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The many faces of histamine intolerance

I am astounded at how many of us unknowingly suffer from excess histamine. Some of us itch or sneeze while others get headaches, migraines, joint pain, or nausea – within minutes or several hours after exposure! Our “histamine bucket” fills up based on factors such as genetics, allergies, medication, diet, environment, nutritional deficiencies, intestinal damage, and UV exposure. When our body cannot break down excess histamine, we suffer with histamine intolerance and increased inflammation. When we realize what is really happening, we can better prevent and treat this misunderstood condition!

Most of us know histamines through antihistamine drugs that relieve our suffering from allergies to pollen, insect bites, and even foods. Histamine is naturally produced in our body by mast cells or white blood cells, and it performs different functions by binding with histamine receptors. Depending upon their location, histamine receptors control very different body functions:

  • Histamine H1 receptors: Smooth muscle and endothelial cells affecting skin; blood vessels (Benadryl and Claritin block activity of these receptors)
  • Histamine H2 receptors: Cells in the intestines control acid secretion, abdominal pain, and nausea; heart rate (Histamine H2 receptor antagonist drugs have been used to reduce symptoms of dyspepsia and GERD)
  • Histamine H3 receptors: Central nervous system controlling nerves, sleep, appetite and behavior
  • Histamine H4 receptors: Thymus, small intestine, spleen, colon, bone marrow and white blood cells; immune function and inflammation

Keep in mind, histamine is essential for us to properly function and fight off invading toxins. But when histamine accumulates faster than we can break it down, it triggers inflammation in dreaded patterns of histamine intolerance unique to each person and episode. Our battle with histamine can hide behind less obvious symptoms like headaches, foggy thinking, diarrhea, arrhythmia, sinus congestion, or itchy skin appearing within minutes or even several hours after exposure. Extreme histamine levels can trigger breathing difficulty and swelling called anaphylaxis. The concept of histamine intolerance is rarely discussed by doctors but clearly outlined in scientific research.

So why haven’t we heard about this?

Histamine intolerance is hugely underestimated in the population. Most people respond to symptoms of histamine intolerance with an aspirin, antacid, or other quick-fix pill that does not address the root problem. Sometimes histamine levels are raised due to allergy, but histamine intolerance is not a true allergy and it won’t show up on allergy tests.

Unlike allergy testing, confirming a serious histamine intolerance isn’t easy or profitable for doctors. An elaborate study discovered that “histamine-intolerant subjects reacted with different organs on different occasions.” Each person has a unique set of symptoms that may not always recur in the same location or intensity. The only true test for histamine intolerance requires a strict histamine-free diet followed by a double-blind food challenge. With a true diagnosis, the standard treatment is even more dismal – a low-histamine diet for life. But don’t give up yet!

What causes histamine levels to rise?

Reduced or inhibited enzymes:

One of the more common reasons we suffer from histamine intolerance is the lack of enzymes diamine oxidase (DAO) and histamine-N-methyl transferase (HNMT). These enzymes break down histamine and keep it in check. DAO and HNMT levels may be genetically low in some individuals, blocked by drugs, or reduced from intestinal damage or diseases such as celiac. Though human research is lacking, caffeine inhibited DAO in animal studies. Though DAO testing has typically been limited to countries outside of the United States, Dunwoody Labs in Georgia appears to offer DAO analysis of blood tests shipped from a practitioner.

Many factors affect the body’s histamine levels, and there are ways we can help reduce the load. Our exposure to allergens, diet, drug use, temperature, hormones, and nutritional deficiencies dramatically impact our histamine levels throughout the day. Imagine your histamine as a “bucket” that fills up and only reveals symptoms after overflowing.

Allergies:

Large amounts of histamine are promptly released when we are exposed to our allergens, and the most common allergens include mold, dust mites, animal dander, pollen, medications, insect stings, latex, and food. Interestingly, scientists are beginning to suspect that these allergies have developed in order to protect us from environmental toxins. It is important to avoid exposure to known or suspected allergies, especially when histamine levels are a potential problem. Get tested and avoid the triggers to start emptying the bucket!

The most common food allergies include dairy, wheat, shellfish, eggs, and nuts. Contact allergies can include a wide range of substances such as rubber, nickel (in jewelry), acrylates (artificial nails), pine resin, and sunscreen or shampoo ingredients (such as benzophenone). Some people experience an early response to allergens, while others might only notice a late-phase response that can appear up to 10 hours later. Symptoms of this delayed response can last up to 24 hours.

If any type of food allergy is suspected, consult with an allergist and start carefully taking notes about diet and symptoms. ChartMySelf.com can help you keep online records of your health. Blood tests for both immediate and delayed food allergies are available to doctors from Great Plains LaboratoryUS Biotek, and many others. Depending on the type of allergy exposure and related damage, a body may require days, weeks, or even months to fully recover.

Air pollution and pollen:

New research shows that air pollution contributes to cardiovascular disease by the increase in histamine and inflammation. Genetics also play a role in a person’s susceptibility to pollution.

These collective studies suggest that both short- and long-term PM inhalation can enhance thrombotic and coagulation tendencies, potentially via increases in circulating histamine and inflammatory cytokines and/or activated white cells and platelets. – Circulation, 2010

Interestingly, new research shows that some of us can experience inflammation from pollen without any specific allergy! Future studies will undoubtedly reveal how particles in our environment can affect our immune system beyond the classic allergy response.

Water pollution:

Studies have shown that common environmental contaminants trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene raised histamine levels in lab rats by increasing their sensitivity to allergens.

Drug interference:

Drugs can inhibit our vital histamine enzymes even more than food, possibly increasing the risk of food poisoning and other symptoms of excessive histamine. According to a research reportNSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen can cause histamine levels to rise. Opoid drugs and analgesics are the most common drugs used in hospitals, releasing histamine that results in uncomfortable itching for many patients. Excessive histamine can also result from drugs including (but not limited to) acetylcysteine, acetylsalicylic acid, alcuronium, alprenolol, ambroxol, amiloride, aminophylline, amitriptyline, cefuroxime, cefotiam, chloroquine, cimetidine, clavulanic acid, cyclophosphamide, D-tubocurarine, dihydralazine, dobutamine, isoniazid, metamizole, morphine, pancuronium, pethidine, prilocaine, propafenone, metoclopramide, pentamidin, thiopental, and verapamil.

Foods high in histamine:

Symptoms can often be prevented by avoiding foods high in histamine:

  • Fermented foods like wine, aged cheese, aged or smoked meats, fermented soy products (including tofu and soy sauce), vinegar (including pickles, ketchup and prepared mustard), and sauerkraut
  • Foods exposed to high amounts of bacteria such as fish/shellfish
  • Leftover meats can quickly accumulate microorganisms which result in histamine formation
  • Chocolate/cocoa, spinach, eggplant, nuts, pumpkin, tomato, strawberries, citrus fruits, and seasonings like cinnamon, chili powder, and cloves can stimulate the release of histamine
  • Wheat-based products
  • Beverages such as tea (herbal or regular) and soy milk are high in histamine
  • Any type of alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to break down histamine.
  • Prepackaged meals

A useful reference for foods and related allergies and intolerances can be found at FoodsMatter.com.

