Headaches, Hives and Heartburn: Could Histamine Be the Cause?
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Headaches, Hives, and Heartburn: Could Histamine Be the Cause?

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Red wine. Aged cheese. Citrus fruits. Sauerkraut. Bacon. These foods are frequently consumed by those on a healthy whole foods diet, and are often found in a variety of Paleo-friendly recipes and meal plans. Even conventional doctors frequently recommend including many of these seemingly unrelated foods daily as part of a healthy diet. After all, even a raw vegan probably wouldn’t argue against eating foods like oranges, spinach, or cinnamon.

It may surprise you to learn that these and other popular foods are capable of causing numerous symptoms in certain people, including migraines, hives, anxiety, heartburn and GERD, and nasal congestion, just to name a few. If you’re experiencing strange reactions to certain foods that most would consider healthy, you may be suffering from a little known but not uncommon cause of food intolerance and disease: histamine intolerance.

Still having strange symptoms on a real food diet? You could be suffering from histamine intolerance.Tweet This

Never heard of histamine intolerance? You’re not alone. This food intolerance is difficult to diagnose, has a multifaceted symptom profile, and is often confused with a variety of other conditions. Many doctors and nutritionists have never even heard of histamine intolerance, and often treat the symptoms without ever addressing the underlying cause. In my practice, I see it especially with headaches and migraines, skin problems and mental health issues. It’s a fairly common, yet poorly understood, food sensitivity.

Histamine Intolerance: Not Your Typical Food Allergy!

Histamine intolerance is generally caused by a defect in the body’s histamine breakdown process, in one of two enzyme systems: histamine N-methyl transferase (HMT) and diamine oxidase (DAO). (1)

Deficiency in the DAO enzyme system, found in the intestinal mucosa, has been suggested as the most probable cause of histamine intolerance. (2) There are likely genetic variations in individual enzyme function, but when activity of either of these enzymes is insufficient, the resulting excess of histamine may cause numerous symptoms resembling an allergic reaction. Common symptoms of histamine intolerance include: (3)

  • Pruritus (itching especially of the skin, eyes, ears, and nose)
  • Urticaria (hives) (sometimes diagnosed as “idiopathic urticaria”)
  • Tissue swelling (angioedema) especially of facial and oral tissues and sometimes the throat, the latter causing the feeling of “throat tightening”
  • Hypotension (drop in blood pressure)
  • Tachycardia (increased pulse rate, “heart racing”)
  • Symptoms resembling an anxiety or panic attack
  • Chest pain
  • Nasal congestion, runny nose, seasonal allergies
  • Conjunctivitis (irritated, watery, reddened eyes)
  • Some types of headaches that differ from those of migraine
  • Fatigue, confusion, irritability
  • Very occasionally loss of consciousness usually lasting for only one or two seconds
  • Digestive upset, especially heartburn, “indigestion”, and reflux

Histamine intolerance is unlike other food allergies or sensitivities in that the response is cumulative, not immediate. Imagine it like a cup of water. When the cup is very full (high amounts of histamine in the diet), even a drop of additional water will cause the cup to overflow (symptoms activated). But when the cup is less full, it would take more water (histamine) to cause a response. This makes histamine intolerance tricky to recognize.

In addition, histamine intolerance is closely related to SIBO and dysbiosis, which suggests that curing the latter may alleviate the former. Many integrative practitioners, including myself, believe that a primary cause of histamine intolerance is an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria that make histamine from undigested food, leading to a buildup of histamine in the gut and overwhelming the body’s ability to catabolize the excess histamine. This causes a heightened sensitivity to histamine-containing foods and an increase in symptoms that are commonly associated with allergies.

For more detailed information on histamine intolerance, including causes, symptoms, and treatment, check out this article by Dr. Janice Joneja, a Ph.D. in medical microbiology and immunology and former head of the Allergy Nutrition Program at the Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre.

What to Do If You Have Histamine Intolerance

Histamine intolerance can be a challenging diagnosis to manage, since many foods contain histamine and for some patients, their gut bacteria is producing the excess histamine that is causing the symptoms. Fermented foods are some of the biggest culprits, since even beneficial bacteria produce histamine during fermentation. In fact, reacting to fermented foods is a classic sign of histamine intolerance, especially if probiotic supplements are well-tolerated. Other foods that are high in histamine include:

