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

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!

Do you follow a low histamine Paleo diet? Have you seen a difference in your health as a result? Share your story in the comments below.

835 Comments

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  1. Wow! This may explain my sense that I am allergic to eggs, wine, green tea, cinnamon, fermented foods, etc. I also had my ileocecal valve stuck open for almost a year. It was only going on a whole foods diet that I slowly learned which foods caused me the greatest problems. Is this the answer?

  2. Any suggestions for similar tools that might help me incorporate low-histamine diet into the low FODMAP diet? Or do you feel the combination of Paleo works better SIBO and histamine intolerance?

    • Hi Angela,

      I am following an AIP diet (doctors say nothing is wrong with me, so…. I have not had diagnoses on anything, just my reactions to certain foods, along with tons of other symptoms).

      I suspect I have FODMAP so I’m following AIP with FODMAP (ThePaleoMom. com has a chart for both); however, you have to cross reference and wade through the permitted histamine foods b/c there are many discrepancies (ex: bananas okay, bananas not okay) and I might be able to tolerate a banana but someone else can’t.

      If you look at Paleo, it allows some foods that histamine sensitive people should avoid (bacon, chocolate, eggplant, tomatoes, etc), AIP starts closing that gap, but not quite enough. (Then of course, there’s the issue of not eating histamine foods and then trying to reintroduce and finding out you can’t have them anymore b/c you didn’t eat any at all or at reduced levels, such a tangled web…).

      Through my research I also found that (if you have FODMAPS) instead of getting antibiotics from the doctor, try candibactin AR and candibactin BR (all natural) which people have much success with those supplements without causing any damage to healthy bacteria or other tissues while following the diet.

      Here’s what I’m eating (budget restricted as well) following AIP, low histamine and low FODMAP:

      Cod (salmon seems to cause issues, everything else at my stores is farm raised)
      Chicken
      Bison
      Cucumber
      Arugula
      Hearts of Romaine
      Bananas
      Melons
      Carrots
      Rosemary, mint, Himalayan salt
      Water only
      And I’m weaning myself off of coffee

      This is cost effective for me, there are other foods, of course, you can add to it. But you’ll have to pour over countless articles and research (I should probably put this in a graph).

      Also, if you can heal your FODMAPS, your histamine tolerance might go back to normal or not be as bad (again, based on a couple articles I read).

      Anything is worth feeling better, best of luck!

  3. Hi!! I’m suffering from hives and swelling and I’m miserable! I had this problem over 7 years ago and it lasted for over a year! I came to the conclusion that my liver was congested so I cleansed and added more vegetables in my diet, along with Milk Thistle and my hives went away…but now they are back :::( I do suffer from indesgestion and heart burn as well. Starting to think I too may have a histamine intolerance, it’s obviously toxins that are trapped. To make matters worse I’m in the midst of a vacation and I can’t see a naturopathic Doctor until I get back. Any other suggestions for me?? As mentioned earlier, I’m miserable, any feedback is appreciated. ~Kelley

    • I suggest that while you’re away from home, avoid as many histamine-rich foods as possible. You can search online for low-histamine diets and what foods to avoid. Cheeses, bacon, sausage, nightshade foods, nuts, citrus, etc.

      I developed chronic hives (eating a paleo diet, I’m sure) and have been on a low-histamine diet for about 3 months. I was 95% clear and feeling great– until I ate some gluten free foods containing potato starch/flour and it flared up really bad again.

      So being extremely careful with your diet will make a big difference. Not fun while on vacation, but certainly hives aren’t fun either 🙁

      Take care.

    • suggest research histamine releasing foods and avoid them, just eat histamine blocking foods with your paleo diet, for 3 months and see if your skin clears up.
      I took photos of my skin and compared them to the photos on line and the reply was drug or food allergy’s. since I am hypersensitive to drugs, I do not take any, then I began checking out the foods and found my problem then consulted with my doctor. also found several food additives cause Urticaria on my skin as well.