Foods high in histadine (over 1000 mg) may also be problematic, as histadine converts to histamine:

  • Game meat including buffalo, elk, moose, caribou
  • Pork including loin, chops or other cuts, ham, bacon
  • Soy protein
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Veal and beef, pastrami
  • Lamb
  • Fish including tuna, pike, cod, sunfish, perch, grouper, and others
  • Cottage cheese

Source: Nutritiondata.self.com

Foods high in fat:

New studies show that fat absorption may dramatically increase the release of histamine and contribute to chronic inflammation.

Nutritional imbalances:

When the body is low in B vitamins, vitamin C, and copper, histamine may not break down sufficiently to overcome symptoms of intolerance. Foods high in Bs include potatoes, sunflower seeds, and soybeans. Foods high in vitamin C include bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, and kale. Researchers found that vitamin C may work by increasing the activity of the DAO enzyme.

Copper is required to form the DAO enzyme and copper deficiency associates with low DAO enzyme activity in animals. More research is necessary to confirm that copper supplementation increases DAO activity. Foods high in copper include fresh basil, cocoa powder, cashews, soybeans (mature), herbal tea, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, and lentils.

Some foods like potato are also high in oxalate which can release histamine in certain people. Keep in mind that while citrus is high in vitamin C, it releases histamine within the body and can aggravate symptoms. A food allergy to any of the above foods will also increase histamine.

Heat and UVB light:

Studies show that UVB light caused histamine release in vitro, though it was protected by ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Some people notice that rashes and skin conditions can worsen with exposure to sun and heat.

Exercise:

Some episodes of anaphylaxis have been triggered by moderately intense exercise, particularly in warm environments. These extreme reactions are typically related to food allergens that were consumed prior to physical activity. Strict avoidance of allergens may help prevent symptoms of histamine intolerance that occur during exercise – particularly dynamic exercises such as jogging, running, and aerobics that involve less resistance. Recent studies indicate that the amino acid L-carnosine is released during these exercises and then converted to histamine.

Hormones – including stress hormones:

Rising estrogen levels have been associated with elevated histamine, and women might notice increased sensitivity and symptoms of histamine intolerance at different times in their monthly cycle. Periods of high estrogen link to sinus sensitivity to histamine. Environmental estrogens such as pesticides, agricultural growth hormones, and PVC in plastics may also activate histamine release. Conversely, histamine appears to stimulate estrogen levels as well and exacerbate symptoms. Diamine oxidase levels are much higher in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, theoretically reducing the risk of excess histamine during that phase.

The “stress” hormone cortisol appears to increase histamine in stomach and intestines in lab studiesReducing stress can lower the amount of stimulating hormones that activate mast cells which release histamine and other factors of inflammation.

How can we manage a histamine overload?

At times we can reach a “point of no return” where our histamine levels start the cascade of inflammation and aggravating symptoms. Nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, headaches, and mental distress are common ways our body expresses inflammation from excess histamine, though each person experiences this differently. Seek immediate medical attention for any signs of anaphylaxis!

• Avoid further triggers in diet and environment. Don’t take risks until seeking medical advice and getting tested for true allergies.

• Add a cold blast or slow warm-up. Ice packs can relieve affected skin and reduce histamine. Interestingly, cryotherapy is used to relieve pain with arthritis through the reduction of histamine. Frozen gel packs even helped relieve migraines in 50% of patients in one study – applied for 25 minutes – with benefits increasing in subsequent tests. Make it very cold and quick, because a short-term moderate decrease in temperature will likely increase any itching.

• Cortisone cream and colloidal silver are quick, simple remedies for skin reactions. Topical hydrocortisone cream relieves itching and may consequently help prevent infection. Avoid complex medications or herbal remedies that expose the skin to more allergens and harsh chemicals. Colloidal silver spray is a natural antibacterial remedy that helps prevent infection.

• Oral antihistamines do not reduce histamine, but they block histamine receptors tohelp us sleep, heal, and fight inflammation. First-generation antihistamines make us drowsy with occasional side effects of insomnia and confusion. Second-generation, newer antihistamines do not make us drowsy but may cause headache and dry mucous membranes. Long-term use of oral antihistamines is associated with weight gain, and oral antihistamines do not improve DAO enzyme activity.

Corticosteroids are used locally as in the case of nasal sprays or systemically in pill form. While corticosteroids may provide immediate relief for some allergy symptoms, their side effects can be dangerous, crippling, or fatal with prolonged use.

• Bee propolis as a powder from capsules can be applied to itchy skin to quickly reduce inflammation and histamine and relieve symptoms. This supplement can stain clothing so cover with a bandage or gauze. Individuals with asthma or an allergy to pollen or bee stings should avoid bee propolis.

Stinging nettle extract reduces allergic and inflammatory activity in vitro. Interestingly, experimental topical treatment also relieves osteoarthritic pain.

• Probiotics show promising signs for alleviating allergic disease, and we are beginning to learn how these “good” bacterial strains can benefit the body in different ways. Probiotics like L. reuteri help produce histamine in the gut that suppresses inflammationStudies also suggest that probiotic L. rhamnosus reduces activation of mast cells and H4 receptors. In this manner, probiotics can shift immune activity to a more “intracellular” Th1 response rather than the “extracellular” Th2 response that characterizes excessive histamine activity in allergy, asthma, and autoimmune diseases. In fact, taking different strains of probiotics including L. reuteri, L. rhamnosus, L. casei, and B. bifidum may work best to reduce the allergic response that can trigger excessive histamine.

• FlavonoidsNaturally occurring flavonoids fisetin, kaempferol, myricetin, quercetin, and rutin inhibited histamine release in lab studies. These antioxidant compounds are found in kale, broccoli, capers, buckwheat, onions, apples, and asparagus. Mast cell activity is also inhibited by flavonoid luteolin found in carrots, peppers, celery, olive oil, peppermint, thyme, rosemary, oregano, lettuce, pomegranate, artichoke, chocolate, rooibos tea, buckwheat sprouts, turnip, capers, and cucumber.

• EnzymesEnzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) breaks down histamine internally, and routine intake of a food supplement like DAOsin and Histame can help prevent episodes in the long-term.

What other behaviors and health conditions are related to histamine?

Food poisoning symptoms – Many outbreaks of food poisoning are actually caused by excessive histamine consumption in certain high-histamine foods. Scrombroid food poisoning results from eating spoiled fish containing toxic levels of histamine – not bacteria. Histamine poisoning resembles a food allergy and is often misdiagnosed.

