Presenter: John Gannage, MD

Mast cells are a specific type of white blood cell found in connective tissues throughout the body, especially under the skin, near blood vessels and lymph vessels, in nerves, and in the lungs and intestines. While mast cells play a crucial role in immune function, and are critical for allergy response and protection, disorders involving either the over-production of mast cells or, less appreciated, the hyper-responsiveness of them can be extremely problematic. Patients often present with multiple symptoms affecting many organs. The complexity is further exacerbated by the stimulation of mast cells by many distinctly different triggers, such as medications, environmental exposures, stress and infectious agents. This leads to confusion in diagnosis and management, especially for patients that have neuropsychiatric symptomology associated with other systemic inflammatory complaints. As such, recognition of mast cell instability and mediator release is critical in clinical practice, as is an understanding of measures that can be taken to alleviate symptoms. This is especially important for patients that have been suffering for years and attended upon by multiple health providers across many different specialties, and often dismissed or managed incompletely; and important for clinicians, because many of the interventions can be rooted in functional and orthomolecular medicine.