Interesting article Histamine Intolerance

A very clear and interesting piece about histamine intolerance can be found at I especcially like the picture, that shows how the threshold can get passed,  as a bucket model. The bucket slowly fills up with histamine until it streams over, and symptoms come into existence.

Histamine bucket

Histamine Factsheet at

Article Histamine Intolerance

One of the main articles written about histamine intolerance, is written by Laura Maintz and Natalija Novak. Both have an extensive background in allergic and immunologic topics.

The article is freely accessible, and probably one of the main items people find when searching for information about histamine intolerance. Only published about 2.5 years ago. And hopefully has brought a lot of awareness about histamine intolerance. For those that hadn’t yet found it, go read it! Even though it’s written in scientific jargon, it’s still an accessible read.

The article contains loads of information, and every time I read it, I’ll learn something new out of it.

Histamine and Histamine Intolerance

Published in: on March 6, 2010 at 4:33 pm  Comments (2)  
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The meats comes down to only fresh, unprocessed, unsmoked, unaged, uneverything meat. Just pure and fresh meats, and be especially careful with seafood and pork.

Weirdly I’ve started to eat a lot of fish, I was told these are generally okay when frozen. So I stocked my freezer with loads of bags of frozen fish from the supermarket.  As with  chicken, I love how I can just throw it the oven with some herbs, or put them in the tajine.

Processed meats/Smoked meats llll l

  • sausage llll l
  • hotdog l
  • salami llll l
  • ham lllll
  • bratwurst l
  • bacon lll
  • smoked beef

Pork/Swine ll

Chicken liver ll

Chicken l

Mincemeat l

Left-over cooked meats ll

Vacuum packed meats ll (these are often several weeks old.)

Aged meats l

Smoked fish lllll l

  • Herring llll l(people come on, you don’t smoke herring you eat them raw with onions!!)
  • Anchovies lll
  • Sardines lllll
  • Mackerel llll

All fish llll

Shell fish llll

Tuna fish lll

Cat fish l

Salmon ll –  fresh <36h v

Skipjack l

Mahi Mahi l

Amberjack l

Bluefish l

Bonito l

Marlin l

And a list of most of the meats that are allowed, for variation, and amazement purposes I still never ate muskrat,  even though here in the Netherlands it’s a well known dish, but honestly I haven’t got  a clue where to find it. 😉

Calf meat v

Lamb meat v

Horse meat v

Sheep meat v

Goat meat v

Chicken turkey v

Dove v

Duck v

Ostrich v

Partridge v

Fowl v

Rabbit v

Hare v

Deer v

Muskrat v

Frog legs v

Tilapia v

Pangasius v

Herring v


List from Dutch nutritionist society.

Veggies and legumes

Over the veggies most lists advice the same. Since there are many, many vegetables allowed, I only counted those from the forbidden sections. Always mentioned are eggplant, tomato, sauerkraut and spinach. Often are pumpkins, mushrooms, pickled and canned vegetables and soy products mentioned as well.

The nutritionist I see allows me to eat most of the beans and vegetables from cans, glass and when dried. But these are not okay if they come with additives, sauce and/or herbs. She’s also the one behind all the ok’s in the legumes section. I buy most of my vegetables fresh or frozen. So haven’t yet tried if these are indeed alright to eat. She also only wants me to avoid champignons (White buttons) in the mushroom section.

The heated eggplant thing also comes from my nutritionist, apparently with cooking the molecule that works as a histamine liberator will fall apart. It’s most often mentioned as a histamine containing vegetable though, so once again she left me wondering. I don’t like eggplant anyway, so I wouldn’t want to try either.

What I did try, but is not written down, is she allows Italian tomato’s if sieved. I must confess these give fewer problems, but can still make me itchy.


Eggplant llll lll

(thoroughly heated eggplant) v

Tomato lllll lll

Sauerkraut llll lll

Spinach lllll lll

Champignons l

Mushrooms ll

Pumpkin llll

Pickled/Canned vegetables llll

Cabbage v l

Pickled cabbage

Soy and Soy products lll


Broad Beans v ll

Chicken peas ll

Lentils v ll

Red Beans v ll

Soy Beans v ll

Lupin seeds l


List from Dutch nutritionist society.