MigrainesThere is much evidence to support the link between allergy and migraine, including the elevated levels of histamine in blood plasma of migraine patients. Yet typical antihistamine drugs that target histamine H1 and H2 receptors have not been effective for migraine. Future studies may target histamine H3 or H4 receptors with better results.

Atopic dermatitis – This inflammatory skin disease can be relieved with a low histamine diet in some patients who do not respond to food allergy tests.

• Motivation, appetite, and addiction - Fascinating research describes how diminished histamine in the brain may relate to feelings of apathy and increased appetite. In women this behavior may be enhanced by hormones, as histamine rises with elevated estrogen and luteinizing hormone throughout the monthly cycle. Indeed, women generally experience increased appetite in the last half of their cycle as their estrogen and histamine dropSimilarly, allergic symptoms can be more pronounced in mid-cycle.

Histamine feedback loops may also contribute to the success of very-low-calorie diets. In fact, histidine supplementation suppressed food intake and fat accumulation in ratsEven chewing plays a role in triggering the histamine release that reduces appetite. Chewing has even been effective for reducing fat in obese animals!

Too much of a good thing? Excessive histamine in the brain is linked to addiction and alcohol dependence in preliminary studies. Interestingly, females have higher levels of brain histamine and are more prone to addiction than males.

Cancer – Although we may suffer from an excess of histamine and consequential inflammation, exciting new research shows that histamine controls some types of cancer growth. Research shows that histamine and histamine receptors affect growth of cancers of the stomach, pancreas, colon, and liver in different ways. Certain cancer cells produce a form of histamine (histidine decarboxylase) that represses inflammatory cell activity. Other studies show that histamine and mast cells may both promote and inhibit cancer at different stages! In fact, melanoma skin cancer appears to be stimulated by histamine in lab tests and inhibited by a topical drug that blocks histamine called H2 antagonist. This type of drug has been used to treat acid reflux, ulcers, and indigestion.

Furthermore, histamine is being considered to prevent the damaging effects of cancer radiation therapy.

“…histamine significantly protects two of the most radiosensitive tissues, small intestine and bone marrow, from high doses of radiation. In addition, histamine has the ability to prevent functional and histological alterations of salivary glands exerted by ionizing radiation.” – Current Immunology Reviews, 2010

Parkinson’s Disease and brain degeneration – Accumulated histamine in the brain can cause damage to neurons through inflammation. Studies on patients with Parkinson’s Disease have shown abnormal, reduced ability to break down histamine in the brain and an accumulation of histamine methyltransferase. Furthermore, manganese exacerbated this altered histamine activity in lab rats.

Multiple Sclerosis – Recent studies revealed that multiple histamine receptors are involved in multiple sclerosis, with some receptors promoting the disease and others inhibiting it.

Inflammation – Histamine and its receptors are constantly engaged in a vital balancing act, preventing excessive inflammation while promoting homeostasis and healing. A variety of inflammatory diseases involve histamine activity.

Animal models indicate that mast cells, through the secretion of various vasoactive mediators, cytokines and proteinases, contribute to coronary plaque progression and destabilization, as well as to diet-induced obesity and diabetes. – Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 2011

Periodontis shows high levels of histamine in inflamed gum tissue, and topical H2 antagonist drug cimetidine dramatically improves conditions. Patients with inflammatory (rheumatoid) arthritis have pain relief from cryotherapy which has been shown to reduce histamine levels for extended periods. Certain types of histamine receptors in joint tissues are suspected to play a role in chronic conditions like arthritis.

Yet histamine may also protect us by inhibiting AGE activity which contributes to chronic inflammatory diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and brain degeneration. Researchers found that histamine and H2 receptors inhibited AGE activity that increases plaque in diabetes, proposing that stimulating H2 receptors might help prevent atherosclerosis.

Osteoporosis – Mast cells which release histamine appear important to bone health, and a deficiency or excess of them can be associated with osteoporosis. It has even been suggested that inhibiting mast cells might eventually become a treatment for osteoporosis! Estrogen deficiency (associated with calcium deficiency) may contribute to increased mast cell activity and low bone volume that leads to osteoporosis.

Dilated blood vessels – Typically histamine lowers blood pressure and dilates blood vessels which leads to low blood pressure and increased permeability. Even hemorrhoids are dilated blood vessels associated with increased mast cells and histamineAgain, histamine can switch directions and constrict and dilate arteries and cause chest pain.

Nausea and motion sickness – Histamine can play a role in symptoms like vertigo, motion sickness, and nausea, and vitamin C supplementation may provide relief. Antihistamines have also been used to reduce post-operative nausea and vomiting.

• Sleep disorders – First-generation antihistamines made us drowsy, revealing how histamine helps keep us alert. Normally, histamine H3 receptors reduce histamine activity so we can properly fall asleep or stay awake. Studies suggest that damage or deficiency of these receptors can result in permanently excessive histamine which can contribute to chronic sleep disorders.

Hypothermia – Histamine released by the hypothalamus helps control body temperature which affects various body functions. Experiments on mice showed that histamine injected in the spinal cord can even produce hypothermia. Higher histamine levels that induced hypothermia were associated with low vitamin B1 (thiamine) levels in another study.

DiverticulitisSome types of diverticulitis appear linked to allergies and histamine activity which generate massive inflammation.

• Meniere’s diseaseThis condition involves chronic dizziness, tinnitus (ringing ears), and hearing loss which are associated with histamine levels. Betahistine works to relieve symptoms in a mixed manner by inhibiting histamine H3 receptors while enhancing H1 receptors.

Vulnerability to disease – Histamine increases the permeability of the blood-brain barrier which can leave us vulnerable to bacterial infections and other diseases. Disruptions of the blood-brain barrier play a role in the development of epilepsy, Alzheimer’s Disease, meningitis, and multiple sclerosis.

Histamine on the horizon

We can now begin to imagine how to change our diet, avoid certain drugs, and adjust our lifestyles to better regulate our histamine levels. By first identifying our allergens through thorough testing, we can reduce exposure and dramatically empty our “histamine bucket” and lower inflammation. Even if we have no allergies to avoid, we can improve our ability to breakdown non-allergic histamine with B and C vitamins. Ideally we can better prepare our bodies to handle histamine “spikes” as needed for fighting disease, increasing motivation, or simply tolerating delicious leftovers.

We desperately need a way to identify and “scan” histamine content in our food and supplements prior to purchase and consumption. Packages can differ widely based on their microscopic bacteria content – even within expiration dates. Austrian scientists have made suggestions for tolerable levels for certain foods including sausage, fish and cheese, but we need global standards for all foods and awareness of the risks surrounding fish, fermented foods, canned meats, alcohol, prepackaged meals, and other high-risk products.

Similarly, daily tracking of our own histamine metabolism would help guide our diet and lifestyle. Recognizing the triggers can help us map our journey to good health and beyond!