  4. For last 3 years, I am getting rashes on the skin whenever I eat coconut, brinjal, ground nuts. The rashes sustain for 1 day and disappear. Also very frequently I am having running nose, hives, cold, cough symptoms which I am managing using medicines. I feel that I am intolerant to histamine and urticaria sufferer

  5. I developed terrible itching after quitting Unisom cold turkey. I had been taking it for several months to help me sleep. I believe that long term use of antihistamine medications like Unisom or Benadryl can result in the loss of our body’s reserves of DAO, which is the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamines in the body. I also developed a sensitivity to histamine rich foods. A search for “histamine withdrawal” yields plenty of information about this unrecognized side effect.

    • Yes you’re right Viola. Long tern use of medications does have that effect. Better to use natural cures such as diet.

  6. Hi. Eight years ago I developed an allergy to cheese. I also developed an allergy to other foods but these stopped after my hysterectomy. Unfortunately I still have an allergy to cheese, sour cream and white chocolate. The symptoms start 30 min to an hour after I have eaten a tiny amount of the offending food. I develop an aura migraine. I can loose my eyesight within 20 minutes, one side of my face drops a little, I have lost the ability to speak during some attacks, I can’t feel heat on my body so showering can be dangerous, aswell as the usual migraine symptoms. My symptoms are so severe and the terrible pain so bad that it lasts 2 to 3 days. I am a vegetarian. I have been taking anti histamine tablets for 8 months of the year for over 22 years, a dose between 1 to 8 tablets a day ( 10mg loratadine) . I have chronic hayfever. There must be a link between taking anti histamines and this allergy.

    • Wow, intense! I don’t know who you have been seeing to get help with this but maybe these considerations will help: There are some things to consider here: firstly histamine intolerance is more prevalent in females than males because of the interaction between histamine and estrogen. So this may be why you experienced a reduction in symptoms after your hysterectomy. Secondly, pharmaceutical antihistamines do not work as a mechanism for reducing histamine sensitivity, which is why they have not helped, and may actually be compounding your symptoms – they were never designed to be taken in that volume.
      Reducing histamine sensitivity requires attention to gut health for a number of reasons, so you need to see a recommended naturopath to get that sorted. Also, the quickest way to reduce excess histamine in your system is 1000 mg per day of Vitamin C – it breaks down the histamine and reduces histamine volume by 40%. Also 500 mg of manganese per day as this supports DAO function (the enzyme that breaks down histamine).
      My strongest recommendation is to get to a naturopath or dietician who specialises in food intolerances. And stop taking the antihistamines – they are not helping despite what their name suggests.
      Hope this helps.

    • The book “Is Food Making You Sick” has a diet that fixes histamine intolerance – and it’s pretty close to vegetarian. Taking antihistamines over the long term makes histamine intolerance a lot worse. Diet is a natural cure.

  7. I think I may have histamine intolerance. I get itch from medications a lot, and seem to be diagnosed with many of the things mentioned here.

    I cannot take antihistamines- they make me itch, I cannot take Gerd medications like Prilosec, they also make me itch. It seems these medications cause me to become sensitive to histamine and my immune system attacks them.

    It started after I had a sinus infection, and they gave me a lot of medicine including antibiotics. After that, I became sensitive to meds and allergens.

    I have seen allergists and doctors, but they have trouble helping me with side effects. They only seem capable of pushing drugs to manage the symptoms and when I get a side effect, they just seem powerless.

    My current diagnosis is allergies and reactive airway disorder, although I’ve been told I have asthma, bronchitis, etc. From different doctors.

    Steroids do not help me and usually upset my stomach or cause side effects.

    I cannot eliminate all allergens because my big one is dust and that is everywhere.

    I am on a low acid diet, but this condition is frustrating.

    I recently had a genetic test and learned I was positive for the MTHFR mutation. I am wondering if there is a link.

    • Try taking betaine HCL for support of stomach function and protein digestion. It’s a supplement.

    • Hello, There is a connection as I understand it between mast cells and MTHFR. I have the same issue. The doctor I see who does phone consultations is Dr. Zenker at Trinity Integrative Medicine in MN.

    • Based on your symptoms I would take a look at the AIP (Auto Immune Protocol.) Google AIP and you will find several FB support groups that you can preview for more information and learn. Functional Medicine Practitioners often say go gluten, dairy and sugar free and work to heal your leaky gut. You can also find books with info. about healing leaky gut like Eat More Dirt by Dr. Josh Axe and look for the many health summits on FB as well. Much to be learned.

