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Histamine Treatment for MS
by Christina L. White
(modified from Winter 2000/Spring 2001 New Horizons)
For the last several years several Internet groups have been buzzing with information about the results obtained with histamine externally applied to the skin.
Interest developed in the MS community in 1999 when information about the histamine patch, Procarin, became more widely known. Procarin was developed by Elaine DeLack, an R.N., who was diagnosed with MS in 1988. Her MS symptoms increased until she was encouraged to call a Montana physician, Raymond Bjork, M.D., who suggested she try vitamin B12 and adenosine monophosphate (AMP) injections. She found these natural substances helped her MS symptoms. Vitamin B12 in oral form was not effective; she found it necessary to take it by injection.
In tracking down research as to how AMP and B12 could have helped her MS, she was led to histamine. She tried histamine both by injection and in transdermal patches. She found it helped put her MS into remission and relieved most of her symptoms. She added other substances to the histamine that were designed to slow the breakdown of histamine in the body. With the help of a pharmacist she developed the patch product known as Procarin.
She was anxious to see how helpful it would be to others afflicted with MS. She finally found a physician who agreed to do a small pilot trial that resulted in symptom improvements in a significant number of the patients.
Injectable histamine treatments had been used with some success in treating hundreds of MS patients in the late 1940’s by Hinton Jonez, M.D. Dr. Jonez had heard about this treatment from Dr. Bayard T. Horton, of the Mayo Clinic, who had found histamine to give new life to MS patients.
Dr. Jonathan V. Wright, M.D., of Tahoma Clinic had read about Dr. Jonez’s results in his book, My Fight to Conquer Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Wright tried intravenous injections of histamine in the 1980’s in his clinic with MS patients. His clinic was unable to do the long continuous infusions that Dr. Jonez had done, and the results were disappointing, so the clinic discontinued the histamine treatments.
Dr. Jonez had also found that allergy management is a necessary component of MS treatment. Dr. Wright, as well as many other progressive physicians, have also found many symptoms improve in MS patients who diligently control their access to reactive foods and other allergens.
Although all the mechanisms of how histamine works to help MS symptoms are not completely understood yet, the following five possible mechanisms of action are discussed in the comprehensive review article, Transdermal Histamine in Multiple Sclerosis, Part Two: A Proposed Theoretical Basis for Its Use, in the Volume 5, Number 3, 2000 issue of Alternative Medicine Review (www.thorne.com): 1) raising of subnormal levels of histamine in cerebral tissues, 2) increased electrical conductivity in demyelinated nerve fibers, 3) increased blood flow in cerebral tissues, 4) modulation of autoimmune responses, 5) stimulation of remyelination.
Due to the high cost of Procarin at $249 a month, many people have begun applying histamine drops to their skin several times a day. Discussions on this self-treatment protocol can be found on Goodshape’s Patchless Histamine/Caffeine Cream site (www.321website.com/members/home/data/goodshape/homepage.html)
Injections of Vitamin B12 and AMP
Recently Japanese researchers reported improvements in MS patients receiving injections of B12 in the methylcobalamin form. (article on page 8)
Elaine DeLack had found injections of AMP improved her symptoms. Dr. Klenner had recommended AMP injections to his MS and other neurological disease patients 25 years ago.
AMP is a precursor or building block for ATP, which is the principal energy source in all living cells. Dr. Harvey Sklar, a clinical research from New Jersey, used AMP to treat MS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Herpes Zoster, Epstein Barr and Hodgkins disease. Dr. Ray O. Bjork, who has had MS for about 40 years has followed Dr. Beryl C. Shearer’s suggestions for AMP and B12 injections every other day. Dr. Bjork reports that it has kept his MS from worsening.
It is considered that AMP levels may be diminished in disease states such as MS and that replacing it may provide some symptom relief. It has been reported by a NIH researcher that neurons involved in neurogenic diseases such as MS require up to 10 fold more ATP-cAMP than any other non-neuron cell.