Update July 2013 – The Hidden Accomplices of Histamine Intolerance:

Researchers are finding that histamine and its toxicity can be affected by related substances in its family of biogenic amines including putrescine, tyramine, and cadaverine. Putrescine and cadaverine in foods can prevent the breakdown of histamine and contribute to symptoms of intolerance. Putrescine is highest in spoiled food, fruits and cheeses, while cadaverine can be high in aged meats, fish and cheese. Some migraine sufferers have noted sensitivity to tyramine-rich foods which can accumulate tyramine in bodies with reduced levels of monoamine oxidase (MAO). Tyramine builds up in foods such as aged cheese, meats, fish, red wine, and soy sauce as well as high-protein foods that have been stored over time.

A limited but useful food database was been developed that identifies polyamines in food sources. Grapefruit juice, orange juice and cooked soybeans showed higher levels of putrescine, while lentil soup and cooked soybeans showed higher levels of spermidine and spermine. Mature cheddar cheese was high in all three polyamines, demonstrating how fermentation and storage can dramatically affect levels in many products. A wide range of spices can reduce polyamine activity, though some like curcumin (turmeric) may also inhibit DAO according to animal tests. Yogurt and high fat milk showed lower levels of polyamines than other milk products, though more studies are necessary to find the relationship between fat, polyamines, and histamine burden on the body.

Like histamine, biogenic amines can be produced by bacteria in food but cannot be broken down by cooking or freezing. Substances like resveratrol (found in red grape skin) and green tea can reduce histamine production and the allergic response, and interestingly these substances are also inhibiting tumor growth. Research has associated elevated polyamines (putrescine, spermidine, and spermine) in the body with cancers of the breast, colon, lung, skin, and prostate.

 

83 comments to The many faces of histamine intolerance

  • Wormgrrl1

    Just wanting to share knoweldge, I work as a medical professional but I am not a doctor. I know of at least two mdical conditions that cause sharp rises in histamine, both are genetic, and both should be checked out by a doctor– mastocytosis and hemochromatosis. People who think they have issues with histamine should ask about these problems.

  • Tammy

    I have a biologist friend who has always tried to drill this into me, but somehow you covered everything and got through. I suspect it is mold that I am allergic to, particularly in cheese. I used to have itchy skin a lot, it developed in the last couple years. My feet were especially bad. Not debilitating but irritating
    .. and, not normal. I also suspect it’s worse mid cycle as a female, and pollen is exceptionally high this year. I am not super allergic but a little. I had this problem pretty well nipped with diet change, but today I itched all over. I happened to have been in the sun yesterday, it was super hot and I was active. I also smelled some cheese for my husband to see if it was bad. I ate some week old blueberries. Lol the moral of this never ending story is… There is too much histamine in my body from a variety of factors and I’m not getting rid of it fast enough. Also the tyramine, etc maybe adds to it. The solution is to reduce exposure to things that release histamine and improve my body’s function in eliminating it by boosting my system, eating certain foods. Oh yeah, I drank some lime water yesterday and I take a medication that could add to it… and possibly ten other things that contributed. Thanks for really hammering it home. Each of us needs to really acknowledge all the things we are exposed to and recognize that our symptoms may be, likely will be, unique to us. Thanks again!

  • mona

    To Christine with the chronic hives: I got chronic hives and found out through trial and error it was WHEAT. Every time I ate wheat the hives would show up a few hours later and it took time for me to make the connection between wheat and hives. I stopped eating wheat and took Zyrtec which helped with the hives. After about a year the hives were gone I was able to eat wheat again and no problems since. Don’t know why my body suddenly decided it couldn’t take wheat anymore when I ate it all my life with no problem. But giving it a rest for a year apparently re-booted whatever in my system that I could eat wheat again. It could be wheat in your case or some other food like dairy or eggs. Try stopping different kinds of foods for awhile to see if your hives go down or go away.

  • stephan

    maybe avoid cotton clothes. its not the cotton but the way cotton is won industrially (chemic.). Don’t eat processed food or plasticbottled water. After doing this along with a histamine free diet for maybe 3 weeks, yes i know its hard – would be better of living on a tropical island, you shall start with intestinal regeneration programm (Flohsamenschalenpulver, bentonit, castor oil). Doing for 1 week. Continue for 2 weeks with the histamine free diet. Now try histamine rich food again.

    the problem with histamin release is that it became oversensitive over years of unknown (bc unnatural, antievo.)substances entering body. its a disease of civilisation. it HAS some advantages but hey the disadvantages are too high to not be threatened.

  • christine

    I have chronic Utica and is really bad at minute have had steroids which haven’t. Help could it be high histamine

  • Dear Linda,
    Info on conditions like “hyperparathyroidism” and “chronic kidney disease-associated pruritus” may shed some light. I will also share some personal experiences below. It is important to look underneath the symptoms to find core imbalances.

    The parathyroid gland may be a key player here, as it generates hormones that control calcium. Have you had your parathyroid hormone and vitamin D levels checked? Hyperparathyroidism has been associated with pruritus (itching), a common symptom of mastocystosis. Vitamin D, a major hormone that helps balance calcium, is usually deficient in kidney stone formers. This may explain why narrowband UVB phototherapy helps reduce renal pruritus as well as mastocytosis – check out this paper. Vitamin D is generated in the skin when it is exposed to UVB light, including direct sunlight.

    There may be risks when taking supplements with these conditions. Daily supplementation with calcium + vitamin D was associated with an increase in urinary tract stones. Yet vitamin D supplements (20-100 ng/mL) did not associate with kidney stones, and appeared to lower parathyroid hormone levels in another study.

    While I have not had kidney stones, crystals can form in my tissues, becoming painful based on location. After a diagnosis of autoimmune thyroiditis, gluten and milk intolerance, I was eating a lot of brown rice products and alternative milks (high in oxalate). There was a lot of suffering until I found the oxalate connection, but it is only the top layer! My histamine levels and sensitivity to oxalates both increase during the luteal phase when estrogen drops. Some research points to disturbances in calcium during this phase. Another paper discusses how the fall of estrogen around menopause corresponds to a rise in kidney stone risk. In men, levels of testosterone were associated with kidney stone formation.

    I can avoid most symptoms by reducing or eliminating high-oxalate foods, avoiding drinking hard (tap) water, and consuming ultra-purified water (Penta). I also seem to benefit from regular calcium intake through probiotic-rich yogurt and kefir. One very recent paper discusses how the intestines normally breaks down oxalate through different lactic acid bacteria, and deficient activity of these bacteria may allow the accumulation of oxalate. While we wait for a therapeutic formula, we can add some of this bacteria from probiotic supplements, yogurt, and kefir. Lifeway’s Kefir probiotic product offers more types of strains than yogurt, and health food stores have numerous high-quality, refrigerated probiotics.

