If you have histamine intolerance, strawberries, cheese, red wine, legumes, tomatoes, tuna, avocado and many other foods are obviously taboo. But what exactly is histamine and what does it do in the body? Do you really have to follow such a strict diet if you have an intolerance, or are there other options such as tablets or holistic therapy options that combat the cause of the problem?
What is histamine or 2-(1H-imidazol-4-yl)-ethanamine (IUPAC)?
Histamine is a substance that can be produced by human, animal and plant organisms.
2-(1H-Imidazol-4-yl)-Ethanamine (IUPAC) is the chemical name for Histamine . It is a so-called natural substance, which means that it fulfills a biological function and can be produced by the organism itself. Histamine has many tasks in human metabolism: It acts as a tissue hormone, Neurotransmitter , plays an important role in allergic reactions and supports the immune system in defending itself against foreign substances 1 .
histamine (like a few other messenger substances) gives the signal for inflammatory reactions in the human organism, which triggers tissue swelling. This causes the immune system to become active and provides many little helpers that fight off foreign (and potentially dangerous) substances. It is an important messenger substance that supports the body's own immune defense. However, it may be that Histamine overactive and transmits the signals for inflammatory reactions in the event of the slightest contact with foreign substances, even though there is no danger at all. If then additionally about the Food histamine If you record yourself, total chaos ensues - more on that in the next section.
When do we speak of a histamine allergy or intolerance?
In fact, the word becomes "Histamine allergy" often used incorrectly in this context. Strictly speaking, it is one Histamine intolerance . An allergy is an immune reaction to non-infectious foreign substances.
An allergy is the body's immune reaction to non-infectious foreign substances (antigens or allergens). The body incorrectly forms antibodies to the respective foreign substances, as it does with viral infections, except that these are actually harmless substances. Symptoms of an allergy include asthma, neurodermatitis, swollen eyes, diarrhea, nausea, fever, sleep disorders and, in the worst case, anaphylactic shock 2 .
Intolerance is when the body reacts to a certain substance (which is normally ingested through food) with an intolerance reaction, but no antibodies are produced by the immune system. The reason for this is usually the lack of enzymes that are used to break down the respective substance 3 .
A typical example of this is lactose intolerance, in which the enzyme lactase, which is supposed to break down lactose, is missing in the intestinal tract. This causes abdominal pain and diarrhea, but also many other chain reactions that trigger inflammatory processes inside the body.
It is similar with histamine intolerance: there is usually not enough diamine oxidase in the intestine. This enzyme breaks down histamine, which is ingested through food.
Histamine formation and human metabolism
The tissue hormone is produced by the human organism Amino acid histidine educated.
With the help of Enzyme histidine decarboxylase (HDC) Histidine is converted into histamine 1 . This happens in the immune cells (mast cells, platelets), the cells of the skin and mucous membranes (stomach, intestines) and in the nerve cells.
The micronutrients zinc, copper and vitamin B6 also play a role. The histamine formed is stored in small vesicles preferably in the mast cells and released upon stimulation. Stimulation refers to pathogens, allergens and toxins, but also psychological stimuli such as stress ( cortisol release ), which are absorbed by the body 4 .
In addition to the body's own production of histamine, we can also absorb the substance through food. It is found in numerous foods, especially those that have matured for a longer period of time such as cheese, alcohol, sauerkraut, but also in certain fruits and many other foods. More on this follows below. This is generally not a problem because the body is able to break down histamine with the help of two specific enzymes. If this breakdown does not work, the histamine concentrations in the body remain high and incorrectly lead to the reactions that should actually only be triggered when a foreign substance needs to be eliminated by the immune system. This is what people commonly refer to as one Histamine intolerance .
Histamine breakdown and its disorders
Diamine oxidase (DAO) is the enzyme that occurs in the intestinal histamine (thus primarily consumed through food). If there is a disorder in the formation of this enzyme, histamine intolerance occurs 1 .
If DAO is missing in the intestine, the histamine absorbed is not broken down during digestion and incorrectly leads to the inflammatory reactions described above; the typical symptoms follow in the next section. It is important to know that Diamine oxidase B6, vitamin C and copper are required . If these micronutrients are missing, this can be a contributing factor to histamine intolerance.
The second enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine is produced in the liver: Histamine n-methyl transferase is formed from the amino acid methionine and the energy carrier ATP. There can also be a disorder here, but the liver is usually affected. Heavy metal pollution, too much sugar, fat, stress, but also a micronutrient deficiency and too little available methionine can also promote reduced histamine breakdown.
