Overcoming Histamine Intolerance: How Supplements Can Make a Difference

When we think of histamines, often our first association is with allergies and the annoying symptoms they bring. But what exactly are histamines? These naturally occurring compounds in our bodies play several pivotal roles, from helping in the immune response to regulating stomach acid and even acting as neurotransmitters in the brain.

However, sometimes, our bodies can react excessively to histamines, leading to what’s known as histamine intolerance. One of the culprits behind this intolerance is mast cell sensitivity. Mast cells, which are found throughout our body, release histamines as a part of our body’s defense mechanism. But when these cells become overly sensitive, they can release more histamines than our bodies can handle, leading to a range of symptoms that can be maddeningly vague.

There are a number of dietary supplements that can act to break down histamine in the gut or help to stabilize overactive mast cells so that they reduce the amount of histamine they release. If these supplements are right for you, this article will show you the best place to order them online. Supplement Sciences has partnered with Fullscript’s professional-grade supplement formulary to provide a 20% discount on every order, so you always have access to the highest quality supplements at the best prices. Join us as we unravel the intricacies of histamines and explore the role they play.

Histamine Intolerance: Symptoms Of A Great Masquerader

Histamine intolerance is when the body can’t break down histamine, a compound involved in immune responses, as quickly as it’s produced or ingested. This can lead to an accumulation of histamine in the body, resulting in symptoms that can often be mistaken for other conditions or ignored due to their subtle nature. Recognizing these nuanced signs is crucial for a timely diagnosis and management. [PMC7463562] Here are some of the subtle symptoms associated with histamine intolerance:

  • Digestive Issues: People with histamine intolerance might experience stomachaches, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. These symptoms can be easily mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Headaches or Dizziness: While severe migraines can be a symptom, some people just experience a light headache or a sense of dizziness.
  • Nasal Congestion: A stuffy or runny nose might be dismissed as a minor cold or allergies, but for those with histamine intolerance, it can be a recurring issue.
  • Fatigue: Persistent fatigue, especially after consuming histamine-rich foods, is another overlooked symptom.
  • Irregular Menstrual Cycle: Some women may experience more painful or irregular periods.
  • Flushed Skin: Redness or flushing, especially after meals, can be another subtle sign.
  • Difficulty Falling Asleep: Insomnia or disturbed sleep patterns might be linked to elevated histamine levels in the body.
  • Anxiety: Unexplained feelings of anxiety or bouts of nervousness can also be a symptom of histamine intolerance.
  • Heart Palpitations: While less common, some individuals report a racing heart or palpitations without any clear cardiac cause.
  • Itchy Skin: Beyond the obvious hives or rashes, some might experience mild itchiness, often without any visible skin changes.

Given the subtle nature of these symptoms, many people with histamine intolerance go undiagnosed for years.

What is Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance sounds a lot like an allergy, and while they share some overlapping symptoms, they are distinctly different conditions. At its core, histamine intolerance is not an allergic reaction but rather an imbalance in the body’s ability to handle and process histamines.

Histamines are chemicals that play a role in our immune response. When we encounter an allergen, histamines are produced to help our bodies fight off the perceived threat. However, our bodies are also equipped with enzymes to break down and eliminate histamines to maintain a delicate equilibrium. The primary enzyme responsible for this is diamine oxidase (DAO). In cases of histamine intolerance, there’s a mismatch between the production and breakdown of histamines, often due to a reduced ability of the body to produce enough DAO.

When the balance tips and more histamines are produced than can be broken down, it leads to an accumulation. Unlike allergies, which are an immune response to foreign substances, histamine intolerance is essentially the body’s response to its own imbalance. This excess of histamines can then trigger symptoms that resemble allergic reactions, but understanding the distinction and the underlying cause is crucial for effective treatment and management.

Histamine intolerance (HIT) is assumed to be due to a deficiency of the gastrointestinal (GI) enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) and, therefore, the food component histamine not being degraded and/or absorbed properly within the GI tract. 

Histamine Intolerance Originates in the Gut [PMC8069563]

Why Histamine Intolerance Symptoms Are So Widespread

Histamine intolerance often presents with a range of symptoms that can seem confusing or unrelated at first glance. The key to understanding this diversity lies in the fact that the body has multiple types of histamine receptors, each responsible for different functions.

