What is Histamine?
Histamine is a chemical released by immune cells in the body in response to a perceived threat. This chemical acts to improve and amplify the immune response to help remove offending agents and help with healing. Healing happens and works well when the target is a problem, but sometimes activation in excess happens to certain common triggers like mold, environmental pollutants, pollens and foods. Patients can be quite miserable and have many related symptoms and conditions in response.
Where does histamine come from?
Histamine is released mostly by immune cells but can also be made or broken down in the gut. Mast cells are one type of immune cell in the body that release higher amounts when activated by triggers. When mast cells release high amounts, people are usually aware of the consequences. In my practice, we search for potential triggers that may be removed to help decrease some of these symptoms and reactions. Another strategy is to improve the breakdown and release by adding things like DAO (Di-amine-oxidase) or Quercetin containing foods. Decreasing levels can target problematic symptoms like congestion, wheezing, flushing, headaches/migraines, swelling, bloating, hives and even anaphylactic shock.
Histamine can also be found in certain foods, alcohols and spirits. Certain types of foods contain higher amounts and should be avoided in sensitive patients or mast cell activation syndrome. The main foods that contain high levels include older foods like fermented products and left overs. It really depends on the current amount of histamine in the body at the time of exposure and whether the body can break it down quickly enough before symptoms begin.
Foods with Histamine:
- ANY leftovers (prepared food over 24 hours old)
- Nuts: Cashews, Walnuts, Peanuts – any old grains or nuts
- Vinegars: All vinegars except gluten free distilled white vinegar and apple cider vinegar which are lower
- Condiments also can contain vinegar (olives, mustard, ketchup)
- Fruits Avocado, Citrus, Dried fruits (dates, prunes, apricots, raisins)
- Banana (unripe /greener has less)
- Fish that is not fresh and stored at low temperatures
Especially Red wine, champagne and Prosecco
- Other Foods: Beans, Chocolate, Dairy, Fermented foods, Gluten, Grains, Soy
- Spices: Anise, Cinnamon, Cloves, Curry, Paprika, Nutmeg, Seasoning packets, “spices”
- Gelatin and Collagen powders
Learn more about histamine here.
Trauma, stress, heat and even electromagnetic fields are also known to increase histamine levels in the body. We are all being exposed to increasing amounts of cellular microwave radiation which is exponentially expanding in our environments.
In general, probiotics have helped many of my patients to be able to tolerate histamine better. As I have learned more about this topic it is now becoming known that certain probiotic bacteria help to get rid of histamine while others may be making more. It is important to understand this with patients who are very sensitive when beginning probiotics.
More information is coming to light about how our microbiome intricately interacts with our body to regulate immune responses, produce certain vitamins and also even neurotransmitters. The right combinations of microbes helps ensure a healthier immune response. In general, having too many unhealthy bacteria in the gut that lead to inflammation can activate immune responses that cause issues. Having too many unhealthy bacteria in the gut is commonly referred to as dysbiosis. Improving the microbiome diversity and decreasing dysbiosis can help improve and balance immune responses.
DAO is an enzyme that breaks down histamine. Certain probiotics produce DAO to help get rid of histamine in the gut.
Probiotics that help break down histamine or have low production:
- Bifidobacterium infantis
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Bifidobacterium breve
- Lactobacillus Plantarum
- Lactobacillus Salivarius
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG
- Lactobacillus Gasseri
Probiotics that may produce histamine:
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus Bulgarius
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Lactobacillus delbrueckii
- Lactobacillus helveticus
When considering which probiotics to begin with as you are decreasing your histamine levels remember to check the label to see exactly which types of bacteria are contained in the product. This is not to say that these are not beneficial microbes as they may provide benefits in additional areas unrelated to histamine. Certain brands are now focusing on this concept and creating combinations of microbes to help those suffering with histamine intolerance.
We would love to help you with your health goals! Click here to contact us today!
Dr. Jennifer Kessmann encourages and uses natural methods to better health. Having over 20 years experience she uses her knowledge to help.
disclaimer: All of the above is to be used for information only. None of this content is to be used to diagnose or treat any medical conditions and one should always consult with their personal physician for further care and questions.