What are typical histamine symptoms?
If due to a deficiency in one of the two enzymes mentioned above Histamine intolerance exists, this can manifest itself in numerous symptoms. Not all symptoms have to occur, so the clinical picture can be very individual. It often takes a long time until histamine intolerance is recognized. To the typical symptoms may include the following:
Respiratory problems (shortness of breath, asthma)
Gastrointestinal complaints (nausea, flatulence, cramps, diarrhea)
Cardiovascular disorders (up to heart palpitations, heart palpitations, increased pulse, drop in blood pressure, numbness in the legs)
Hives, swelling, hives or increased blood flow to the skin
Nausea, dizziness, tiredness, headache, vomiting, difficulty concentrating
Itching, runny nose
Histamine rash – the skin as a signal transmitter
Typical for one Histamine intolerance is a Skin rash . This is also called "Flush" described and appears mainly on the face, décolleté, neck, but also on the arms and sometimes on the stomach. These are larger, noticeably reddened spots on the skin. The eyelids are also affected; they then swell and the eyes can also become red. The skin often itches a lot. You should be very careful with such skin and not burden it with additional irritating creams. Aloe vera and coconut oil can provide some relief from symptoms.
These are THE histamine foods
There are Foods that contain histamine and at one Histamine intolerance cause symptoms due to a lack of diamine oxidase in the intestine.
This is because the histamine cannot be broken down and then leads to false inflammatory signals in the organism (see above in the text). Foods containing histamine have a direct effect. So-called histamine inhibitors have an indirect effect. They include some substances that are formed from amino acids. They also stress the enzyme diamine oxidase, which is why (simply explained) there is no longer enough of it to break down histamine. Many foods contain both substances, which can then lead to DAO deficiency. In addition, there are foods that are natural to the body Histamine formation promote even though they themselves do not contain any. you will be Histamine liberators called. This is also an indirect process.
The following foods can be problematic for people with histamine intolerance in direct and indirect ways:
- Sunflower seeds
- olive oil
- Chocolate (cocoa)
- Dairy products
- Cereals containing gluten
It can also be said that in foods that are no longer completely fresh, Histamine is quickly formed becomes. The fresher the food, the more tolerable it is for people with histamine intolerance.
Can you speed up the breakdown of histamine?
As already mentioned, the enzyme diamine oxidase requires vitamin B6, vitamin C and copper. If these micronutrients are the cause of the enzyme deficiency, histamine breakdown can be accelerated by eating foods that contain these substances in good bioavailability. Vitamin C is particularly helpful. Brassica vegetables contain a lot of it. Of course, the degradation can also be accelerated with a drug that contains DAO.
However, it would be more important to investigate the cause. This is often due to a non-intact intestine ( leaky gut ), a burden on the liver and intestines due to medications and toxins, a micronutrient deficiency, stress and too many Putrefactive bacteria in the intestinal flora.
What are the real benefits of anti-histamine tablets?
Histamine tablets contain the enzyme diamine oxidase, which can help break down histamine. They often help, but should not be viewed as a long-term solution. The main problem is that, like almost every medication, they usually contain substances (lactose, industrial additives, etc.) that put additional strain on the intestines and liver.
This would only further promote the cause of the problem. Basically, it is best to consider detailed advice from a holistic doctor and possibly follow a temporary strict diet in which histamine foods are completely avoided.
Conclusion on histamine & histamine intolerance
Histamine is a substance that actually sends important signals in the immune system when the body comes into contact with external toxins or pathogens. Histamine is also found in foods, which is why the enzyme diamine oxidase, produced in the intestine, plays an important role in breaking down histamine. If the enzyme is not present in sufficient quantities, histamine intolerance occurs, which can lead to numerous unpleasant symptoms. The cause, which is often due to an unhealthy intestine and an overstressed liver as well as a micronutrient deficiency, should be identified and treated.
- 1 Do check: histamine. [https://flexikon.doccheck.com/de/Histamine; March 27, 2022].
- 2 Doccheck: Definition allergy. [https://flexikon.doccheck.com/de/Allergie; March 27, 2022].
- 3 But check: intolerance. èhttps://flexikon.doccheck.com/de/Intolerance; March 27, 2022]
4 Specialist Society for Nutritional Therapy and Prevention (FET) eV (2021): Histamine and histamine metabolism - an overview. [https://fet-ev.eu/histamin/; March 28, 2022].