Now, it can really be confusing and disturbing for those faced with this disease called histamine intolerance. This is so because the symptoms of the disease can suddenly show up from nowhere, causing a lot of jeopardy in its patients.
For most people, it starts with them experiencing terrible unexplained migraines and headaches, while for others, the symptoms vary. Well, in today’s article, you will learn what histamine intolerance is really all about.
You will also learn to know if you have the disease, what really causes it and the best dietary steps to take in order to overcome the disease.
But first, we cannot talk about what histamine intolerance really is without first understanding what histamine is all about, its functions in the body, and how it can lead to one having histamine intolerance.
What is Histamine?
Histamine is simply a chemical which is involved in our immune system. It is an organic compound produced by a special type of white blood cell known as the mast cells. It is stored in another type of white blood cell known as the basophils within the body. It is a chemical which plays a very important role in the immune system of the human body.
Histamine itself is a protein substance with the chemical formula of C5H9N3. It is a chemical released by the cells as a response allergic reaction. It is released with the purpose of helping the body handle the irritation caused by whatever allergen the individual comes in contact with. It causes an immediate inflammatory response. It is, for this reason, an individual experiences sneezing, itching or watery eyes when in contact with these allergens. They are symptoms experienced when the chemical is protecting the body from such a threat.
Histamine is the red-flag of your immune system
It helps in the dilation of blood vessels so that the white blood cells can get in. It is also a component of stomach acid.
Histamine in the body has its point of maximum concentration in tissues such as the skin, the mouth, the lungs and digestive tract.
Histamine as a neurotransmitter helps in carrying chemical messages from one cell nerve to another and also within the brain, the spinal chord and uterus. It helps to increase and control the flow of blood to the brain. It also plays an important role in endocrine control including energy metabolism, fluid balance, and reproduction and cognitive functions.
Histamine is present in both plants and animals. In the case of animals, it is present in the venom of certain insects such as bees, wasp, and so on. It is for this reason an individual experiences itching and swelling in the event of an insect bite. In the case of plants, histamine is present in species such as the stinging nettles, the presence of histamine in the hairlike structure of such a plant, is the reason for symptoms like itching and swelling upon contact with them.
Histamine also occurs naturally in some common food we take in. It is present in proteins foods such as eggs, fish, nuts and dairy products and in drinks such as tea, cola drinks and alcohol of all types.
Histamine is activated by binding to histamine receptors on the cell surface.
Histamine receptors are protein substances, located in different parts of the body which combine with histamine to bring about a very specific effect in the individual or organism. They are distinct cells which respond to sensory stimuli. There are basically four histamine receptors namely:
- The H1 Receptor: This is located all around the body and is responsible for the urgent response to allergies.
- The H2 Receptor: This is located in the gastric parietal cells and is responsible for the secretion of gastric acid and increases heart rate.
- The H3 Receptor: This is located in the central nervous system and is responsible for modulating neurotransmission, sleep and wake up cycle, and appetite.
- The H4 Receptor: This is located among the mast cells and colon. It is responsible for the regulation of immune response.
Dale and Laidlaw in 1910 were the first to discover the enzyme histamine (2-[4-imidazolyl]ethylamine). Histamine is synthesized by the vitamin B6 (pyridoxal phosphate) which contains L-histidine decarboxylase (HDC) from the amino acid histidine. Histamine is a biogenic amine and was first recognized in 1932 as a mediator of anaphylactic reactions.
Histamine is stored intra-cellularly in vesicles after being synthesized by mast cells, platelets, enterochromaffine cells, basophils and histaminergic.
Histamine works by combining with its 4 receptors (H1R, H2R, H3R and H4R) when in contact with target cells in various tissues in the body. The resulting reaction leads to vasodilation, muscle cell contraction, mucus secretion and increased vascular permeability, etc. This stimulates nociceptive nerve fibers and gastric acid secretion.
Now with all these said, let’s get down to the major point and ask ourselves…most would be wondering…
What is Histamine Intolerance?
I know that most would be wondering and may be forced to ask, “What is histamine intolerance really all about?”
Well, histamine intolerance is a disease which is also known as Histaminosis. It is a toxic response to the presence of excess histamine in the body. It occurs when the body produces way too much histamine than the enzymes in the system can break down. This is due to the lack of a histamine degrading enzyme called Diamine Oxidase (DAO) in the body.
Apart from the first mentioned, histamine intolerance can again be seen in an individual due to lack of another histamine degrading enzyme known as Histamine N-metyltranferase (HNMT).
The average human being is said to be histamine intolerant if he or she’s histamine level in the plasma is above 1.0 nano grams per milliliter (ng/mL). However, this value varies for many depending on his or her genetic origin.
Causes of Histamine Intolerance
Histamine is an enzyme that gets released when we have an allergic reaction, and those who have these allergies are usually administered with anti-histamine medications. What this anti-histamine simply does is that, it helps the histamine enzyme from attaching to the cells of the body. They contain useful enzymes that help to break down histamine. If the histamine in the body is not broken-down, it leads to a build-up of the enzyme, causing an intolerance to cave-in. So, simply said, histamine intolerance is caused by a build-up of the histamine enzyme, or when the body of an individual produces way too much histamine than the enzymes can break down.
The causes of histamine intolerance can be considered from three (3) different approaches. It can be caused by the body having too much histamine, which may be as a result of eating foods containing a high level of histamine. Histamine intolerance can also be considered to be caused by an allergic exposure. Finally, the last approach is that, the body is unable to break-down histamine due to the lack of some useful enzymes.
Histamine intolerance can also be caused by the combination of any two (2) of the three (3) approaches.
