Could this be the cause of irritable bowel syndrome?

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you will know how frustrating it is to find answers about your condition. Irritable bowel syndrome is challenging to treat and diagnose and may have many underlying causes, but a recent study found the potential cuplrit of your problems, and that’s your mast cells! Wonder what a mast cell is? Here I will review the findings of the recent study by scientists at KU Leuven.


What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a digestive system condition, which causes severe discomfort and abdomen pain without any apparent structural damage to the digestive system. 10% - 15% of people suffer from irritable bowel disease, which can significantly impact life quality. 

Are food allergies to blame?

Many people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome find that removing inflammatory foods such as gluten and dairy helps with their symptoms, even though they don’t have coeliac disease or an allergic reaction to these foods. 

Many sufferers are not taken seriously due to the difficulty in diagnosis.

Their state of mind is usually to blame rather than an underlying problem in the gut.

However, this recent study showed new insight into the mechanisms of this condition. 

What did the study reveal about IBS?

Mast cells are immune cells which release histamine, usually in response to an allergen. An allergen is a particle such as pollen which can cause an allergic reaction. Scientists found that when histamine production was blocked, there was an improvement in IBS symptoms. 

70% of the immune system lives in the digestive system, and in a healthy intestine, the immune system doesn’t react to food. However, often symptoms of IBS happen after a gastrointestinal infection which disrupts the immune system making it more reactive to food, and as a result, releasing histamine. 

As this was a small study, more evidence is required to confirm its validity, but it appears that an infection of the digestive system leads to an increased release in histamine, causing symptoms of IBS.

So what can you do it you have IBS?

If you have IBS, it is best to find out the health of your digestive system by doing a stool test to see whether you have a healthy gut. Once you understand this, you can take steps to improve your gut function, and use natural or medical therapies to remove any infections in the gut.

I offer comprehensive diagnostic stool tests in my clinic to help you understand your problem’s root cause. If you are interested in exploring this, you can contact the clinic in my profile. 

In the meantime, as the study found histamine was a crucial driver in these conditions, including foods which suppress the release of histamines such as quercetin, green tea, curcumin and chamomile tea, might be worth exploring. 

If you struggle with IBS and would like to improve your health today, you may benefit from doing my three, six or 12-month health transformation packages. Find out more about my services on my profile page. 


Local immune response to food antigens drives meal-induced abdominal pain. Nature, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-03118-2

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London W1G & Harrogate HG1
Written by V. J. Hamilton, Autoimmune Disease Expert | BSc (Immunology), DipION, mBANT
London W1G & Harrogate HG1

Victoria is a qualified Nutritional Therapist and member of BANT, focusing on autoimmune disease including skin disorders, heart disease and neurological issues, gut health and fatigue. Victoria has a BSc in Biochemistry & Immunology which she uses in her practice, using only science-backed nutritional therapies to support chronic conditions.

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