Histamine Intolerance

For example, H1 receptors are mainly found in the skin, nose, and eyes, and their activation leads to symptoms like itching, sneezing, and runny nose. H2 receptors are abundant in the stomach, and when histamine binds to them, it can result in symptoms like abdominal pain or heartburn. H3 receptors are primarily in the brain and can influence sleep and attention, whereas H4 receptors are found in cells of the immune system and can contribute to symptoms like inflammation.

Because histamine can bind to these various receptors throughout the body, it can trigger a wide array of symptoms. This makes histamine intolerance complex and sometimes hard to diagnose, as the symptoms can range from skin rashes and digestive issues to sleep disturbances and more. Understanding the role of these different histamine receptors can help clarify why histamine intolerance can have such a diverse and widespread impact on well-being.

Causes of Histamine Intolerance

Histamine intolerance can arise from various factors, often intertwining and overlapping, making it somewhat complex to pinpoint a single root cause. Below are some of the primary reasons individuals may develop histamine intolerance:

  • Enzymatic Deficiencies: The enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) plays a pivotal role in breaking down ingested histamine. A deficiency or reduced activity of this enzyme can lead to an accumulation of histamine in the bloodstream. Factors like medications, gastrointestinal diseases, or even certain foods can inhibit DAO function, exacerbating histamine intolerance.
  • Gut Health Problems And Microbial Imbalances: The gut isn’t just responsible for digestion; it’s a crucial player in overall health and immunity. The gut naturally produces histamine and certain gut bacteria even generate histamine from the food we consume. If there’s an imbalance in the gut flora, often referred to as dysbiosis, there might be an increased production of histamine or a decreased breakdown of it. Chronic inflammation, infections, or conditions like leaky gut syndrome can further upset this balance, making the gut a significant factor in histamine-related issues.
  • Genetic Factors: Genetics can play a role in one’s susceptibility to histamine intolerance. Some individuals might inherit genes that make them naturally produce less DAO or other enzymes essential for histamine regulation. While not everyone with these genetic factors will develop histamine intolerance, they might be at a higher risk, especially when other factors like gut health imbalances or dietary habits come into play.

Understanding the underlying cause of histamine intolerance is vital as it can guide effective interventions and treatments. While it might take a combination of tests and observations to determine the root cause for an individual, the good news is that, once identified, it often becomes manageable with the right approaches.

DAO Deficiencies

Histamine intolerance (HIT) is assumed to be due to a deficiency of the gastrointestinal (GI) enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) and, therefore, the food component histamine not being degraded and/or absorbed properly within the GI tract. 

Histamine Intolerance Originates in the Gut [PMC8069563]

DAO is an enzyme produced mainly in the kidneys, thymus, and the lining of the digestive tract. Its primary function is to break down and process histamines that come from the foods we eat. When we ingest foods rich in histamines, DAO helps to neutralize these histamines to prevent any adverse reactions.

If the body isn’t producing enough DAO or if its activity is compromised, histamines can accumulate in the blood. This can lead to symptoms similar to allergic reactions, including flushing, headaches, nasal congestion, itching, and more. A DAO deficiency doesn’t necessarily mean the body isn’t producing any DAO at all. It might just be that the production is insufficient to handle the histamine load, especially after consuming histamine-rich foods.

Factors Impacting DAO Levels:

Various factors can influence the activity of DAO in the body. Certain medications, such as anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and diuretics, have the potential to inhibit DAO. Additionally, gastrointestinal conditions like leaky gut, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease can impact its production since DAO is synthesized in the digestive tract lining; a compromised gut lining can lead to decreased DAO levels. Besides all that, dietary choices, including the consumption of alcohol or tea and foods that either block DAO or prompt histamine release, can temporarily reduce the enzyme’s activity.

DAO Supplements:

Given the connection between DAO deficiency and histamine intolerance, DAO supplements have been introduced in the market. These supplements, usually derived from porcine kidney, are taken to boost DAO levels temporarily, especially before meals. The idea is to provide additional DAO to help break down dietary histamines.

