Histamine and Allergy Triggers
There is a lot of talk in the Natural Functional Medicine space about histamine intolerance as it is often very different from one person to the next based on their exposures to genetics and epigenetic exposures.
Many patients spend a lot of time and see a lot of doctors in search of answers for their hard-to-explain suffering. Often stemming from infections or toxin exposure, high levels of histamine contribute to a number of systemic symptoms that coincide with other health conditions.
I wanted to provide some information on Histamine and Allergy triggers that might be helpful and what could be the possible causes for you to consider.
What Are Mast Cells?
Mast cells are immune cells found in all tissues of the body, with the highest levels in the gut and skin where your body interacts with the environment.
The main job of mast cells is to determine if there is a threat, from an infection or toxin, and then to activate, producing a variety of chemicals that work to neutralize the threat or coordinate the immune system.
What do Mast cells do?
They are involved in the innate response which is the body’s first line of defense against a pathogen or toxin and includes the inflammatory response. They are also involved in the adaptive immune response is more specific and includes antibody production.
- Tissue repair
- Wound healing
- Angiogenesis (blood vessel growth)
- Immune tolerance
Mast cells offer an important, and vital, function within the immune system. When mast cells work well, they contribute to a normal immune response. But mast cell activation may be overactive, as in the case of extreme swelling from a bug bite or anaphylaxis from a peanut allergy, as examples because they release histamine. Most of us have had a histamine response. It becomes a problem when we have more and more allergic reactions and we are experiencing symptoms a lot of the time.
Some of the Symptoms of High Histamine
- Itchy skin
- Swelling or reddening of the skin
- Decreased memory or concentration
- Headaches and/or migraines
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling in the face or tongue
- Rapid heart rate or heart palpitations
- Dizziness or low blood pressure
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Food sensitivities
- Food allergies, allergic reactions
- Mucus secretion
- Nasal congestion and runny nose
What are the possible underlying causes of your Histamine and Allergy Triggers?
- Genetic variations. DAO (diamine oxidase) is the enzyme that breaks down histamine in the gut. Some with a small change in the genetic code for this enzyme, called a SNP or single nucleotide polymorphism, may have a harder time breaking down histamine. A deficiency in DAO in the gut contributes to an intolerance to high histamine foods, such as fermented and aged food, and may lead to high histamine levels locally and throughout the body.
- Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the microbiome. Much of the immune system resides in the gut and there are a lot of mast cells in the GI tract. GI pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi like candida trigger mast cell activation. In addition, certain bacteria produce histamine while others don’t, so an imbalance, even among beneficial bacteria, may lead to high histamine levels.
- Infections. It’s not just gut infections that lead to mast cell activation, viruses that cause the common cold, flu or even Covid can cause an over reaction and activate mast cells.
- Toxin exposure. Mold toxins, mycotoxins, can trigger mast cell activation. Many of the symptoms of high histamine overlap with symptoms of mold toxicity. Heavy metal exposure, such as aluminum and mercury, have been found to activate mast cells.
- Nutrient deficiencies. Deficiencies in important immune nutrients, including vitamin D and zinc, may impair mast cell function and increase histamine levels. Deficiencies in folate, vitamin B12 and other methylation cofactors may impact the body’s ability to break down histamine, contributing to higher levels of histamine.
How To Restore Health and Balance
Restoring health and balance is different for everyone and can be confusing.
Here are some suggestions for feeling better:
1. Balance the microbiome. Use stool testing, such as GI MAP, to identify pathogens and then follow a protocol to eliminate pathogens and restore microbiome balance and digestive function.
2. Consider Digestive support. Often we eat when we are stressed out either emotionally or because we let our blood sugar go too low. This causes a danger response in the body creating low HCL and Enzyme production which we needed to break down our foods. When this happens these large food proteins can trigger a leaky gut and therefore the body thinks the undigested food is a pathogen. Adding Zypan, Enzycore and AF Betafood can be of benefit. Dandelion greens, Apple Cider Vinegar and bitters are also helpful
3. Improve histamine clearance. My go to is Antronex which acts like a natural Antihistamine by supporting the phase II detox pathways in the Liver. You can take 1 per hour if you are having challenges, then 3 per day for maintenance.
4. Avoid toxins and support detoxification. Since many toxins are mast cell triggers, removing them from the body allows the immune system response to calm down. This may mean taking a look at your environment and making changes. If you have much toxic build up the body becomes inflamed and feels swollen.
5. Support mast cells. Many nutrients and natural compounds found in herbs and food are supportive of balanced mast cell health. These include vitamin C, omega-3 fats, curcumin, glutathione, quercetin, nettles, green tea, resveratrol, milk thistle and more.
It certainly doesn’t feel good when histamine is high, often triggered by infection or toxins. Symptoms of high histamine are clear messages from the body to dig deeper and restore balance to the microbiome, liver and immune system.
Often some well-placed supplements, along with a gut healing and detoxification protocol, is a gentle and effective solution to acute or chronic symptoms associated with histamine intolerance.
If this resonates with you and your would like support and guidance then please reach out.
You can Book Online at drpia.com.