I wanted to examine the diet somewhat closer, but since there are so many foods, it’s broken up in parts. The fruits come first, since I personally really like fruits, and got rather tired of the apples, pears and grapes I mostly ate. One thing that I learned from this is that melons are okay, and watermelon seems to be as well, though many of the dutch resources  say that these no good as they contain histamine liberators.

I have googled for some dietary lists, at the end of the post the used ones are mentioned, and counted the times fruits are mentioned as either allowed or restricted. A ‘v’ is allowed and ‘l’ is not allowed.

Pineapple, papaya, strawberries, cranberries, plums and avocado are almost always mentioned as high in histamine or histamine releasing factors. Citrus has histamine releasing capacities, and generally should be avoided as well. Though some just caution but promote moderate consumption of these fruits.

Bananas seem to be highly controversial, some lists say these are okay, others put this in the avoidance zone. Also controversial are kiwi’s.

Opinions over stone fruits like apricot, cherry, nectarines and prunes also vary, from okay to bad. I think for certain of these, like apricots could be okay if eaten while fresh, whereas the dried version will have accumulated more histamine, since the dried version is often on the restricted side.  On the list from my nutritionist dried apricot, raisins and figs are allowed if these are without sulfur. And please don’t ask me why strawberries are ok if they’ve been washed by hot water, maybe the thing that triggers mast cells to release histamine is located on their skin and easily flushed off with hot water? Couldn’t find any mention of this with a quick search.

I ate a few strawberries last summer, but had taken some antihistamines as I was eating at a friend’s place, so I have no clue if they would make me react. They did taste quite good even washed in hot water. Poor guys trying to seduce a lady with strawberries while she is not allowed to eat them.

There is overwhelming agreement over the low histamine content of apples, melons and rhubarb. While mango, pears and grapes all get mentioned as restricted by one of the dietary lists.  Even though they’ve been OK’d by many other lists.

In all  cases what matters most is that the fruit is fresh, as bacterial activity breaks histidine down into histamine, so the more ripe the fruit, the more histamine it will contain.

The list:

Apple vvvv

Apricot vllv

Avocado llll

Banana vv lllll

Blackberry v

Blueberries l

Cantaloupe v

Carambola v

Cherry vlll

Citrus lllv – (oranges 0lll  – grapefruit v ll – manderine o – lemon v- lime  lv – kumquats l – limquats l – mineola l – pomelo l – tangelo  l – ugli l )

Cranberry lll

Currant lll

Date vll

Figs vv

Grape vvvl

Guave vl

Indian fig/prickly pear l

Kaki v

Kiwi lll vv

Loganberry l

Lyche v

Mango vvvl

Melon vv

Nectarine vll

Papaya llllll

Passion fruit ll

Peach vlvlv

Pear vvlv

Pineapple lllllll

Plums lll

Prunes vll

Raisins ll

Raspberries llll

Rhubarb vv

Strawberries  llllllll

Strawberries washed in hot water  v

Watermelon vvv


And I used the list I got from my nutritionist.

Relief from Histamine Intolerance

As said in my previous post what Histamine intolerance is, I mentioned that a histamine intolerance stems from a lack of the enzymes that break histamine down. If that happens histamines consumed with foods en histamine released from mast cells starts to build up within the body as it’s not broken down fast enough.

This means that there are several ways in which one can try to get the symptoms of histamine intolerance down.

The lack of these enzymes can come from a genetic problem, an injury in the gastrointestinal track, the inhibition of these enzymes or a shortage of certain minerals and vitamins that are used to create these enzymes. If the enzymes are inhibited by certain medicines, chemotherapy or the use of alcohol. This can be reversed if the factor inhibiting them is taken away. Restoration can be helped with the aid of those vitamins and minerals necessary for functioning, these can also help in any other instance if there is a lack of the enzymes.

There are also supplements on the market that contain diamine oxydase (DAO), and can provide some relief.

