How did you become a histamine maven?
My first introduction to histamine troubles came from my clients. I’d never learned anything about histamine in school, other than that it was part of an allergic response. I was thrown right into the deep end with a handful of complicated clients, so I had to learn quickly.
In late 2017 I started to suspect that I had histamine issues myself. I had made great progress in my own health, but still had lingering symptoms that I couldn’t get rid of. I tried a few things with my naturopathic doctor including trying to address some of the histamine clearance pathways, but saw no changes. In early 2019 I decided I needed to know more about what was happening in my own body, so I decided to see a functional doctor that I knew was experienced in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS). After a prostaglandin D2 result came back positive, I had the criteria needed for a diagnosis of MCAS.
Then the deep dive into the research started. I wasn’t just a patient with MCAS, but also a practitioner and an instructor. I needed to know everything there was to know so that I could not only help myself, but my clients and students as well.
What was your most embarrassing histamine symptom?
When the need to urinate happened, it would be almost impossible to hold my pee in. I was often out of the house when I felt that urgent need to pee. I’d rush home, frantically unlock my door with legs crossed to hold my pee in, and make a mad dash to the toilet. I wouldn’t quite make it, and urine would start to trickle before my butt could hit the toilet seat. I’d leave a trickle of urine on the floor or on my underwear.
This urgency happened during a period where I was making and eating a lot of my own ferments, like yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir. I thought they were supposed to be good for me, but it turns out I was better off without them.
Until I decided to create Histamine Haven, I never actually told anyone about my urgency. I was too embarrassed. I share it now, because people need to know it is one of the symptoms, and that it can change.
What was your most annoying histamine symptom?
Eczema on my hands.
Eczema on my hands was something I dealt with for 40 years. It started when I hit puberty, and was a blistering, oozing, insanely itchy mess. I can remember in those early years sitting in school with multiple bandages on my fingers, so that I wouldn’t ooze onto my notebooks as a took notes. I became dependent on cortisone cream. I knew it was damaging, but I could never find anything else that managed the intense itch and blisters.
Having it on my hands was probably the worst place it could be. Hand washing and food preparation were two things that I couldn’t avoid that aggravated my eczema. Just slicing a tomato or a peach hurt, since there were always tiny, invisible lesions on my hands. I found it difficult to prepare food wearing rubber gloves, so often I didn’t. It got to the point where I couldn’t wash my hands with soap anymore. My skin had become so thin from years of cortisone cream use that soap would crack my skin.
Now I experience so much joy from being able to dig in my garden without gloves! And then being able to go and scrub my hands with soap and a brush. Such a simple act, but when you haven’t been able to do it for decades without pain, it puts a new perspective on it.
What's your favourite recipe from the cookbook?
I have to admit that I love the carbs. I don’t think I can choose one, but baking is something that I did with my mom as a kid, and also something that I did with my own kids. Those are my comfort foods.
The Breakfast Cookies are a recipe that my whole family loves. Gnocchi is so warm and comforting to have with dinner – my mouth waters just thinking about gnocchi slathered in pesto. Even just a simple sweet potato, sprinkled with Macadamia Dukkah is something I love.
Tell us three fun facts about yourself!
I love to dance. I started with ballroom in my 20s. In my 40s I was part of a Bollywood performance group. You can sometimes find me in the kitchen dancing while I cook dinner. I dance at the most inopportune moments, and totally embarrass my kids.
I’ve lived in a few countries: Canada is my homeland, but I’ve lived in Germany, Korea, Hong Kong, London and Moscow. Culture shock is something I’ve had to go through several times. Living amongst people of different cultures has shaped who I am today.
People always tell me they love my laugh. It’s kind of weird to be told by a stranger that they love your laugh, but it happens to me frequently. I’ve even been told that people remember me years later based on my laugh.