Histamine Intolerance - 6 ways to reduce your allergenic burden


Published: 07/05/2014

by Dr. Millie Lytle, Naturopathic Doctor, MPH, CNS


Get hives when you eat celery? Are some fruits spicy? Do you get a tingling sensation on your tongue when you eat apples or avocado? Maybe you are chronically congested, get burning in your stomach after eating tomato sauce, get migraines during allergy season, or hangovers with one glass of wine?  You could have Histamine Intolerance.

An allergy is when the body produces an inflammatory reaction to an otherwise benign or safe substance like a food, grass or tree pollen or even a chemical, in otherwise tolerable doses. Histamine is one of the body’s protection methods to clearing out foreign invaders. It is released into the blood stream, skin and mucous membranes with any allergic reaction and produces symptoms like heat, redness, swelling and itching. Histamine is released in high amounts into the tissues within mast cells and blood stream in basophils, when an allergic trigger is introduced repeatedly over a course of 10 days or so.

While histamine is an important mechanism the body's infection fighting machine, unfortunately, when released into too frequently or in high a quantity, it can accumulate. You have Histamine receptors in your upper respiratory tract; sinuses, eyes, ears and throat but also you have Histamine 2 receptors in your gut. H2 receptors are triggered when you eat foods that cause acid reflux, indigestion, nausea, gas, bloating and diarrhea.

Your body remembers what it’s allergic to, so each time you have a repeated exposure to an agent (food, environmental, pet) that your body has previously deemed “dangerous” it will repeat a series of symptoms.  Over the months and years, you can become allergic to more and more, especially if your body is not breaking down histamine at a faster rate than it’s being released.

Histamine accumulation comes by way of being exposed to too many allergens (exposures to environmental allergens, eating a diet high in histamine or histidine containing or releasing foods and alcohol) combined with a problem in breaking down histamine.  For instance, a few studies have shown an overlap in people experiencing allergies to grass pollens with carbohydrate sensitivity to wheat, barley and peanuts.

Research shows that histamine accumulates with a reduction of two enzymes; histamine N-methyl transferase (HMT) and diamine oxidase (DAO).  Deficiency in the DAO enzyme system, found in the intestinal mucosa, has been suggested as the most probable cause of histamine intolerance. Diosmine Oxidase (DO) is an enzyme that breaks down histamines. Some foods and medications prevent your body from releasing DO or prevent DO from doing its job.

  1. Eliminate any foods you are allergic to or that give symptoms (sneezing, congestion, tingling, itching, heartburn, hives). These might be some of the foods covered in other points.

  2. Eliminate Foods High in Histamine:Red wine, tomatoes, eggplant, and spinach, Ketchup, Sauerkraut, Sour cream, Yogurt/Kefir, Ripened cheeses (brie, camembert, gorgonzola, stilton), raw and cooked ground beef stored in refrigerator for 12 days, dry sausages such as salami, pepperoni, and chorizo, dry fermented sausages, smoked and dried fish.

  3. Eliminate Foods High in other “amines”: ie, Histidine, Tyramine found in aged, ripened and blue cheeses, chocolate, cured meats, smoked fish, Marmite and other yeast products.

  4. Reduce Foods that Trigger Histamine Release:  citrus fruits (oranges and grapefruits), fish, shell fish, MSG and other food additives, papaya, strawberries, pork, pineapple, egg white, nuts (pecans, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, brazil nuts), peanuts, tomatoes, spinach, chocolate.

  1. Reduce DAO – blocking foods: Mainly wine and spirits. Ethanol alcohol destructively attacks DAO, so even with a normal level of DAO, histamine saturation in blood will occur.                                                         

    6. Increase DAO promoting foods and Supplements4: Instead of an over the counter anti-histamine, go for the natural anti-histamines. Herbs and nutrients such as German Chamomile, Bromelain, Quercetin, Black Seed, Mangosteen and Probiotics.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________About the Author:

Dr. Millie Lytle, ND, MPH, CNS is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (2002), a private 4 year post-graduate, accredited medical school, and earned her Masters of Public Health in Hamburg, Germany. She is a Naturopathic Doctor, certified nutrition specialist and radio host of two weekly shows on AM and internet radio. She is the founder and CEO of Millie says, Inc. providing naturopathic medicine with virtual and in-person anti-aging, nutrition programs. Follow on Google+ or visit her website at www.milliesays.com for more information. She practices in Manhattan, Brooklyn and virtually.