A third way is avoiding eating those foods that are rich in histamine. By following a diet. This is the main way a histamine intolerance is treated, and a way to diagnose it as well, but the diet can be pretty hard.

The fourth way, is to stop the histamine in the body from starting a reaction, this is what antihistamines do. They block the receptors histamine binds to, so no further  reaction occurs.

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamin C is well-known for its antihistaminic working, in this article the show that in a lot of cases blood histamine levels are directly correlated to the vitamin C levels, and that the intake of vitamin C will lead to less histamine in a matter of days.It functions as a cofactor of DAO, just like vitamin B6 does.

Diamine oxydase, the enzyme that breaks down histamine in the blood and the gut, depends on vitamin B6 to function, so if a shortage of B6 arises, the enzyme is practically useless. The intake of vitamin B6 often leads to a higher activity of DAO, at least in vitro.

Magnesium is also quite important in the histamine metabolism, a shortage  increases the activity of histidine decarboxylase in some tissues. Histidine decarboxylase is the enzyme that makes histamine from histidine. While at the same time a lack of magnesium leads to lesser activity of DAO.

Calcium is a mineral that is said to help combat histamine allergy levels, by flushing it out, or stopping the secretion, for both of these I’ve found some basis the literature, but it seems a rather complex. so I haven’t yet fully figured this out.

Copper is another cofactor of DAO and able to reduce histamine levels. It’s not often recommended to supplement, but seeing its function, it could provide some relief.

Zinc inhibits the release of histamine from mast cells. And is also sometimes mentioned as a supplement that can help.

Manganese also inhibits the release of histamine from mast cells. And just like zinc is mentioned sometimes.

So the main vitamins and minerals that can help, are vitamin C, vitamin B, magnesium and calcium. Vitamine C can be taken in a dose ranging from 1000 to 5000 mg. Vitamin B, one should be careful with, see my warning about it, I wouldn’t recommend going above a dosage of 25 mg, as 1 to 2 mg is enough. Magnesium can be taken up to 500 mg, I recently read this, about it causing diarrhea and what can be done if this happens. Calcium you can just add the recommended daily amount which is about 800 mg.

DAO supplements

There is also Histame and DAOsin, these are same thing, coming from Sciotec a company based in Austria, which found a way to extract DAO  from porcine kidneys. They do contain some extra ingredients as stabilizers. So it can provide relief for a lot of the people suffering from a histamine intolerance and for some it can make things worse. Or doesn’t seem to work at all. The only way to find out, is to try.


But the main way, which also helps in healing an injury or infection in the bowels or colon is to keep to a strict diet. Avoiding foods that can upset the gastrointestinal tract, those that are rich in histamine and those that are able to release histamine from the mastcells. Many diet examples can be found on the internet, though a lot of these have different opinions about certain foods and it can get quite confusing. Soon I will go into more depth with these lists, and do some more research on them. Hopefully that can shed some light on the matter. Since they make me crazy! I’ve been on the diet for about 8 months, and I permit myself quite some freedoms without having it affect me too much. Some things that aren’t good don’t set me off, as the threshold at which reactions start isn’t reached. But this also means, that I won’t notice those things I try to add to my diet, but that are bad even though they were mentioned as safe on some kind of list.

For example I had started to eat some cheese again, it’s not recommended on the diet, but as one needs to try new things every so often so you’re not to restricted I tried it, just really young one the 24+ , one sandwich didn’t cause trouble  another didn’t either, but when I started to eat it more often and more on a daily, since I love cheese, it became apparent that it made me really tired. One of the most important things is to diversify your food, and rotate often. So you don’t eat one thing to often.

Histamine rich foods tend to be those that have aged and or processed. Bacterial activity converts the histidine to histamine, so the longer this bacterial activity can go on, the more histamine a food will contain.  There are also some other foods that contain lots of histamine even when still fresh, like tomatoes and spinach.