    • SereneNight
      I read your post and had to reply. I have many of the same symptoms:
      Prolonged nasal congestion, itchy face and eyes, intermittent (some days worse then others)
      sinus infections
      noticing reactions to spicy foods and wine, the more as I age
      on allergy meds for seasonal allergies and dust mites for about 14 years
      allergy shots currently
      diagnosed with reactive airways/asthma in the last year
      im 48, peri-menopausal
      I have MTHFR, 1 -C strand
      Have 2 stands of the DAO gene
      After reading I think I need to get on a low histamine diet and supplements and get off antihistamines.
      How are you now?

  8. I noticed that when I had a standard skin test my results were 4+ for Histamine. I have had migraine headaches most of my life with no cure. I have nasel congestion, fatigue, disestive problems ect. I take lisinopril which I now understand produce abundance of histamine. I would like to know where to start in dealing with this. I have looked at the foods to avoid. Thank you

    • Google “Failsafe diet” and fedup website australia. This is a website about food intolerance and all the additives and NATURAL additives in food as well as “amines” including histamine intolerant, oxylates, salicylates and other natural parts of foods that many of us have severe reactions to. Citrus, strawberries, fermented foods..many many fruits cause bad reactions including headache and stomach problems and other adverse reactions. The failsafe plan is from an Australian hospital originally for children who where reacting to many food additives. The fedup.au site is a couple who have put together tons of info, lists of foods, a community page and recipes. Or try the HistamineChef who has a few books and info – tho that is mainly about histamine and not so much oxylates, etc. Avoid ANNATTO like the plague, also herbs, spices, citrus, sorbates, sulphite, bioflavanoid, sodium benzoate, magnesium stearate to name a few. Try very ripe yellow or green (not red) pears that are ripe and peel thickly off the skin. They are the only fruit i can eat now. I know this stuff causes me severe headaches, vomiting, and just awful.

      • Thank you for your added info! I thought since back to back harsh antibiotics a few years ago Sibo was the result and that may be so but lately I’ve had occasional horrible heartburn and reflux I never had before especially after hot black tea, lemon in water, some good quality brand processed meats. I was blaming eating out which may still be the case but this all makes sense especially lately I’ve been having not normal headaches after meals and an itchy eye. This is definitely worth a try!

  9. Hi Chris I understand that you are a very busy person and would appreciate any help you can offer. If there is someone in Australia,Sydney or Melbourne that you could recommend for my daughter to see. I am DESPARATE for help and have been given the runaround by doctors and naturopaths that really don’t know. Just to give you the best shortest run day of what has happened in the last year.
    – November my daughter just woke up with chronic hives
    (all over the body, lips swollen & eyelids. So bad that she couldn’t walk. Has been to emergency hospital at least a dozen times)
    -Was diagnosed by an immunologist to have Chronic Ultacaria
    (and was prescribed antihistamines & steroids) But I refuse to give her steroids. Was told by her not to worry and that her immune system is great because she will never get sick or have a serious disease. BUT LIVING WITH THIS I HAVE SEEN MY HAPPY LITTLE GIRL TURN INTO A SICK, VERY DEPRESSED SUICIDAL ONE.
    – We were told by all the doctors & specialists that her condition is IDIOPATHIC and we just have to wait for it to go away.
    -It is so bad that all I do is research to find a cause as I don’t believe there is no reason for this to be happening.
    – I am now awaiting for the following test results for
    Complete Stool Analysis, Intestinal Permabilty, H.Pylori
    I would appreciate any help . I am filled with so much worry and despair.

    • When I was younger, I used to eat many of the foods that histamine intolerant people should avoid like cheese, yogurt, pickles, vinegar, eggplant, tomatoes, fish, cold cuts, etc. Then I took birth control pills and later was exposed to black mold for 5 years. My body has never been the same since. Check out http://www.survivingmold.com for more information on the black mold issue. It can be lurking in your home without you knowing about it. Of course, wireless does not help – it just makes everything worse.

    • Hello!! Sorry to heard that. Please check the GAPS Diet. I was very very sick a year ago. I get sick when I was very young and that goes on for 14 years. One day I just stop all medication and star to read. I found this diet, and I was desperate so I started right away!! And after tree days everything begun to change !! Hope it help!!

