Canary in a coal mine is a term that refers to potential danger.
Historically, a canary in a cage would be taken into mines to determine if the air was safe for humans.
The canary would fall off its perch, or stop singing as air quality became bad, or carbon monoxide levels became dangerous. Seeing the bird fall off its perch or become distressed was an immediate way to see that the air was no longer safe.
It was a sign for miners to get out of the mine.
Since that time, the term has been used in analogies to indicate danger, or that there is an urgent need for change. Do you feel like that canary? Is there an urgent need to change your symptoms?
In the Health & Wellness world
While the term is used in a variety of contexts, it is commonly used in the field of wellness in a couple of ways:
To indicate risk factors associated with a health condition as suggested by these research articles.
Canary in the Coal Mine? Male infertility as a Marker of Overall Health (1)
A Canary in the Coal Mine: Reproductive Health and Cardiovascular Disease in Women (2)
Postoperative atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery: Canary in a coal mine? (3)
To indicate sensitivity to environments or environmental triggers in titles such as:
Canaries, Autism and Sensory Overload (4)
The Canary and Chronic Fatigue (5)
We are the canaries: self-care in multiple chemical sensitivity sufferers (6)
Lyme and Environmental Illness – Diary of a Canary (7)
When it comes to histamine and mast cells, both scenarios apply. Having high levels of histamine or mast cell mediators is correlated to many health conditions. We share a list of these health conditions in our free Online Community.
Many of you reading this will be familiar with sensitivity to perfumes, EMFs, noisy settings, bright lights, vibration, friction, mold toxins etc. If this sounds like you, your mast cells are likely sensitized to a variety of environmental factors.
Are you a Canary?
Are people struggling with histamine and mast cell activation issues that early warning sign that something isn’t right in our environment? Is the problem really our mast cells, or is it possible that the toxins and EMFs that have become pervasive in our world are seen as a threat by mast cells?
Just like the canary signals that the air isn’t safe in a mine, your symptoms are a sign that something is wrong in your environment.
Being a canary sucks—but if we stop for a moment and step away from how debilitating it can be to struggle with sensitivities and chronic illness, there are some important questions to consider.
What do sensitivities tell us about our environment?
Being more sensitive allows you to notice things before other people do. It gives you an awareness that others don’t have. Is that awareness a sign that all people should heed?
Just like the canaries in a coal mine tell miners to get out of the mine, are people with sensitivities telling us our environment is dangerous?
Asking yourself these questions opens up a can of worms (pun intended). Should humans be living under the conditions we find ourselves in? Are our work or home environments safe?
On creating safety
How do we change our planet to make it safe for human health? How intimately is our health connected to that of the planet’s? These are questions we ponder all the time, both of us here at Histamine Haven. Do you have similar questions?
Wouldn’t life on a commune away from WiFi, electronic devices, toxins, and other environmental stressors be great? Trust us—we Mavens talk about it all the time. But the reality for most of us is that family, friends, schools, or jobs keep us in environments that impact our health.
Let's talk about ideas to get you started.
2 Steps Canaries Can Take
Reduce toxins. Check out this previous blog post for ideas. Already tended to this? Then consider supporting your liver, and bringing in some gentle detox support to help you better handle what is in your environment, and move it out.
Get testing done to identify environmental triggers. And then work at removing them from your environment. Connect with a trusted practitioner to help you walk through this work.
And listen, need to connect with like minded people who are going through the same thing as you? Need some support to know what you can do to work at making your work or home environment a little bit safer for your mast cells? Connect with others in our Online Community. It's at no cost to you. We are slowly building our online commune if you will, as a safe place to help us find our way in this current state of the world.
Join us today. We need you!