AMP: Legere Pharmaceuticals 800-528-3144
(Following is a discussion about histamine and progesterone for MS patients)
A Promising New Treatment for MS
From the: December 1999 issue of The John R. Lee, M.D. Medical Letter. Reprinted with permission of the John R. Lee, M.D. Medical Letter, All Rights Reserved. www.johnleemd.com, (800) 528-0559.
(reprinted with permission in the Winter 1999 New Horizons)
George Gillson, M.D. received his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from University of Alberta in 1985. After a few years of R & D work, he went back to school, and received his M.D. in family practice from the University of Calgary in 1991. After six years of family practice, Dr. Gillson joined the Tahoma Clinic in Tacoma, WA to work with Dr. Jonathan Wright, one of the pioneers of orthomolecular medicine.
JLML: We’ve written in the past about the fact that progesterone is involved in the myelination of nerve cells, myelin being the protective “insulating” sheath that surrounds nerves. Many of our readers have written to ask whether progesterone might help with multiple sclerosis (MS), since the myelin sheath degenerates in that disease. I know that you’re very involved with treating MS with histamines. How does progesterone fit into this picture?
GG: Where do we start? There is a deep connection between histamine, estrogens and progesterone. I’ll get to it, but first you need some background. Histamine is a very interesting molecule, and lower organisms such as insects and marine organisms have histamine-containing (histaminergic) nerve paths throughout their body, just as we have nerve pathways that use the neurotransmitters acetylcholine or norepinephrine. In mammals though, all that’s left of this primitive histamine neural network is a dense cluster of neurons in the hypothalamus (a part of the brain that regulates many core brain and bodily functions), which radiate their axons throughout the brain. Most of these neurons have estrogen receptors and will also develop progesterone receptors when stimulated by estrogen.
As we evolved, this histaminergic nervous system retracted into the brain. What seems to have been left behind in almost all the body tissues are mast cells, which can release histamine in response to a variety of signals including central nerve impulses, foreign molecules, and chemical messages from other cells. In the brain, histamine neurons display a trait called automaticity, as they interact with other types of neurons to help regulate many fundamental bodily processes: sex drive, sleep/wake cycle, mental alertness, thirst, hunger, urine output, temperature regulation, pain perception, and vestibular function [balance].
JLML: What do you mean by automaticity?
GG: The histaminergic neurons fire automatically, on their own, without help, like the pacemaker cells in the heart. This is sheer speculation on my part, but I think histamine neurons are the most fundamental neurons in the brain. They’re ancient, self-starting, and they regulate critical physiologic processes. In the body, histamine released from mast cells seems to be involved in every process I look at. We’re used to thinking about histamine and mast cells only in the context of allergy and inflammation, but their true role is much larger.
Let me give you an example of the interplay of the hormones and histamine: Estrogen can modulate the binding of histamine to its receptors. Studies on rabbit hearts showed that the vessels of animals who had had their ovaries removed [meaning that their estrogen production had stopped] exhibited hypersensitivity to histamine, but this was restored to normal when they were given estrogen.
Histamine in turn affects estrogen and progesterone. In the ovary, histamine released stimulates the synthesis of both estrogen and progesterone, and the release of histamine by mast cells appears to trigger contraction of the ovary, ovulation, and the secretion of progesterone from the ovarian follicle. In the uterus, the stimulating effects of estradiol are greatly enhanced by histamine, as are the contractions of the uterine musculature. The whole process of menstruation, i.e. the shedding of the uterine lining, can be looked at as a controlled inflammatory response in which histamine and mast cells play a central role. Histamine plays a large, and possibly central role in the initiation of labor. One study on rats demonstrated tight synchronization of changes in tissue levels of histamine in brain, ovaries and uterus; levels rose and fell together as the rats went through their reproductive cycles. I like to think of this metaphorically in terms of a “tide” of histamine in the brain and body.
When you start looking at various disease processes through the “lens” of histamine, a lot of things make sense.
JLML: Can you give us an example?