However, there’s a critical aspect to understand about DAO supplements: they work in the digestive tract and are not absorbed into the bloodstream. This means that while they can help reduce reactions from dietary histamines, they won’t affect histamines released by the body’s immune cells or histamines in the bloodstream. So, DAO supplements can be beneficial for addressing food-related histamine issues but might not be effective for other types of histamine-related problems. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement.

Gut Health Problems & Microbial Imbalances

The gut is the linchpin in our overall health, immunity, and even our body’s histamine management. Within our digestive tracts, both the lining itself and specific gut bacteria play active roles in the production and breakdown of histamine. The foods we eat can be converted into histamine by some bacteria, underscoring the importance of a balanced gut microbiome. Dysbiosis, an imbalance of these gut bacteria, can trigger increased histamine production or hinder its efficient breakdown.

But it’s not just about the bacteria; factors like chronic inflammation, persistent infections, and conditions such as leaky gut syndrome can disrupt this delicate equilibrium. In such scenarios, dietary supplements that support gut health and balance the microbiome can be invaluable. By promoting a healthy gut environment, these supplements can help regulate histamine levels, potentially alleviating some of the symptoms of histamine intolerance.

Common Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance

Histamine intolerance manifests in a variety of ways, affecting multiple systems in the body. Being aware of these symptoms can help individuals pinpoint potential histamine-related issues:

  • Digestive Problems: One of the most reported symptoms of histamine intolerance revolves around digestive discomforts. Individuals might experience bloating, excessive gas, or even diarrhea after consuming histamine-rich foods. These symptoms can be mistaken for other digestive disorders, which is why it’s essential to consider histamine intolerance as a potential culprit, especially if these symptoms persist.
  • Skin Issues: The skin is another area frequently impacted by histamine. People might notice sudden rashes or redness, intense itching, or even hives. These skin reactions can be sporadic, flaring up after certain meals and then subsiding after some time.
  • Respiratory Symptoms: Histamine plays a role in our body’s allergic response, which can affect our respiratory system. This can lead to symptoms like persistent sneezing, nasal congestion, and even difficulty in breathing in more severe cases.
  • Other Symptoms: Beyond the more common symptoms, histamine intolerance can also present in less obvious ways. Some individuals report frequent headaches or an overwhelming sense of fatigue. Additionally, women might notice irregularities in their menstrual cycle linked to high histamine levels.

Understanding these symptoms is the first step in addressing histamine intolerance. Proper diagnosis and management can help alleviate these discomforts and improve one’s quality of life.

Diagnosing Histamine Intolerance–Not So Easy

Histamine intolerance has a variety of symptoms. It isn’t classified as an allergy, and there are no practical medical tests that confirm it. One of the primary complexities of diagnosing histamine intolerance lies in the overlap of its symptoms with other conditions. For instance, symptoms commonly tied to histamine intolerance, such as headaches, nasal congestion, skin reactions, and gastrointestinal complaints, are also prevalent in other conditions like food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and migraines.

Additionally, the onset of these symptoms can vary considerably; they might emerge immediately after consuming histamine-rich foods or only show up hours later. On top of that, people with histamine intolerance might react differently, with some showing symptoms after minimal exposure and others requiring substantial amounts before experiencing adverse effects.

Without tests, an elimination diet is all we have to diagnose the problem. The diet eliminates high histamine foods and then gradually reintroduces them to monitor for symptoms. The main tool for both individuals and dietitians in this diagnostic journey is a detailed food and symptom diary. Such a diary not only helps identify patterns that connect specific foods to symptom onset but also helps identify which foods might cause stronger reactions, given the many different sources of histamine in various foods.

A detailed food record including symptom notes can give your dietitian insights into what foods might be triggering issues, and how sensitive you may be. Over time, maintaining such a diary can also sharpen a person’s self-awareness, guiding them towards more informed dietary choices. If anyone suspects their symptoms are related to histamine intolerance, they should seek out the help of a dietitian who specializes in this area of nutrition.

