Histamine is an issue many face within the Methylation community, especially for those who are severely undermethylated with a large pathogenic burden. Elevated histamine in the body has SO many faces and often results is an overactive immune system, also known as Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance.
Not only does Histamine trigger Mast Cells, Mast Cells also release histamine. It can become quite the vicious cycle. Here you will learn about Histamine Metabolism, the many factors involved in the degradation of histamine throughout the body, and things you can do to lower your Histamine Burden.
I need to make it a very obvious point..... IF YOU ARE DEALING WITH HISTAMINE INTOLERANCE..... Then you are likely suffering from multiple infections. Be it Viruses, Mold, Parasites, probably all of them to be honest! To learn more about HOW I have successfully gotten over my chronic food reactions within a week, check out my updates HERE.
Role of HistamineHistamine has varying roles throughout the body and is primarily known for being involved in allergic responses. When released by Mast Cells, Histamine begins dilating blood vessels and making the vessel walls abnormally permeable. Its extensive role in allergic response has really inhibited further studies in its role in the Central Nervous System. Histamine is a Neurotransmitter in the Central Nervous System whose role is comparable to that of Norepinephrine and Serotonin.
Histidine MetabolismHistidine is found in all foods in varying amounts, and is either converted to Histamine or Glutamate through various enzymes. Histamine is broken down through either DAO (Diamine Oxadase) or HNMT (Histamine N-Methyltransferase). (image below) DAO degrades Histamine within the gut and cellularly, while HNMT degrades Histamine cellularly only. An impairment in any of these enzymes and their cofactors can result in elevations in Histamine.
A partial impairment in the Methylation Cycle will impair the production of SAMe, which is an important cofactor in HNMT. To further complicate this..... just to Methylate efficiently in order to produce SAMe takes vast amounts of Vitamins, Minerals, and Enzymes.
The following are causes of elevated Histamine in the body:
- Slowed Methylation Cycle and a decrease in SAMe production.
- Deficiency in Diamine Oxidase (DAO) which requires Copper and P5P (Vitamine B6).
- Deficiency in Monoamine Oxidase (MAO) that requires Copper and FAD (Vitamine B2).
- Deficiency in HNMT (Histamine N-Methyltransferase) that requires SAMe.
- Large Pathogenic burden (Candida, Viruses, Pathogens).
- Poor Digestion
- Stress naturally increases Histamine.
Increases in Histamine ProductionAnother thing to consider in those with elevated Histamine is what else could be happening within the body that could cause elevations in Histamine. One of these reasons could be a THF deficiency.
Tetrahydrofolate (THF/Methylfolate) is needed to metabolize Histidine into Glutamate (pictured below). If there is any imbalance in methylation (typically those who are undermethylated), Tetrahydrofolate is not being produced at a normal rate through methionine synthase (DOUBLE WHAMMY: This also leads to the impairment of SAMe production). In the case of THF deficiency it's possible that instead of Histidine moving on to form glutamate, it goes on to produce histamine. Another possibility would be a Zinc or Cysteine deficiency causing a shunt towards histamine synthase by an increase in Histidine.
Poor Gut HealthAnother contributor to elevations in Histamine can be poor gut health.
- Poor Gut Health
- Low Stomach Acid
- Pathogenic Overload
If you have poor digestion, the food you eat won't be broken down efficiently in the gut, resulting in fermentation and an increased growth of pathogenic bacteria that also produce histamine. Histamine Lowering Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes can help a lot in lowering your histamine burden and increasing absorption while getting the pathogenic bacteria under control. Some people also find improvement while taking DAO Enzymes with their meals. Low stomach acid is another large contributor in poor digestion and taking HCL (Hydrochloric Acid) can help aid in digestion and increase absorption.
You may see gut healing protocols like GAPS or SCD that really promote eating lots of fermented foods to help aid in digestion as well as recolonize the good gut flora. BUT for those with an impaired ability to process Histamine, eating foods like this can actually cause more problems by adding to their Histamine burden. In fact, it can be quite dangerous and I have met many people who have gotten substantially worse by increasing these foods. I think highly of the GAPS diet, but one should practice caution when doing this healing protocol.
For those with a slowed breakdown of histamine, a low histamine diet is often doctor recommended in order to keep symptoms under control. I have a really hard time even recommending a person to restrict their foods, or not eat anything they react to because many people would have nothing to eat! Food restrictions may only result in more food restrictions and nutritional deficiencies. Your body needs a wide array of foods in order to heal. And I think increasing absorption is a really great place to start! And then just making a lifestyle change towards fresher foods, rather than limiting "high" histamine foods. BUT I do think that a short period of time with an extremely strict Low Histamine Diet can be beneficial in getting that burden under control.
Simple steps to lower histamine burden:
- Stay away from processed foods, especially processed meats (bacon, ham, lunchmeat.)
- Stay away from fermented foods (cheese, yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, vinegar.)
- Stay away from canned foods, ESPECIALLY canned tomato products.
- Freeze leftovers to prevent histamine accumulation and cook from frozen when possible.
- Ask butcher for fresh meat (local butchers tend to hang and age meat up to 14 days.)
A great resource is the Low Histamine Chef. She grasps the concept that you aren't going to heal by just restricting foods. She has lots of recipes to help nourish the body while promoting DAO production. You can find some of her recipes by following me on Pinterest.