I recall having a consultation with a young woman who was accompanied by her boyfriend. Her chief complaint was a deep, crawling, itching sensation in her skin, mainly the arms but occasionally spreading to other areas. Nothing was visible on the skin itself: no urticaria (red, round bumps that itch intensely), no eczema, no plaque formation, etc.
If you’ve never experienced this type of chronic itching, as I haven’t, it’s difficult to empathize with people who are plagued by it. It’s a terrible symptom because scratching doesn’t provide relief. In fact it really doesn’t do anything other than irritate the skin.
And because nothing is visible on the skin, loved ones and friends (and often doctors) think the sufferer is having mental problems. The boyfriend fell strongly into that category. You could tell from the look on his face that he thought she was nuts.
This type of symptom is caused by systemic histamine release as a result of allergies and sensitivities.
When immune cells are excited by antigens (anything recognized by the immune system that induce an immune reaction), they release a cascade of signaling molecules (SM) that cause systemic symptoms and local target organ dysfunction. Each SM produces its own signature of symptoms.
Histamine is responsible for two main effects in an inflammatory response: dilating blood vessels and making them more permeable to allow more fluid to pass from the bloodstream into the tissues. This allows for reinforcements to arrive but also results in localized swelling, edema, and redness. That’s histamine’s local effect.
Systemic histamine release causes the following symptoms:
Headaches: pulsating, whole-head pain, often with a sense of great pressure or bursting within the head
Fast pulse, low blood pressure, irregular heart beat
Itching or burning followed by flushing and an unpleasant heat
Increased stomach acid release with crampy abdominal pain
May provoke an asthma attack
Anxiety and agitation with a diffuse, odd body sensation often described as “my bones are on fire”, “I feel weird all over”, “a deep pricking, crawling sensation.”
Antihistamines may help with localized reactions but have little efficacy on systemic symptoms.
As is always the case, removing the cause is the best course of action. Patients such as this young woman should go through the nutrient and foods treatment program. Unfortunately, her boyfriend put the kibosh on that idea and apparently he was in control of their budget.
Dr. Teryl Boothe and selected guests.