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Histamine intolerance: is it causing your symptoms?

If you have heartburn, bloating, wind, abdominal pain, headaches, a blocked nose and other common symptoms, the culprit may be histamine intolerance.

  • Red wine.Histamine intolerance
  • Aged cheese.
  • Citrus fruits.
  • Sauerkraut.
  • Bacon.

These foods are ok, right?

Yes, for many people these foods work great, but not if you have a histamine intolerance.

These and other popular foods are capable of causing all manner of symptoms, including migraines, hives, anxiety, acid reflux, and nasal congestion.

What is histamine intolerance?

If you haven’t heard of histamine intolerance, don’t worry. You’re not alone.

It’s hard to diagnose and can cause a lot of non-specific symptoms that masquerade as allergies and other medical diagnoses.

Your doctor could give you any number of diagnoses and medications, but the root cause could be histamine intolerance.

It’s a really common cause of digestive symptoms, headaches and migraines, along with skin problems and mental health issues.

Histamine intolerance symptoms

Working with people around the world, some of the most common histamine intolerance symptoms we’ve seen are:

  • Headaches/migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive upset, especially heartburn, “indigestion”, and reflux
  • Confusion
  • Pruritus (itching especially of the skin, eyes, ears, and nose)
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure – sometimes high blood pressure is seen)
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Arrhythmia, or accelerated heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Difficulty regulating body temperature
  • Anxiety / panic attack
  • Nasal congestion, runny nose, seasonal allergies
  • Chest pain
  • Conjunctivitis (irritated, watery, reddened eyes)
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps
  • Flushing
  • Nasal congestion, sneezing, difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal menstrual cycle
  • Hives / urticaria
  • Tissue swelling in your mouth and throat

As you can see, it’s a pretty impressive list of common symptoms, but alas, histamine intolerance isn’t recognised by many doctors (or even nutritionists, for that matter).

How can you tell if you have histamine intolerance?

Histamine intolerance symptoms can also be caused by:

  • Food sensitivity and allergy
  • Gluten intolerance
  • H. pylori
  • Candida
  • Parasites
  • Nutrient deficiencies

These factors may be playing a role in your symptoms in combination.

Without a differential diagnosis, it’s hard to know what’s causing your symptoms, especially if you have a cluster of different symptoms.

That’s why I am always so keen for our clients to get a proper stool test.

What causes histamine intolerance?

Histamine intolerance may be caused by a number of different things, making it tricky to identify:

  • Making too much histamine because your immune system is fighting things in your gut (bacterial overgrowth and so on).
  • Genetic susceptibility – an inability to break down histamine properly (this is an enzyme called DAO – diamine oxidase)
  • Poor methylation (one of the most important metabolic processes in the body, which requires adequate folate, vitamin B6, B12 and other nutrients)
  • Gut bacteria – Some gut bacteria make a lot more histamine than others

Bottom line: you either make too much histamine, or you make normal amounts but can’t get rid of it properly.

Either scenario can lead to histamine intolerance and its symptoms.

What can you do if you have histamine intolerance?

Dietary changes are the first steps if you suspect histamine intolerance.

Fermented foods are some of the biggest culprits, since even beneficial bacteria produce histamine during fermentation.

In fact, reacting to fermented foods is a classic sign of histamine intolerance.

Other foods that are high in histamine include:

  • Seafood: shellfish or fin fish (fresh or otherwise)
  • Eggs
  • Processed, cured, smoked and fermented meats
  • Leftover meat (histamine levels increase after meat has been cooked)
  • All fermented milk products, including most cheeses
  • Yogurt, buttermilk, kefir
  • Citrus fruits
  • Most berries
  • Dried fruit
  • Fermented foods: sauerkraut, kombucha, pickles
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Spices: cinnamon, chilli powder, cloves, anise, nutmeg, curry powder, cayenne
  • Tea (herbal or regular), alcohol
  • Chocolate, cocoa
  • Vinegar and foods containing vinegar
  • Artificial food colours and preservatives

If it turns out that you are  histamine intolerance, strict adherence to a low-histamine diet is necessary for a period of time (sigh).

After that, smaller amounts of histamine may be introduced slowly and it’s important to know that individual tolerance varies markedly.

You can take DAO supplements to break down excess histamine, and you can also use a variety of detoxification clays that dissolve in water to help break down histamine.

Improving methylation is very important – poor methylators often have high histamine and this is because key metabolic reactions needing vitamins B6, B12, folate, zinc and other nutrients aren’t working properly.

This needs some investigation, which we’re able to do for you – some of my most challenging clients made significant progress when they improve their methylation.

Heal your gut to improve histamine intolerance

In order to improve your tolerance to histamine-containing foods, it is crucial to heal the gut and address any microbial imbalances (dysbiosis) or SIBO you might have.

This includes getting rid of H. pylori, Candida and other irritating microbes.

But how do you know you have these little critters? You need to test – there’s no other way.

I recommend working with someone who can help you address these imbalances and create a plan that is tailored to your individual needs.

We offer a detailed case review and 60-minute consultation to assess your situation and we can do this via phone or Skype if you’re unable to see us in London.

If you’re having a hard time getting to the bottom of your ‘mysterious’ symptoms, you may like to see what’s on offer.

We’ll cut to the chase and help you uncover the real reasons you’re not feeling well, saving you a ton of stress and hassle.

Click here to learn how the case review and consultation works.



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