What are mast cell disorders?
Everyone has mast cells throughout their body. When a person comes in contact with a chemical or substance to which they may react, their mast cells degranulate and give off histamine and other chemicals. The histamine and other chemicals pumped into their system by the degranulating mast cells cause the person to exhibit the symptoms we typically associate with an allergic reaction—sneezing, watery eyes, rashes, hives, itching, tongue swelling, difficulty breathing, runny nose, skin flushing, and more.
In a mast cell/mast cell activation related disorder, something has gone wrong with the mast cells. There may be, for example, too many of them, they could be irregularly shaped, or they could be degranulating—as in mast cell activation spectrum disorders—and be over-active for unknown reasons. A person with a mast cell/mast cell activation disorder may experience severe and life-threatening reactions after exposure to even very small amounts of a chemical or substance. Individuals with mast cell spectrum related disorders need to avoid exposures to the chemicals and the triggers to which they react.
Are mast cell disorders the same as MCS?
Mastocytosis (Masto), Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), and mast cell related disorders share many of the symptoms typically associated with MCS. Current research (see T.C. Theoharides, MD, here and here) has shown that the reactions to triggers individuals with MCS experience have a basis in mast cell function and mast cell degranulation. Individuals with mast cell and mast cell activation spectrum related diseases such as Masto, MCAS, and MCS need to avoid and to minimize their exposures to the chemicals and triggers to which they react, on themselves, on others, and in the environment.
What do I do?
If you feel that you may have a mast cell related disorder, please contact a physician to receive medical help. The information presented here is not medical advice and is in no way a substitute for receiving medical advice and treatment from a doctor.
Learn More —
About Mast Cell Disorders
- The Mastocytosis Society USA
- Mastocytosis Society Canada
- Mast Cell Action (UK-based supports for MCAS)
- “The Mastocytosis, MCAS, and IA Patient Experience,” by Mastocytosis Society Canada
- Mastocytosis Chronicles newsletter & other informative articles about mast cell disorders, (The Mastocytosis Society USA)
- Emergency Care for Patients with Mast Cell Disorders Brochure, (The Mastocytosis Society USA)
- Emergency Room Protocols – a handy reference guide for patients with Mast Cell Disorders, (The Mastocytosis Society USA)
- Mastocytosis & Mast Cell Activation Syndrome Information Pamphlet for patients, care givers, and medical professionals, (Mastocytosis Society Canada)
- UK Mastocytosis Support (provides information, resources, links)
- The Mastocytosis Society USA
- Mastocytosis Society Canada
- Safe Cleaning Products, Women’s Voices for the Earth
- More Links (household, clothing, cooking, safer products…)
T.C. Theoharides, PhD, MD (on mast cells & mast cell activation related illnesses including CFS, IBS, Mastocytosis, MCS, MCAS, arthritis, migraine, MS, inflammation, autism, and more)
Toxins in our Lives
- “Toxic Materials,” Health Care Without Harm
- Invisibles: The Plastic Inside Us, orbmedia.org
- “Deep Clean: what the cleaning industry should be doing to protect your health,” Women’s Voices for the Earth | website
- My Mystery Symptoms, Dr. Theoharides
- Mast Cell Activation Symptomatology, The Mastocytosis Society USA (with Dr. Theoharides, Dr. Castells, Dr. Akin, and Dr. Greenberger)
- Grassroots Environmental Education
- Cleaner Indoor Air Campaign
- Women’s Voices for the Earth
- Sharing the Knowledge, T.C. Theoharides, PhD, MD, FAAAAI
- My Chemical-Free House: A Guide to Building a Chemical-Free, Mold-Free House
- “Mastocytosis: Classification, Diagnosis, and Clinical Presentation,” by M. Castells, MD, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School
- “Atopic Conditions in Search of Pathogenesis and Therapy,” by T.C. Theoharides, PhD, MD (an important article on the role of mast cells in MCAS, MCS, CFS, fibromyalgia, asthma, and more)
- “Mast Cell Activation Syndrome: A Newly Recognized Disorder with Systemic Clinical Manifestations,” by M. Castells, MD, et al, Boston, MA
- “Mast Cell Activation Disease: A Concise Practical Guide for Diagnostic Workup and Therapeutic Options,” by G. Molderings, MD, et al
- “Could the Brain’s Mast Cells be Causing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,” by Cort Johnson (a review of Dr. Theoharides’ published research)
- “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Mitochondrial Dysfunction,” by S. Myhill, N. Booth, and J. McLaren-Howard
- “Mast Cells and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: From the Bench to the Bedside,” by Lei Zhand, Jun Song, and Xiaohua Hou
- “Contaminating our Bodies with Everyday Products,” by Nicholas Kristof (NY Times)
- “Fragrance Chemicals,” Health Care Without Harm
- “Smells Turn up in Unexpected Places,” by Alex Stone
- “Making Chemistry Green,” by Rolf U. Halden and Robert S. Lawrence
- “Not Just Dirt: Toxic Chemicals in Indoor Dust,” the National Resources Defense Council – download pdf
- Understanding MCS: A Therapist’s Guide to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Environmental Illness, (R.P. O’Brien, LMHC)
- Understanding MCS: An Agency/Provider Guide to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity & Environmental Illness (R.P. O’Brien, LMHC)
- Eco-Health & the Continuum of Care, (R.P. O’Brien, LMHC)
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, (Pamela Reed Gibson, PhD)
- Chemical Sensitivity, (Sherry Rogers, MD)
- World Health Organization (WHO) lists glyphosate (the toxic main ingredient in the herbicide Roundup) as a possible carcinogen
- “American Academy of Pediatrics Cuts Ties with Monsanto,” EcoWatch, (10/06/2015)
- Beyond Pesticides – Protecting Health and the Environment with Science, Policy, and Action
- Gateway on Pesticide Hazards and Safe Pest Management
- Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides
- “The Big Unknowns of Pesticide Exposure,” National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
- “Taking off the Blindfold,” National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
- “Diseases Linked to Pesticides,” from Pesticides and You quarterly publication
- “Pyrethrin/Pyrethum Insecticide Factsheet,” from Journal of Pesticide Reform
- “chemical/WATCH Factsheet: Synthetic Pyrethroids,” from Journal of Pesticide Reform
The Counseling Center at CELA is not endorsing any of the above links or their content and is providing these links as informational resources only.