Tocotrienols Stabilize Mast Cells

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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Mast cells are part of your natural defense system helping immune defense and wound healing. Excess mast cell activity is best known for its role in allergy and asthma, although excessive activity contributed to autoimmune disease, metabolic problems, and cardiovascular disease. Several new studies show that the tocotrienol form of vitamin E can stabilize mast cells in highly stressful allergic and cardiovascular situations, shedding new light on how this potent form of vitamin E contributes to health.

Mast cells typically occupy tissues of the surface areas of your body that come into contact with the outside world such as the your mouth, sinuses, skin, lungs and digestive tract. They also reside in the circulatory system and joints. When stimulated by an irritant they release histamine and heparin, helping with front line immune defense and orchestrating healing. 

Excessive activation of mast cells is typical in individuals with allergy or asthma. They are now recognized as a major factor in autoimmune problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and skin conditions. Excess activity is also common in individuals with anxiety, as the excess substance P in the nerves irritates mast cells to release histamine. In a recent animal model of allergic dermatitis tocotrienol E was found to potently reduce excess histamine release.

Many conditions of poor health are associated with excessive inflammation which involves a variety of immune cells that are acting improperly and excessively. Researchers have now linked excess mast cell activity to the progression of cardiovascular disease and metabolic problems. 

Another recent study looked at an animal model of radiation induced heart disease, a undesirable side effect of breast cancer radiation treatment. The study showed that tocotrienols were able to significantly reduce mast cell and macrophage numbers in the heart, a significant anti-inflammatory finding.

There are a few nutrients that have demonstrated the ability to calm down mast cells, with quercetin being the best known and most used. Grape seed extract and carnosine also shown mast cell stabilizing properties. These recent studies are the first to show that tocotrienol E is also a powerful anti-histamine, indicating usefulness as part of a nutrient plan for allergy/asthma as well as another tool to help manage inflammatory conditions that are highly problematic to health.

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