    Thorough “scientific” lists of food oxalate content are available at the Yahoo Group “Trying Low Oxalates”:
    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Trying_Low_Oxalates/files
    The “CURRENT Food List” contains the spreadsheets that you want to download and use! Susan Costen Owens has done a lot of research on oxalates and associated problems, and an interview with her is posted online.

    Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation also reduces risk of calcium oxalate crystallization. I have personally noticed improvements with evening primrose oil supplementation. Studies showed atopic dermatitis was improved with evening primrose oil, hinting at an underlying deficiency in certain fatty acids in certain autoimmune conditions. Vitamin K2 (MK-7) is a new weapon for fighting calcification and improper calcium deposition.

    Hyperparathyroidism increases risk of heart disease and mortality as well as metabolic bone disease, so it is important to examine the hormone factor. I had obvious signs of hormone imbalance when I was consuming gluten without knowing my celiac status. There are some genetic susceptibilities for these conditions, but it is difficult to piece it all together. Addressing allergens and intolerances is really important to reduce excess histamine and inflammation in the body. We cannot yet measure every possible intolerable substance, so we must track diet, environmental exposure, and associated symptoms to help identify the rest.

    Let me know what you find!

  • Linda

    I’m so confused on how to put all this together. I was diagnosed with Cutaneous Mastocytosis 10 yrs ago. I don’t really have any symptoms except the reddish/brown freckles called a rash around my torso area. My Dr recommended I take antihistamines (Benadryl) every night before bed. After a few months I stopped. She never mentioned a diet. Recently I had surgery to remove a 1 inch kidney stone lodged in my right kidney. After analysis, it came back calcium oxalate crystals. He handed me a sheet of paper and told me I have to go on a low oxalate diet – it has foods to avoid and foods to eat moderately, all of which are foods I eat and love and what I know as nutritional and gives me energy. When I saw spinach on the AVOID list – Dr said “there’s always kale” – I started Google-ing around and have found kale on the high oxalate list as well as many other foods that are on his moderate list. And even found some foods on a low list that are on the high and/or moderate list. I read where foods that are eaten raw are higher in oxalic acid, when steamed, lowers the oxalic acid but when boiled becomes LOW in oxalic acid BUT then boiling takes out the nutritional value in foods. AND then just recently read where high oxalate foods releases histamine. NEVER knew that or read that before in all my Google-ing around 10 years ago when I was diagnosed with CM. I’ve had 2 Dr’s tell me to eat those foods in moderation and just yeterday met a guy who is suppose to also be on a low oxalate diet but eats all those avoid and moderate foods in moderation. So now I’ve become confused about what to do and how to get nutrition and still be happy and healthy. I really need someone who really and truly knows what they’re talking about to guide me. There sure are a lot of mixed signals out here on the Internet.

  • An allergy doctor might recognize histamine intolerance, but it is a rather new consideration. A European Journal published info about using DAO levels to indicate histamine intolerance in March 2013. Many allergists rely on practices of desensitization (allergy shots) or cortisone shots to treat allergies. You may have better luck with a naturopath or chiropractor who recognizes integrative or holistic medical practices. If you want something specific, phone-screen practitioners before paying them a visit. We need to stay in charge of our health care, and we want to work with doctors who are willing to collaborate.

    Some people have indirectly determined a DAO deficiency by successfully using Histame before high histamine meals – it is an enzyme supplement that can help us “cheat” with milder cases. Let us know if a DAO enzyme supplement works if you choose to try it.

  • Brenda

    What is the best way to find a Dr who deals with Histamine Intolerance and the DAO test? Is it an Allergist or is there another specialty better suited for this?
    Thank you

  • Good topic! Progesterone strongly influences the histamine and mast cell activity in fertile women, which may explain the cases where Depo (synthetic progesterone) exposure caused a reaction. In fact, the condition called “autoimmune progesterone dermatitis” describes something similar. A very useful research paper discusses how the monthly swings can contribute: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3377947/ It is not clear how this is happening, but there is a strong hormone connection.

    In reading your blog, it appears that your path is not unlike my own several years ago. I became extremely reactive to progesterone cream (an attempt to normalize my hormones) before discovering that I was also gluten-intolerant. All hormone activity was blitzed for a few years until I removed gluten and eggs (both identified in blood IgG tests). Then it took months to feel better but years to regain balance and greater awareness. Any accidental exposure to gluten can skyrocket my sensitivity to things I can normally tolerate – often for weeks. Heat and exercise make sensitivities worse, but you may not want to hear that. This is all more complicated than celiac, uncovering deeper underlying (permanent) autoimmune vulnerability.

    Sensitivities always go up near my periods, corresponding to the rise in progesterone and probably my “histamine load.” Even as I tiptoe around gluten as well as cross-reactive foods such as coffee and other grains, I end up sneezing more in the late luteal phase. In this manner, I believe that histamine burden is a primary cause of certain symptoms of “PMS,” and each person expresses it differently.

    A desensitization treatment was successful for some patients, though you may have to hunt far and wide for an agreeable doctor. I am not yet sure if we are making compromises by desensitizing the body; there is no research on how allergy or intolerance might act as some form of physical protection.

    Keep in mind that vitamin C and vitamin B6 can help break down the excess histamine. Many people cannot utilize B vitamins unless they are in active or methylated forms. Pyridoxal-5′-phosphate or P5P is the active form of vitamin B6. I recommend methylated B vitamins to anyone with allergic disease, as malabsorption is a common related condition. My autism article will describe more details later this week.

    Keep your story running strong – it can help so many others!

  • This is such a great resource! I was wondering if anyone has come across research specifically linking histamine intolerance and Depo Provera/progestins? I think I’ve always had mild histamine intolerance (I always itched at night, esp. during undergrad when I was consuming alcohol), but 4 years ago I was put on Depo Provera and my body went HAYWIRE. I didn’t link the two things because the symptoms built over time, starting with just a constant cough, but it got to a point where I was barely functioning. I’ve been off the Depo for 200 days now and am slowly feeling better, but my endocrine system is really out of whack. I’ve seen the links between estrogen and histamine, but was wondering if progestins could be in the list of medications that cause histamine intolerance, too?
    http://www.recoveryontherun.blogspot.com/2014/01/my-journey-on-depo-provera-part-2.html

  • Hi Jenni,
    Some people have reported reactions to water kefir or dairy kefir, while others rave about improved symptoms. The enormous benefits of healthy bacteria in kefir may outweigh the problems with histamine for certain individuals, especially if histamine can be lowered in other ways. Best thing to do is try the kefir (without any other “variables”) and document symptoms for any sign of intolerance. If kefir is not working, consider high-quality probiotic supplements for gut health and possible reduction of allergy symptoms – we are still waiting for more research to confirm when and how probiotics work for these complex conditions!

  • Gene

    Hi everyone, sorry I haven’t checked in for a little while….some great additions here.