Tracking your food is easiest when you use an app on your phone. My Fitness Pal is a free app that can be used to track food and symptoms (enter these in the food notes). While it is frustrating to see a lot of incorrect data in the app, one advantage it has over others the availability of printable food reports. You can reach this option by logging into MyFitnessPal.com/food/diary where a button allows you to print out a full report of all the foods you’ve eaten over a month period+ with all of your symptom notes. This can be invaluable for working with your dietitian to connect the dots.

What Is The Diet for Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine is naturally present in various foods, and its concentration can increase based on how the food is stored, processed, or prepared. Here’s a breakdown of commonly consumed high-histamine foods:

  • Fish, especially if it’s not freshly caught, such as mackerel, tuna, sardines, and anchovies.
  • Processed or cured meats like salami, bacon, ham, and pepperoni.
  • Cheeses, especially aged ones like cheddar, gouda, camembert, brie, and blue cheese.
  • Alcoholic beverages, including red wine, champagne, and certain beers.
  • Vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, and spinach.
  • Fruits, especially strawberries, bananas, and avocados.
  • Nuts such as walnuts and cashews.
  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, and kimchi.
  • Vinegar and vinegar-containing products, including pickles and mustard.
  • Dried fruits like apricots, dates, and raisins.

Some Foods Trigger Histamine Release

While some foods are high in histamine, others may not contain significant amounts of histamine but can stimulate the body to release it. Such foods include:

  • Alcohol
  • Bananas
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Egg whites
  • Chocolate
  • Milk
  • Nuts, especially walnuts and cashews
  • Certain food additives and dyes

Fermented Foods and Aged Products

The link between histamine and fermented foods is a product of the fermentation process. During fermentation, bacteria produce histamine as a byproduct. As a result, many fermented foods naturally have higher histamine levels. This includes popular health foods like yogurt, kefir, and kombucha, which can be problematic for individuals with histamine intolerance.

Aged products, on the other hand, accumulate histamine over time. As certain foods age, the bacteria present can convert the amino acid histidine into histamine. This is particularly prevalent in aged cheeses and cured meats. As these products age and mature, their histamine content can significantly increase.

It’s worth noting that everyone’s tolerance to histamine varies, and not everyone will react to high-histamine foods or histamine-releasing foods in the same way.

Best Histamine Intolerance Supplements

For people with histamine intolerance, dietary supplements such as DAO (diamine oxidase), targeted probiotics like ProBiota Histamin X, and natural mast cell stabilizing herbs and nutrients, including quercetin, luteolin, and vitamin C, can be beneficial in managing symptoms.

Medications and Supplements: Antihistamines and DAO Supplements

  • Natural Antihistamines: Herbal supplements and Vitamin C are natural mast cell stablilizers that can reduce the symptoms of histamine intolerance.
  • DAO Supplements: Diamine oxidase (DAO) is the primary enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine in the body. Some individuals with histamine intolerance might have a deficiency in this enzyme. DAO supplements can boost the body’s histamine-degrading capacity, potentially offering relief. Before starting on DAO supplements, it’s crucial to discuss with a healthcare provider to determine suitability and appropriate dosing.

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Order ProBiota Histamin X

ProBiota Histamin X by Seeking Health has been formulated with specific probiotic strains known for their unique ability to cut histamine levels in the gut. Histamines can sometimes accumulate excessively in the gut, leading to digestive and systemic issues. The probiotic strains in ProBiota Histamin X have been shown to help degrade excess histamines or produce enzymes that break down histamines. By regulating the gut flora and directly influencing histamine metabolism, ProBiota Histamin X aims to maintain a balanced histamine level, reducing symptoms through optimal gut health and overall well-being.

