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Histamine Intolerance – Symptoms, Causes & Natural Support

ESTIMATED READING TIME 11 MINUTES

Histamine Intolerance - Image shows the molecular structure of histamine.

Natural Support for Histamine Intolerance

Do you struggle with symptoms like coughing, sneezing, hives, headaches or digestive issues that seemingly appear out of nowhere? If so, you’re not alone. You may be suffering from histamine intolerance.

Histamine intolerance is a growing concern for many people. However, the good news is there are natural ways to support your body and alleviate the symptoms.

In this article, we’ll explore some natural strategies for managing histamine levels.

What is Histamine Intolerance?

Your body produces histamine as part of its immune response, helping to fight off infections and heal injuries. It’s a chemical designed to dilate your blood vessels, constrict your airways and encourage mucus creation. In all, it creates inflammation as a short-term way of dealing with any threats to your body. Since it also plays a role in allergic responses, if you react to substances like pollen or dust, your body will be producing histamine.

So, as you can see, histamine does play a useful role in the body. However, once it’s served its purpose it should be broken down and removed, so its levels don’t remain too high.

Unfortunately, some people have difficulty breaking down histamine after it’s been produced. This is often related to a deficiency in an enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO). Your body needs this enzyme to break down histamine efficiently. So, if you haven’t enough of this enzyme, histamine accumulates in the body after it’s released, causing unpleasant symptoms.

Certain foods naturally contain histamine, especially those that have been fermented or aged. If you’re lacking in DAO, histamine levels will remain high after such foods have been consumed.

So, although the term histamine intolerance makes it sound as though for some reason your body can’t tolerate histamine, it’s more a case of histamine levels being too high. Histamine intolerance isn’t an allergy, even though it produces similar symptoms. Because of this, it’s often also called histamine imbalance.

Histamine Intolerance Symptoms

Your body has histamine receptors in many different areas. So, an excess of histamine can result in many varied symptoms which differ from person to person. They include:

  • headaches
  • shortness of breath
  • hives, rashes, itching and other skin issues
  • skin flushing
  • low blood pressure
  • swelling of tongue or lips
  • fast heart rate
  • nasal congestion, runny nose and sneezing
  • digestive issues like upset stomach, bloating, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting
  • painful periods


As you can see, the symptoms of histamine intolerance can be very diverse.

Histamine Dumping at Night

Some people notice they experience an attack of histamine-related symptoms at night. This makes sense as your body naturally produces more histamine at night.

If this happens to you, you’ll experience night sweats, insomnia, itchy skin, heartburn and restlessness. Eating a meal late in the evening can exacerbate these symptoms if it comprises foods containing histamine.

How to Lower Histamine Naturally

Adopting a low-histamine diet means avoiding foods containing high levels of histamine. Although this is not a cure, you might find that avoiding high histamine foods, especially initially, can help your body to heal. 

Foods High In Histamine to Avoid

  • Processed meats
  • Many cheeses including parmesan, blue cheeses and camembert
  • Alcohol, especially wine and beer
  • Some food additives
  • Certain fruits such as strawberries, as well as tropical fruits like citrus fruits, papaya and bananas
  • Shellfish
  • Some vegetables like tomatoes, aubergines and spinach
  • Fermented foods, including sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and kombucha

 

Some prescription medications can trigger the release of histamine or prevent it from being cleared from your body. So, it’s worth checking with your GP if you are on any medication and experiencing histamine intolerance symptoms.

Low Histamine Food List

Low Histamine Foods

Many foods that are rich in nutrients are also naturally low in histamine. These include:

  • Most fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Oily fish
  • Organic meat and poultry
  • Gluten-free grains like quinoa, rice gluten-free oats
  • Healthy fats like avocado oil, coconut oil and olive oil

Histamine Intolerance Testing

It can be tricky to detect histamine intolerance, because of the range of symptoms it produces. It’s best to work with a practitioner who can analyse your food diary and detect any patterns.

Although avoiding foods which raise histamine levels can be useful to help determine whether high histamine levels are behind your symptoms, it’s not a long-term solution. This is because many high histamine foods are useful sources of nutrients.

Thinking about why histamine levels are high can help inform the steps to take to reduce them.

How to Clear Histamine

Some people are genetically predisposed to produce low levels of DAO. However, other factors can affect the production of this enzyme. One of these is gut health.
  • Look After Your Gut
Histamine intolerance is often related to an imbalance in gut health. Certain bacteria support the clearance of histamine from the body and suppress its release, as well as decreasing the sensitivity of histamine receptors 1. Other types of bacteria tend to encourage histamine release 2. Therefore, supporting your digestive system is key to managing histamine intolerance. It follows, then, that a balanced, healthy gut flora may improve histamine metabolism. A range of plant foods provide nourishment to the healthy types of gut flora. These include garlic, onions, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke and apples. A probiotic supplement, containing the types of beneficial bacteria that you want living in your digestive system, may be recommended. Meanwhile, inflammation of the intestinal lining can impair the release and activity of DAO 3. Encouraging healthy bowel bacteria can help manage inflammation and nourish the intestinal lining.

What Supplements Can Help Histamine Clearance?

Foods rich in quercitin can reduce histamine levels. The photograph shows some of these foods along with the checmical formula for quercitin
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help support the immune system and reduce inflammation 4. It’s also needed for optimal DAO levels 5. Quercetin is a natural plant compound found in fruit and vegetables. It’s been shown to help reduce the amount of histamine released 1. Other nutrients essential for histamine clearance include magnesium 7 and copper 8. Finally, the correct levels of vitamin B12 and B6 also seem to be important for managing histamine levels.

Does Stress Worsen Histamine Intolerance?

Stress can make the symptoms of histamine intolerance worse by increasing inflammation and triggering histamine release 9. Stress-reducing practices like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, Tai Chi or spending time in nature can help calm your nervous system.

Can Herbs Support Histamine Intolerance?

Herbs like stinging nettle, butterbur and ginger all have natural antihistamine properties 10 as well as helping to reduce inflammation. A practitioner can advise on the best herbs for your specific needs.

Natural Help for Histamine Intolerance

In conclusion, histamine intolerance can be challenging to navigate. However, incorporating natural strategies can help manage your symptoms. Our practitioners are dedicated to finding the causes of your health issues. To start your journey towards overcoming histamine intolerance, contact us today for a free 15-minute discovery call.

References

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