Histamine Lowering Diet and Strategies- You Have Allergy Symptoms But No Allergies Can Be Found!

HistamineIf you feel like you have allergies, suspect food, but nobody can figure it out and all your allergy tests and food sensitivity tests come back normal, you may have a histamine problem. The good news is that you can change your diet and figure this out.  More on that later.

So what is Histamine? 

It is colorless, tasteless, odorless, and invisible but you know it’s there when there is inflammation (redness, swelling, itchiness). Your symptoms will depend on where the histamine is released, and there are 4 types of receptors H1, H2, H3, and H4.

H1: Control smooth muscle and endothelial cells. It affects blood vessels and skin, blood pressure, hives, urticaria, eczema, psoriasis, itchy anywhere, skin puffiness, and joint pain.

H2: Located in the intestines, and can affect diarrhea, stomach pain, reflux, nausea, bloating, and heart burn. Also affects the heart rate.

H3: Located in nervous system and the brain. These affect sleep disorders, headaches, fuzzy thinking, anxiety, dizziness, and sexual function.

H4: In the thymus, small intestine, spleen, colon, bone marrow and white blood cells. This affects the immune systems allergic inflammation response

Where does histamine come from?

  1.  We manufacture it. It is important for defending against toxins, infections, and cancer cells, but also acts as a neurotransmitter for cell to cell communication, and is involved in digestion, sleep, blood pressure regulation, sexual function, brain function, and it’s most noted effects- the local inflammation reaction.
  2.  We eat it. It is highest in aged, cured, cultured, and spoiled foods. Things like cheese, pickles, shellfish, tomatoes, and salami also contain high amounts. Fresh meat and fresh vegetables are low except tomatoes, eggplant, spinach, and members of the Solanacae family (night shade, peppers, tobacco etc.) Avoid ground meat, bagged vegetables. Always use fresh.

Histamine Intolerance (HIT): Why does it become a problem?

Normally histamine is broken down quickly.  We have two enzymes in our body to do this:

1.  HMT (Histamine-N-methyl Transferase)

2.  DAO (Diamine Oxidase)

Some of us don’t make enough enzymes, or they are not working fast enough to deal with the histamine load. It’s that accumulation of histamine that causes the accumulation of histamine and our symptoms.

How fast do symptoms appear and how long do they last?

Your histamine induced symptoms can be immediate, but often are delayed several hours after eating foods high in histamine. Symptoms can last a few hours up to a day.

How do I know if I have a histamine problem?

There are no tests. Just remove the histamine foods from your diet for -4 weeks then re-challenge with your favorite high histamine food and see what happens. 

Are there other foods or substances that might be triggering a release of histamine?

Great question, yes!  Foods known to release histamine directly from mast cells are egg whites, shellfish, strawberries, tomatoes, fish, pineapple, chocolate (oh-no!), and alcohol. Benzoates, added to preserve foods do this as well, hence the recommendation for fresh only!

If you have a severe histamine issue and need detailed food lists I recommend the book “Is food making you sick, the strictly low histamine diet” by James Gibb and the website listed here below:




Dr. Paul





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