Histamine is a fairly unknown substance, but it can cause a long list of complaints. Maddening itching, heartburn, panic, trouble sleeping… What can you do if you have a hypersensitivity to histamine? Gerrie Hasselaar, orthomolecular therapist and classical homeopath, provides the redeeming answer.
When you miss substances such as magnesium and vitamin B12, your liver cannot do its job properly and you are left with too high a histamine content.
High sensitivity & histamine
Histamine is a fairly unknown substance that can cause many complaints, especially in (highly) sensitive people. Many people with Lyme disease are also hypersensitive to histamine. This so-called biogenic amine is found in certain foods and in your body.
Histamine can be seen as your ammunition: it is released to kill a pathogen. But sometimes it is released when there is no real ‘intruder’, such as with hay fever. In addition to an allergic reaction, it can cause severe symptoms such as maddening itching, skin rashes, diarrhea, heartburn, panic and depression.
You may recognize the name histamine because you take anti-histamines. This medication ensures that an allergic reaction such as hay fever is slowed down. The disadvantages are that you do not or hardly tackle the cause and you can suffer from side effects such as fatigue.
Panic attack and rash
An example from my practice. A client called me in sheer panic. “It’s all wrong. I’m suddenly covered with bumps and it itches terribly,” she started her story crying and anxious. She had no idea where this suddenly came from, because in her eyes there was no obvious reason. I asked what she had eaten and then I discovered the cause. This (highly) sensitive lady had eaten too much histamine and could not process this enough, so that she now had a panic attack with skin rash.
This is how you recognize too much histamine in your body
How do you know if you are hypersensitive to histamine? Below are complaints that can be caused by an excess of histamine in your body.
- Histamine 1 (H1 receptor): menstrual problems, stomach cramps, muscle twitching or spasms, difficulty breathing, vomiting, rash, itching, swelling or allergies.
- Histamine 2 (H2 receptor): diarrhea, heartburn, reflux, vomiting, or difficulty breathing.
- Histamine 3 (H3 receptor): heart rhythm disturbances, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, panic, depression or trouble sleeping.
Weapon against pathogens
Histamine can be found in our body: in the connective tissue, in the intestines and in all tissues that are in contact with the outside world, such as skin and mucous membranes. Histamine is responsible for gastric acid production. As mentioned, you can see the dust as ammunition, as your weapon against pathogens. Histamine regulates that your vessels open more ( vasodilation ), so that the intruder is immediately removed. Super important, especially in this time! Sometimes this weapon (histamine) is released too quickly, causing the aforementioned complaints. Histamine from food is usually the cause.
Causes of too high a histamine level
- Histamine must be properly drained by the liver. Think of the liver as a waste processing plant with six conveyor belts. Histamine has to be processed on one of those belts. The ‘staff’ who work here consist of vitamin B12, folate, magnesium, zinc and c. If you miss these substances, the conveyor belt will naturally falter and you will be stuck with histamine – in other words with itching, allergies, anxiety, sleeping problems, etc.
- You have too many mast cells : cells that store your histamine.
- There are too many allergens in your environment.
- You eat histamine-rich food and/or food that releases histamine quickly. Examples include sauerkraut, kefir, coffee, tempeh, cheese, red wine, chocolate, tomato, spinach, avocado, kiwi, strawberries and ginger.
- You have pathogens in your gut that produce histamine.
- You eat foods that cause an inflammatory response. Most of the time you are not aware of this. A food intolerance test is therefore recommended.
- Problems with histamine increase as we age.
- Your adrenal glands do not function optimally due to stress. They are less able to produce cortisol to inhibit histamine.
- Histamine must be broken down in the digestive tract by the enzyme DAO and converted in the nervous system. If there are degradation and conversion problems, this will not work well.
- Hereditary ‘knitting errors’ can be a cause.
- You grew up in an environment that is too clean, so that your immune system is less well trained.
Also read: Top fit one minute, extremely tired the next? The Mysterious Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
What can you do about hypersensitivity to histamine?
Try to find the cause. Avoid histamine-rich foods and foods that release histamine quickly ( histamine releasers ). In addition, it is important to take a good Omega 3 supplement with polyphenols in combination with a natural multivitamin with minerals every day, so that you have enough ‘staff’ at the assembly line to remove histamine.
Does this not work enough? Then puzzle further and consider doing a food intolerance test and an IgE test to see if you are allergic to, for example, trees, grasses, house dust, animals, etc. If the complaints are unbearable (think of maddening itching) choose natural anti-histamines such as quercetin and/or beta-glucans in consultation with your practitioner. Quercetin is a natural antidote. You can find it in capers, red onions, apples, watercress, kale, buckwheat, berries and broccoli.