  • Seafood: shellfish or fin fish, fresh, frozen, smoked or canned
  • Eggs
  • Processed, cured, smoked and fermented meats such as lunch meat, bacon, sausage, salami, pepperoni
  • Leftover meat (After meat is cooked, the histamine levels increase due to microbial action as the meat sits)
  • All fermented milk products, including most cheeses
  • Yogurt, buttermilk, kefir
  • Citrus fruits – eg. oranges, grapefruit, lemons, lime
  • Most berries
  • Dried fruit
  • Fermented foods: sauerkraut, kombucha, pickles, relishes, fermented soy products, etc.
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes- including ketchup, tomato sauces
  • Artificial food colors and preservatives
  • Spices: cinnamon, chili powder, cloves, anise, nutmeg, curry powder, cayenne
  • Beverages: Tea (herbal or regular), alcohol
  • Chocolate, cocoa
  • Vinegar and foods containing vinegar such as pickles, relishes, ketchup, and prepared mustard
For anyone experiencing histamine intolerance, strict adherence to a low-histamine diet is necessary for a period of time. After that, smaller amounts of histamine may be tolerated depending on the person.

Individual sensitivity varies tremendously. I have one or two patients that cannot tolerate any amount of histamine in food, and others that are only sensitive to the foods highest in histamine.

In order to improve your tolerance to histamine-containing foods, it is crucial to heal the gut and address any dysbiosis or SIBO issues that may exist. I recommend working with a qualified practitioner who can help you address any bacterial imbalance and create a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs.

What Can You Eat on a Low-Histamine Paleo Diet?

You may be feeling overwhelmed by the list of foods to avoid – I don’t blame you! It can be especially challenging to eat low-histamine foods on a Paleo diet. There aren’t many resources available for this condition, and everyone reacts in their own unique way to excess histamine and certain high histamine foods. For example, a person may do fine eating berries and citrus fruits, but they may have horrible reactions to wine or sauerkraut. If you’re dealing with histamine intolerance, you will need to determine your own trigger foods, and reduce or eliminate them accordingly.

MPG histamineFor help figuring out what to eat, those with histamine intolerance may want to check out my Paleo Recipe Generator. It contains over 600 Paleo-approved recipes, and allows you to exclude many high histamine foods from your meal plan, including fermented dairy, eggs, tomatoes, eggplant, fruit, certain spices, vinegar, alcohol, and seafood.

Of course, you’ll have to pay attention to whether or not the recipe contains cured meats like bacon or sausage, other spices like cinnamon or cloves, and certain fruits and vegetables like citrus and spinach. Some of these issues can be addressed by excluding fruit and pork from the meal plan, which isn’t necessary but can help make your low-histamine recipe search a little easier. You’ll still need to double check the ingredients of each individual meal, but this search function makes it much easier!

Once you’ve made your selections for foods to exclude, you can plan meals for a full day, a week, or simply find a recipe for a single meal. Even with a histamine intolerance, you can still enjoy many delicious Paleo recipes: Lamb Roast with Fennel and Root Vegetables, Beef Brisket with Mushrooms, Sourdough Buckwheat Pancakes, and even Chicken Pot Pie, just to name a few.

There are few other online resources for low-histamine meal plans, and most are not Paleo compliant. The Low Histamine Chef has a “Low Histamine Diamine Oxidase Boosting Recipe Book” which some people may find helpful, though many of the recipes contain less-than-desirable ingredients such as grains, legumes, and sugar. It’s important to focus on healing the gut and identifying your specific trigger foods in order to reduce symptoms without indefinitely following a strict low histamine diet. Just remember, individual results will vary!

835 Comments

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  1. Hi John,
    What is the meaning of ‘CBD strain’ ? as per your comments earlier. Please advise , I want to try Hemp Oil. Thanks

  2. If you have used Hemp Oil and it has worked please let me know. I still cannot believe the histamine intolerance is gone because of it. I have tried everything, and then used Hemp Oil and have very little symptoms. I stopped using Hemp Oil after 4 weeks and I am still doing well.

  3. I’ve struggled with histamine intolerance for 2 years follwoing severe gut dysbiosis.

    Hemp oil has been the only thing that has resolved the problem for what seems to be somewhat permanently at this point.

    Has anyone else tried using hemp oil, and if so what has been your experience with it as well?

    FYI: I used a high CBD strain.

  4. I have adrenal fatigue AND histamine intolerance. Some of the beneficial foods suggested for the adrenal fatigue (such as fermented foods) are listed as antagonizers for histamines. So, which condition is the most important to address first. I’m so confused…

    • In my opinion (I am not a doctor just someone who has recovered from adrenal fatigue and is working on histamine intolerance). I would say that not irritating your digestive system with histamine would help your adrenals to recover. If you want to keep up with my story I have a blog here: http://www.familyhomeandhealth.com. I have information on histamines there. Part of my story is here-http://familyhomeandhealth.com/2014/06/food-as-medicine-for-incurable.html

      • Kristie,

        Sorry I’m so late responding, but thank you for your response. I have looked at your website. I agree that addressing the inflammation first might be the place to start.

