Could your allergy symptoms be caused by histamine intolerance?

Never heard of it? You’re not alone …

It’s thought that histamine intolerance affects one to four per cent of people[1]. It’s a condition where there is an excess of histamine in the body. It commonly goes undiagnosed due to the multi-faceted nature of symptoms, which are usually similar to that of allergies and sensitivities. In fact, most people who have it don’t even realise it! Could you be one of these people?

What is it?

Histamine is an incredible chemical that helps regulate immune reactions, gut function and central nervous system processes. But, if your body is unable to break it down properly, you may suffer from excess histamine and increased inflammation, a condition known as histamine intolerance.

What to look out for

People with histamine intolerance may experience allergy-like symptoms, including:

  • Skin conditions – eczema, hives, dermatitis and other rashes
  • Gut issues – diarrhoea, bloating and pain
  • Low blood pressure
  • Sinus issues - Sneezing, congestion, runny nose and/or itchy, watery eyes Headaches and migraines
  • Sleep problems
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Stress, anxiety and/or depression
  • Hot flashes or trouble controlling body temperature

How do you get it?

There are various things may contribute to histamine intolerance. Look out for:

  • High levels of histamine-rich foods in your diet
  • Gut conditions – like leaky gut, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrown), unhealthy gut flora, Crohn's disease and IBS, which can make it harder for your body to break down histamine
  • Certain medications – like antihistamines, ibuprofen and asprin, which can also make it harder to break down histamine
  • Low levels of essential vitamins and minerals – for example, vitamin C can lower histamine levels in the blood, calcium helps flush to it out, zinc restricts its release, and vitamin B6 helps you break it down.

Histamines and food

There are also a number of foods, which contain histamine, can stimulate its production, or can make it harder for your body to break it down. For instance, histamine is found naturally in a variety of foods, such as:

  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Alcohol
  • Some vegetables, like tomato and spinach
  • Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and soybean products.

Some foods can also stimulate histamine release. This is because the body may recognise them as pathogens (disease agents) to be fought off. Common culprits include:

  • Alcohol
  • Some fruits, like bananas, pineapples and strawberries
  • Shellfish
  • Some dairy products, including milk and chocolate
  • There are also some foods – including alcohol, certain teas and energy drinks – that can block DAO (the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine in the body).

Help for histamine intolerance

Antihistamines can help relieve symptoms in the short term and may seem like the most logical remedy for antihistamine intolerance. However, they do not address the underlying problems causing it in the first place. Also, having allergy-related conditions like eczema, asthma and hay fever can contribute to high histamine levels and exacerbate histamine intolerance.

At Health & Wellness Australia (HWA), we use a technique called muscle testing or kinesiology to help identify which food an environmental substances you may be reacting to. Following testing, you can work with your practitioner to address your reactions using a natural allergy treatment called Positive Association Technique (PAT).

PAT is a non-invasive holistic therapy, which:

  • draws on acupressure and kinesiology techniques
  • aims to re-train your body
  • may reduce your reactions to environmental substances that may be causing or exacerbating your allergy-related conditions.
  • Some cases can be complex, so our naturopaths may also recommend supplements and herbs, and provide lifestyle advice (such as a diet high in essential vitamins and minerals, or rich in low-histamine foods), to help you achieve the best long-term results.

[1] American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Histamine and histamine intolerance. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/5/1185.long

This blog is intended as general information only. PAT cannot diagnose or cure allergies – it is intended to decrease reactions and help manage symptoms. It is not intended to raise unrealistic expectations. If symptoms persist, consult your GP.

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