    • Antoinette, you could try the Allergy Unit at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. Someone mentioned the diet they developed earlier. They’re supposed to be world class for food allergies and intolerances.

    • For Antoinette Lopez, I am from Melbourne Australia and have spent a long time looking for good integrative medicine practitioners practicing functional medicine in Australia. I found a great doctor who now works in Bondi Junction NSW (she supports Chris’s work and encouraged me to listen to podcasts etc) – her name is Kate Norris – drkatenorris.com.au, worth looking at her website. good luck!

    • Hi Antoinette. Yours is a very distressing story, and I have a now 7 yo who has been through the mill but is now fine. I highly recommend that you look into the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) elimination diet. It is very effective. You can find a recommended dietician to take you through it from the Food Intolerance Network website – www,fedup.com.au. Also, there are some very good naturopaths in Australia that can help. However it is like any profession – the are 99 incapable ones for every 1 really good one. You just need to find the one. Dieticians and Naturopaths come from 2 quite different angles, and you need a good naturopath to take you through the gut healing process, especially if all this started after a heavy round of antibiotics, as it did with my daughter.

    • I hope you get this reply seeing that you wrote over a year ago. My daughter gets extreme hives also (cold to hot, vice versa, stress and exercise. The only thing that helps her is prescription Xyzal and take Zantac OTC with it. It doesn’t take stop them altogether but she is very manageable as of right now.

    • My little girl also has hives. We have been dealing with it fir a year and a half. I had het drs check her T3 and T4 thyroid. Her thyroid is way out of wack and she also had a pituitary stimulations test. She is jow on the right meda ans we are hoping for relief. My little girl is 9

    • As a mom of a daughter with chronic illness I feel so sorry for you Antoinette. I had relief from allergic issue by following the diet in the book “Is Food Making You Sick”, but I’m not saying this is the definite answer for your daughter. My prayers go out to you and her.

    • Dear Antoinette Lopez Please look at ridding your child’s environment of Artificial Electromagnetic Energy – especially in the high frequency form of microwave radiation – ie from Wifi, iPads, mobile phs, modems and cordless phones and communication towers/masts – any wireless transmitting device. (better to use fully wired devices) I have found these to raise histamine levels quite dramatically (among many other ill health effects). It is silent and pervasive and thus a hidden health hazard in today’s world. see the latest Belpomme study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26613326

    • Hi I am so sorry for your daughters condition. When I was young I had the exact same symptoms. I was sick for 6 months. I also could not walk and was swollen all over. My skin crusted and oozed. My mother was afraid I would be scarred for life. Anyway I took steroids for a month and tapered off. It worked although I needed to be away from sun and not have any stress. Which I slept a lot. I am now 55. And I have been having the chronic uticaria for the last 7 years. I’m going to try some of the suggestions I am reading here and hope I can get it under control again. Anyway heat aggravates me even in the winter. Anyway I know steroids are not good but just for any relief I would say give it a try. Just get off after a month or so.

  10. Hello,

    This comes long after this article was first posted. About 5-6 weeks ago, I suddenly developed what I think is a case of Histamine Intolerance after 31 years of eating whatever I desired. (Let it be known though, that I have always been a fairly healthy eater – lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, no white breads, minimal amounts of sugar and processed foods.) At first, I thought I had strange mosquito bites, but they came and went so quickly, that I quickly discovered they were hives.

    Once I self-diagnosed, I started cutting out all high-histamine foods and have since then only been eating foods that my body can tolerate: watercress, butternut squash, apples, broccoli, bell peppers, garlic, onions, one type of yeast-free rye bread, peanut butter (which I seem to be able to tolerate with absolutely no issues), cream cheese in small amounts. When I ONLY eat these foods, I generally feel good; I usually have one or two non-bothersome hives throughout the day which don’t spread and which aren’t really itchy. However, if I try to eat any meat, or anything that is deemed high histamine, as soon as I eat the first bite, I break out into hives. When I attempted to eat chicken, I had a much delayed reaction and broke out in hives in the middle of the night. I had a brownie one day and felt nauseous and dizzy, but broke out in no hives. It took me about 2 hours to feel better, but I think it is a symptom of histamine intolerance, just showing itself in a different way? Based on this low-histamine diet and the positive results of adopting said diet, I think it’s safe to say that I do have a histamine issue.

