Natural Aspirin Alternatives (That Are Anti-Histamines and Mast-cell Stabilisers)

In a recent podcast on cardio-vascular disease, Chris Kresser discussed natural aspirin alternatives (that are anti-histamines and mast-cell stabilisers). (1)

Chris concluded that research showed that natural aspirin alternatives were as effective as aspirin with none of the side-effects.

He identified both Pycnogenol® (pronounced Pik-nah-jeh-nol) and Policosanol to have been found to be as effective as aspirin for cardio-vascular health. (2) (3)

In this post I provide additional information on these natural aspirin alternatives (that are anti-histamines and mast-cell stabilisers).


Aspirin is contra-indicated for histamine intolerance, mast-cell activation syndrome, and mastocytosis as it is a histamine releasor. It has also been shown to cause “significant gastroduodenal damage” and mucosal inflammation. (4) (5).


Pycnogenol® is a potent anti-oxidant that also modulates; vitamin c, vitamin e, and glutathione. (6) (7).

During inflammation the mast-cells release enzymes, that breakdown histidine into histamine, which then increases the permeability of blood vessels. Pycnogenol® appears to inhibit histamine release and prevents the process of inflammation making it a potent anti-inflammatory.

A 2002 study showed that it is a natural mast-cell stabiliser, that is effective as sodium cromoglycate, and can prevent up to 70 percent of all histamines being released from mast-cells.(8)

A further study, conducted by Dr. David White at the University of Nottingham, also showed that Pycnogenol® was a mast-cell stabiliser that worked in a dose dependent manner. (9)

Chris Kresser stated in his recent podcast, that he routinely uses Pycnogenol® for histamine intolerance and mast-cell activation disorder. He modulates the dosage, starting around 100 mg, depending upon the severity of the condition. 

There is also strong evidence that Pycnogenol® is effective in treating a wide range of inflammatory diseases including; diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol, psoriasis, blood pressure, and heart disease. 


Policosanol is a long-chain plant wax. Studies on Policosanol are extremely limited.

A patent pending, however, states “Policosanol is used as a natural antihistamine and can be used for preventing or treating allergic rhinitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, asthma, bronchitis, vomiting, stomach and duodenal ulcer, gastoesophegal reflux diseases, sleep disturbance, anxiety, and depression, and has the advantages of further reducing sleep latency and increasing sleep time.” Histamine is said to be degraded by up to 30%. (10)


As someone who is highly intolerant to prescription drugs, including histamine related, and CYP2D6 mediated, I prefer to get my medicine from food.

I do supplement glutathione due to its critical role as a master anti-oxidant and in methylation.

Whilst glutathione remains my primary focus, Pycnogenol® (and possibly Policosanol although the scientific studies are too scant for me) appears to provide a broad spectrum of anti-inflammatory protective benefits, that is difficult to overlook.

After consulting my doctor, I intend to trial Pycnogenol®, and will report back. If you have trialled Pycnogenol® or Policosanol please share you experiences in the comments field below.


(1)  Revolution Health Radio, 6 August 2014 Edition.

(2) M. Pütter, K.H.M. Grotemeyer, G. Würthwein, M. Araghi-Niknam, R.R. Watson,  S. Hosseini, P. Rohdewald “Inhibition of Smoking-Induced Platelet Aggregation by Aspirin and Pycnogenol” Thrombosis Research, Volume 95, Issue 4, 15 August 1999, Pages 155 – 161.

(3) M.L. Arruzazabala, S. Valdés, R. Más, D. Carbajal, L. Fernández, Comparative Study of Policosanol, Aspirin and the Combination Therapy of Policosanol-Aspirin on Platelet Aggregation In Healthy Volunteers, Pharmacological Research, Volume 36, Issue 4, October 1997, Pages 293–297.

(4) Endo H, Hosono K, Inamori M, Kato S, Nozaki Y, Yoneda K, Akiyama T, Fujita K, Takahashi H, Yoneda M, Abe Y, Kirikoshi H, Kobayashi N, Kubota K, Saito S, Matsuhashi N, Nakajima A, “Incidence of small bowel injury induced by low-dose aspirin: a crossover study using capsule endoscopy in healthy volunteers”.

(5) Digestion. 2009;79(1):44-51. Epub 2009 Feb 26.Neville D Yeomans, Christopher J Hawkey, Wayne Brailsford, Jørgen Naesdal, “Gastroduodenal toxicity of low-dose acetylsalicylic acid: a comparison with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs”, Current Medical Research & Opinion, 2009, Nov;25(11):2785-93.

(6) Packer, L., Rimbach, G. and Virgili, F. (1999) Antioxidant activity and biologic properties of a procyanidin-rich extract from Pine (Pinus maritime) bark, Pycnogenol. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 27 (5/6), 704-724.

(7) Dvoráková M, Sivonová M, Trebatická J, Skodácek I, Waczuliková I, Muchová J, Duracková Z.The effect of polyphenolic extract from pine bark, Pycnogenol on the level of glutathione in children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Redox Rep. 2006;11(4):163-72.

