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Groundbreaking Research Links Autism with Histamine and Mast Cell Activation

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April 12th, 2017

By Carolanne Wright

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

The study of histamine has been attracting quite a bit of attention over the last few years — and not just in relation to seasonal allergies or insect bites. The compound is also associated with a variety of other health complaints, from migraines and depression to schizophrenia. And now scientists have discovered another surprising connection to the naturally occurring chemical: autism.

The Role Histamine Plays in Immune Response

When we come in contact with an allergen that we have a sensitivity to — like pollen or we’re stung by an insect — the body releases histamine to overcome the threat. A series of physiological reactions occur: blood vessels dilate, while mast cells (a type of white blood cell) are activated to attack the invader.

If we experience an angry rash, itchy eyes or swelling, that’s histamine at work. Usually, the reaction subsides quickly once the threat is over. But sometimes, when the body is exposed to an excess of histamine — either through the ingestion of high-histamine foods or with excessive production by the body — an intolerance to the chemical may develop, which can lead to asthma, anxiety, digestive disorders, mood swings, aggression, fatigue and much more. In fact, Dr. Theoharis Theoharides, a mast cell researcher and head of the Molecular Immunopharmacology and Drug Discovery Laboratory at Tufts University, has even found mast cell activation may be the root cause of autism in many children.

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