    Is this the sign of a gut health problem? Not sure where to go from here. I am already very small in size (5’4″ and 102 lbs), so I really can’t afford to lose much more weight. I don’t feel I have any other digestive issues, and I am healthy and active apart from this histamine intolerance that has cropped up from seemingly nowhere. No travel was involved when this first started up, and I don’t recall any changes to my lifestyle. The only thing I can think of is that, as a child, I was prescribed antibiotics for over a year straight due to stomach problems. It cleared up as I got older though and I haven’t had any problems since.

    Is there anything I should ask to get tested for, or is this simply a case of healing the stomach? I currently reside in Toronto, Ontario (Canada).

    • Hello, Joyc – I deal with histamine intolerance too. My functional doctor told me that it is a problem with the gut. I got tested for organic acids test and a stool test, and found that I had a parasite and yeast overgrowth. So far I am working on this. Taking DAO is a mean to control the symptoms, because high histamine is a symptom not a problem. You do notice that since you’ve been okay all your life. Re-balancing the gut flora is important as well, but it is more important to test and find out what could be the underlying causes since parasites, yeasts and other pathogens will maintain dysbiosis. I can help with running one of these tests as well as I am a practitioner based in Toronto.

      As usual, functional medicine tests are not covered by insurance and functional doctors don’t take insurance. I’ve decided to take the plunge myself since my histamine symptoms were a combination of skin rashes, joint pain, widespread pain, terrible anxiety and depression. It got worse over time so I decided to take care of it.

    • Were you ever prescribed flouraquinalones Cipro or Levaquin did it to me I am histamine intolerent now after years of eating everything

      • I am suffering from hives for 11 months now and the trigger was the intravenous dye used during a CT-scan. It triggered an autoimmune response. I have several autoimmune conditions. I am hypothyroid but that is under control and I tested positive for the Sjogren’s antibody. I do not find relief, unfortunately, from watching my diet. Anti-histamines only partially help. I find some relief from the itch for about 6 hours, though the rash is still there. I even tried prednisone, Xolair and my doctor wants to try cyclosporine, but I won’t go that route. It’s too extreme. Just writing in response that the medications you took may not have triggered histamine intolerance, but rather, an autoimmune response by your body. I am open to any suggestions also. Thank you.

        • Just a note to all you Histamine Intolerant folks. Probably best to avoid things like microderm abrasion. My esthetician has never had a client break out the way I did. My face (including parts of my scalp, neck and ears that were never even touched by the microderm tool) were puffy red and itchy for over 3 weeks. The itch lasted for 4-5 weeks. And all this while on a low histamine diet and taking cromolyn sodium. I think the abrasion caused an autoimmune reaction of some kind sending way too many histamines to protect that area. Not fun!!!!

  11. 15 weeks ago I had a CT scan with contrast dye. Two days later my hives started. After a few weeks they got really bad and were all over my body. They came out mostly at night. Dr. prescribed a 5-day prescription of prednisone to break the cycle but they came back. I tried 3 different anti-histamines- benedryl, allegra and zyrtec. All three worked somewhat, but I had hives still. Dr. put me on 10-days of prednisone, but that didn’t help. Then I tried a no histamine diet, and that worked. There were days without any hives. Of course I was limited in what I could eat or drink. I’ve lost 10 pounds. Now I’m starting to try some low-histamine foods and I’m getting hives again. Not as bad, somewhat tolerable, but I’d rather not live like this. Has anyone else had histamine intolerance that was triggered by an allergic reaction to the iodine contrast dye? If the issue is bacteria in the gut as someone described, then what kind of specialist should I be seeing? I have an appointment coming up with an allergist that my internist recommended, but I think that will not be helpful. Thanks for any suggestions.

    • Hi Marti T

      I had a very similar problem 4 years ago where I could only eat 4-5 foods which were organi., I too lost a lot of weight. I noticed that when i was stressed my itching would flair up and I would stratch until my skin was weeping. I had been to Naturapaths, and MD’s who did not know what was wrong with me. After much research and finding, Chris Kresser’s website with much free information, for which i am truly grateful, as i could not work due to my skin conditions. I also found information on Kelly Brogan’s website also. My health improved so much, that i am totally well now and no longer scratch unless i have a high histamine food binge (dark chocolate), but i know how to rectify that. The biggest thing i can tell you is to heal your gut. home made bone broth, Histamine reducing enzymes, Apple cider vinegar, low histamine diet until the gut is corrected, probiotics, Vit C, Vit A (liver) Selenium, Zinc, glutathione, methionine. Folate and B12 check out Chris’s free ebooks on Folate and B12.