        Dana

  5. Hi All, It is me again – Jassy
    Apart from my yesterday’ comment , this morning i woke up this : Both my hands and fingers are having small pimples and both hands are very very itchy and hands become more itchy when i wash them with hot water. But more interestingly i broke some of those tiny pimples and some sort of liquid came out ( very tiny and no colour though) . Please help and advise if anyone had similar Or it sounds familiar. Chris – any ideas please .

    Thanks
    Jassy

    • Jassy, please do not wash your sensitive skin in hot water! And please do not break your skin, to find out what is inside the lumps. Breaking your skin allows infection to enter. Keep your skin whole and treat it gently.
      You probably have contact dermatitis. Use only soap-free cleansers and lukewarm water and wash your hands as INFREQUENTLY as possible. Wear waterproof gloves, cotton-lined, whenever you have to perform tasks involving water, dirt, chemicals, plant juices etc.
      Use an allergen-free moisturizer on your hands to put a soothing barrier between your hands and the environment.

      If the condition worsens, see your doctor.

    • I have the same fluid filled blisters off and on for years. Bactroban got rid of them. I thought it was an allergy to this or that…. I thought it was stress. I went to a dermatologist I trust he told me it was dyshyrdrotic eczema. My brother got the same thing. Itched like crazy. So he sprayed it with tinactin. Gone! Now…. I spray mine with tinactin and it disappears right away without me itching it open or popping it. I believe it is dermatitis herpatiformis. Hope this helps…

      • If its in the top layer its likely going to be diagnosed as some form of dermatitis. If its in a deeper layer, it might be diagnosed as angioedema. Granted, they will most likely have no idea as to the cause, they’re just seeing a symptom.

  6. Due to extreme rash on my skin and unbearable itching all day , all over my body i am using the following as per your blog which i have been reading for few months now .
    I use twice a daily
    Allegra tablets
    Quercetin
    Bromelain
    Vitamin C
    My question is what else i need to take along with all these .

    Do i need take Histame as well , Where can i find it and what is the best brand / name for this one. Please help.
    Do i need to eat Nettle and where do i buy this from , please advise.

    Thanks
    Jassy

  7. I’m trying to figure out the cause of my 3 year old daughters skin rash. Her skin is like sandpaper on her back, with raised red patches and is itchy. From what I can tell looks very like hives to me. It flared up a couple of months ago. Originally I was thinking an allergy to dairy and gluten so cut them out. Didn’t have much effect. Then I remembered that she reacts when she has cinnamon. Gets red splotches on her face straight after eating it. So got me thinking that it could be a histamine intolerance. It’s a very tricky one to figure out especially for a 3 year old and all the things she will and won’t eat. So was wondering if I gave her some anti-histamine medication to see if that has a positive effect. Only want to do this for a short time to see if I can rule out or rule in a histamine intolerance. Definitely want to get to the root cause but for a quick test would that be a wise thing to do? thanks for all your help,

    • Yikes. Personally I’d talk to your child’s pediatrician 1st before giving them anything. It could be an eczema flare up triggered by certain foods ie cinnamon. My son had eczema and certain foods do this to his skin. Eczema is treated with a topical steroid, hydrocortisone not an antihistime, if by chance that is what your child has. Talk to your Peditrician.

    • Bettina, I would also suggest checking the laundry detergent you are using to wash your daughter’s clothes. Some detergents contain skin irritants.
      Topical steroids do work well to treat eczema, in the short term. They also cause thinning of the skin and their effects may be only temporary. Skin-thinning leads to skin cracking, which in a vicious cycle, can lead back to eczema agais. Pharmacists recommend using a moisturizer on the skin before applying cortisone creams. This will decrease the skin-thinning effect.
      That said, your daughter’s skin condition needs to be diagnosed. Is it hives? Is it dermatitis? Is it something else? If it is hives then there’s a good chance a low histamine diet might help.

      • Thanks for the responses everyone. Wendy I recently discovered ‘magnesium man’ and embraced his views so have introduced magnesium in to all of my families life. For my daughter I first tried some magnesium lotion, the Ancient Minerals one for sensitive skin. I put it on her skin and instantly it started stinging and also flared up in to a red rash. I know that is common when you have a magnesium deficiency so the next time I just put a bit on her feet and the same reaction. So just started giving her epsom salt baths to try and slowly introduce it but also noticed that whilst it doesn’t sting any more she still is very red for a while after the bath. Anyway, that’s been my experience with magnesium. I will also look in to the copper/zinc balance. For a young child, any foods you would recommend for her? thanks again

        • Aveno makes a great oatmeal bath you should try and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Try Eucerin intensive repair lotion with the aqua blue cap. Switch to dove for a moisturizing soap. Use Eucerin Aquaphor healing ointment to heal the patches. This is the best over the counter ointment I’ve ever used. We use this for everything, chapped lips, cuts, eczema, rashes. It’s wonderful!

