When you think of histamine, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Itching? Sneezing? Watery eyes? Taking benadryl? Growing up, I ALWAYS battled with allergies. I was the one at your house avoiding your dog because I knew within 30 seconds of being around it, I was going to have a sneezing attack lasting for hours on end. Although I’ve always struggled with your typical animal/seasonal allergies, developing a histamine intolerance was quite a different experience than any other allergic reactions I had growing up.
Shortly after being diagnosed with Hashimotos Disease, I started getting an itchy rash that just wouldn’t go away on my forearm (as seen in the picture above). My face began to flush red, I became about 10-15 pounds underweight, and my heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest shortly after eating.
As I began my healing journey with Hashimotos, I started on the Autoimmune Paleo diet (or Paleo on crack as I call it). If your not familiar with this diet, it is an intense elimination diet. It is designed to eliminate potential food irritants while systematically reintroducing them to heal the gut. (It works well for many.) I was already eating a Paleo diet, so I thought I would give it a go. I started to do my own research and came across histamine intolerance. I noticed that many foods that I was eating on a daily basis and that were a part of this diet were on the “high histamine” list. I started to connect the dots and ask my doctor about it. My doctor thought it would be worth trying a low histamine diet to see if it alleviated my symptoms. I was desperate to see changes, so I tried it.
Within a week or two, many of my symptoms felt slightly better. The crazy thing about histamine is that many foods that are extremely healthy can be problematic. For me specifically, it was avocado and spinach. I would immediately get itchy upon eating these foods. I would get headaches from eating almonds, and my anxiety would be through the roof when I ate cocoa. I also would have a sneezing attack after eating oranges due to citrus being very high histamine. Bone broth is a staple in the gut healing/autoimmune community, but my body was also not having it (also extremely high histamine). For more information on high and low histamine foods as well as symptoms and root causes- click here: Histamine Intolerance (foods, symptoms etc.)
It wasn’t until I completely removed myself from a moldy work environment that my rashes and other symptoms fully went away. I do have genetic mutations that predispose me to having a histamine intolerance or scientifically known as Mast Cell Activation Disorder, however, it was my environment that triggered it. Our genes determine a very small percentage of our health outcomes, but our environment is what ultimately causes the genes to be expressed.
As my leaky gut and histamine challenges continued to heal outside of the moldy environment, many of my histamine issues have subsided. High doses of Vitamin C, mangosteen, Querctin, and TMG are supplements that temporarily helped me recover from histamine reactions. There is also DAO and NAC supplementation that I personally haven’t tried. Also, supporting the liver is essential to healing from histamine. I use Tudca. From my experience, an elimination diet with slow reintroductions has helped the most along with healing my gut as a whole. In moderation, I have now have been able to reintroduce many high histamine foods back into my diet (yay avocados!) The way I view histamine with my body is in comparison to a bucket. Once it’s full, IT’S FULL. I have learned the hard way to not over do it with too many high histamine foods at once or my body will pay the price.
It’s important to know that a low histamine diet is NOT forever. It is a temporary elimination diet to see which foods are triggering and which are not. As bio-individuals we all will have different reactions. As the gut heals, histamine will follow suit. They are interconnected. As always, please work with a functional medicine doctor to discuss any changes in diet or supplementation.
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