    • The problem I had and have with solutions like CT Scan stem from the benzene based derivations used in in the products in manufacturing the molecules or in the preservatives. Benzoate is one example of a chemical known to cause a big release of histamines in the body.

    • Matt: I had a terrible reaction from iodine contrast dye four years ago. My arm turned black and I developed food intolerances, and contact skin allergies to many things. I had my histamine checked anf it is extremely high and was dx with Mast cell activation syndrome.

      • Hi Lisa, what is mast cell activation? I had a horrible iodine contrast dye reaction three months ago and my veins have been in chronic pain ever since.

  12. I have had histamine intolerance since I was a child, although my parents did not know it, and nor was histamine intolerance known to medical science when I was a child. If I eat anything that has histamines like Tuna or an apple before I exercise, as my own body produces histamines during exercise, coupled with the histamines in the food I have eaten, I will be thrown into a full blown anaphylactic reaction. Several times I came close to dying. I have to carry an Epi pen when I exercise, and I always unfortunately have to have someone go with me if I exercise out of doors. My physician diagnosed me with exercise induced anaphylaxis, but I think my problem has to do more with histamine intolerance. I have major issues with leaky gut syndrome. Mind you, the allergy prick tests were inconclusive because I have dermatographia. I wish there was a physician in Oregon who know about this illness and how to test and treat it, but there is not.

    • I have exercise induced anaphylaxis as well. Mostly food induced. I am sensitive to high histamine foods. I have to exercise fasted. We can talk more if you like. I have to have an epi-pen and inhaler available, too.

  13. I’m sensitive to histamine for 2 month now. I made a blood test and my allergist told me to use Daosin. I can buy it online without any problems. Now I’m using them for one week and it’s just amazing. I can eat everything, no symptoms, no tingly tounge nothing 🙂 just happy

    • I agree about taking the Daosin. I have been taking this for over 5 years. I have Intestinal Angieoedema and when I swell inside the pain in my upper stomach area is excruciating and I pass out. I started taking the Diamine Oxidase when I take the Lisinopril blood pressure pill. Many blood pressure meds can cause the abundance of histamine leading to the Angieoedema. I am so happy I discovered the Daosin. It works.

      • Hi Sharon,
        You are the first person that I have heard of with intestinal angioedema other than myself. I have been suffering for at least 2 years. With many trips to the ER to get IV pain relief. Many CT scans, biopsies etc. Have seen all sorts of doctors from Gastrinologist to Internist and allergist. I have been told I just need to wait and will eventually go away. They said take high doses of antihistamine. Nothing has really worked. I also get tongue and lip swelling and itchy. But the pain in abdomen is excruciating! I am interested in learning more about Daosin. Thank you for taking the time to post.

    • Hi Stephie,

      Did you go to your regular doctor for a blood test? So many high histamine foods have been giving me issues, but when I brought it up to my doctor she didn’t know too much about histamine and wants to refer me to an allergist for allergy testing. I’m pretty sure it won’t show up on an allergy test. Any advice would be helpful!

      Thanks!

  14. I have been on multiple antibiotics for 3 months and I have 3 more to go. For the last month I have had hives, headaches, flushing, fatigue, hypotension, panic/anxiety and brain fog. I am a complete mess and am sure it’s all do to leaky gut and or gut dysbiosis, histamine intolerance and some HPA axis issues. I’ve been strict paleo for years and am desperate to heal my gut. But with 3 more months of antibiotic therapy to go I don’t know where to start. Any suggestions???

    Thanks,
    Cherie

  15. I was looking over some allergy testing results I had a while ago. I tested allergic to histamine. I didn’t even know what that meant do I looked it up abound doing this article. I suffer from migraines and was recently diagnosed with POTS (a form of tachycardia) I get hives and itchy skin a lot but I’m pretty used to it. The most annoying symptom for me is the POTS. Im hoping this is what’s causing it and maybe just changing my diet will get rid of it.

