is Histamine your problem?
Do you get headaches from wine or too much cheese? Do you get hives from eating certain foods? Do you suffer hayfever or sinus congestion? Think you have allergies but also feel confused. Maybe you have histamine intolerance.
As a naturopath I find that many people suffer from high histamine unknowingly.It can be tricky to diagnose as the symptons can vary so greatly.
Histamine is a substance that occurs naturally in the body. It has many functions including roles in the immune response, digestion and neurotransmitters that send messages between our body and brain.
Histamine levels can begin to rise in our bodies for numerous reasons. Think of it as a bucket that starts to fill up. Things that will increase the level in the “histamine bucket” include
- Allergies- food, airborn and environmental
- Hormones- stress and excess estrogen
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Histamine containing foods and histamine liberators.
- Reduced enzyme clearance of histamine by the enzymes DAO or HNMT:
o DAO enzyme inhibited by
- Gluten intolerance
- Leaky gut,SIBO
- Drugs- NSAIDs, aspirin, ibuprofen
- Alcohol, caffeine, black and green tea
- Genetic mutations
o HNMT enzyme inhibited by genetic mutations, MTHFR
So rising histamine levels and a decreased ability to clear histamine causes the bucket to get dangerously full and overflows, that’s when symptoms arise. These will differ and can vary depending on which cells and tissues the histamine targets in the body. There are many but include:
- Skin- itchy, eczema, hives, redness and flushing
- Gut- heartburn, diarrhoea, leaky gut, nausea,cramps
- Blood vessels- low blood pressure, fainting, dizziness, tinnitus, headaches and migraines
- Respiratory-hayfever, runny nose, sinus congestion, asthma
- Brain- foggy head, anxiety, panic attacks
Muscle pain, joint aches, poor sleep, restless legs, fatigue…the list goes on!
How Do You Treat Histamine Intolerance
The trick is to lower the levels in the “histamine bucket”. Clean up your diet and lifestyle in general.
Gut, gut,gut! Focus on healing your gut if you have signs of leaky gut and poor gut health. Leaky gut will reduce the DAO enzyme in your gut which helps breakdown histamine.
Have yourself checked for MTHFR, HNMT and DAO genetic issues that may affect your ability to clear histamine from the body. Without addressing these you may struggle to get those levels down.
Try a low histamine diet for a month. The lists vary greatly and unlike a gluten free diet you cannot completely avoid histamine. Concentrate on those foods that are highest in histamine or are histamine liberators.
Foods that increase histamine include:
- Fermented foods like mature cheese, wine, beer and champagne, pickles, vinegars, sauerkraut.
- Walnuts, cashews and dried fruits
- Leftover meats, processed meats, tinned fish
- Chocolate and caffeine containing drinks including green tea
- Citrus, bananas and strawberries
- Avocados, spinach, eggplant and tomatoes
This doesn’t mean you have to avoid these foods forever. By investigating the causes, treating the gut, and lowering the levels of your “Histamine Bucket” you can reclaim your health and overcome histamine intolerance.
Would you like further, more personal advice on this topic? Feel free to give me a call or make an appointment to see me.