WHAT DO I MEAN BY THIS?
What I’m trying to point out by this is that, the histamine intolerance may be due to the fact that, either the body is producing a lot of the enzyme with response to an allergic reaction, or, the body could be high on histamine due to the food taken in, but the enzymes responsible to help break-down the histamine are not functioning properly.
In conclusion, here are some listed reasons for the very high histamine rate in the body:
- Improper Diet
Diet plays an important role in bringing about very high level of histamine in the body of an individual. This is because most food substances we take can block the Diaimine Oxide (DAO) and Histamine N-metyltranferase (HNMT). These are the two main enzymes responsible for the breakdown of histamine in the body.
Some food substances contain high level of histamine; which when taken into the body, adds up to the histamine already inside the body. This leads to excess histamine which in turn leads to a significant level of dysfunction.
Some food substances, even though they do not contain histamine, can naturally trigger the body to release histamine, which in turn can lead to the presence of excess histamine in the system.
- Wrong Medication
Medications such as diuretics and stations hinder DAO and HNMT enzymes from carrying out their functions. These medications are mainly for psychiatric treatment, anxiety (schizophrenia). The inability of these enzymes to perform their outright duties gives rise to piling up of histamine in the body; hence, leading to histamine intolerance.
- Gut Bacteria
The bacteria found in the gut of the human body possess the ability for both the production and break-down of histamine, as well as remain neutral. Bacteria such as Lactobacillus reuteri and Streptococcus thermophiles are responsible for the production of histamine. When the histamine producing process surpasses that of the break-down process, it gives rise to excess histamine in the body; thus leading to histamine intolerance.
- Exposure to Allergens
Allergies (IGE reactions) are one of the major causes of this disease. Exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust and spores does not just instigate symptoms involved with the disease, but actually increases the histamine level in the body of the individual.
…also a deficiency in the DAO enzyme can lead to this disease. The following can lead to a deficiency in DAO in the body…
- Gluten intolerance
- DAO blocking foods
- Genetic mutation (commonly found in the Asian population)
- Leaky gut
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Inflammatory conditions, etc.
Histamine Intolerance Symptoms You Should Know About
Histamine as an enzyme travels throughout the bloodstream and affects virtually every aspect of the body; from the gut, to the lungs, to the skin, to the brain and the entire cardiovascular system, causing it to be so difficult to detect.
Now there are various signs and symptoms of this disease in the body. These signs and symptoms sometimes give medical experts difficulty detecting; usually mistaking them for common allergies. Some common signs and symptoms an individual with this disease may experience are headaches, hives, flushing, itching, swelling, fatigue (tiredness), difficulty falling asleep, difficulty breathing, nasal congestion, sneezing, dizziness, hypertension, anxiety, difficulty in regulating body temperature, a fast heart rate, vomiting, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, abdominal cramps and even abnormal menstrual cycles.
Here are some other histamine intolerance symptoms narrowed out that you should know about…
Eczema itself is a chronic skin inflammation that possesses characteristics itching. As such, an individual suffering from histamine intolerance, in most cases experience eczema on his or her skin.
- Lack of Sleep
Due to discomfort in numerous ways, an individual suffering from histamine intolerance can fall a victim to lack of sleep, also known as insomnia.
Due to critical histamine build up in the body, and the individual can experience anxiety as histamine intolerance itself generally affects the nervous system.
Due to excess histamine in the body of the individual, it is very common for an individual to experience itching in various parts of the body such as the ear, skin, nose and eye.
- Nasal Congestion
Nasal Congestion is mostly seen in individuals suffering from histamine intolerance. This is as a result of the immune system attempting to deal with excess histamine in the body.
An individual suffering from histamine intolerance experiences frequent and watery bowel movement which gives rise to diarrhea.
Best Known Treatments for Histamine Intolerance
For many, while trying to relief their allergy symptoms, they go on a medication that actually blocks the main enzyme they need to help break-down histamine.
The first step to take in treating histamine intolerance, to give you an immediate relief from the disease’s symptoms is by completely removing foods from your daily diet that contribute to the disease. Fermented foods such as yogurts, beer, and wine should be the totally off limit. Vinegar containing foods, pickles, olives, sour foods and cream, buttermilk are also high in the enzyme histamine. It is also very important to note that most citrus foods contain a lot of histamines. Certain nuts like walnuts and cashew, and even certain vegetables like spinach, all contain a high level of histamine and should be avoided by patients.
Foods that also help to induce the release of histamine in the body should be avoided. Foods like bananas, cow’s milk alcohol, chocolates, pineapple nuts, papaya, shellfish, tomatoes, strawberries and many artificial preservatives.
Foods that also block the DAO enzyme from doing its work should also be minimized. Foods like energy drinks, black tea, green tea, alcohol, etc.
Here are some other preventive measures and method of treatment to try out.
- Balance Diet
A meal with the various classes of food in their right proportion offers a moderate amount of histamine going into the body. Eating such meals would control and monitor the level of histamine in the system.
The use of antibiotics is another way of treating and preventing histamine. This is because excess bacteria produced in the bladder can go as far infecting the urinal tract which leads to high level of histamine in the body. Taking antibiotics helps to destroy the bacterial and hence, prevent further increase of histamine level in the system.
There are various ways to prevent and treat this disease, but the best method of treatment is by first finding out the root and major cause of the sickness, and tackling it. It is advisable you contact your physician on the right medication that works best for you.
I hope you found this article really useful? Still, if you have any questions troubling you about this disease, feel free to leave it in the comment box below. I’d really love to hear from you.
So, what histamine intolerance symptoms are you experiencing? Feel free to let me know in the comment box.