    • Go to following website http://www.prettyill.com. Dr. Diana is not only doctor but also EDS, POTS & MCAD patient. She’s connected the dots to these three illnesses by conducting her own research and clinical trials. She has a lot to gain and a lot to lose – she is the patient and so too are her children, they suffer just as she does from these illnesses. She has found a connection. Her story is unbelievable her research is incredible. You can also find her videos on youtube.

  16. Roughly 5 years ago I had a hysterectomy. When I returned to work I found that I could no longer tolerate scented products (perfume, lotion, hand sanitizer, etc). I ended up in the ER after a nasty co-worker sprayed my cubicle with perfume. I broke out in blisters all over my chest, neck & face. I also was having issues breathing. I went to an allergist…he did scratch testing. It came back that I was allergic to rice, mold and various nuts (the levels on the nuts were not high). A few years later I went to another allergist/immunologist and he did scratch, injection and blood testing. Everything came back negative! If I ate nuts (peanuts or almonds) I would break out in hives. If I ate rice, I’d get stomach cramps and have to use the bathroom (note; this doesn’t happen every time I eat it). I was diagnosed with Asthma and entered a few studies. At this point, any scented products would turn my skin red and make my face/eyes hurt. I’d also have issues with breathing. I was told I had rosacia. I then went to another specialist. He did blood testing and told me it all came back negavative. He also told me that my scent allergies was all in my head. He said that there was no way that being exposed to someone elses scented product would be able to cause my skin to get red and hurt. He referred to me another specialist that dealt with people who had “scent” issues. He tested me for asthma and confirmed that I did not have it. My breathing issues were caused from Silent Acid Reflux (confirmed by a test) and certain things like caffiene (I drank triple shots daily), foods & even exercise would cause asthma like symptoms. Once I cut out caffiene and acitic foods my breathing issues calmed way down. This doctor also did challenge testing for hives and the scent/perfume allergy. It was confirmed that I have chronic hives. Hive can be brought on by foods, stress, heat/cold or if I touch my face or scratch it I will get hives. The scent challenge didn’t go so well. I was blind folded and had my nose clipped. They would come in and spray something and ask how I felt after 10 minutes. I apparently failed this test. I explained to the doctor that if they were spraying into the air the scent would disappear within minutes and so I was not exposed as if I was sitting next to somebody who was wearing perfume. By the time I left the facility my face was bright red, swollen, rough and hurt (like a sunburn). The doctor was not around to witness. I received a call the next day and was told that it was all in my head and that I should go see a behavioral psychologist because somehow I had trained my brain to not like scents. Imagine the frustration. I’ve also had issues losing weight. In doing research I found that I could be eating foods that I’m not necessarily allergic too but may have a tolerance too. This can cause swelling and other symptoms like hives. In talking to the last doctor he did mention that my body has too much histamine and that I should take a daily anti-histamine medication. It helps a little bit but the minute I drink caffiene, red wine or am exposed to scents I break out, get headaches, can’t breathe, etc. After reading this article I am certain that I have an intolerance to histamine. Sorry for the long post but I’m at the end of my rope. So so so frustrating! xo

    • I feel your pain!!

      I have had asthma and allergy problems for many years and kept getting pushed into new drugs, inhalers without addressing the root cause. I tried allergy shots for 3 years that didn’t make a difference. Well no wonder. With a histamine intolerance, I’d only be producing MORE histamine from injecting the allergen.
      Frustrating!!!

    • Tina–I really sympathize with you re scent-sensitivity-as I had it-and was informed by a board certified Environmental allergist-now retired- to move to the wilderness-clean air-which I did-and since they had only one mall-I did this test-that proved conclusively that my high blood pressure was cause from perfume-sensitivity.Thanks for your story-JM.

    • I’m really sad this happened to you.
      I always had issues with perfume and fragrances as a kid but never really thought about it other than just being part of regular allergies. It was my ENT doctor who diagnosed me with chemical allergies. It was a revelation! It was something that could be treated with nasal steroids. I don’t get the swollen nasal passages and headaches anymore from perfume, smoke, even cooking scents. It’s been great and I really appreciate that my doctor was so helpful. I hope you can find one that believes you rather than just thinking it’s all in your head — that’s incredibly condescending and insulting.