ProBiota Histamin X by Seeking Health

Amount Per 1 Capsule Serving

Probiotic Blend … 77 mg**

  •  Bifidobacterium infantis                
  •  Bifidobacterium bifidum                
  •  Bifidobacterium longum                
  •  Lactobacillus salivarius                   
  •  Lactobacillus plantarum                 
  •  Bifidobacterium lactis                    
  •  Bifidobacterium breve                   
  • Total Cultures …. 10 Billion† CFU

DAO Enzyme

The DAO (diamine oxidase) enzyme functions as the primary defense against histamine by breaking it down while it is still within the gut. By breaking down dietary histamine, DAO prevents extra histamine from being absorbed into the bloodstream and causing more symptoms system-wide. See The Full Article

Histamine Digest™ by Seeking Health

Histamine Digest™ by Seeking Health contains a patented enzyme formula providing 10,000 HDU of diamine oxidase (DAO) – the main enzyme responsible for the degradation of ingested histamine – per capsule. Histamine Block does not manage or address antibody-related or IgE-related food allergies.*

Suggested Use:
Take 1 capsule no more than 15 minutes before the consumption of histamine-rich foods, or take as directed by your healthcare professional.

Amount Per 1 Capsule Serving
Vitamin C … 10mg (as ascorbyl palmitate)
DAO2™ porcine kidney extract … 4.2mg (Diamine Oxidase Activity 10,000 HDU)

Mast Cell Stabilizing Herbal Combinations

Histamine is stored in a type of white blood cells called mast cells. Mast cells can become sensitive due to various triggers, leading them to release excessive histamine into the body. Herbal stabilizers containing ingredients like Aloe Vera leaf, Quercetin, Bromelain, Nettle leaf, Marshmallow root, Bitter Orange, and Licorice (in DGL form) can help by supporting the stabilization of these cells, thereby reducing unnecessary histamine release.

Histamine Scavenger by Professional Health Products®

Histamine Scavenger is a unique formulation used to help the body clear itself of excess histamine. Histamine is a compound which is released by cells in response to injury and in allergic and inflammatory reactions, causing contraction of smooth muscle and dilation of capillaries. Histamine can be generated from acute or chronic inflammation and has many unpleasant downstream effects on the body. Gut dysbiosis can also generate histamine that further impairs digestion. This product is designed to help scavenge excess histamine in the body and pairs well with APB1 Assist (HISTA/GUT) for complete histamine metabolism, as well as Histamine Balancer Liquescence for proper desensitization.
Suggested Use:
As a dietary supplement, take one capsule per day, or as directed by your Health Care Professional.

Serving Size: 1 Capsule

Amount Per Serving
 … 6.5mg
Proprietary Blend … 675 mg
Larch tree fiber (Arabinoglactan)
Pine bark extract (Pinus massoniana) (Standardized to 95% Anthocyanidins)
Calcium Hydroxymethylbutyrate
Aloe Vera leaf
Bromelain (2400 GDU)
Nettle leaf (Urtica dioica)(L.) (freeze dried)
Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis)
Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium)
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)(DGL form)

Vitamin C For Mast Cell Stablization

Some research suggests that vitamin C can reduce histamine release from mast cells and increase the degradation of histamine. The optimal dosage of vitamin C for mast cell stabilization is not firmly established, as individual needs can vary, and research is ongoing. [PMC8537261]

Buffered Vitamin C by Integrative Therapeutics

Buffered Vitamin C – Antioxidant Support

An excellent source of antioxidant support, Buffered Vitamin C uses pure crystalline ascorbic acid to supply 1 gram of vitamin C in each capsule. This well-tolerated vitamin C formula supports a healthy immune system response and helps maintain healthy skin, collagen, and connective tissues.*

  • Buffered with calcium and magnesium
  • Easy on sensitive stomachs

Suggested Use: Adults: Take 1 capsule daily or as recommended by your healthcare professional.

Amount Per 1 capsule Serving
Vitamin C … 1,000mg (ascorbic acid)
Calcium … 20mg (as calcium carbonate)
Magnesium … 12mg (as magnesium carbonate)

To Sum It Up

Histamine intolerance, though often overlooked by traditional medicine, has a profound impact on the well-being of those affected. Recognizing its signs and understanding its intricacies are essential steps toward achieving relief and a better quality of life. This condition, marked by an imbalance between histamine intake and the body’s ability to process it, can show up in many different symptoms that often overlap with other medical conditions. But people find significant relief through dietary adjustments, supplementation, and other interventions can make a significant difference.

If you suspect you might be grappling with histamine intolerance, seek out the help of a dietitian who understands histamine intolerance. Those who are specialized in digestive health will be able to help.

This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.

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