Histamine intolerance is a recently identified but increasingly considered condition that, whilst not life-threatening, can trigger a range of uncomfortable and often debilitating symptoms. The disparity and variety of symptoms that can be attributed to this condition are so widespread that it took time for the scientific community to observe the common denominator, and it is often misdiagnosed in general practice.
This, the fifth and last article in my ‘histamine’ series, will delve into this condition that is grabbing the attention of the healthcare community, providing you with information that may help you unravel whether histamine intolerance may be a factor in your health. The article covers:
What is histamine intolerance?
Histamine intolerance, also known as histaminosis or histamine sensitivity, is an increasingly recognised condition that affects a significant number of people worldwide. (1,2) is usually defined as the inability to adequately breakdown histamine.
Histamine is a neurotransmitter, found throughout the body, but specifically in the skin, respiratory tract, and the digestive system. It is involved in numerous processes including stomach acid production, and vasodilation (the widening of the blood vessels), but is more commonly known for its pivotal involvement in the immune response.
It is believed that individuals who suffer from histamine intolerance have a deficiency or dysfunction of the DAO (diamine oxidase) or HNMT (histamine-N-methyltransferase, enzymes, which are responsible for breaking down histamine in the body. This slowing of histamine degradation leads to a possible accumulation of histamine, leading to a variety of symptoms, depending on the individual.
It is thought that histamine intolerance prevalence is higher in children than in adults (3), but further studies are needed. My clinical experience, working with many infants and young children with digestive and skin symptoms, is that when true IgE allergies have been ruled out, histamine intolerance is often a route to be explored. Lowering an overall histamine load, rather than assuming that multiple food intolerances are at play, can allow children to retain the all-important macro and micronutrient variety, rather than putting them at risk of strict and restrictive elimination diets which oftentimes worsens the situation and puts their health at risk.
Histamine intolerance has, in the past, often been misdiagnosed as whole host of other diseases including food allergy and intolerances, urticaria, eosinophilic gastroenteritis amongst others. When clients come to see me with negative allergy/intolerance testing, but who swear blind that such and such a food triggers a reaction, histamine intolerance is something that immediately springs to mind.
Which symptoms hint at a possible histamine intolerance?
As I’ve already explored in previous articles (see links at the end of this feature), histamine intolerance can manifest in a variety of different symptoms, hence the diagnosis difficulty. Common symptoms include:
What are the possible contributory causes?
There are several possible contributory causes to histamine intolerance, but the main theory involves the concept of an overall histamine ‘load’ or the cumulative effect of several factors, including:
Please note that not every individual will be affected by all the above, and this overview should only support the notion of how your overall histamine load could add up.
The genetics of histamine intolerance
For some experiencing histamine issues, the question of low or slow DAO or HNMT activity may stem from their genetics. DAO inactivates histamine in the gut and HNMT within the nervous system and lungs. Genetic variants on these enzymes or their pathways can lead to histamine intolerance.
Nutrigenomics testing, which I offer through Lifecode Gx, can provide information on our own genes which then informs us on the nutrition and lifestyle changes we can make to align with any variants to optimise health and wellbeing. Lifecode Gx offers a specific Histamine Intolerance test. You can find out more, by clicking the link. Nutrigenomic testing is the only form of testing that is available from the youngest age. Whilst how you eat and live your life will have an effect on whether a gene variation may have an impact, your genes themselves never change.
My top tips for lowering your histamine load.
If on medication, please speak to your GP/consultant before making any changes to your diet.
If you are interested in histamine and its impact on symptoms, this article is the second in a series I am currently publishing covering. The series in total will include:
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I’m Jessica Fonteneau, the Eczema and Digestive Health Nutrition Expert. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients to help them change their diets, better manage their flares, and find relief.
My vocation is to help those with eczema and digestive issues, because I have suffered with these interlinked conditions since I was 6 months old, and I truly know what it is like to experience these debilitating conditions.
Every client I have ever worked with has their own triggers and ideal nutrition. There is no such thing as ‘one-size-fits-all’. Whether you work with me one-to-one or use my guided tools, my objective is to help you uncover what works best for you, so that you take back control and experience relief.
My guided programmes are only suitable for adults as children have very specific nutrition requirements. I do, however, work with many child clients as part of my clinic.
I also offer two free communities for adults caring for children with eczema and digestive symptoms, feel free to come and join us and get some well-deserved support.
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