    • I too was told it was all in my head. It is very frustrating. Also, can’t find a doctor who can really help me. Did get the Low Histamine Cook book which has helped. I have hives now and have to sleep with a ice pack too but I’m sure this is all in my head.

    • You have Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. Go to 23andme and have an ancestry test done. When it is complete, download the raw data and have a naturopath check it for you so you can see what genetic mutations you kight have that are causing the allergies. I have this.

      • I have MCS as well and had a test done, said I was a slow Phase 2 detoxifier and recommended some supplements but that won’t get rid of MCS, and it didn’t.

  17. Is there a comprehensive list of foods and their respective histamine levels? And help is appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Diana

    • Hi
      Look at histamine tolerant.ch
      It’s a Swiss website but there is an english version.
      Very comprehensive list of foods but it takes some finding.
      What a nightmare this is.
      I have been intolerant of everything containing preservatives additives chemicals and pesticides for 4 years following a massive course of antibiotics. I was just recovering and starting to eat normally again – albeit organic – when I became histamine intolerant and now am on an even more restricted diet! Oh well, at least I can still eat…….fingers crossed.
      The itchy spots drive me mad though.

      • The ONLY thing I have found that relieves the itching is Clobetasol Propionate Ointment, USP, 0.05%. It is ridiculously expensive. $500.00 US for 60 grams. I bought it with out hesitation. When you’re this miserable with itching you’ll spend any money to make it go away. I’m grateful that I’m only histamine intolerant.

        • Well, good luck with that. All you’re doing is temporarily suppressing your symptoms (driving them deeper into the body) for momentary relief.

          Treat the gut issues, the malabsorption, the inflammation (google Art Ayers or re-read what Chris talks about) and you’re find lasting relief.

      • Louise,

        You might consider looking into helminth therapy. Many people are overcoming their allergies (especially after gut damage from too many antibiotics) by ingesting friendly helminths.

        A google search will turn up a lot of information.

  18. I have had symptoms for the last 17 years. It normally starts with my right for arm itching and if I happen to scratch then it sets off the histamine reaction. When this first started I went to the GP and she did the typical scratch test…looked at me and said…. I produce to much histamine take these pills and it will be fine. HA! Seventeen years later and I am still scratching. I have gone to multiple doctors from Neurologists to Dermatologists and they all say the same thing…all your test are normal. There have been about twenty doctors involved in this diagnosis and all to no avail.
    I have gone to a gluten free egg free soya free dairy free diet (except I was allowed goats cheese which I think is somewhat of a cause as well.) I don’t eat anything with a face,
    I do juices and smoothies and take a multitude of supplements including quercetin, the medicinal mushrooms, curcumin, resveratrol, and about twelve to fifteen more along with twice daily my pro- biotics.
    I have difficulty getting dressed in the morning to go to work for fear anything that brushes up against my skin will trigger a histamine release so normally I drive into work with the AC on high to keep my skin cold (that seems to be the only relief I get). This wakes me up in the night so I always have ice packs to hand. It feels like I have been rolled in pink fiberglass insulation all over my extremities. It does not normally affect my torso. Even washing my face has left me itching!
    I am scheduled for a scratch test (that’s a joke!!!) and I know once the tests begin I too will begin to scratch.
    There are times, even with antihistamines it can take up to four to six hours to calm the skin down which does not eave much room for anything on the agenda!
    Just recently, finding this website along with others I think that I am intolerant of Histamine and it seems like I may be getting closer to a solution.
    I have read all the foods to avoid and I will be as of today….that is how strong my resolution is to eliminate this feeling.
    Any comments , suggestions would be appreciated as to where I can go from here.
    Many thanks
    Rie

    • Hi- mushrooms give me awful hives. It isn’t mentioned on this site but on others I have read mushrooms are mentioned as foods to avoid. Possibly try eliminating those. I also cut out all supplements while trying to get my hives under control to be safe. I basically lived on fresh cooked meat, carrots, butternut and sweet potato with butter for a while. Even now if something sets off my hives I go back to that for a while.

      • I read too that mushrooms contain high levels of histamine. I’m allergic to all types of mold and I think mushrooms fall under that category.

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