Histamine Intolerance Could Explain Headaches, Bloating & More

By Dr Ernst
October 7, 2019

Histamine has long been associated with runny noses, itchy/inflamed skin from an allergic reaction and common allergies (most OTC allergy medications are histamine blockers). Just recently, however, a new understanding has emerged towards histamine – one of intolerance.

What is Histamine Intolerance?

Simply put, histamine intolerance is when there is an accumulation of histamine in the body due to an inability to break down / detox from previously generated/used histamine. Histamine is a chemical signaling molecule, which can also act like a neurotransmitter within the nerve system. It’s also essential in the formation of stomach acid. Histamine is also responsible for maintaining blood vessel dilation and immune system stimulation via white blood cell activation.

People who suffer from histamine intolerance thus will have over stimulation of their nerve systems (hyperactivity, hyper-pain syndromes fibromyalgia) etc., elevated stomach acid (reflux/GERD, digestive disorders), improper balance of blood vessel dilation (headaches, blood pressure and other vascular disorders) as well as prolonged stimulation of their immune system (which in turn can activate auto-immune conditions) ultimately leading to severe disruption of quality of life.

Why Do Histamine Levels Rise?

Under normal circumstances, two enzymes are responsible for lowering histamine levels by deactivating previously produced/used histamine.

  1. N-Methyltransferase (HMT) – This enzyme is responsible for removing histamine from the central nervous system.
  2. Diamine oxidase (DAO) which is responsible for breaking down histamine, is found in the body and those injected via food sources.It is the inability/ineffectiveness of DAO to break down systemic histamine that is responsible for the majority of most histamine intolerance observed in the general public.


Common Signs and Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance

The symptoms of histamine intolerance are so broad (everything from abdominal cramping to tachycardia). It is for this very reason that it is worth considering that you might have histamine intolerance as the underlying cause of your outward symptoms and have simply been “misdiagnosed” by the medical community.

Common symptoms include: Anxiety, Insomnia, Vertigo/Dizziness, Headaches, Migraines, High Blood Pressure, Nasal Congestion, Nausea/Vomiting, Tissue swelling, Hives

Could Your Current Health Condition Be Causing Histamine Intolerance?

Various health conditions and their medical solutions (prescriptive and OTC) can further decrease the function of DAO which continues to elevate histamine, thus perpetuating histamine intolerance. Not to mention the fact that there are many foods that are high in histamine.

 The following health issues have been associated with and further perpetuate histamine intolerance:

Digestive Disorders

Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, IBS/IBD, SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth), Leaky Gut Syndrome, Gluten Sensitivity/Intolerance

Prescriptive and OTC Medications:

NSAIDS (aspirin/ibuprofen), Immune Medications (Enbrel, Plaquenil, Humira, Cocentrix, etc), Antidepressants (Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta etc.), Stomach Acid Blockers/Proton Pump Inhibitors (Pepcid, Zantac, Tagamet etc.), Allergy (Benadryl, Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec etc.) and High Blood Pressure medications (Propranolol, Metoprolol, Lisinopril, Norvasc, Cardizem etc.)

High Histamine Foods (Avoid These If You Have Histamine Intolerance)

  • Fermented Alcoholic Beverages (Beer, Wine, Cider etc.)
  • Fermented Foods (Sauerkraut, Kombucha, ACV
  • Vinegar Foods (Pickles, Olives, Mayonnaise)
  • Cured Meats (Bacon, salami, pepperoni)
  • Processed Meats (Lunch Meats, Hot Dogs)
  • Cultured Foods (sour cream, buttermilk, etc.)
  • Dried Fruits (Apricots, Prunes, Figs, Raisins, Dates)
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Dairy Products (Cheese, Yogurt, Milk)
  • Nuts (Walnuts, cashews, peanuts)
  • Vegetables: Avocado, Eggplant, Spinach, Tomato
  • Fish: Swordfish, mackerel, Mahi-Mahi, tuna

What Can You Do If You Suspect You Have Histamine Intolerance?

1. Begin with an Elimination Diet
As you can imagine, anything that elevates histamine will only worsen symptoms and prevent healing. I suggest you simply look at the list of foods above and begin eliminating them, either in their entirety or category by category. Even if you simply took a week and began to check off the list above with a goal of the next 90 days to 6 months, you are only helping to lower your histamine levels. This is an effective way to reduce/eliminate your symptoms as histamine levels lower over time. In addition, elimination diets can be helpful in confirmation of your suspicion as once the food above is added back, symptoms will usually return.

2. Increase DAO activation
There are many companies that produce an OTC DAO supplement, which can significantly increase the ability for your body to lower histamine. Simply google/amazon “DAO Supplement” to see the various types available. I recommend: Umbrellux DAO or Histazyme by Dr. Amy Myers MD. You can also focus on foods that are high in DAO

Grass fed meats, eggs, fruits (green apple, cantaloupe, kiwi, mango, pear), vegetables (all except eggplant, spinach and tomatoes), seed butters (pumpkin, sunflower), coconut/hemp dairy, olive and coconut oils, leafy herbs (oregano, basil etc.), herbal tea
3. Lower your protein intake, increase fibrous intake

Histamine is formed by essential amino acids derived from the proteins you eat. Thus, if you can lower your protein intake, you decrease the likelihood of histamines formations. Histamine levels are also known to elevated the longer food sits in the digestive system and this is where fiber comes in handy. Fibrous foods can help the transit time from mouth to toilet to decrease, which not only is good for colon health but also for keeping histamine levels in check

For more information visit www.askdrernst.com and search for the word “Histamine”

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