Histamine Intolerance: More Than Just Seasonal Allergies
Histamine is an important inflammatory molecule used by your immune system.
Seasonal allergies and asthma are both affected by histamine release in your body, but did you know that gut issues and pain are also affected?
In a healthy gut, histamine is produced in large amounts, but your gut cells also do an excellent job of producing diamine oxidase (DAO) to breakdown histamine. If your gut is inflamed from a chronic digestive issue, your gut cells (called enterocytes) have a limited ability to produce DAO. When the production of histamine outpaces your body’s ability to break it down, histamine can spread from the gut to other parts of your body.
Flushing, headaches, rashes, diarrhea and abdominal pain can all result from an imbalance in the breakdown of histamine; this is called histamine intolerance (HIT). HIT has been implicated in anxiety, depression, chronic pain, estrogen dominance, interstitial cystitis, urinary tract infections, IBS, and IBD. Certain medications can also affect HIT.
Children with a history of chronic abdominal pain may benefit from a diet low in the amino acid histidine, and foods that free histamine in your body. Histidine is converted to histamine through a series of steps in your gut.
Aged cheeses, red wine, yeast products, and cured meats have all been identified as ‘histamine-rich’ foods; those that can add more histamine to your system. Citrus fruits, while not histamine-rich, have been implicated as a histamine liberator.
If DAO is not being produced in sufficient quantities, both histamine-rich foods and histamine liberators can worsen HIT.
Your family or naturopathic doctor may be able to test for blood levels of DAO, but unfortunately, low DAO blood levels are not always a reliable way to predict HIT. If avoidance of histamine-rich foods improves your symptoms, the chances are good that HIT is the culprit.
Working with your naturopathic or functional medicine doctor to strengthen your digestion, immunity, and response to stressors is what will ultimately provide meaningful change in HIT.
This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Now I would like to hear from you. Do you suffer from Seasonal Allergies? What have you tried to help your symptoms? Let us know in the comments below.