Do you seem to have “allergies” every month of the year? Whether it’s a runny nose, sneezing, or even fatigue and headaches, it could be from histamine intolerance or mast cell activation disorder (MCAD).
Instead of taking medications that may or may give you relief, this article will show you how to get to the root cause of your symptoms to fix your histamine intolerance naturally.
In healthy individuals, your body releases histamine as a way to protect your body as an immune response to allergens. When your body comes in contact with an allergen like pollen, pet danger, or dust, it can trigger histamine to dilate your red blood vessels to create a way for your white blood cells to get to the problem area to attach these “foreign invaders.” This is a normal part of a healthy, balanced immune system.
These triggers, like dust and pollen, and the following histamine response is what causes that itchy puffiness that is associated with seasonal allergies.
However, issues can occur when a dysfunction causes excess histamine in your body. The dysfunction can be caused by either your body creating an overproduction of histamine or can’t clear it out. This is what is known as histamine intolerance. And it’s these high histamine levels that trigger symptoms like:
Allergy-like symptoms constantly
Multiple factors can contribute to, or even cause, your histamine intolerance.
Excess histamine production (either by food consumption or overactive mast cells)
Diamine oxidase (DAO) enzyme deficiency (this is an enzyme that breaks down histamine)
HMNT mutation (this is also an enzyme that breaks down histamine. If you have a mutation, it can’t efficiently do its job.)
Poor methylation in your liver
Mast cell activation disorder (this is when your innate immune system, specifically your mast cells, becomes overactive, releasing higher than normal histamine and other chemicals). This is the most common issue that leads to heightened histamine levels.
Estrogen Dominance (histamine is UPREGULATED by estrogen via mast cell activation and estrogen down-regulates the DAO enzyme that clears out histamine. Imbalance hormones can make your histamine intolerance worse around certain times of your menstrual cycle, like ovulation where estrogen peaks)
All of these situations could lead to a build-up of histamine levels.
So, now you’re wondering, “How do I know if I have histamine intolerance/mast cell activation disorder?” Here are some clues that suggest the symptoms you are experiencing are from excess histamine.
You tend to get the same symptoms as allergies except your symptoms are around all the time and are highly affected by the kinds of food you consume.
During ovulation (which is in the middle of your cycle) your estrogen levels are at their highest. If you have elevated estrogen (estrogen dominance) to begin with, this peak in estrogen could trigger excess histamine levels, exacerbating your symptoms.
Many foods either contain naturally occurring histamine or foods trigger your mast cells to release histamine in your body, leading to an excess amount.
High Histamine containing foods
Smoked meat products (bacon, salami, salmon, ham)
Histamine Releasing Foods
To investigate if histamine is to blame for your symptoms, you can get tested by working with a Functional Medicine Practitioner. Testing for DAO activity in serum and/or Histamine tests can give you a better insight into how to address your symptoms. But Can I be honest? If you are symptomatic and know it is a histamine issue, I would recommend going to the gut.
Avoid high histamine-containing and high histamine-releasing foods (listed above)
Eat more unprocessed foods, as these have the least amount of histamine
Detox from heavy metals like aluminum and mercury as they have been shown to destabilize mast cells, leading to an overactive production of histamine.
Restore your gut. When the harmful bacteria in your gut flourishes, that overgrowth activates mast cells.
Avoid alcohol as it can inhibit your diamine oxidase (DAO) enzyme.
Consider supplements like vitamin B6, vitamin C, and even a DAO supplement. These may help by supporting histamine degradation and DAO production.
Consider supplements that help with the immune system and inflammation like vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc.
Avoid fermented foods, which have the highest histamine levels
Balance your hormone to keep estrogen levels healthy. This article gives a great insight into how to balance your hormones naturally.
Histamine Block by Seeking Health- This is to be taken 15 minutes prior to a meal to help with the breakdown of histamine in foods.
D Hist by Orthomolecular- This is a supplement to be taken to help with a histamine response, not just specific to meals.
Lastly, I wanted to touch on a hot topic, Histamine, and COVID, especially Long COVID. There has been some insight into the connection to histamine issues. Long covid patients are seeing symptoms that are in some ways similar to patients with mast-cell-driven inflammation.
New research is suggesting that COVID-19 could lead to the development of mast cell activation syndrome, where mast cells release histamine in response to the viral infection. This histamine trigger may be what’s causing symptoms related to COVID. I personally have been seeing an increase in histamine issues in some of my patients since the pandemic.
If you are experiencing Long COVID symptoms, talk to your Functional Medicine practitioner about testing or creating a protocol accordingly. Do you have histamine intolerance or histamine issues? If so, a personalized protocol may include those natural approaches listed above.
If we gather more research into this, natural ways to reduce histamine could be a huge step in helping COVID patients and help to avoid and overcome Long COVID.
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