histamine intolerance

Are you Suffering from Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine Intolerance – What does that mean?

Histamine intolerance, sometimes called histaminosis, is an over-accumulation of histamine in the human body. Histamine intolerance is sometimes informally called an allergy; however, the intolerance is technically caused by the gradual accumulation of extracellular histamine due to an imbalance. People who are unable to effectively metabolize histamines must restrict their consumption of many foods and beverages. If you have a histamine intolerance consuming histamine rich foods can lead to chronic health issues such as allergies, asthma, sinus problems, eczema, chronic pain, menstrual problems and much more.

What is Histamine Exactly?

Histamine is an in important neurotransmitter and immune messenger molecule. It is involved in processes involving hydrochloric acid secretion for digestion, triaging water reserves to key areas of the body and the inflammatory response. Histamine receptors are located all over the body and have many important functions including:

  • Histamine H1 receptors: Smooth muscle and endothelial cells affecting skin; blood vessels (Benadryl and Claritin block activity of these receptors)
  • Histamine H2 receptors: Cells in the intestines control acid secretion, abdominal pain, and nausea; heart rate
  • Histamine H3 receptors: Central nervous system controlling nerves, sleep, appetite and behavior
  • Histamine H4 receptors: Thymus, small intestine, spleen, colon, bone marrow and white blood cells; inflammatory response

One of the major effects of histamine is causing the blood vessels to swell and dilate. When the body senses that it is threatened it will secrete higher amounts of histamine. This allows the white blood cells to quickly move through the blood stream and find the potential threat or infection. This is an important component to a healthy immune response.

When Does Histamine Become a Problem?

Histamine only becomes a problem when we have metabolic disturbances that do not allow us to effectively metabolize histamine properly. When histamine is formed it is broken down by specific enzymes. In the central nervous system it is metabolized by hitamine N-methyltransferase (HMT), while in the digestive tract it is broken down by diamine oxidase (DAO).

The experts state that DAO is the major enzyme involved in histamine metabolism. The enzyme converts the histamine into imidazole acetaldehyde which does not trigger any sort of reaction in the body. DAO is responsible for ensuring a steady histamine level required for the balance of numerous chemical reactions taking place in the body.

Altered DAO Enzyme Production:

Some individuals have altered DAO production due to a number of different factors including:

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) – some gut microbes produce high amounts of histamines as a byproduct of their metabolism.

Copper, Vit C & B6 Deficiency: Copper and Vit C are crucial components of the DAO enzyme and B6 is a key cofactor that enables DAO to degrade histamine.

Leaky Gut Syndrome: Intestinal permeability creates major inflammatory stress in the body which can contribute to poor DAO function.

Genetic Polymorphisms in DAO enzyme – this can be seen on the 23andme SNP’s. A homozygous DAO would make someone more susceptible to developing a histamine intolerance.

Use of Certain Medications:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin)
  • Antidepressants (Cymbalta, Effexor, Prozac, Zoloft)
  • Immune modulators (Humira, Enbrel, Plaquenil)
  • Antiarrhythmics (propanolol, metaprolol, Cardizem, Norvasc)
  • Antihistamines (Allegra, Zyrtec, Benadryl)
  • Histamine (H2) blockers (Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac)

Foods High in Histamines:

Some foods naturally have more histamine content while others accumulate histamines while they age. Fermented and dried foods typically have the highest levels of histamines. A low histamine diet must be focused around getting foods at their peak level of freshness. Here is a list of high histamine foods:

  • Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne and beer
  • Fermented foods: sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, etc
  • Vinegar-containing foods: pickles, mayonnaise, olives
  • Cured meats: bacon, salami, pepperoni, luncheon meats and hot dogs
  • Soured foods: sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, soured bread, etc
  • Dried fruit: apricots, prunes, dates, figs, raisins
  • Most citrus fruits
  • Aged cheese including goat cheese
  • Nuts: walnuts, cashews, and peanuts
  • Vegetables: avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes
  • Smoked fish and certain species of fish: mackerel, mahi-mahi, tuna, anchovies, sardines
  • Processed foods of all types – Preservatives are high in histamines

Low Histamine Foods:

  • Freshly Cooked Meat & Poultry (frozen or fresh)
  • Freshly Caught Fish
  • EV Olive Oil
  • Pasture-Raised Eggs
  • Gluten-Free Grains: brown rice & quinoa
  • Fresh Fruits: Other than citrus, avocado, tomato, pineapple, bananas and strawberries
  • Fresh Vegetables (except spinach and eggplant)
  • Coconut milk, Rice milk, Hemp milk, Almond milk
  • Coconut oil & Grass-fed Butter/Ghee
  • Organic coffee
  • Almond butter
  • Leafy herbs
  • Herbal teas
Sources For This Article Include:
Allergy UK: Histamine Intolerance Link Here
Mio M, Yabuta M, Kamei C. Ultraviolet B (UVB) light-induced histamine release from rat peritoneal mast cells and its augmentation by certain phenothiazine compounds. Immunopharmacology. 1999 Jan;41(1):55-63. PMID: 9950269
Barrett-O’Keefe, Z., Kaplon, R. E. and Halliwill, J. R. (2013), Sustained postexercise vasodilatation and histamine receptor activation following small muscle-mass exercise in humans. Experimental Physiology, 98: 268–277.
Shilpa Shah, “Hormonal Link to Autoimmune Allergies,” ISRN Allergy, vol. 2012, Article ID 910437
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