I love spring. The glorious sun finally shining its warmth on my Vitamin D deprived skin. The t-shirts and flip flops. The beautiful flowers blooming. The explosion of color everywhere on a backdrop of green. Did I mention the flip flops?
But wait…. Why is the school calling me again today? I was just beginning to relax.
Now that I think about it, my kid has been extra anxious lately.
Then it occurs to me. I look around and see the clouds of yellow pollen in the air.
How could I have forgotten how spring affects my kid? I realize she may be acting like a raging lunatic but it is not her fault. Spring has officially sprung.
What on earth is happening to my kid?
Kids with autism often do not respond to allergens in the typical manner. You might not see itchy eyes and a runny nose. Instead, you may see these types of behavior:
- Chronic anxiety
- Bed-wetting (or urine accidents)
- Repeatedly touching their private parts or increased masturbation
- Sudden outbursts, crying or yelling
- Wanting to remove clothing
- Trouble sleeping
If your child is suddenly having any of these symptoms, it could be due to an increase in mast cells in their body which produce histamine, cytokines and lipid mediators.
We know that histamine increases blood flow and circulation, including to the genitals. For this reason, increased masturbation is seen. If you think about it, spring is mating season for most mammals. This same increased blood flow can also make clothes uncomfortable to already sensitive individuals.
A 2017 study showed that mice released considerably more histamine from 8pm to 8am (during the dark hours) than during the light hours. This means histamine release during the night may be interfering with your child’s sleep.
The sudden anxiety when exposed to pollen may be due to the cytokines being released by excess mast cells. These cytokines cause inflammation. This inflammation causes an increase in anxiety.
Studies have shown that mast cells have a direct effect on urinary incontinence.
What can I do for my child?
Try an antihistamine (H1 blocker)
There are several over-the-counter antihistamines that might be worth a try. This is not something you want to use long term, but it can be helpful to get through the season.
There are also prescription medications that you can discuss with your doctor.
Lower your child’s histamine bucket
Histamine accumulates in the body similar to filling a bucket. When the body cannot detoxify histamine fast enough, the bucket overflows and you see symptoms.
It might help to remove other allergens and high histamine foods for a while. Foods that are cured, fermented or are left-over from earlier meals have higher levels of histamine. Skip the kombucha and bone broth this time of year.
1/2 tsp aluminum free baking soda in water once per day
Some parents have success with giving a bit of baking soda with water.
This recent study showed that a bit of baking soda daily can reduce autoimmunity.
In this study, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is listed as one of the treatment options for an acute asthmatic condition in children.
One Tablespoon of LOCAL honey per day
A Finnish study had a control group, a group that ate regular honey and a third group that ate extra bee-collected birch pollen honey. The group with the birch infused honey had significantly less birch allergy symptoms than the control group.
Keep your home pollen (and allergen) free
- Take your shoes off at the door.
- Shower before bed. Don’t take that pollen to bed with you.
- Change your clothes when you get home.
- Wash sheets in hot water regularly.
- Keep windows closed.
- Vacuum regularly.
Increase the efficiency of the DAO enzyme
DAO is the enzyme that breaks down histamine so you want to help it along.
- B6 (p5p) is needed to produce DAO.
- Vitamin C is a co-factor of DAO. Vitamin C is well known for its ability to reduce histamine levels.
- Magnesium is important. A lack of magnesium results in reduced DAO.
Calm mast cells with mast cell stabilizers
This is a list of products that may help calm down the mast cells:
- Curcumin (but this also decreases DAO activity)
- Luteolin blocks neurotensin which is very helpful
- Ketotifen (by prescription)
Increase the efficiency of the HNMT enzyme
Methyl donors such as:
help this enzyme do its job.
Address Gut Bacteria
Gut Bacteria plays a part in too much histamine. There may be too much histamine-producing bacteria. Or leaky gut. Perhaps there is SIBO which is bacteria where it should not be…in the small intestine. All this affects mood and behavior.
If you are going to use probiotics, look for probiotics that are histamine degrading like Bifido infantis.
Try herbs that help with histamine
There are many herbs that help with reducing histamine. The most popular are:
- Stinging Nettles
- Lemon Balm
- Holy Basil
These can be purchased as a tincture (drops), capsules or you can buy them in tea bags by Traditional Medicinals. You can make the tea, cool, then add a bit of local honey and put in the fridge to make cold. This is a fantastic healing lemonade recipe.
There are products such as D-Hist and D-Hist Jr (chewable), which combine herbs and vitamins that are beneficial for reducing histamine.
It is important to understand that there may be external factors causing your child to act out. Identifying the problem and treating it can help everyone stay sane during this beautiful but allergenic time of year.
Here’s to enjoying spring once again.