When people hear the word “histamine” they most likely think of seasonal allergies, and antihistamine medication. But histamine intolerance is so much more than that and it is becoming extremely prevalent among those trying to heal their bodies.
What is Histamine??
Histamine’s main job in the body is to create an inflammatory response to tell your immune system that there is something to attack. But if you are lacking in the nutrients needed to degrade histamine, then histamine can actually build up in the body and creates a chronic issue, usually with symptoms like chronic headaches, congestion, itchiness or fatigue.
Histamine is a common component in foods, most often found in fermented foods, dried fruits, most citrus fruits, and cured meats. Ideally, the histamine in these foods shouldn’t cause an issue for most people. They would be able to process and degrade the histamine with no issue. However, for someone with leaky gut and nutritional deficiencies, they may be unable to degrade histamine properly. DAO (Diamine oxidase) is the primary enzyme that we need to properly degrade histamine. Extremely high histamine levels have been linked to cardiac arrest– so it is important to address the root cause of histamine intolerance.
Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance:
- Anxiety, racing mind
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
- Nasal congestion, sneezing, or difficulty breathing
- Irregular heart rate
- Headaches or migraines
- Abnormal menstrual cycle
What causes Histamine Intolerance
There are many causes of histamine intolerance, and there are a few ways that we can help to reverse this issue.
Causes of Histamine Intolerance:
- DAO (Diamine oxidase) deficiency
- Excess consumption of histamine rich foods
- Leaky Gut
- Mineral and vitamin Deficiencies, mainly B6, copper, magnesium, and whole food vitamin C
- Allergies (linked to a sluggish liver)
Foods with High Histamine:
- Wine, beer, champagne
- Most Citrus fruits
- Dried fruits like apricots, prunes, dates, figs, raisins
- Aged Cheese
- Cured meats like bacon, salami, pepperoni, deli meats
- All fermented foods: sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, kombucha
- Vinegar and vinegar containing foods like olives and pickles
- Some kinds of fish like mackerel, mahi-mahi, tuna, anchovies, sardines
- Sour foods like sour cream, buttermilk, sourdough bread
- Chocolate (oh no!)
- Tomatoes, eggplant
- Bone broth
Take a real look at this list above. These are all foods that our ancestors survived on! Wine, dried foods, cured meats, bone broth and fermented foods are all things that our ancestors would have had on a daily basis. There is NO WAY that these foods are bad or unhealthy. It all comes down to people having so many different nutritional deficiencies, leaky gut, and toxicities that interfere with proper digestion.
Treating Histamine Intolerance
The most common path that people take to solve this issue involves simply avoiding histamine rich foods. This may alleviate symptoms but it doesn’t help the root cause. Plus you will always run the risk of eating a contaminated food and having to suffer with flare ups from histamine exposure.
As I mentioned before, the DAO enzyme is the number one enzyme that breaks down histamine in the gut. We come by a deficiency of DAO if we have leaky gut, if we use too much alcohol, and if we are lacking in Copper, whole food vitamin C, magnesium and vitamin B6. B6 is a key player in synthesizing DAO, but most of us know that copper, B6 and vitamin C have a HUGE relationship with each other.
If you haven’t read my post on copper imbalances before, please do! We have been lied to about copper. Everyone wants to treat copper toxicity, and detox copper but they fail to see the potential danger in this. Copper is one of the most misunderstood minerals, but it is extremely important to our health. There are about 300 copper containing enzymes in the body. Some of copper’s most important jobs include ATP energy production, estrogen production, and controlling most of our neurotransmitters.
When it comes to copper regulation we have to focus on ceruloplasmin production (which I go over in the copper article linked above). Most mineral programs these days are focused on detoxing copper and they include high doses of zinc, molybdenum, and B6- all copper ANTAGONISTS. Now therein lies the conundrum about DAO- we need B6 to make DAO, but B6 destroys biovailable copper in high doses (plus B6 is one of the few B vitamins that can be toxic on its own!).
The key is to balance copper by raising ceruloplasmin which will solve the issue of excess, unbound copper. Once unbound copper is under control then we can focus on nutrients like B6, manganese, and zinc.
There is an order to healing, and everyone will have a different path. Healing from a copper imbalance is key to healing from so many health issues, and it is almost hard to believe how important copper truly is.
So the plan for fixing histamine intolerance includes:
- Balancing Copper
- Fixing Magnesium
- Whole Food C
- B6 rich foods:liver, grains, bananas, eggs, blackstrap molasses, and beef.
- Eating a Clean Diet
- Getting an HTMA to determine your adrenal health as well as your personal deficiencies
- Nettle infusions! Nettles are a natural anti-histamine and can be very helpful for those with histamine problems. If you know you have histamine intolerance, start slow with nettles as they can have the same fatiguing effect as an OTC anti-histamine medication
- Reduce Inflammation in the body- an HTMA will give us an idea if you have high inflammation; things like aloe vera, magnesium, turmeric, and ginger are great anti-inflammatories
- Aloe vera is one of my FAVORITES for helping with histamine reactions in the body. From this source: “Effects on the immune system: Alprogen inhibit calcium influx into mast cells, thereby inhibiting the antigen-antibody-mediated release of histamine and leukotriene from mast cells.”
- Heal the Gut
- BioRay Belly Mend is one of the top gut healing supplements I have found and they have seen that it helps those with histamine intolerance.
- Heal the liver! The liver plays a big role in histamine regulation, as well as copper balancing. BioRay Liver Life is a great start for those that are dealing with histamine issues.
- Castor oil packs have been one of the TOP helpers for healing that liver for those with histamine issues. I have heard from many people at this point that the packs were huge helpers for them, and some had results rather quickly.
- Reducing stress– in order for the body to stop creating stress responses we have to either eliminate stress or learn to manage it better
- Avoiding high histamine foods temporarily
- Want to learn more about gut healing? Check out all of my main tips in my gut healing course.