Histamine Intolerance – could this be your problem?

Is Histamine Intolerance Real?

There is clear data indicating that histamine from foods can be absorbed. This can cause troubling symptoms that go beyond nocebo reactions.

Furthermore, histamine intolerance has a history of being underdiagnosed. There are those who have had it, and suffered from symptoms.

Is Histamine Intolerance Real?

There is clear data indicating that histamine from foods can be absorbed. This can cause troubling symptoms that go beyond nocebo reactions.

Furthermore, histamine intolerance has a history of being underdiagnosed. There are those who have had it, and suffered from symptoms.

Many symptoms that come alongside histamine intolerance are vague.

Histamine Intolerance?

The first thing that I would say is that I think the term “histamine intolerance” is an improper phrase. It can be very misleading because it is definitely not an intolerance to histamine. It is not an allergy or an autoimmune response against histamine (even if it sounds like it).

Histamine is a normal part of our bodies. To date, no humans have been documented as being intolerant or allergic to histamine. So, I think that this term really gives an unclear first impression for those trying to learn.

The body forms histamine as an important part of brain cell communication and immune regulation. This normal part of our body is not something that we should fear. Instead, we should be more concerned about the level of it (rather than its presence).

What Are The Specific Symptoms?

When we think of symptoms involved with this overload of histamine, we primarily look at some of the classic “allergy” symptoms. These include:

These are classic symptoms. You could take any one person, give them a mega dose of histamine, and they will start developing them. It is bound to happen, and most importantly of all, they can be life-threatening.

It is not that people are “intolerant” of histamine, instead they simply have too much of it. They have more than they need circulating throughout their body, and that is where these symptoms take root.

What Are The Vague Symptoms?

Remember when I mentioned that one of the tricks of histamine intolerance is that symptoms are often present? A lot of these vague symptoms can be born from chronic, elevated levels of histamine.

This is where things get murky, but here is what one could expect:

These are all possible symptoms that can be associated with histamine intolerance. It does not mean that they are definitely going to happen – only a possibility. Because they are so general, it is difficult for us to think of them too specifically.

Why Would Someone Have Too Much Histamine?

This goes back to the idea that histamine intolerance is less of being intolerant, and more of having an overload. How would someone end up with more histamine than they need?

Think about it like this: your body has histamine coming in, and histamine going out. These are the main two things that your body is in charge of.

From there, two issues can arise: too much coming in or too little coming out. There would have to be a deficiency on one end and that typically starts with the amount taken.

When we think about histamine, we can understand it as a natural response to:

Histamine leaves your body by way of various enzymes in your body that are in charge of breaking down histamine in your body.

Histamine is known as a biogenic amine, which means that it triggers an inflammatory response in your body to make this happen.

The problem is that you could easily have too many of these being made, and not enough being unloaded. The former is more likely, and the latter (due to gene defects) is quite rare.

Understanding DAO Deficiency

A DAO deficiency is what we might understand as the gene defect which makes it difficult for your body to “unload” histamine from your body. DAO (diamine oxidase) is an enzyme in the body that breaks down histamine. Some people do not produce enough of this enzyme; similar to those with lactose intolerance who do not produce enough of the lactase enzyme. This is what may cause histamine overload, triggering all those nasty symptoms previously mentioned.

How do you diagnose histamine intolerance?

First, you can do it empirically. What that means is that if you take histamine blockers, and feel better, it is not unreasonable to think that histamine intolerance was the root of the problem.

The difficulty here is that histamines have a great deal of influence on your body. It can affect your:

These are all things that histamines effect, and that histamines lower! This all goes back to the fact that things like anxiety can trigger responses like rashes, and in taking an antihistamine we can sedate ourselves and feel better (and less anxious).

Your body makes histamine in response to allergies, infections, stress, or trauma, but we also do get it from some foods in our diet. Certain bacterial events can even make the amine levels in foods lethal and have caused issues in the past.

Trends in Foods

Even though we have no data on specific foods, some trends have emerged about foods that are higher in histamines:

These are categories of food that have been known to be higher in histamines. Otherwise, we might look to things like DAO replacement compounds (which you can take in pills), or mast cell stabilizing compounds (which are quite high in bioflavonoids).

The cycle is that when mast cells are more stable, and less likely to “pop open” with histamine, you are simply less likely to get symptoms.

Histamine Intolerance and Gluten Sensitivity

There are many people, without celiac disease, who have noticed an improvement in digestive symptoms when they follow a gluten-free diet.

While this is good for many reasons, the drawback is that for many people, gluten-free diets end up being lower in fiber and higher in processed fats (on top of being more expensive).

Also quite prevalent in these discussions are that gluten-free diets lead to higher risks of diabetes and weight gain. Low-gluten diets may also be associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

The truth is that most dietary gluten comes from:

These same foods are also high in histamine, and they are quite often seasoned with high-histamine ingredients.

The symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity are similar to those of histamine intolerance and are mediated by histamine receptors. These symptoms include:


Also, please do look deep into any hidden infections, gut issues, airborne allergies, food intolerances. Those are also likely culprits.