(8) Sharma SC, Sharma S, Gulati OP, “Pycnogenol inhibits the release of histamine from mast cells,” Phytother Res. 2003 Jan;17(1):66-9.

(9) Review Of The Scientific Research on Oligomeric Proanthcyanidins (OPC) by Hank Liers, PhD

(10) Histamine receptor antagonist composition containing policosanol as active ingredient. WO 2014069836 A1.

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  • Philip Clax

    Hi Alison did you try the Pycnogenol in the end?

    • Hi Philip yes I have been taking both Pycnogenol and Astaxanthin and I have found it incredibly helpful.

      • chrissy

        What make are you using Alison please?

        • Hi chrissy:
          Pycnogenol is Health Origins (150mg)
          Astaxanthin is Nutrex (12mg) but Healthy Origins has just bought out one I am going to try. All from Iherb.

          • chrissy

            Wow thank you Alison for such a prompt reply. I am following your site and avidly reading everything. I have I am sure mcad. Using low histamine diet to try and get some control back over my many symptoms.

          • I would not be going there then. There are other flavanoids of course (but I cannot tolerate them due to CYp450 issues).

          • chrissy

            Thank you. I think you are right. Will look at others. Trying neuroprotek at moment with 3 other flavonoids in them. Thank you for your advice. You are in Australia, correct?

          • Yes Chrissy, Australia, but work with people all over the world. The research I have seen is on Quercetin, Luteolin; both of which I cannot tolerate, and Pycnogenol. I understand artichoke extract may also work but have not had a chance to look at it.

          • chrissy

            Alison, I just read your latest article on the research into precription drugs and you mentioned you were caused grief by this. Were you affected by a drug given to you? I had B12 injections beginning of April and immediately after the fifth one suffered a severe reaction – chronic hives and angiioedema which are not being controlled by anti histamine tablets. I have also been on a low histamine diet that is so restrictive but has again not really enabled me to get control of my daily symptoms. I know stress makes it worse, but I have suffered bladder pain from reaction to antibiotics and now hives for almost a year. I have chronic insomnia, getting 3 hrs sleep most nights and therefore my stress levels are now extremely high. How did you manage to get your life back. Tests in the UK are almost impossible to get especially connected to genes etc.

          • Hello Chrissy it is difficult to give specifics via the blog but simplistically I had tests that identified the rouge gene, then did nutritional work arounds, which has explained precisely my situation. I believe it is possible to get the tests in the UK and find histamine specialists as I have clients in the UK with good specialists testing for histamine issues. If nothing else a good place to start is 23andMe which you can do from anywhere. It will not diagnose you but it will give you pointers as to where you should look. Healing is possible once you know what your healing. I do hope that helps.

          • chrissy

            Thank you Alison. I am finding it extremely difficult to find a specialist in the UK that deals with histamine intolerance problems. I have researched so much and asked so many questions where to go, but cannot find anybody to help me. I am seeing a uro/gyn guy on Friday who has been the closest I can get to anybody interested In mast cell activity. I reacted to antibiotics last September and have had a bladder histamine issue since then, and now the hives issue since April. I am completely stumped because following a low histamine diet now for over 5 months has not made a significant difference at all,

          • I know that this is stressful but the answers are there. I have a client at the moment in London who has been correctly tested and diagnosed so it is absolutely possible to get answers. Sounds like you are strongly advocating for yourself which is awesome. Bladder pain of course can be oxalate issues.

          • Julia Alexandra Dascalescu

            Hi Alison, thank you for this amazing article. I have a CYP 2D6 polymorphism as well and barely tolerate any meds/supplements. I am looking for something to help with some mast cell issues and am excited to try Pycnogenol after reading this. I notice many studies recommend 1mg/lb… May I ask if that’s the dose you take and if you take it daily? I know some practitioners recommend rotating all supplements. All the best!

          • I always titrate my supplements with clients as there is no one right dose. I also highly recommend getting to the bottom of what triggered your mast cell activation. Assuming it is medication (mine was, and also mould) then an effective liver/detoxification strategy is key. You can reverse many forms of MACD.

  • Jeannine Way

    Hi Alison,
    There are a bunch of us taking Immunothrive for mast cell/histamine. I have my own FB page. We all love your thoughts and I share a lot of what you post. Immunothrive has Pycnogenol as well as other herbs that are beneficial. It was made by a Docotor Of Pharmacy after her own struggles. The ingredients in it are quite remarkable.

    • Pycnogenol is extremely helpful with strong clinical trials. I’d be careful with the turmeric if you have liver issues (CYP2d6 mutations) as it is not tolerated. I tend to not recommend complex (i.e. multiple ingredient supplements for this reason). Unfortunately there is no ingredient listing on their website, and no clinical trials, so difficult to comment otherwise. Glad it is working for you.

  • Stanislava Repaska

    Hi Allison
    I’ve been thinking about trying pycnogenol. Lately Ive been very reactive 5-7days before my period. Even degranulating. And today degranulating whole day triggered by video about mast cell patient.
    I thought pycnogenol could finally stop degranulation.
    What else can help to stop sensitivity before period?
    Thank you