Allergies and Gut Health

Suffering during allergy season? Did you know that your gut health plays a large role in the severity of your symptoms? 

What is histamine? 

Histamine is a chemical found in nearly all tissues of the body. It is stored primarily in mast cells. It is a natural component of many foods and an important part of the immune and nervous systems. It also plays an important role in inflammation.

What Is Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance (HIT) is thought to be related to a build-up of histamine.

The most common reasons I see for histamine intolerance include:

  • Imbalanced gut bacteria or conditions such as IBS and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
  • Estrogen dominance
  • Mold toxicity
  • Heavy metals
  • Genetics

In a healthy person, histamine is broken down by two enzymes: DAO and HNMT. Histamine intolerance symptoms may occur when one of these enzymes isn’t working correctly and when a person is suffering from leaky gut.

DAO is made in the intestines. If the intestines are not healthy (aka leaky gut), there may not be enough DAO to break down histamine normally. When build-up occurs, so do symptoms. Decreased DAO levels may explain why histamine intolerance symptoms are more common in persons with gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, IBS, celiac, and SIBO. DAO activity can also be blocked by certain medications.

What are common symptoms of histamine intolerance? 

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • “Histamine Rash” /Urticaria (hives)/eczema
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Wheezing
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Swelling of face/hands/lips
  • Heartburn
  • Itchy skin
  • PMS- Headaches around the menstrual cycle or painful cramps are most common

There are also certain foods that are high in histamine or are responsible for the release of histamine in the body.

Fermented and aged foods are some of the biggest culprits.

  • Alcohol: Champagne, red wine, beer, white wine,
  • Fermented or smoked Meats/Fish: Sardine, mackerel, herring, tuna, salami
  • Pickled or canned foods: Sauerkraut, pickles, relishes, soy sauce
  • Fermented milk products: Yogurt, kefir, buttermilk
  • Aged cheeses: Parmesan, Gouda, Swiss, cheddar.
  • Fruit: Dried fruit, strawberries, citrus
  • Vegetables: Tomatoes and tomato products, spinach
  • Legumes: Chickpeas, soybeans, peanuts
  • Other: Cinnamon, chocolate
  • Grains: Wheat
  • Histamine releasers: Citrus, papaya, pineapple, nuts, strawberries, egg white, additives
  • DAO blockers: alcohol, black and green tea

Antihistamines like Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Allegra can actually lower your tolerance for high histamine foods.

How do you treat histamine intolerance? 

The first step in treating histamine intolerance includes getting to the root cause of why you are having these symptoms in order to personalize the treatment. When it comes to gut health, I follow a 4-step protocol with my clients. 

  1. Remove any allergenic foods, chemical irritants, stressors, medications such as ibuprofen or pathogenic microorganisms which may be causing gut inflammation. Pathogenic microorganisms such as yeast, bacteria and parasites must be eradicated. A comprehensive stool analysis may be necessary to look for these various harmful organisms. I use the GI map in my practice to do this. 
  2. Replace anything that will aid in normal digestion or might be lacking because of your poor digestive health. For example, we need adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes to break down and extract the nutrients from our food.
  3. Reinoculate using probiotics or probiotics when necessary to establish a healthy terrain in the gut.
  4. Repair using soothing herbs and nutrients such as glutamine, deglycyrrhized licorice (DGL), zinc and quercetin.

If your gut is healthy and you are still having symptoms, the tips below are useful to manage your symptoms and reduce inflammation.

Evidence based tips for dealing with allergies 

  • Brazil nuts contain selenium which is important for meditating the release of histamine from mast cells. {PMID: 23784732}. A 2013 study showed that selenium-treated mast cells revealed significant decrease in concentration of histamine and prostaglandin D2 and beta-hexosaminidase.
  • Vitamin D adequacy is important for a healthy immune response. Make sure your levels are within the normal range and if not, consider taking a supplement. {PMID: 27683389}
  • Nettle leaf is typically consumed as a tea. In vitro, it has been shown to be a potent antihistamine (working at the H1 receptor) and mast cell stabilizer. {Alberte RS, et al}. I also love the D-Hist supplement that I get discounted for my clients.
  • An increasing number of studies has shown a significant, positive correlation between probiotics use and treatment of some allergies. Here is a protocol I will often use for my clients  (discounted) who are struggling with allergies, in addition to the 4 R protocol.
  • Eat your vegetables. Mast cell function has been shown to be susceptible to the immunoregulatory effects of dietary fiber and butyrate {Redegeld FA, et al}. A study done by Akiyama H, et al. showed that watercress inhibits 60% of all histamines released from mast cells. Try making a delicious watercress salad on a hot summer day.
  • Curcumin, an active component of turmeric, has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities. A 2003 study suggests that curcumin inhibits protease-activated receptors (PAR), which play a role in inflammation and PAR2 and 4-mediated human mast cell activation. {Choi YA, et al}
  • I have doubled my sales of my sinus CBD oil this year because people are starting to report finding great benefit from using it during allergy season. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Immunology found that stimulating the brain’s cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1) with CBD may be useful in managing allergies and skin diseases.
Published On: May 28, 2021Categories: CBD, Gut Health, Supplements, Diets, Immune

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