    • I’ll bet Quinton Ocean Water (OW) could help. Most people are deficient in many minerals, which are super important for all kinds of enzymatic reactions in the body. Many people who take the Quinton OW see improvements all over. It can also be used topically. I’ve seen photos of very horrible skin issues clear up nicely with this. OW has all the same minerals in the same concentrations as blood plasma, so it’s a perfect substitute for blood. In fact, in World Wars 1 and 2 they injected it into soldiers who had lost blood as a blood replacer. Here is that website: http://www.originalquinton.com/. You need to order through a practitioner, as they do not sell it retail. Let me know if you want to explore this, as I use it with my autistic clients and nutrition clients.

  8. What am I going to do? I’m already on a strict Autoimmune protocol, low FODMAP and GAPS, with additional restrictions on oranges, sweet potatoes, winter squash, arrowroot, and coconut, including the oil. I can’t eat meat from the grocery store because I react to it (I’ve determined through testing it is probably a combination of corn oil and starch used on the plastic packaging and the lactic acid that all carcasses have to be sprayed with, by law, before being sold). For the last year the only source of protein I’ve been able to tolerate is fish and chicken liver (which comes in tubs without clingy plastic wrap and apparently doesn’t get sprayed with the lactic acid), until a few months ago where I found a source that can get me a few safe chickens a month. I’ve also been on an antihistamine every day since about November of 2013. Without I sneeze and itch everywhere. Recently I tried to add coconut back in and my digestive system didn’t react to moderate amounts, but I discovered it made my allergy symptoms way worse. It’s seeming like the histamine thing may have become a problem for me. How can I possibly cut out high-histamine food? I’m living on fish, liver, cucumber, summer squash, greens, carrots, papaya, melon, plantains, and berries, and recently added in small amounts of avocado and grapes. Now I’m reading most of these things are high histamine! It seems impossible for me to cut out what is making me sick at this point. I would be living on lettuce and plantains. My doctor thinks I’m nuts. My family does too, really, even though they at least believe I have some real problems with food. I can’t afford to drop hundreds of dollars on doctors and tests out of network. I’m about ready to just curl up in a ball and start crying. Yes, a restricted diet is what brought me out of mysterious and debilitating pain three years ago. But the list of what I can eat has gotten smaller and smaller since then. I don’t know what to do.

    • HD, my heart goes out to you. You are really suffering. I would like to help, if I can. A couple of questions, first:
      * Can you tolerate cooked free range egg yolks as a source of protein? No whites, just the yolks?
      * Have you actually been tested for food allergies? If so, which foods?
      My suggestions are as follows:
      * Get tested for food allergies if you’ve not already done so.
      * Start from scratch and postulate that histamine intolerance is the cause of your health issues (which seems likely, because antihistamines relieve your symptoms).
      * For a trial period of a week, ditch the low FODMAP and GAPS diets and stick STRICTLY to the Strictly Low Histamine diet only.
      * During this trial period of a week, avoid sweet potatoes, arrowroot and coconut products. (they are permitted on the Strictly Low Histamine diet but since you have a history of reacting to them, leave them out at this testing stage).
      *Naturally, if you have a flare-up during this time, immediately stop the trial.
      * If you notice some minor improvements during the trial, keep going. Continue for as long as it takes for you to feel well again.
      * If/when you feel better, try gradually re-introducing coconut the other HIT-friendly foods into your diet. (You need all the food variety you can get.)
      Good luck and best wishes!
      Sue

      • Thanks for the advice. But FODMAP foods cause me a lot of pain, even arthritic aching. I’ve been able to reintroduce some in small amounts, but the daily effect seems to be cumulative, and I simply can’t have more than about two servings a day in total.

        • Well HD, the great thing is that a lot of the foods banned on FODMAP diets are also banned on the Strictly Low Histamine Diet. (I wonder if it’s the histamine – which is cumulative – that causes your arthritic pain, rather than the FODMAP sugars in these foods…?)
          Foods banned on BOTH the FODMAP and Strictly Low Histamine diet include:
          * all legumes
          * wheat
          * certain fruits, especially stone fruits
          * mushrooms
          * pickles
          * certain nuts

          • Postscript:
            HD, I strongly suggest that you try taking prebiotics, probiotics and some of the other supplements suggested in the book “Is Food Making You Sick?” It sounds as if your gut bacteria are out of balance.
            Also, please take a look at any medications you are on and compare them to the list in the book. Some meds – some antidepressants, for example – can seriously affect one’s DAO levels and cause a wide range of pretty dreadful symptoms.