    Ironically, before I had even checked back, I’ve been looking into the SIBO connection with RLS, interesting that it was brought up here :)

    Two points I’d like to bring in to the RLS part of discussion…

    1. For most sufferers, antihistamines can both trigger and GREATLY increase the intensity of RLS. “Ballistic” is a term often used when someone with RLS inadvertently takes an antihistamine.

    2. Many RLS sufferers note that during some illnesses, such as a cold or flu, RLS symptoms can disappear completely.

    I’m a case in point for #2, I had walking bilateral pneumonia that went undiagnosed for 6 months, my RLS was in complete remission the entire time, I even stopped all my RLS meds. Aside from the occasional pneumonia-caused chest pain, I’d never felt better. Once the pneumonia was diagnosed and treated, RLS came back. It was like someone threw a switch.

  • Great collection of notes Mike! Hopefully we can pull our research together to make better sense of the histamine situation.

  • Mike

    Indeed, the best article on histamines I’ve found.

    I’ve accumuilated lots of histamine related web-clippings during my research.

    I’ve shared them out as a public evernote notebook:

    https://www.evernote.com/pub/pcguys/histamines

    The most recent bunch of highlighted web clippings are from this very article & comments – so much great info here!

    Thanks again,
    Mike

  • There is no information on permanent control of histamine release. The body is always changing. Histamine is not always a bad guy, it is important for many body and brain processes.

    Try to identify any allergies that are triggering the urticaria. Skin prick tests and IgE blood tests can help find allergens. I’ve seen cases where people have suffered for years without knowing they had allergies to nickel in jewelry or herbs in lotion – even wedding rings, glasses, or favorite perfume may have to go. Removing the triggers are much better for the body than taking drugs indefinitely. A specialist should be able to help determine if the urticaria represents a deeper issue like systemic mastocytosis. A technical paper on urticaria is available at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1710-1492-7-S1-S9.pdf

    Good luck.

  • Fara

    I will be greatful if anybody could suggest me how to stop the release of Histamines permanently….n also would like to know how long does Urticaria persists…..because I am suffering this from 10 months……

  • I would first rule out indoor allergies with chronic sinus infections. Histamine is part of the allergy-inflammatory response in an airborne allergy, but the original trigger is the allergen. I experienced several years of chronic sinusitis over a decade ago, and the only solution that worked was the diligent cleaning of linens and bedcovers with hot soap/water. Of course, this was after ruining my gut with every type of antibiotic on the market! The allergen (dust mites in my case) will cause the “histamine bucket” to fill, and additional high histamine foods/beverages will cause it to overflow and produce symptoms. Fungus is also a common indoor allergen. You must identify and eliminate the allergens that keep your histamine bucket full!

    Have you tried a skin prick test?

  • Glenn Groh

    I have suffered from Chronic Sinusitis for years, and it progressively gets worse, a significant increase in drainage and coughing. I began getting sinus infections after the Christmas/New Years holidays (drinking more alcohol than usual). So, I assumed it was due to histamines, but never realized that histamines are also in foods, possibly in medicines, and possibly in vitamins. I have seen 3 different ENTs and they simply say we do not know the cause of Chronic Sinusitis, but with my history I suspect it to be histamines.
    Could you please comment?

  • Leah

    I’ve suffered from acute intestinal pain followed by nausea and vomiting, off and on for five years. Last night was the first time in a long time. The doctors I’ve seen have gone between “we have no idea” to “it’s IBS”. I was sure that it’s something more. After a particularly heinous episode last night I’m once again scouring DR. Google to find answers. I suddenly decided to look up histamine response in the small intestine. I’m pretty sure that is what I have going on. Now to figure out why. Thanks for the insight.

  • Great sleuthing, Kim. Some issues are deeply complicated. My first question is – have you tested for all possible allergens? Constant exposure to something, even if it’s a bit of nickel on a watch or mint in toothpaste can elevate histamine and create a constant battle for certain individuals. It is the first, most important step in tackling the deeper imbalances. The nutritional support hasn’t been strong enough to overcome allergy in my (limited) experience, but it does strengthen the body for accidental exposure.

    The methylation process you mention is at the core of the histamine problem, and demands a much more technical report! Methylation repairs DNA, assists in detoxification, and plays protective roles in brain function and inflammation. People who have high histamine levels may be genetic undermethylators, leading to troubles with dopamine, serotonin, and related psychological symptoms. The MTHFR gene mutation is pretty common, so it’s no surprise that people struggle with these conditions.

    J.D. Moyer put together a great article on this:
    http://jdmoyer.com/2011/09/03/b-vitamins-mood-and-methylation-its-complicated/

    A pharmacy in Australia describes typical treatment for histadelia with higher doses of calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, C, zinc, and methionine. They suggest limiting folic acid, manganese, and foods high in histidine (meats).

    I read conflicting information about the use of folic acid, probably due to the differences in the different forms of the B vitamins. The methylated B vitamins appear to be recommended for undermethylators. If the B vitamins aren’t methylated, they require methylation in the body which burdens the undermethylators, possibly worsening symptoms. Methylated B12 would be listed as hydroxycobalamin or methylcobalamin.

    It may be important to avoid fortified foods like cereals that may have some of these non-methylated vitamins. The best way to consume more folate is through green leafy vegetables. Personally, I have experienced aggravated symptoms by using B vitamins, but I have not used the methylated versions and am eager to try them.

    I have also not seen any support for niacin applied to undermethylation. In fact, niacin is known to raise histamine levels which may explain why you aren’t getting the results yet.

    I would guess that undermethylators are extremely sensitive to toxins and may exhibit behavior changes due to exposure and consumption. Keeping a health journal will help determine patterns with symptoms and triggers. Undermethylators may also show signs of Candida overgrowth more than others. The Candida treatment wouldn’t hurt, though it grows back rather quickly with a few pizzas and cookies. Dr. Lynch posted a great article on treating methylation by reducing Candida and improving the gut. He supports the use of methylated B vitamins and B6. I think an extremely strict diet avoiding corn syrup/soda, sugar, and wheat-based products is essential for undermethylators who may also suffer from gut bacteria problems. And avoiding known allergens is essential!

    I would take a look at Damian Alexander’s protocol for taking SAMe with the proper methylated B vitamins. I also have seen improvement in my son’s attitude and skin conditions by daily oil pulling with extra virgin coconut oil. (Swish 1 tbsp first thing in the morning, spit out after 15 minutes). High quality fish oil can help with internal inflammation and probiotics help break down histamine.

    Keep me posted on the progress!

    -Shari Cheves

  • Kim

    I think I have stumbled on to another factor in histamine intolerance. My son has been suffering from depression for 2 years and I have recently figured out that the depression is caused by histamine. I have long known that it was related to a leaky gut and that Vitamin C in large quantities helped improve his symptoms, but only for a short while.