There are a lot of anti-histamines available on the market. In small dosages over the counter as hay fever medication. In general the main one recommended are those that block the H1 receptors. These are widely distributed throughout the body, and are the mediators in a lot of symptoms. Older generations easily travel across the blood brain barrier into the brain, where they also interrupt the histamine pathway that is active when you are awake, making you very drowsy and sleepy.

I’ve got fexofenadine prescribed by my doctor. These are from a new generation and shouldn’t make a person drowsy. But of course they did, luckily the effect wore off within a month, and by taking them at night I slept rather well for a view weeks.

H2 blockers are also often prescribed, these mainly regulate the secretion of stomach acid. And are often given in case of a stomach ulcer, or with acid reflux problems. But these receptors are also present in different parts of the body, one of the reasons they are also often prescribed to those with skin problems, like in case of urticaria.

H3 and H4 are hardly ever used.  H4 has only recently been discovered. And H3 has an inhibitory effect on histamine itself. It works as a negative feedback loop, to regulate the reactions histamine starts.

Histamine and anorexia

As this article grabbed my attention a while back, due to my own interest in histamine but also since one of my friends suffers from anorexia nervosa.
It describes the case of a 20 year old girl, who suffered from gastrointestinal problems, headaches/migraine and asthma, she got through several medical examinations and therapies in the past years and had been diagnosed with atypical anorexia nervosa. After being put on the elimination diet she soon started to feel better, and gain weight.

While looking further I came across some other articles talking about histamine and it’s receptors in relation to anorexia. Histamine has four different receptors, and depending on the receptor and locations of the receptor it can have different effects. Research on H1 receptor blockers (antihistamines) lead to the discovery that these play a role in suppressing food intake, as suppressing these receptors lead to an increased food intake. Whereas the blocking of H3 receptors lead to less eating, as H3 receptors often regulate histamine and it effects, working against the actions of the other H-receptors and also influences other neurotransmitter. As such H3 blocking antihistamines have been proposed to be used in the fight against obesity.
These receptors can be found within certain regions of the brain like two of the important satiety centers. As well as around our food consumptions organs. Mastification, chewing, leads to activation of the histaminergic pathways but so does the oral intake of l-histidine (one of the precursors of histamine). In the article it is also mentioned that chewing alone leads to loss of fat tissue.
But they can also be found and play an important role in the reward centers in the brain. In general it is assumed that it has a negative effect on rewarding systems. It also has negative influence on the excretion of dopamine and its neurologic pathways. To complement this all, it also affects punishment systems. So often disturbances within these systems can lead to abnormal appetitive and aversive behavior.

There are also an article I found that mentioned an increase of brain histamine H1 receptor binding in patients with anorexia nervosa and females. And another mentioned an increased effect of histidine consumption in the female brain as opposed to the effect in the male brain. The former proposes that the larger occurrence of anorexia in females may be due to the increased histamine binding.

I’s amazing how I’ve noticed some of these effects, I hardly ever felt hungry and a lot of the time I just ate, because I had to, and felt satisfied with only a few bites. During the worst times, I’d lose a lot of weight, making my friends very worried about me. Especially with one of us, and many other in our surroundings having anorexia. They still keep a close eye on my weight, making compliments whenever I see them, about any suspected weight gain.

Gaining weight isn’t that hard anymore, since after I started the diet, I became very very very hungry, I felt starved all the time. I’m often a big eater, but I’ve started eating immense amounts of food from that time on.

The depressed second brain

Interesting article on the Scientific American site.

Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being

Is is about how our guts function as a second brain, due the immense amount of neurons located in it. A lot of the information relayed through these neurons is processed there, but a large amount of information is sent to the brain as well and can probably influence our mood. It also mentions the effects of serotonin located within the gut and how SSRi’s, serotonine uptake inhibitors, can lead to too much of it and other medication to too litle, causing problems on it’s own.

