Histamine – Do you have too much of a good thing?

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Histamine is an important compound made by various specialty cells throughout the body and is critically involved in local immune responses, as well as regulating physiological function in the gut and acting as a neurotransmitter for the brain, spinal cord, and uterus.

Many will be familiar with the powerful, acute, short term impact of histamine when they are exposed to an allergen; hives, swelling, hay fever, etc.  What is less known is that there can be physiological, genetic and biochemical factors at play, which result in chronically elevated histamine levels and a poor ability to ‘clear’ or metabolise dietary histamine; this can create a state called Histamine intolerance.

The causative factors generally include some combination of genetic susceptibility (MTHFR, DAO, MAO, HNMT, PEMT), microbial pathogens (a number of which produce histamine or block clearance), nutrient deficiencies medications (antibiotics, antacids and even antihistamines -long term), Stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, hormonal insufficiency (adrenal fatigue), hormonal excess (oestrogen especially), Lifestyle (excessive exercise & alcohol esp.), diet, environment (mould, mildew, especially)and associated conditions (leaky gut, IBD, IBS).

Signs and symptoms will vary from person to person, but can include headaches or migraines, chronic, persisting nasal congestion or sinus issues, fatigue, especially with associated body pain, recurring hives, chronic digestive issues, including pain & IBS like symptoms, irregular menstrual cycle, cardiac issues, including high blood pressure, irregular heart rate and dizziness, anxiety and difficulty regulating body temperature.

Normalising histamine levels and improving capacity to clear effectively from the body can be achieved, but can take time, professional support and an understanding of all the factors involved. Meanwhile, limiting histamine intake can be helpful:

Histamine-Rich Foods: Histamine-Releasing Foods:
Alcoholic beverages, especially beer and wine, Anchovies, Avocados Cheeses (especially aged or fermented cheese), Cider and home-made root beer. Dried fruits Eggplant Fermented foods, such as pickled or smoked meats, sauerkraut, etc. Mackerel, Mushrooms, Processed meats – sausage, hot dogs, salami, etc. Sardines, Smoked fish – herring, sardines, etc. Sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, and yoghurt – especially if not fresh. Soured breads, such as pumpernickel, coffee cakes and other foods made with large amounts of yeast. Spinach, tomatoes, Vinegar or vinegar-containing foods, such as mayonnaise, salad dressing, ketchup, chili sauce, pickles, pickled beets, relishes, olives. Yogurt Alcohol, Bananas, Chocolate, Eggs, Fish, Milk, Papayas, Pineapple, Shellfish, Strawberries, Tomatoes
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Judith Magee is an accredited and registered Homoeopath, Naturopath, Herbalist, Nutritionist and Health Educator, with post graduate training in Holistic counselling. With over 20 years spent in private practice, Judith provides safe, effective treatment for a wide range of chronic and acute conditions, combining the best of clinical experience with the latest in technology and integrative health advances.

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