    I would like to suggest that histamine intolerance is often caused by FLUCTUATIONS in histamine. During the day more histamine is being produced than at night, either by gut bacteria being fed proteins or by food sensitivities, both of which are caused by gut dysbiosis. I have discovered that I can eliminate my son’s symptoms by giving him high levels of B12 and folate, which are needed in order to recycle SAMe, the methyl donor for histamine N methyltranferase, which degrades histamine, as you state in your article. But after a day or two the supplements no longer work – so what is happening? I would suggest that the fluctuations in histamine are causing fluctuations in levels of available SAMe, with the SAMe levels shooting up during the night when less histamine is being produced. Since high SAME levels inhibit the production of the enzymes which recycle SAMe, MTHFR and methionine synthase1, SAMe production becomes inhibited during the part of the night while SAMe levels are high. The changes in the amounts of enzymes to make SAMe appear to take over a day for a significant change. This creates a situation where SAMe levels are low during the day, making it impossible to degrade enough histamine when levels are high, because SAMe production cannot be adjusted quickly enough. This is why supplements to increase SAMe recycling only work for a day or two – the amount of time it takes the body to adjust the amount of the enzymes that recycle SAMe.

    We are working on figuring out how to overcome this problem, by taking niacinamide to create a buffer or by taking oil of oregano and lactoferrin to create die off to keep histamine levels up at night, but although it is helping we still haven’t got the results we want quite yet. If you have any suggestions I would be interested in hearing them.

    Kim

    1. J. D. Finkelstein The metabolism of homocysteine: pathways and regulation, Eur J Pediatr (1998) 157 [Suppl 2] :S40–S44

  • Great contribution! Medications can certainly trigger histamine release, and there seems to be some connection with RLS for certain cases. Histamine appears to make things worse or better with RLS which makes it tough to draw conclusions. As mentioned before, RLS is most strongly linked to iron deficiency in the brain. Unfortunately I cannot find any research connecting iron imbalance with histamine release or mast cell conditions, though iron deficiency may actually relate to undetected food intolerances and subsequent malabsorption.

    I have periodically experienced restless legs during the day since I was a teenager. It has never been a problem at night, but there is a 10-60% subset of RLS patients with daytime symptoms. Interestingly, I seem only susceptible at times of my monthly cycle when I crave iron-rich foods. The condition is also worse with less physical activity (and more research).

    I strongly advise additional allergy tests for metals, additives, and medications – particularly the ones in your problem drugs. Doxycycline and cefadroxil contain possible allergens cellulose and polyethylene glycol (PEG). Doxycycline and nortriptyline contain colorings, with doxycycline including aluminum-based colors. Nortriptyline contains notorious sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) and parabens. Even Benadryl contains PEG. PEG and SLS are quite common in the cosmetics, soap, detergent that you previously identified.

    Let us know what you find – and keep up the good work avoiding environmental triggers.

  • Patrice

    Thank you for all the current info on histamine, this is a great article!

    Regarding Gene’s question about RLS. My RLS is triggered by mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) specifically tied to consuming foods/drink/medication that I have recently become “allergic” to though all my tests are nirmal, all skin prick IgE tests are negative and mast cell tryptase levels are a beautiful 4.5. I have that diagnosis directly from national mast cell expert/guru, Dr. Castells, of Brigham and Women

    After many nights of analyzing and testing myself (I have a background in applied functional science) what seems to happen is that when the mast cells closest to the nerves in the lower lumbar/sacrum are triggered they degranulate en masse causing overwhelming and impaired nerve messaging into rhe legs resulting in all those weird sensations.

    I have successfully stopped my steadily increasing RLS through diet, careful control of environmental triggers like medications, chemicals (think make up, hand lotion, soaps which are all huge triggers) and by using a heavy combo of Benedryl and Claritin (Benedryl is the heavyweight key). A low histamine/tyramine diet as described by http://www.mastocytosis.ca plays a significant role as well as using the mast cell stabilizer Cromolyn Sodium aka Gastrocrom (4 vials 4 times a day) as well as taking a daily H1 inhibitor (Loratidine/Claritin) and increasing Vitamin D to 5,000iu which keeps me at normal levels. Vitamin supplementation seems to also be important.

    Medications and their fillers play a huge role as triggering agents for my RLS. I take very low dose nortriptyline and finally figured out that the colorful capsule shell was a trigger while the medication itself was fine. As of yesterday, I hadn’t had a night of RLS for about 2 months and thought I was “cured”.. Haha..definitely not so.

    Yesterday I woke up to find a tick having breakfast on me and after removing it took 200mg of doxycycline (we live in a high Lyme disease area). Last night I had a humbling experience, it seems that my “cured” RLS was just taking a nap waiting for another ideal opportunity to visit.

    A year ago I had my first surprise anaphylaxis occurrence with Cefadroxil when I developed cellulitis from a bee sting (I have never been allergic to anything, never even had hay fever) so doxy seemed like a safe alternative to penecillin. Nope, guess not!! I had to take megadoses of Benedryl and another 24 hour Loratidine which finally stopped the overall itching and crazy making RLS so I could get to sleep.

    We are all different but I can’t be the only one who sees and experiences such a clear relationship between histamines etc released by degranulating mast cells and RLS and how by reducing histamine load we significantly relieve RLS.

  • I relate to this story because I had a similar reaction to progesterone cream applied behind the knees as well as an herbally medicated bandage. In both cases, the itching continued for weeks, and the skin previously under the bandage appeared swollen and burned for a month. I would not take antihistamines but used cold packs and a homeopathic cream called Florasone to temporarily ease the itch. Sleeping was a nightmare.

    Female sex steriod hormones do alter the activity of mast cells which release histamine. For example, asthma (an allergic, autoimmune condition) is known to worsen around the menstrual cycle, and postmenopausal women taking hormone replacement therapy are more at risk for developing asthma. Here is a great paper describing the hormone-mast cell relationship that we have only just started to recognize.

    The release of histamine during surgery with anaesthesia has been baffling doctors for decades. This paper from the 90s indicates that significant reactions to anesthesia were not uncommon. A more recent paper describes the range of severe reactions – from mast-cell controlled to IgE-antibody controlled reactions during and after surgery. Surgery heightens the immune response which can be troubling in certain individuals, and our lack of research and guidelines in this area is even more frustrating!

    It is interesting that one research paper recommended that people who experience anaphylactic reactions need to wait 3-4 weeks before undergoing skin tests, though there is no clear explanation for this. As I mentioned in a previous post, IgE antibodies to an allergen may only last hours roaming freely in the blood plasma, but once they attach to mast cells, it could be weeks or months!

    I would imagine that many sensitive patients might experience different allergic-immune responses that hypersensitize the body for weeks or months. I am not aware of any treatment to prevent allergic reactions to the numerous chemicals, drugs, metals, and other materials introduced to the body during surgery. However, I encourage everyone to undergo allergy testing for as many of these potential triggers as possible – many weeks before a scheduled surgery. We need proactive policies in place to prevent these potentially fatal and certainly life-altering reactions.