As histamine is an important neurotransmitter as well, I can only wonder what the effects of histamine will be. If the amount and distressing inflammation effects of histamine is being relayed to the brain. And if this has such a large impact on mood and other functions. It can probably clarify a lot of the distress as experienced by those that are exposed to a high level histamine

Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 1:12 am  Leave a Comment  


Since histamine has a large amount of functions within the human body, the effects of high histamine blood levels can vary widely. I’ve scoured the net to make a good list of these and provide a short explanation as to why histamine causes these.   I’d like to go into these in more detail in later posts. Some of these are widely known and proven by science, others I didn’t put through the scholar search engines yet, but I will try to continuously update this post every time I find out more.

Symptoms affecting muscles

Histamine affects smooth muscle, which acts autonomously,  histamine is the main controlling agent for contractions within this type of muscle. But it can also cause reactions within other types of muscle,

Bladder – As the bladder is made out of smooth muscle, contractions can occur, often people suffer from a weak bladder resulting in needing to pee often.

Bronchioconstriction/wheezing – Smooth muscle is also located in the airways, leading to asthmatic symptoms.

Gastrointestinal trouble – The same goes for the bowel and colon which is mostly made out of smooth muscle. Spasm’s and irritable bowel syndrome can be caused by histamine. As are many other problems. Diarrhea or constipation, bloating, cramps, abdominal pain and nausea to name a few eh.. well most.

dysmenorrhea (menstruation pain) – The uterus consists of smooth muscle, and a heightened amount of histamine can cause more severe menstruation cramps in women. As histamine also tampers with hormonal levels like progesterone and oestrogen, which in turn can influence levels of histamine. The good news is that the placenta in pregnant women produces large amounts of DAO leading to a remission of the intolerance during pregnancy.

Blood pressure and flushing – Smooth muscle is located in the blood vessel, so histamine affects the dilation of blood vessels and the permeability as well. Leading to a variety of symptoms like high or low blood pressure, as well as flushing (blushing) of the skin.

Hyves/eczema/urticaria – These often are immunological responses, but can be caused or exacerbated by high levels of histamine.

Heart tachycardia –  Histamine is also present in the heart, and heart rhythm failures and palpitations can be caused by histamine. If histamine is the cause of this, there is no presence of other heart disease.

(Fibro)myalgia–  It also plays a role in the functioning of other muscles, Leading to muscle aches even without a cause, and also (fibro)myalgia symptoms.

Muscle cramps and spasms – As said it’s import in muscle functioning. It can also cause cramps and spasms of non-smooth muscle mass and muscle soreness. The release of nitrite oxide stimulated by histamine is the main cause of this.

Other effects:

Pain – Histamine decreases the threshold of pain receptors to feel pain, as it sensitizes the pain receptors.

Itch –  Histamine stimulates sensory nerve endings which can cause itching.

Headache/migraine – As histamine stimulates the release of nitrate monoxide, it can cause slight headaches to full-blown migraine attacks.

Joint pain/rheumatic problems – The main cause of these are infections and the holding of fluid, since histamine does exactly does things, these kind of problems will arise as well.

Stomach Acid/Ulcers – Histamine also steers the production of stomach acid, leading to ulcers and other disorders of the stomach. Frequent hiccups are one example of this.

Allergies/sickness – As histamine is an important messenger molecule in immunological responses. it can cause the same symptoms as allergies or a real invasion of some sort can cause.

Mucus secretion – As well as stimulating gastric acid, it also stimulates other mucus secretions,  saliva, mucus of the nose, mucus within the airways and  tears.

Dark circles under the eyes – these results because of the direct influence of histamine on vasodilation, but also the itch histamine can cause leads to scratching and rubbing around the eyes can exacerbate these even more.

Eyesight – Eyesight troubles can occur, making the eyes more and less sensitive to light, as well as interfere with the ability to contract eye muscles and with vasodilation contracting of fluids, the shape of the lens of the eye can change. Resulting in less than perfect vision.

Sweating – Histamine also plays a role in different ways in the regulation of sweat, and most of all the occurrence of sweating.

Hairloss – histamine is also related to the induction of hair loss, by continual inflammation follicles can stop producing hair. This can also result from inner stress and tension occurring direct or indirectly from a high level of histamine.

Fatigue – as the adrenal gland reacts upon histamine within the blood by releasing cortisol, this gland can get exhausted leading to fatigue. The antagonistic effect of adrenaline on histamine as well can cause feelings of fatigue.

