Do You Have Histamine Intolerance?
This article will be useful to you if you often suffer from symptoms like hives, a blocked nose, itchy eyes or difficulty breathing/ wheezing.
I know from my own experience that it can be really hard to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms, and you might just think that you have an allergy when in fact you have histamine intolerance (more on that below…)
The symptoms can be easily mistaken for allergy symptoms, and I don’t want you to take over the counter meds and still suffer from recurring symptoms just because the cause isn’t eliminated.
Common Histamine Intolerance Symptoms:
- Nasal congestion, sneezing
- Difficulty breathing, wheezing
- Chest pain, acute allergy flare up
- Throat swelling/ anaphylactic shock
- Hives, rashes
- Headaches, flushing
- Finding it hard to fall asleep/ easily waking up
- Accelerated heart rate, dizziness
- Confusion, irritability
- Nausea, heartburn, reflux
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Fatigue, anxiety
- Abdominal cramps
What is Histamine?
Histamine is a neurotransmitter that is vitally important for a series of bodily functions. It not only regulates stomach acid, how permeable the blood vessels are, brain function and muscle contraction. It is also present in the skin, lung, and stomach, the brain and the heart as the first line of defence when your immune system creates an inflammatory response to signal that it has detected an invader or allergen.
So if you have hay fever for instance histamine is responsible for the swelling of your nasal passages and your watery eyes.
What Causes Histamine Intolerance?
- You might be lacking an enzyme responsible for the breakdown of histamine in the body (DAO is one of them).
- You might have a low threshold genetically and your body is just sensitive to a certain amount of histamines in your body.
- You might have eaten a large amount of histamine containing foods.
- Your body might not be able to effectively deal with the raised histamine levels due to other illnesses that are present like a gluten intolerance, leaky gut, SIBO or a hormone imbalance.
Foods Known to Cause a Histamine Response:
- Alcohol, vinegar
- Canned, fermented or pickled foods (also Tamari, Miso…)
- Large amounts of eggs
- Bone broth that has been cooking for longer than 4 hours (the longer the more histamines!)
- Shellfish and fish or meat that isn’t fresh (also leftover after a day in the fridge)
- Smoked meat products – ham, sausages, salami, pepperoni
- Matured cheeses
- Beans and pulses
- Nuts, chocolate, black tea
- Citrus fruit, berries
- Spinach, tomatoes, avocado, eggplant
- Ready meals and foods with additives like glutamate
Candida and Histamine Intolerance:
So for instance if you’ve been strictly following the Candida diet and have only been eating meat, fish, eggs and nuts and you keep feeling rotten although you are so good with the diet then you might just be histamine intolerant!
This happened to me whenever I was particularly vigilant with my anti-fungal regime and Candida diet and it took me forever to put the two and two together and understand that what I was experiencing wasn’t actually Candida related but histamine intolerance. So I thought I’d point this out to you in case you are experiencing similar symptoms and might be wondering if what you are doing isn’t working….
Especially if you’ve only been snacking on avocados, chicken and bone broth and you are feeling head-achy with a sore throat and blocked nose then chances are you have a Histamine Intolerance, and need to chill out on the foods above for a few days until your symptoms have subsided.
As your body heals you’ll be able to eat more of those foods again and might not experience histamine intolerance symptoms any more.
What you can eat instead:
- freshly caught fish
- freshly cooked poultry (or frozen right after buying)
- small amounts of eggs, wholegrain rice and quinoa
- hearty soups & lightly cooked broth
- all vegetables (except for tomatoes, eggplant/ aubergine, spinach)
- dairy substitutes: coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, almond milk
- cooking oils: olive oil, coconut oil
- fresh herbs and herbal teas
Useful Supplements if you have Histamine Intolerance
As the name suggests, antihistamines prevent histamines to cause such reactions reducing redness, swelling, hives and watery eyes. But they also have certain side effects like drowsiness or drying out your mucus membranes which makes you more susceptible to colds and infections. Besides, all over the counter drugs cause a strain on your liver having to filter the drug residue out of your blood stream. I used to pop antihistamines like smarties only a few years ago – It was the only thing that gave me relief from the incapacitating allergy fits I used to get.
If you accidentally ingested too many histamine foods and developed an allergic response you can try Methionine supplements — they suppress rashes and reduce histamine allergies.
If your symptoms are predominantly external, meaning you get hives or insect bites pain and itch lasts you weeks rather than days then D-Hist by Orthomolecular can help you. This is a tip from my lovely reader Cat who was able to control the over-abundance of histamines in her body.
You can also alleviate the symptoms to some extent by taking colon cleanse tablets (herbal laxative), doing enemas, relaxing more, getting a good night’s sleep — all this helps your body’s own detox system.