    Probiotics should help reduce mast cell activity. Bee propolis (powder from capsules) applied as a soothing paste (mixed with a hypoallergenic cream or oil base) has been highly effective for calming my recent skin reactions. I have not taken propolis internally for reducing histamine or mast cell degranulation, but research is looking very promising!

  • Galene

    I have been desperately searching for the cause of my systemic itching and happened upon this site. I have been on Naproxen PRN for a couple of years; take Zyrtec (1/2 tab) PRN for runny nose, watery eyes & sneezing; I occasionally take Super B Complex & B 12 sublingual dots 500mcg (I take 4 when I take them–2000mcg).

    I had a hysterectomy 1 month ago. Prior to the surgery my surgeon had me stop my Naproxen & take Celebrex short term for a few days prior to surgery and a few days post op. As a side note I do feel i was overmedicated with anesthesia and had a very hard time waking up and was very groggy even for several days after surgery. I had a scopalamine patch on to prevent nausea which I took off a couple of days post op. (I felt it could have been contributing to my continued drowsiness). On the 4th day post op I started wearing an estrogen patch which I put on twice a week. Two weeks post op about 30 min to 1 hour after putting on my 5th estrogen patch I started itching all across my abdomen a few inches above where the patch was. This also coincided with me getting very briefly anxious and scared that something had happened to one of our daughters (which was unfounded).
    Over the next several days the itching continued and would move around. It would start where I could feel small pinpoint bumps and after I would scratch I would turn bright red and had welts. Initially this was mostly trunk and upper extremities but also was on the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet.
    I spoke to pharmacist who said I should not be allergic to Estrogen but could be the adhesive on patch and to remove which I did. 48 hours later still had very intense itching and was having to use Benadryl or started back on Zyrtec to relieve itching. After a week of this miserable ordeal I saw my Dr. who had me stop all medications except Zyrtec PRN (which by the way I use a generic Walgreens brand) and he put me on a Steroid Taper. I saw my Dr. 1 week ago tomorrow. The Steroid taper is completed and I am still itching. The zyrtec controls the symptoms the best as opposed to Benadryl or CHlor tabs. However, I have seen some blogs that people itch desperately when “coming off” Zyrtec. After taking a 24 hour Zyrtec (1/2 tab = 5mg) it usually works well and usually about 12 hours after time I could have taken another one I start itching bad again.
    I just now broke down and had to take 50mg Benadryl because I was so red, inflammed & ithing all over my breasts, around my axilla, and arms.
    I am desperate for an answer as to what might be going on with me. I feel it has to do with the surgery and would like to know what I can do about it.
    Anxiously awaiting some good answers.

    Galene M.

  • Thanks for your inquiry. Please consider sharing your results of treatment if you are diagnosed with mastocytosis or histamine intolerance. There seems to be a fair number of sufferers who suspect mastocytosis or mast cell activation syndrome behind histamine intolerance. Mastocytosis can be detected through bone marrow or skin tests, though there may not always be high levels of histamine present. Itchy symptoms are common with elevated histamine, so you may want to talk to the doctor about ways to reduce your histamine exposure as a management technique. The first major step in reducing histamine involves testing for specific allergies and aggressively reducing exposure. If you have noticed that high histamine foods are making things worse, it makes sense to avoid these until the condition is well under control.

    Foods Matter is a great resource describing allergies, foods and their interactions.

  • Yolanda Flores

    Thank you for this article. I am seeing an immunologist next week and am going to discuss my symptoms that I believe to be very possibly histamine intolerance. My body constantly itches, many foods inflame the itching and a burning sensation throughout, stuffy nose, joint pain, etc. etc. I also know I have bad allergies to the outdoors and dust mites. At first it was thought that I had a neurological problem, but every test has come back negative (still possible). What I find frustrating is that different sites list different foods to avoid. Is there a site that you would recommend that is most accurate regarding food avoidance.
    One other thought, is it possible that Systemic Mastocytosis and Histamine Intolerance are intertwined?

  • lit

    Mary Scott
    I use CHOBANI it has several the bacteria discussed here I make fruit smoothies with it every morning and I have been hive free.

  • I agree that there are some missing links between histamine and RLS. Research proposes that histamine-based stimulation is needed to prevent RLS symptoms. Histamine also helps keep us awake – the dopamine connection.

    It appears that our biggest clue with RLS is iron deficiency which also associates with histamine-based hyperresponsiveness. In two recent papers, iron supplementation reduced symptoms, but this treatment should be carefully supervised by a medical professional. Interestingly, H. pylori infections link to iron-deficiency anemia and deserve more research as unsuspecting triggers in RLS. Mast cells in the gut help fight bacteria and parasites and histamine is released in the process. New research suggests that H. pylori stimulates the release of histamine which, in turn, might activate a certain set of nerves. This process actually contributes to low bicarbonate production and peptic ulcer formation.

    There are many gastrointestinal conditions that may lead to iron deficiency and theoretically RLS in some cases. There may be bacterial overgrowth in the small intestines in many RLS cases that lead to other bacteria growth and iron deficiency. Like so many other conditions, we need to dive deeper to identify the triggers of symptoms. Here is the best review paper I found: Restless Leg Syndrome – mechanisms. Let me know if you have any success with RLS by investigating gut and mineral imbalances.

  • Gene

    I’ve gotta got through this more in-depth, but what an excellent article!

    I’m a long-time sufferer of severe primary RLS, to the point that it is essentially life-altering. We have an assortment of meds to help us but nothing is more than “Here, try this”. This includes GABA agents like Neurontin and Horizant, dopamine agonists, and opiods. Some work for some people, some for others, some can make the symptoms worse in many cases. There is also evidence that suggests high glutamate activity exacerbates our symptoms. It seems like there is a missing link in the research, in that it’s possible a number of conditions could set of the symptoms. Then I read the article linked below that seems to implicate histamine in RLS, and further research suggests histamine has a relationship with dopamine activity and GABA/glutamate balance? Any thoughts?

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/129785.php

  • Intestinal permeability increases within 24 hours of taking the NSAIDs, but the duration of change and potential permanent damage/immune alteration is unclear and definitely different based on underlying conditions. For example, IBS patients had a more negative response to NSAIDs than healthy subjects. It is not clear when permeability starts – if it’s before the drug or alcohol damage or after. New studies on animals show that air pollution can also increase gut permeability, so it’s not just what we eat. For a more in-depth look at permeability and ways to nutritionally support it, please review my report “Nutritional Therapy for Gastric Permeability.”

  • Anne

    Thanks so much for responding to my comments. How long does the increased gut permeability from aspirin and NSAIDs last? Are there permenant changes to the gut
    or is it transitory?
    In response to the last comment, interestingly enough, I am also taking Lamictal and have been taking it regularly for a number of years. I will think twice before I ever decide to reduce the med!

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