Histamine Intolerance

I’ve had allergies MY WHOLE LIFE. Now- I am learning something new about histamines: Histamine Intolerance and the foods that aggravate it, thanks to the Patch Test Services I was able to find out what was really going on.


Last week I went into anaphylaxis shock on the trail on a run by myself.  (Nothing spells excitement like a little throat closing!) Like I said I’ve had some serious hayfever my whole life and have meandered through Western and holistic health care for relief with varying results. But. Never have I ever flirted with nearly dying as a reaction to my hayfever so once I moved past this sudden anaphylaxis/Epi-pen/steroids/Benadryl cocktail I was “inspired” to revisit options on hayfever management.

This led to lunch the other day with my friend Jen Marshall who is also a nutritionist in Louisville specializing in gut/immune response (read allergies) at Be Balanced Healing. She’s got tricks up her sleeve for allergy management, but she also dropped the words “diamine oxidase“. For those with stubborn allergies or unexplained eczema, rashes, any skin itchies, flushing, headaches, runny noses, brain fog, anxiety, fatigue, blood pressure irregulation, heart palpitations, asthma, digestive issues, sleep issues just to name a few this might be worth a read.

DAO is an enzyme that lives in your gut, and “cleans up” histamines. Histamines are a natural part of your immune system, but obviously some of us might sometimes be less than perfect and we go into overdrive, and some may also simply not have enough of the enzyme DAO (AKA the vacuum cleaner) to sweep up overabundant histamines. This would be known as Histamine Intolerance. Yes DAO is a supplement you can buy. 

But wait why would I be low on DAO you ask? Think everything that we are familiair with that’s shredding apart our guts, like a lifetimes worth of gluten nearly every meal, sugar, the cases of beer you consumed since you got your fake ID in your teen years, over-consumption of dairy (I know this email goes to mainly Bouderlites) and I am not talking about how you’ve “gone clean” in your diet last year and since then you’ve been such a great eater- this kind of damage can take years and may have occured in your childhood, teen years etc. Medications like antibiotics, NSAID’s will decrease DAO, poor digestion and poor poop movements (low peristalisis) can create a pocket of older poopies and create bacteria in the gut that will decrease DAO. Again, isn’t something that gets created because you were constipated last week- this can take years. Maybe as a child your gut was poor, or maybe your entire teen years were spent taking Advil and only now the toll takes its place.

All foods have various levels of histamines (below is a food list of high histamines foods). Yes- everything you eat has histamines in it. What I want to specify here is we aren’t talking about “gluten free” or “paleo” or “vegan” crazes. This is different. Here’s another kicker- you actually don’t need to be allergic to the foods to have the reaction- and this is what makes this difficult for doctors and sufferers to diagnose and discover. High histamine foods + low DAO in the gut= allergic reactions. Now how this pertains to hayfever is that there may be a correlation to how the body can rehabilitate/manage allergies systemically to how deficient the sufferer is with DAO in the gut. Foods like many cheeses and beer, wine, yogurt!, yeast (breads) are high in histamine- and may send your immune system into a high work load- then stupid pollen comes along and blammo- your system can’t deal, you’re flooded with histamines, and now you want to excise your eyes and nose with the nearest samurai sword- or perhaps you choose door #2, anaphylaxis.

There aren’t many clinical studies out there, but many people claim supplementing DAO has helped them with their unexplained and chronic ailments like I previously mentioned- eczema, rashes, fatigue, the itchies, anxiety, rhinitis, (maybe anaphylaxis if you’re hardcore)- allergy like symptoms.


Other Remedies:

Moving forward, a newish remedy that’s exciting on the market is “immuno drops“. These are like shots, but you drop the substance under the tongue instead. This is more affordable and you can skip the repeat (and more repeat) drives to the allergist since you can “drop” at home. From what I have read- these are more effective for children than adults, and possibly not as effective as shots. But these are fairly recent so results are obviously still out. You can be apart of the “droppers” as many medical allergists are providing this option in their office- including the one I’m headed to this week.
There is A LOT of money in Zytrec, Allergra, Benadryl etc so a great solution is not in their best interest and therefor funding for natural things like shots and immuno-drops, understanding DAO, or acupuncture therapies etc isn’t there. And one needs to be very mindful of “results” and who is generating them because Big Pharma does not want a cure to allergies. After all, the going rate of just my Epi-pen is now $400.

Saving the best for last acupuncture can help reduce symptoms. Like anything it helps some more than others. Folks like me who appear histamine loyal for life- maybe not so helpful, but I HAVE treated others VERY successfully to manage their symptoms of hayfever. I’m jealous of each and every one of them too. Repeatedly decent studies (and remember- I’m looking out for objectivity and placebo here cuz otherwise what’s the point?) are coming out about how gosh darn effective moxa (what we burn on the acupuncture points/needles- click here for more information!) is at boosting the immune system, meanwhile, acupuncture can help reduce inflammation and chill that histamine overdrive. The result? A happy exit out of the office free of itchy eyes and sinus drainage.

Here’s your list of high histamine foods!

  • Eggs- but I also see this on low-histamine food lists soo…?
  • Avocados
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • These nuts: peanuts, walnuts and cashews
  • Citrus fruits
  • Aged goat or cow cheeses
  • Soured foods like sour cream, butternilk
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Vinegar foods- olives, pickles
  • Yogurt- this is about bacteria so be mindful of your probiotics- they may actually make you worse if it’s not the ones you need!
  • Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus are reportedly particular ones to stay away from if you are histamine intolerant!
  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut, beer (again) kombuca (?!)
  • Cured meats- including deli meats and bacon
  • Dried fruits- dates, raisins etc.
  • Yeast- breads


Charles: Clinic Assistant
Some people might wonder: “Does Charles also get allergies.”
Yes. Yes he does get a little spring time allergies. He manages them well by taking 7-8 hour naps in the afternoon, in addition to getting a full 8-9 hours of shut-eye each night.