          • Thank you for the advice. I see what you mean, and it makes sense. Unfortunately, I definitely have a problem with FODMAPS as well. Garlic, for example, has no problems with histamines that I am aware of, but causes me a lot of trouble. I only recently was able to add back in very small quantities, and too much makes me ache. Onions are worse. i still can’t touch them. Mushrooms either, though I see they are on your list. I hadn’t seen them on lists I’ve read previously. Could you tell me where you found this one?

            Also, I can’t stop eating fish and liver. They are my only consistent source of protein, unless the local farm I’m buying from expands enough that I can buy enough chickens from them to meet all my protein needs.

            I’m definitely on a good probiotic, which has helped. I’m avoiding prebiotics right now. They tend to upset my system, and they feed bad bacteria as well as the good. MAny suggest staying off of them until the bad bacteria are brought under control.

            • I’m no longer taking even the best probiotics with ANY lactobacillis–there are at least 3 lactobacillis names in most probiotics. Lactobacillis does not help people with histamine overloads, but rather makes them worse! Yogurt anyone?
              A good probiotic for those with histamine issues can be found and purchased at the “Seeking Health” website. It does not have lactos’ anything. Instead it only has Bifido’s (at least 5)–good! Also “Ultimate Flora RTS senior care probiotic has no lactos’. I found that one in a good health store. It’s difficult to find a probiotic that is without any lactos’ (lactobacillis), but the two I mention are excellent.
              I personally have noticed a difference in taking this with my histamine issues. It’s helped.
              The “Seeking Health” website is from Dr. Ben Lynch, and his MTHFR website. Anyone who has histamine issues, likely is rooted with the MTHFR gene mutation. There are some knowledgable individuals regarding MTHFR, but Dr. Lynch is the foremost authority on the subject.

              • I’ve looked into the MTHFR thing. Not surprised at all if there is a connection. I tried methyl b-12 and methyl-folate and both made me sick. The methyl-folate was really bad, even on the second try, when I did it at a fraction of a dose every other day. And then I tried taking a tiny bit of niacin to help with the reaction, as I read on Dr. Lynch’s site, and got REALLY sick. On the methylfolate I felt like I had the flu. After the niacin, I lay on the floor overheating until I fell asleep and scared my family, and I didn’t recover for days. I’m never again touching supplements without professional guidance.

                • Hi Ed,

                  Many have trouble when starting the methylation supplements, including myself.

                  What eventually worked for me was folinic acid (instead of methylfolate), and very small amounts of methylb12.

                  Also, niacin and niacinamide RELEASES histamine — hence your severe reaction. It basically confirms that you have a histamine intolerance.

                  Lynch is good, but his habit of blaming every negative reaction on methylfolate isn’t always correct.

  9. I want to mention something that I recently found. A lot of histamine articles suggest take a diamine oxidase supplement. I found an article that suggests that there may be a link between diamine oxidase and prostate cancer. In my opinion, men should think twice about taking this supplement.

    link:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11270424

  10. I think that I finally found what is wrong with me. After a life of sinus and strep throat, with probably 50 rounds of antibiotics. Three years ago I had fight with cancer. So reading up it, I was eating all these anti-cancer foods lately like dark chocolate, tomatoes, berries, green tea and fish oil (made from sardines and anchovies). Now I may have figured out why I get hive, sinus problems, acid re-flux and fatigue. It seems like my only temporary relief is anti-histamines. Funny how these anti-cancer foods may be making me sick! And all those rounds of antibiotics have pounded my immune system into the ground!

  11. Unfortunately, the link to the article of Dr. Janice Joneja does not work anymore. 🙁
    Would be great if you can fix it.

    Cheers
    Silke

    • Wow! I can’t believe I’m reading this eye opening intolerance. I can check off just about every symptom on list. I always new something was weird when I’d take a sip of wine or beer and be the 1st & only one in the group to get flushed with itchy, splotchy redness in my face, neck and chest. Reading about this makes so much more sense now. If always thought my headaches we were I was dehydrated and my itchy back scalp was odd b/c head n shoulders never helped anything. I stumbled upon this article the other day after having a severe hive attack, burning face and stomach cramps after eating pizza. Boy was this a happy accident! Thank you for parting the clouds for me!

        • Yes Colleen, the SIGHI list is authoritative and informative. It does, nonetheless, permit some foods which are not permitted on other similarly respected and authoritative lists, and vice versa. The safest thing to do is to look at all the trustworthy and science-based histamine food lists and avoid any foods that are not included on *all* of them. This is how the food list in “Is Food Making You Sick?” was compiled.