Central nervous system

Most of these symptoms just mentioned are within the general body, but histamine also has major functions within the central nervous system. Even though I often see mentioned it doesn’t or badly diffuses through the blood-brain-barrier, it does affect the permeability of the blood brain barrier and as such I figure histamine will be able to cross is. And as certain symptoms t  stem from a feedback system from the rest of the body to the central nervous system which leads to certain reactions with the nervous system. This could be the cause for other symptoms as well.

Thirst – As neurotransmitter histamine is part of the management of water intake and distribution throughout the body it is released if dehydration occurs. As such excessive levels of histamine can occur due to dehydration itself. It will make you crave for fluids, food and carbohydrates (as these help in the distribution of water).

Lack of appetite – Even though in the regulation of water intake histamine plays a role in the need for food, which contains water, it also suppresses hunger. If the gastrointestinal problems in itself didn’t yet do so.

Nausea – Histamine mediates the sending of nausea signals from the body to the brain. And also stimulates the ‘vomiting’ center in the brain. Leading to nausea and vomiting.

Dizziness/Vertigo – Most of these stem from inner ear troubles. Even though in some cases histamine itself can give relief from this. It can also cause dizziness.  As it affects the vestibular responses.

Arousal/insomnia/anxiety – These are in my opinion closely related even though different brain areas are involved. One major function of histamine is in an area of the brain that’s active when awake, it controls wakefulness and circadian rhythm, another one is the anxiety center. There closely correlate in being awake, wakeful, and vigilant for threats. This can lead to insomnia, and anxiety attacks.

Nightmares – Though it is unknown where this stems. I figure the stimulation of the anxiety center and the increase of anxiety can result in nightmares.

Crying – Tears also function as a way to flush stress molecules and toxins from the body. This, the anxiety, and production of tears caused by histamine, can lead to persons being more prone to start crying.

Depression – Histamine inhibits the release of serotonin, leading to the occurrence of depression. In combination with the detrimental effects on healths this occurs even more easily.

Memory – As histamine plays an important role within memory storage and retrieval, problems with memory can occur.

Other trouble that can occur

Weight problems – As metabolism is influenced in a variety of ways by a lot of factors, like immunological stress and other stress factors. The presence of gastrointestinal problems can lead to a lack of nutritional uptake from the bowels. Overstressing of the liver as well, can lead to an excessive storage of fat. Recently an article appeared in which a woman suffered from anorexia was described, but instead of anorexia she suffered from histamine intolerance.

Sexual disorders – With the functions of histamine in vasodilation and arousal, it plays a major role in arousal of mind and body. Leading to high libido and making it easier to achieve orgasm. Especially in males this can lead to premature ejaculation

Adrenaline/panick attacks/fatigue – Adrenaline counteracts the functions of histamine, and vice versa. As histamine increases adrenaline will as well. Messing up chemistry in body and brain even more. Causing panic attacks. fatigue etc.

Sensitivity to stress – As mean there are quite some effects histamine has which can lead to stress sensitivity. One more is that stress itself can cause release of histamine. If there is a high level of histamine, than a little bit of extra released histamine can quickly lead to more severe reactions.

Sensitivity to other factors – A lot of other factors will release histamine, heat, cold, pollen, aggravation of the skin and such, will lead to more severe oversensitive reactions in those with high levels of histamine.

Alcohol intolerance – Alcohol often contains a lot of histamine, leading to any histamine intolerance symptoms. And alcohol also has an inhibiting effect on the activity of one of the enzymes breaking down histamine, which can lead to worse symptoms, and more sensitive reactions over a longer period of time.

Other possible symptoms and comorbities

Restless leg syndrome – As histamine mediates in alertness and wakefulness. It is found that people with restless leg syndrome often have more histamine H2 and H3 receptors within their brain. More histamine can exacerbate and cause this syndrome. Though anti-histamines can also worsen and cause restless legs.

