel disease show elevated mast cell numbers in the mucosal lining of their intestines.  And as discussed in the article before that one (What are mast cells?), mast cells often degranulate inappropriately and cause symptoms for no apparent reason (known as mast cell activation disorder or MCAD), even when their numbers are normal.  So clearly, whenever treatments that are normally successfully used for treating microscopic colitis fail to bring relief, it may be time to consider the possibility that mast cell issues are also involved, and they may be preventing us from reaching remission.

There are often certain clues to tip us off when mast cells are involved.  For example, since mast cell degranulation usually results in an IgE-based immune system reaction within a few minutes after exposure to a problem food, we may notice symptoms such as watery eyes, a runny nose, itching, throat congestion, flushing, or the sudden appearance of a rash on the face or upper body, within 10 or 15 minutes after eating a food to which we are sensitive.  These symptoms are often triggered by mast cell degranulation in the mouth or esophagus.  Any one or more of those symptoms is an indication of a food-related mast cell problem.  

In some cases, the advent of symptoms may be delayed for several hours or more, until the food has had time to travel farther down the gastrointestinal tract.  In this situation, the delayed reaction suggests that the symptoms are associated with the degranulation of mast cells in the intestines.  And the additional symptoms of diarrhea, gas, and a headache may be present.

In fact, research shows that too much histamine in the diet can trigger these symptoms even in normal people who don't have a digestive system disease.  Quoting from the book Microscopic Colitis:1

To demonstrate the potential effects of histamine in food, a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study was conducted in 2004, in which healthy subjects with no prior history of food sensitivities ingested either plain peppermint tea or peppermint tea in which the equivalent of 75 mg of histamine had been dissolved.2 None of the subjects reacted to the placebo, but half of them reacted to the histamine challenge. 40 % of them experienced symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, headache, itching, and eye issues after ingesting the tea that contained the histamine. To put this into perspective, some of the foods that have a high histamine content can contain as much as 500 mg of histamine per kg, so an ordinary meal can easily contain a higher dose of histamine than was used in this research study.


Other symptoms associated with mast cell issues include mouth sores, fever blisters, and itchy bumps on the scalp or elsewhere on the skin.  Symptoms such as these may seem unrelated to microscopic colitis, but actually they are rather commonly associated with the disease, and they are the direct result of inappropriate mast cell degranulation, and/or too many foods with a high histamine content in the diet.  An increased heart rate soon after eating is another symptom of mast cell issues.  Even frequent urinary tract infections can be an indication of mast cell problems associated with microscopic colitis, in some cases.

1. Microscopic Colitis

2 Histamine intolerance-like symptoms in healthy volunteers after oral provocation with liquid histamine

Back to Home Page

Copyright Persky Farms, 2013. All rights reserved worldwide.

Copyright: The information on this website, including all images, is protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976, as amended, and all other applicable international, federal, state, and local laws. All rights reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic, or electronic process, or in the form of an audio recording, nor may it be transmitted or otherwise copied for public or private use, other than the “fair use” purposes allowed by copyright law, without prior written permission of Persky Farms.

Please contact us at this address for permission, if you wish to use any material on this website for any commercial or public purpose.

We have made a good faith effort not to violate any copyright. If we have unknowingly done so, please contact the site administrator, at this address, and the issue will be promptly corrected.

Disclaimer and Legal Notice: The information contained on this website is intended solely for general educational purposes, and is not intended, nor implied, to be a substitute for professional medical advice relative to any specific medical condition or question. The advice of a physician or other health care provider should always be sought for any questions regarding any medical condition. Specific diagnoses and therapies can only be provided by your physician. Any use of the information on this website is at your discretion. Authors of articles, moderators and administrators of discussion forums, and the owner of this website, specifically disclaim any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use or application of any information available on this website.

Please note that much of the information on this website is based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence. Although we have made every reasonable attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content, we assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. If you should choose to use any of this information, use it according to your best judgment, and at your own risk. Because your particular situation will not exactly match the examples upon which this information is based, you should adjust your use of the information and recommendations to fit your own personal situation.

 By using this site you agree to the following terms and conditions:

Certain members of the discussion board that is associated with this website are practicing medical professionals. They are not here to offer medial advice, they are here because they have been diagnosed with microscopic colitis, and they are interested in sharing their own personal experiences concerning the disease, and learning from others in all walks of life, who also have to deal with these issues. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your health, you should consult with your own doctor, or medical professional.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, or 911, immediately. The members of the discussion board, regardless of whether or not they are medical professionals, cannot respond to issues requiring urgent medical attention. Please note that no legal action can be taken by any user of this site, as a result of any information found here, and that none of the parties involved, neither individually, nor collectively, nor the owner of this site, can be held responsible for any information offered in the course of discussions, regardless of circumstances, whether those discussions are in a public or private form, and regardless of whether of not any of the parties involved are professionals. Remember that this discussion board is not intended to be a replacement for a consultation with your doctor or other medical professional — it is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and personal experience of the members of this discussion board.

This website does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned anywhere on the site. This information is provided specifically for educational purposes, and reliance on any tests, products, procedures, or opinions mentioned on this website is solely at your own risk.

Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement when these terms are used on this website.