It may be easy to relate to the signs and symptoms of Histamine Intolerance. If you suffer from headaches, asthma or eczema there is a likelihood that it plays a role in triggering or worsening your condition. Gut issues can also be associated with histamine symptoms – where the DAO enzyme crucial for histamine metabolism can be lost or inactivated. (1)
Histamine occurs to various degrees in many foods. In healthy persons, dietary histamine can be rapidly detoxified(2) whereas persons with low Diamine oxidase (DAO) are at risk of histamine excess. Interestingly, the most outstanding clinical characteristic of Histamine Intolerance is reacting to red wine,(3) and this classic sign can offer a great clue as to whether it is at the root of the problem for you.
It isn’t just about Hayfever
Many of the numerous symptoms associated with histamine excess may seem hayfever-like, mimicking an allergic reaction, including: (2,4,5)
- arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm)
- flushing of the skin
- hypotension (low blood pressure)
- pruritus (skin itching)
- rhino-conjunctival symptoms
- shortness of breath
- urticaria (hives)
After a negative diagnosis of food allergy, histamine intolerance can be considered. Looking at family history is a good start since genetic predisposition can impact the optimal functioning of DAO. Another common underlying cause is gastrointestinal diseases such as IBS, IBD or SIBO. The good news is DAO deficiency can be a temporary and reversible condition,(5) when gut issues are addressed.
Taking a Break
Since exposure to histamine exists beyond diet, total avoidance is not attainable. To add to this, each person’s level of tolerance to histamine is unique and ever-changing, so the approach to reduce dietary sources needs to be individualised. (6) General advice with a lot of restraints is often unnecessarily strict and nutrition therapy aims at reducing symptoms to a minimum while maintaining a high quality of life. (7)
You may be surprised at the number of high histamine foods in your daily diet. While not an extensive list, the top offenders appear to be:(6)
- aged foods such as cheeses and processed meats
- fermented foods including yogurt and sauerkraut
- fermented beverages such as kombucha and alcohol
- some fish, especially frozen, smoked, and canned varieties
- fruits, such as strawberries and cherries
- vegetables, including spinach, tomatoes and eggplant
- seasonings, such as chilli powder, cinnamon and cloves
- condiments like vinegar and soy sauce
Banana and yoghurt for breakfast, tinned salmon with spinach for lunch, sipping on kombucha all day, a tomato-based curry and a glass of red wine for dinner and strawberries for dessert – it’s not hard to heighten the histamine response in the space of a day!
Halving your Histamine
Here at the clinic, we work with you to create short term dietary changes for symptom reduction, with a focus on keeping a balanced diet, minimal restriction and rotation of high histamine foods. Reintroduction of some foods is also closely monitored since studies have shown that after ingestion of food rich in histamine clearcut recurrence of atopic eczema was seen in 50% of the patients affected. (4) Since it plays a major part in food intolerance, we can also arrange for appropriate testing when triggers are hard to identify.
Overcoming the Histamine Hurdle
Getting your health and wellbeing back on track after being in a histamine haze can bring about noticeable change. Alongside diet adjustments, addressing gut health and immune support with a range of Naturopathic remedies, including potent herbal medicines can help to address, sustain and maintain positive change. We’re here to help you get back to enjoying smoked salmon at Sunday brunch and the occasional strawberries and champagne!