Low Histamine Diet
Ok, the source I started with was a bit odd. She knocked on our office door after we were closed and had the front lights turned off. She was a teacher with CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) who had been flying to California to see a CIRS doctor and wanted to know if we could pick up her care. When I asked her what she did that made the biggest difference, she said, “When I followed a histamine-free diet, I got better.” Histamine Free! What’s that?
Histamine is easily made in your body. It is a neurotransmitter used in your brain. It is widely present in your gut but most of it shows up in mast cells that set off allergic reactions. You block those reactions when you take an antihistamine. When you get hives, your immune system is blasting off, releasing histamine all over the place. Once it has been released, it is meant to be degraded promptly by degradation enzymes, notable Diamine Oxidase.
Here is this week’s study. If you take 14 folks who present to an allergy clinic but have negative skin testing for allergies, don’t have celiac disease but get better when placed on a low histamine diet and test them Diamine Oxidase deficiency, you find something very interesting. Those folks have a diamine oxidase activity of 7, whereas 34 normal folks without the symptoms have levels of 39. That’s a big difference. Diamine oxidase deficiency is a real entity. It’s a “condition” that leads you to being vulnerable to too much histamine.
Here is the rub. In CIRS, your innate immune system (the primitive, reactive, non-specific part) fires off constantly and without proper supervision and control by the adaptive system (precise, targeted, controlled). And it sets off histamine-like crazy. Some folks have all sorts of reactions to histamine with the least provocation. This is often matched with very high C4a, and you can see it by taking a blunt object to their backs and drawing a tic-tac-toe board – you make wheals from all the histamine release. That’s called dermatographism.
Where do you get histamine from in your diet? Fermented food is the most common source. Anything fermented. Wine, sauerkraut, eggplant, spinach, avocado, any old stale food out of the fridge, the list is very long. In fact, there is a risk of malnutrition if you take the list too seriously for too long. The goal is to cut back dramatically on any food that may be setting off symptoms and then sit tight for a few weeks. Fresh food, prepared at home with minimum spices and eaten immediately is the first step to cure. For example, fish you catch and eat promptly is ok but once it’s in the grocery store, the tiny bit of spoilage involved in shipping, packaging, and selling is enough to generate sufficient histamine to get you sick. Normal folks with enough DO activity can tolerate it. It has to be a journey of self-discovery.
What is the most common clinical symptom? Gastrointestinal distress is probably the biggest problem. Cramps and diarrhea 15 minutes after eating leftovers out of the fridge would be a pretty common clue. Reflux, urinary frequency, itching, hives, nausea and vomiting and just about everything else coming on after eating all point to the syndrome. Symptoms are so diverse, it’s easy to not consider because no two people are quite alike.
We don’t have a test for it, yet. The Diamine Oxidase test isn’t commercially available. But you can draw on your back. C4a is hard to get an accurate result but worth the try.
WWW.what will work for me. I’m trying to eat fresh vegetables as much as possible anyways. But fermented foods have many fine qualities to them. The probiotic effect of fermentation is profound and in most circumstances beneficial. And what’s not to like about promptly prepared free meat. I must say, when I was fishing last month, the fresh fish was wonderful. But I don’t have CIRS.
- Where does histamine come from? Answer: Fermented and stale foods and some particular foods like alcohol, soy, chickpeas, peanuts, cashews…..
- Where is histamine concentrated in your body? Answer: in MAST cells in your gut and skin.
- Eating high histamine foods will do what? Answer: Frequently set off all sorts of gut issues like cramping and diarrhea, hives, asthma….all histamine chemical effects
- What’s the histame free diet? Answer: Simple: Avoiding those foods, discovered by eating freshly made foods not on the list, and seeing how you react.
- What’s the cure? Answer: Go upstream to the cause. It’s frequently CIRS brought on by mold sensitivity in a person with a vulnerable HLA type. Fix the mold and clean them up with Cholestyramine and you are on the way.