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Histamine Reactions?

gut health histamine sibo Sep 10, 2018

  Carol, a 53 year old real estate broker with 2 children, had been noticing more allergic reactions  in the past 6 months. Her symptoms were wide ranging. Sometimes it was digestive upset, sometimes she would actually develop itching and hives. Her sleep had gotten a lot worse and she found that she was waking up in the middle of the night very hungry no matter how much or what she ate for dinner.

In fact it was really difficult to pinpoint if  foods were setting her symptoms off  because she could eat something for dinner one day and be fine, and then she could eat the leftovers for a few days and then her symptoms would flare. She was wondering how much food was a factor, but did notice that her symptoms would flare after eating. So something related to what she was eating was likely a contributory factor. But what? It seemed so random!

As she spoke I started to think about histamine being a contributory factor to her symptoms.  Sometimes in gut health/microbiome issues, the body starts producing a higher level of histamine which can produce these symptoms.  Certain foods such as wine, aged  and fermented foods can aggravate histamine as well as foods that have been sitting in the refrigerator for a few days (leftovers!). Since so many people on restrictive diets like to batch cook to make their lives run more smoothly, this compounds the issue. Not to mention that bone broth itself, usually a healing elixir for digestive issues and general fatigue and malaise, for one thing is cooked for a long time and often left in the refrigerator for days as people consume it. But it can also make their histamine issues a lot worse. Symptoms may include digestive upset, itching, hives, migraines as well as insomnia, hunger and mood changes.

There seems to be an association with histamine producing tendencies for those who have the MTHFR polymorphism (more about that here).    There is also a correlation with some complex gut health issues relating to SIBO and leaky gut. Often patients show up with a multitude of symptoms in my office and it is up to me to figure out which issue to tackle first.

There does seem to be some improvement for many people by making some dietary changes. Firstly, I usually tell people to avoid aged foods or to freeze leftovers or batch cooked foods first in the freezer and then thaw them out to avoid a large histamine response. There is also a new biphasic diet that eliminates both histamine producing foods as well as “histamine liberators” from the diet for more intractable cases.

There are also various supplements that help reduce histamine levels such as DAO (daimine oxidase) which can help in some cases too if done along with the diet changes while concurrently addressing the root cause of the digestive imbalance whether that be leaky gut, SIBO, dysbiosis, celiac  etc.

Carol and I did a combination of dietary modifications, DAO as necessary and addressed a bacterial overgrowth situation in her gut and her symptoms receded.

She also changed her food storage habits to better work with her histamine producing tendencies. She is well on her way to recovery from the chronic symptoms plaguing her for years now.

If any of this sounds familiar to you and you would like some support dealing with a possible histamine issue, you can reach out for more information.

Be well.

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