          • It doesn’t seem so to me Sue.

            He sites the SIGHI and Dr. Janice Joneja as two authoritative sources, yet:

            SIGHI says lentils are bad, Joneja says they’re safe.

            SIGHI says peanut butter is bad, Joneja says it’s okay.

            SIGHI says green beans are okay, Joneja disagrees.

            SIGHI says potatoes are safe, Joneja has them on her ‘no’ list.

            • That’s absolutely right, Kelly. What the author of ‘Is Food Making You Sick?’ has done is to combine the two lists and then rule out every food item that is listed on any one of them as not appropriate for people with HIT.
              In other words, if SIGHI says lentils are bad and Joneja says they’re safe, then ‘Is Food Making You Sick?” will put lentils on the ‘forbidden’ list. Similarly, if SIGHI says peanut butter is bad, and Joneja says it’s okay, then ‘Is Food making You Sick?’ puts peanut butter on the forbidden list.
              This makes the list of tolerable foods quite narrow: however, the Strictly Low Histamine Diet is not intended to be a lifelong eating plan. It is intended as a relatively short-term diet to heal the body and bring down histamine levels. This can take anything between 4 weeks and several months. Severe cases take longer.

              • Thanks for your reply Sue.

                We’ve decided that the “Strictly Low Histamine Site” just wasn’t trustworthy or knowledgeable to use as a resource, as we (my boyfriend and I) just found too many errors on the site.

                In fact, when my boyfriend pointed out an almost unbelievable error where Gibbs suggested people take “antifolates like methionine” for histamine-related depression, an idea based on Carl Pfeiffer’s outdated recommendation from the 1970’s.

                Instead of answering my boyfriend’s question, the erroneous information was promptly deleted, but unfortunately the Pfeiffer reference remains, which will just confuse patients further.

                Methionine isn’t an ‘antifolate’, or as Gibb described it, a drug that ‘blocks the actions of folic acid’.

                And furthermore, methylation is one of the 2 key ways that histamine is broken down, as Chris has noted on his other page on histamine intolerance, not to mention other doctors that are more up to speed on the issue. And one key part of that is using folinic acid or methylfolate, and never the synthetic ‘folic acid’.

                Using ‘antifolates’, as was recommended on “The Strictly Low Histamine” website, is completely the opposite advice that should be given, and suggests with all due respect, that Mr. Gibbs has very limited knowledge on the subject of histamine intolerance.

                Anyway, good luck selling your books.

                • Sorry for the grammatical errors. I meant to say:

                  In fact, when my boyfriend posted a comment on the site, pointing out an almost unbelievable error where Gibbs suggested people take “antifolates like methionine” for histamine-related depression (an idea based on Carl Pfeiffer’s outdated recommendation from the 1970’s), the erroneous information was promptly deleted, but unfortunately the Pfeiffer reference remains, which will just confuse patients further.

                • Hi Kelly, I am sorry you feel this way about the Low Histamine Website. You are the first person who has ever expressed any dissatisfaction with it. The overwhelming response has been positive. It is not the author of the book who looks after the website, so he cannot be blamed.

                  If there was any outdated information it is due to me, in this single case, not double-checking to see whether all facts are still relevant or have been superseded by some more recent research.

                  I, personally, am passionate about histamine intolerance research because the Strictly Low Histamine Diet has been like an answer to a prayer for me. By restoring my health it has changed my life, so that is a thing I want to share with others.

                  I think you will find that all other information on the website has been meticulously researched and checked. It would be worth while not to simply discard a lot of valuable help just because one fallible human being overlooked updating a piece of information!

  12. its been around an year and half itching started . I thought it as an allergy and it was only itching but it never stopped . I met a dermatologist and I was on antiasthamine and I was diagnosed as urticaria . I shifted to homopeathy and took antiallergic for almost an year but the situation has worsened . 3 months before I started having headache and lightheadedness which will never go . dizziness then followed .I started having acidity and then had a ct scan done and was diagnosed as sinusitis . I don’t know what it is ? have consulted many doctors but haven’t got much relief .

    • I had similar issues and I found out I had mast cell activation disorder with high prostaglandin readings. Also histamine intolerance

    • stop eating all the fatty foods, read meat, fish, milk and milk products, sweet, all the fruits and vegetables especially acid foods, and starchy foods. If you have acid reflux, vomit like a dog early morning, once in a week till all the acids come out and drink water, if you are hungry ear small portion of white rice with sambar follow this method for 6 month. never eat bread

    • Hello i have been suffering with the same symptom.Please go on a low histamine diet. Start taking Vitamin c.And check you blood pressure.If you want more help on histamine level control i can give you a list of low histamine food.

