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  • Writer's pictureby Karen Pike

When histamine takes over...

This week I have been taking a deep dive into the subject of histamine intolerance, or HIT.

This is something that I’ve suspected for a while that I’m a sufferer of, and it turns out that this is a condition that is possibly affecting many people without them knowing it.

What is histamine intolerance?

Histamine intolerance is a condition which causes a variety of body-wide and allergy like symptoms. But rather than being an allergy, histamine intolerance is actually a sensitivity which occurs when levels of histamine in the body are too high, either from an overproduction or an inability to break down histamine. It is estimated that 58% of all IBS sufferers are actually suffering from histamine intolerance.

Levels of histamine in foods vary hugely – so what you are eating and drinking can be worsening your symptoms without you realising it. You may have noticed you have food intolerances but can never pinpoint exactly what it is that is triggering your symptoms – this could well be histamine! Foods and drink like fermented foods, cheeses, alcohol, tea, cured meats, chocolate, dairy are some of the worst offenders!

The symptoms of histamine intolerance a wide and varied and can affect many of the systems of the body. They include:

  • IBS symptoms including bloating, wind, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting

  • Migraine

  • Low blood pressure

  • Feeling faint, including when having blood samples taken

  • Total exhaustion (or M.E.)

  • Insomnia

  • Itchy scalp, itchy rashes on arms and legs or on the trunk

  • Severe reaction to insect bites

  • Flushing of the skin - especially the face and neck as well as dermatographia - where the skin is unstable due to high histamine levels in the skin and therefore flushes and blanches white on touch

  • Eczema, psoriasis or rosacea

  • Skin sensitivity to labels in clothes

  • Sinusitis, asthma, runny nose

  • Episodes of cystitis, interstitial cystitis

  • Painful joints, especially knees when climbing the stairs

  • Painful muscles, easy bruising

  • Pains in the jaw, neck and groin

  • Brain fog and forgetfulness

  • Anxiety and panic attacks

  • Period pains and cramps - even when not menstruating

  • Sensitivity to loud noises and bright lights

  • Progestogen sensitivity is often a feature in women and can cause difficulties settling on hormonal contraception and on HRT

  • Waking up with a swollen face, eyes and mouth

So, how do we fix it?

During my consultation process, I ask my clients a variety of questions on all the systems of the body and symptoms – if a few of the aforementioned symptoms are noted down, then this starts to ring an alarm bell in my head that histamine overload might be a problem for them. Current research suggests that genetic snps, hormonal changes and/or the health of your microbiome can all be part of the root cause of your histamine intolerance.

There are a number of treatment options including following a low histamine diet for 2-4 weeks and then slowly reintroducing foods to see if there’s trigger and to help you work out what your body can handle in terms of histamine load.

There are also known natural anti-histamines like vitamin C, quercetin and L-glutamine which can really make a huge improvement to symptoms. And it is also worth considering specific probiotic strains which can help to rebalance the gut flora. Stool tests and specific histamine genetic testing can really help to show us exactly what is causing the problem.

If this post has resonated with you and you suspect you may be a sufferer, then do get in touch to book a consultation.


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