Ménière’s Disease- Ménière is disorder of the inner ear, often due to the containment of fluids within it. histamine can also lead to too much fluid within the inner ear. And lead to Ménière symptoms. As can too little histamine.

ADD/ADHD – ADD and ADHD tend to stem from a lack of dopamine in the brain. As histamine inhibits the release of dopamine, this can lead to ADD and ADHD like symptoms.  Other effects of histamine on neurotransmitters and the brain can lead to these symptoms as well.  People that suffer from ADD and ADHD often show higher histamine levels.

Autism – Even though histamine doesn’t cause autism, it can cause autism like symptoms due to the effect is has on body and brain. Often people with autism suffer from higher histamine levels which exacerbates some of the problems they have.

OCD – It is also said that histamine can cause OCD or worsen it. With the anxiety and arousal, can also lead to perfectionistic tendencies.

Schizophrenia – schizophrenics often show high or low levels of histamine. It is though that some functions of histamine can set of a psychotic episode in schizophrenics.

Published in: on February 17, 2010 at 11:43 pm  Comments (7)  

What is histamine intolerance

When I was told about the histamine intolerance I suffered from, I didn’t believe it at first, I was afraid it was some bogus disease or some well we don’t know what’s wrong, so let’s just call it so and so. Just like former diagnosis I had gotten like irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome.

But a histamine intolerance is a very real thing. And it’s quite clear what the cause of it is.


Histamine is an amino acid. A very small one even. One of the most well known functions of it is in the mediation of immunological responses. When harm is done to the body or intruders are noticed, histamine is released from specialized storage cells (mast cells) in the bloodstream to widen blood vessels and make their walls more permeable, so more blood and all handy things carried in the blood to fight of harm and intruders can go to the place of the disturbance.

Which is the reason a lot of the symptoms of histamine intolerance mimic allergic responses or real infections.  Mimic, since it isn’t an allergic response or a reaction to a threat at all.  Just a large amount of histamine can cause these responses.

The reason large amounts of histamine can build  up in the body

There are several reasons a large amount of histamine can come into existence in the human body and lead to annoying responses.

Histamine is not just active in the human body. It is also present in most other animal life, and even in plants. Which means that most of our foods contain histamine. So we consume histamine with almost everything we eat and drink. There are also certain substances that are able to aggravate the mast cells in which histamine is stored, so their contents get released  into the blood stream.

There are several enzymes that break down histamine. The main ones are histamine methyltransferase which mostly targets histamine within cells. And there is diamin oxidase (DAO) which is present in the walls of the bowels and within the bloodstream.

Most histamine intolerances are due to a lack of DAO. Ingested histamine is normally filtered within the walls of the bowels, so it doesn’t enter the bloodstream. And the histamine that has entered the bloodstream is filtered away with DAO as well. As the amount of DAO declines, the amount of free histamine in the body can grow rapidly, especially when foods high in histamine are eaten.

DOA can be low due to a genetic disorder. But the production of it can also be impaired when the bowels get damaged due to an infection but also different aggravations (antibiotics, crohn disease, gluten). A third reason the amount of DAO can be low is because it can be inactivated by several different substances, like certain medicines (morphine ) , but also alcohol impairs the working of it. Another reason a shortage of DAO can occur is when the components it is build out of aren’t present in large enough amounts, for example a shortage of copper and B6.

Since the levels of DAO can fluctuate with all these different reasons, the sensitivity to histamine can change depending on the circumstances. After a night of drinking I have to be much more careful with histamine rich foods. Stress can not only release histamine directly but also work against the working of DOA.

Since the response depends on the amount of histamine within the body, and this depends on it’s turn on the amount of DAO, the amount of histamine that can be taken before reactions occur is different for most people. And as most reactions only happen when a certain threshold is passed it will take a while for anyone to find out where that threshold is, and how certain things like stress affect this.

The amount of histamine in foods can also greatly vary, since the longer it is stored the more histamine is made by bacterial activity and other processes. That’s why certain foods like fish are okay if they are very fresh or never got defrosted. The same goes for any other food, like fruits and veggies.

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 10:37 pm  Comments (23)  
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