    • I got few more tests done . My B12 was 180 even though i eat non veg . And then got my stool test done which showed presence of vegetable cells . Is it SIBO , celiac disease or histamine intolerance.

      • Thanks all for sharing your advices and experiances . My doctor asked for urine analysis and stool test . Which showed mucus in stool and ph cells 4-6 in urine and its cloudy at times . Meanwhile i have stop intaking barley which i think was causing me allergy and there is much releif in sinus problem rest its all same .

    • I had a severe histamine problem for at least 15 years and finally cured it with a combination of Quercetin (a natural antihistamine), Bromelain and Vitamin C. You must take the three together with water, on an empty stomach. Recently, I stopped taking these for a few days because they raised the price of the supplements, and within a few days, my skin started itching and peeling off, and I developed a stuffed nose, pain and inflammation. I almost forgot what this felt like. Thankfully, I got back on the supplements and I’m fine again.

      • Hi Steph,

        Would you mind sharing exactly which supplements you are taking, how much, and where you get them? Thanks!

        Mary

      • Did a doctor prescribe those three, and in what amounts? I have a suspicion this may be my issue. I recently watched Dr. Sideckers presentation on SIBO, and it’s all starting to come into focus.

  13. its been two years since itching started which was later diagnosed as urticaria , then as time passed problems started grossing up . Headache was first noticed by me which was later diagnosed by my physician as GERD and then CHRONIC SINUSITIS AND CONCHA BULLOSA which called me for surgery . Headache or lightheadedness relieves a bit when I take steam but its just temporary .Dizziness is a new thing which I am facing . is it histamine intolerance ?

  14. Thanks Chris! This explains so much. I have been taking 180mg of fexofenadine every day for around 5 years now mostly to stop the drowsiness. I’ve never found the cause of the excess hystamines except noticing that it’s worse in spring and wine, beer and low quality food makes it worse.

    I also went vegan for 8 months last year and felt amazing but couldn’t sustain it.

    Am going to try the low hystamine diet, thank you!

  15. Many of the articles that I am reading on this also include spinach and pumpkin as far as vegetables. I have been having all of these symptoms for almost a year, living in a remote area in Papua New Guinea. In fact, the doctor thought I had lupus and I went back to the U.S. for months and nobody figured out anything. But as soon as I came back….

    Terribly itchy skin, occasional hives, terrible heartburn, anxiety, heartbeat going like crazy (but only 98 beats per minute instead of 100, so doctors weren’t worried at all), and awful fatigue.

    After a couple of weeks in Australia, where we were eating out all the time — no leftovers, less fruit than we ordinarily do — I felt fine again. But then we ate winter squash and I was miserable. Now back in PNG, I have less symptoms than I did since we started leaving squash out of it (because here we mostly eat curry or tomato based stews that get left out and are probably loaded with histamines), but I am still having problems. I am not sure how we are going to significantly lessen the histamine load.

    This has made sense, though. I have tried to isolate what food(s) could be bothering me, and never could come up with a pattern. I am looking forward to seeing if lowering the histamine load helps.

    • Hi Lora,
      Yes you are right – spinach is not recommended for people with histamine intolerance.
      It is surprising, however, that you had a reaction to squash. This is most unusual. May I ask, how was it cooked and what other foods/spices/seasonings/liquids was it cooked with?
      Sue

      • Often, it was in a stew — tomato or curry based, but I found that I had severe itching even cutting it up. The articles that I read say “pumpkin” is high in histamines, and there is little difference between winter squash and pumpkins. I also had a reaction when I had a risotto that had eggplant.

        • I by myself cannot stand Hokkaido but Butternut Squash I can eat very well. You may as well try to stay away from tomatoes and see if it helps.

          • Honestly, I can tolerate a little of everything (except, peanuts, squash, and wheat). When I am in Papua New Guinea, it becomes a perfect storm. When they thought I had lupus, we had generator power maybe an hour or two a day, thanks to a fuel shortage. We were making stews because we had to use the meat that was thawing in the freezer, and just leaving them on the stove because there was no point in putting them in the fridge. We just heated them really well before we ate again. There was no point in putting it in the fridge. But those usually had a curry or a tomato base as well as meat and squash sitting in them. Then we drink a lot of tea. Usually doesn’t bother me – I am an avid iced tea drinker at home. During this time, it was so strong that despite the test results, my doctor was convinced it was lupus and sent me home for five months. Not an easy time on my husband. But in the US, because it was so crowded at my inlaws, I just ate at In-n-Out Burger — not ideally nutritious, but I could avoid wheat easily and cheaply, and it turns out, histamines, too.