GG: Sure. As you know, I’m very interested in multiple sclerosis, and I think you’re also aware of the recent revival of the use of histamine for treating MS. In the past six months, MS sufferers across the country have been having some very encouraging improvements in many of their symptoms with the daily application of a histamine-containing skin cream. This development has come about due to the dogged determination and medical sleuthing of a nurse named Elaine DeLack, but is also the logical extension of the successful use of histamine by literally thousands of MS patients almost 50 years ago.
JLML: How can histamine help MS?
GG: There are at least five ways in which histamine is probably working. It is a potent vasodilator [opens blood vessels], and it’s well recognized that in MS some areas of the brain are oxygen-deficient. A global improvement in sense of well-being might be expected, along with improved cognitive performance, if more blood and oxygen is reaching the brain. The concept of “MS brain fog” is well recognized among MS patients; histamine seems to lift that fog.
There’s evidence that the blood, and possibly the brain tissue of people with MS, especially long-standing MS, is low in histamine. Low brain levels of histamine are certainly seen in other chronic degenerative neurologic diseases such as Alzheimer’s. So some of the improvements in alertness, heat tolerance and balance might be explained on the basis of an increase in the concentration of histamine in the relevant nerve pathways. There’s very good evidence in the literature that histamine works to improve the conduction of electrically blocked, de-myelinated nerve fibers. If a nerve fiber is intact, but just doesn’t work very well because it has lost its insulation, and if we can unblock it with histamine, the observation that people are suddenly able to move an arm or leg again after months or years doesn’t seem quite so miraculous. Finally, histamine both suppresses the immune system and may act as a growth factor for oligodendrocytes, the “shepherd” cells swath nerve fibers with myelin. If patients with MS lack histamine, replenishing it could both suppress an overactive immune response, and promote repair of damage, or remyelination.
JLML: Progesterone also stimulates myelination. Would it be helpful for MS?
GG: The literature tends to support this idea, at least in the test tube. Normal nerve cells grown under conditions deficient in progesterone and thyroid hormone don’t myelinate properly, and progesterone has been shown to prompt myelin-producing cells to mature and also to make more myelin.
JLML: Do women with MS feel better in the second half of their menstrual cycle when progesterone levels are higher?
GG: No, actually many of them feel worse, as do postmenopausal women who aren’t on hormone replacement therapy. These are situations when estrogen levels are low. In fact one study found that overall, women with MS have 25 percent lower estradiol levels. Furthermore, in the third trimester of pregnancy, when estriol levels are high [as are progesterone levels], women with MS tend to do better, and they tend to relapse after delivery.
JLML: I would love to see some studies that look more closely at progesterone levels in women with MS. How do you think estrogen might be beneficial?
GG: Two types of white blood cells are particularly important in autoimmune responses like MS: Th1 and Th2 cells. An imbalance of the activities of these cell types is seen in many autoimmune conditions. For example, in Rheumatoid Arthritis, Th1 cells dominate, but in lupus, Th2 cells are more active.
MS is a state in which Th1 cells are dominant. The Th1 and Th2 cells are stimulated by two different chemical messengers: Th1 by interleukin-12 (IL-12) and Th2 by interleukin-10 (IL-10). In MS, IL-10 production is low and IL-12 production is high, leading to too much Th1 activity and too little Th2 activity.
The literature shows that estriol somehow stimulates the production of IL-10 in a mouse model of MS called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. This increase in IL-10 increases the activity of the Th2 cells, and restores balance. Estrogen also stimulates insulin output, and insulin has also been shown to increase myelination. So estrogen might be exerting some of its effects in these ways.
But histamine is also involved, probably at a more fundamental level.
I predict that histamine research is going to bear a lot of fruit in the next few years. Thanks to the Web, the word on histamine for MS is spreading fast. I don’t see this being brushed aside again as it was fifty years ago. We are engaged in a dance with our hormones, and histamine may be the conductor.
JLML: How can our readers find out more about using histamine to treat MS?
GG: They can call Elaine DeLack’s organization, EDMS, at:
(360)-654-0448, fax to (360)-652-6199,
or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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