Histamine intolerance affects millions of people every year, and many are unaware of its symptoms or that they may be presenting with it. The connective tissues in your body produce histamine to help organs, muscles, and nerves receive and deliver messages to your brain and immune system. For example, histamine signaling will trigger your brain tissues to release pent-up stomach acids to process the foods you eat. It also helps immune system response by drawing attention to damaged tissue that requires repair.
Histamine intolerance comes from an overproduction of the histamine molecule from mast cells and basophils. Most patients with histamine intolerance symptoms present with hyperinflated histamine levels and/or no way to metabolise it, leading to symptoms such as sinus issues, intestinal permeation, chronic headaches, anxiety, fatigue, hives, nausea, and digestive problems.
Its important to clarify that histamine intolerances are very different than mastocystosis and mast cell activation syndrome. In these disorders, patients either genetically produce too many mast cells, or the mast cells are hyper-reactive to triggers and release too much daily histamine. These disorders are managed differently and you should always first speak to your doctor or naturopath for proper diagnosis.
What Causes Histamine Intolerance?
You may not be aware of it, but you reatively high amounts of naturally occurring histamine in your diet every day, causing every mast cell in your body to produce the enzyme to break it down, known as diamine oxidase or “DAO”. DAO is responsible for breaking down the histamine compound in your food, and a lack of it creates a histamine-derived imbalance, or build up.
Foods high in histamine include:
Its important to recognize that a histamine-rich diet enhances the production of gut bacteria in healthy individuals, and is not unhealthy way to eat. In fact, histamine rich foods are usually the highest in naturally occurring probiotics. The problem arrises when dietary intake and bacterial histamine production combine at such staggering levels that human mast cells can't manufacture enough DAO to process the overflow. Disorders like SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, can also exacerbate histamine intolerance because they not only generate their own histamine release but damaging the area of the gut lining that creates a large supply of the body’s DAO enzyme. Therefore, people with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO are at a much higher risk of presenting with histamine intolerant symptoms.
Antihistamine Probiotics vs. Histamine Intolerance
Because histamine production is deeply connected to gut bacteria levels, researchers have been looking into histamine-reducing probiotics as a treatment.
The role of probiotic bacteria in curbing histamine overproduction is a rapidly advancing area of mast cell research, and you can find numerous studies connecting probiotic strains to lowering histamine presentations (or increasing it, for that matter).
For example, because histamine is a biogenic amines, physicians have been looking to other naturally occurring biogenic amines, such as lactic acid (and lactic acid producing bacteria) in its role in histamine intolerances. It may come as a surprise, but any of the common ‘good for you’ probiotics from the lactobacillus family are being investigated as possible aggravants due to their high lactic acid production in food. However, the impacts on histamine depend on the strain, so this does not apply to all strains of a specific species or genus.
Alternatively, low-histamine probiotics activate anti-inflammatory agents in the mast cells, help stabilize mast cells, and down-regulating the sensitivity of histamine receptors. Many of these flora are found in the bifidobacterium genus.
Some histamine-lowering strains include:
Moreover, some histamine increasing probiotics include:
Histamine-lowering probiotics muffle histamine signals, and compounds like the probiotic b. longum display clinical benefits in lab tests against allergies. However, people are different, and we all have unique levels of gut flora in our stomachs and intestines, so probiotic supplements don't have a uniform effect on all demographics.
Furthermore, foods like alcohol, energy drinks and tea can slow the production of DOA, and can creating confounding impacts when using probiotics to manage histamine symptoms.
Learn More About Histamine Intolerance Treatment
In practice, we find that most patients that present with histamine intolerance tend to have an overabundance or bacterial deficiency in their gut flora, and the key to resolving symptoms is to eradicate the aggravants (both food and flora) and restore a healthy bacterial balance to the ecosystem.
Furthermore, as described above, taking the wrong probiotic supplement can worsen your condition, as they promote histamine production. If you want to learn more about probiotics or management of histamine intolerance symptoms, contact our Toronto Naturopath, Dr. Courtney Holmberg ND by calling (647) 351-7282 today.
© 2018 Courtney Holmberg ND. All rights reserved. Dr. Courtney Holmberg, ND does not endorse or have professional affiliation with any discussed supplement or lab companies. All material provided is for general education and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to assist in diagnosing to treating a medical condition. Legal & Medical Disclaimer, sitemap