            We go back to PNG next month, and will really have to rethink how we eat. We are not in the same power issue as now. We are on the grid, such as it is, but will probably either have to go to a more PNG style diet (lots of sweet potato and vegetables and greens — anyone know if ferns are high in histamine?) But cheap protein is eggs. No way to monitor how long meat sits around before it is put into cuts and frozen.

            Last time I was here had the my functional medicine rheumatologist test my GI bacteria and it was mostly not beneficial flora. She wanted to kill it off and repopulate. I am guessing this is causing a significant part of the problem, too. Now that we are here, then I think I want to get moving on that, too.

            Thanks for the ideas, guys.

            • I have also heard that overgrowth of the wrong kind of bacteria can cause histamine intolerance. And that enzymes of all kinds (enzymes can digest histamine and reduce histamine overload) can recover once the bad bacteria is killed off. I am also working on being low histamine and doing an herbal protocol to kill off the bad bacteria-I posted about it here-http://familyhomeandhealth.com/2014/12/can-eat-sibo.html

            • I also have an issue with bad bacteria – my practitioner discovered toxoplasma and yersinia infection, and thinks that that is the underlying cause of my histamine issues. He gave me antibiotics to treat these (luckily, they are narrow-spectrum, i.e. penicillin, and administered by an intramuscular injection, so they don’t destroy the good gut microbiota so much). So far it seems to be working, I am starting to feel somewhat better, but I need a couple more months to know for sure. So I think it may be a good idea to kill off the bad bacteria.

  16. You defo. have something here about histamine intolerance. I looked into this due to getting the pro-dromal phase (“aura”) of migraine attacks, but in my case without the headaches, for years.
    A few days ago when an aura started, I took my usual Ibuprofen, but also included one 10mg. cetirizine hydrochloride tablet, a common over the counter antihistamine. This was to a stomach containing a very light meal.
    Right on cue, after about 25mins. the aura was aborted. There were the usual starting symptoms, tingling in the fingers, flashy lights in vision etc., but the rest — memory loss, slurred speech etc. — stopped.
    I also lately have had a terrible runny nose, violent attacks of sneezing, and “the itchies” I’ve suffered for years, esp. at bedtime.
    I really do hope histamine intolerance is my problem as I can do something about that.
    Many thanks for your article…

  17. I have Angioedema. What a life changeing experience. I now take Zyrtec and Zantac twice a day. I really need more but i’m so dang tired as it is. My mouth/tonge swells. fills like i’m choking. My chest hurts like relux/heartburn all the time. After all allergy testing nothing came back that I was allergic too. So we are at a loss as to what is causing it. Need to know has anyone had any luck with foods fixing this problem? thanks

    • Hi Christi,
      Since antihistamines are the mainstays of treatment for angioedema, there is a high probability that you have Histamine Intolerance.
      Histamine Intolerance is successfully treated with diet and supplements, giving excellent relief from symptoms within anything from a few days to a few weeks, as long as histamine-rich foods are strictly avoided. Lean more in this book, and good luck
      http://www.amazon.com/Food-Making-You-Sick-Histamine/dp/1925110508

  18. My whole body itches like crazy and then welts up really bad after i scratch. After itching the area will start to feel hot or burn. Ive been to the doctor and they say take zyrtec. I dont want to take meds everyday my whole life. I want to know the cause not just put a bandaid on it! HELP?

    • Hi BJ,
      It sounds as if you’re having a terrible time; my sympathy is with you – and too, I think, the sympathies of everyone who visits this section of Chris Kresser’s helpful website.
      Your description of your symptoms sounds exactly like histamine intolerance which is, no doubt, the reason you have found this page.
      I agree with you – it is far better to look for the cause, instead of merely sticking a bandaid over the symptoms. Besides, antihistamines when used over a prolonged period can lose their efficacy. Have you tried the Zyrtec? Because if it helps, that pretty much confirms a diagnosis of histamine intolerance.
      It would take too long to explain it all here, but people with histamine intolerance don’t produce enough of an enzyme called diamine oxidase in their bodies. To fix this, you need to firstly cut down on the amount of high-histamine foods you are consuming, and secondly, try to heal your gut (where most of the enzyme is produced).
      I hope I am not sounding like a ‘broken record’ on this page, but I would recommend going on the Strictly Low Histamine Diet. Your symptoms should improve within a few weeks (in some cases it only takes a couple of days). It’s a nutritious way of eating and the rewards for your health can be huge.
      The book ‘Is Food making You Sick?’ contains the information about the diet.
      Our best wishes for a speedy return to good health.
      Sue

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