Tag archive for "diamine oxidase"

Research & News

Wondering why you react to EVERYTHING you eat?

4 Comments 04 April 2014

Did you know that the act of digestion itself causes histamine release [1]? No, not many people do. I get so many emails from people who are convinced they have multiple amine, food intolerance or allergy issues because they react to everything they ingest. They explore salicylate, amine, oxalate, yeast and other issues obsessively, convinced that once they hit upon the right combination, food will magically be tolerable again.

While some may be right, the simple fact is that if you have a histamine disorder (histamine intolerance, histaminosis, mast cell activation, mastocytosis), the very act of digestion requires histamine. So, the chain is: food in, histamine release, gastric acid rushed to the stomach to begin digestion. Then histamine release again from the food. If you’re on antihistamines, some of it will be blocked from attaching to the H1 or H2 receptor, so you’ll be having less respiratory or gastric symptoms. I’m always surprised that people seem to think that antihistamines somehow magically flush the histamine out from your body – that’s simply not the case. They just stop the histamine from binding to those receptors only, leaving it free to run around in your body causing inflammation and damage to your internal organs [2].

Unfortunately, the receptors commonly not addressed with meds, H3 and H4, are the ones responsible for (among other things) modulating pain [3] and our mast cells/immune system [4], respectively, which explains why many people with histamine issues and mastocytosis still suffer from debilitating bone pain, depression, immune system dysfunction and others, in part (in my opinion) because they are not lowering their overall histamine burden – they’re relying on antihistamines to do the job for them. But of course antihistamines open the appetite [5], leading to more histamine roaming the body causing damage, except a little less damage to the H1 and H2 receptor areas. So you feel less respiratory and gastric issues (maybe) and are encouraged to eat “normally”, use cosmetic products like nail polish that are mast cell degranulation/histamine triggers [6], but continuing with life as you know it, learning to live with the fall out of flooding your H3 and H4 receptor controlled areas (pain and immune system), which then leads to more dysfunction and pain!

Ok, I’m off the soapbox. Here’s the truly shocking bit.

Just THINKING of food is enough to trigger histamine release!

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Research & News

These probiotic strains help fight allergies (rather than causing them)

No Comments 09 December 2012

Baby bacteria lowers histamine levels

Baby bacteria lowers histamine levels

I’ve been exploring the catch-22 of probiotic supplementation for some time now. The dilemma? Probiotics are necessary for proper intestinal function – the histamine lowering enzymes diamine oxidase and monoamine oxidase live there, so fixing up our poop tube seems like a good idea right?

Not so simple.

Probiotic supplements are fermented (a no go for histamine intolerance/histamine related disorders) and some strains actually raise histamine and tyramine in the body. The good news is that strains commonly found in babies can actually lower histamine, helping us fight allergies and lower our overall histamine burden.

Lactobacillus casei (TISTR 389) andLactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus (TISTR 895) were found to produce BA (biogenic amines). The highest levels of histamine (1820.9 ± 3.5 mg L−1) and tyramine (5486.99 ± 47.6 mg L−1) formation were observed for the TISTR 389 strain, while TISTR 895 produced only histamine (459.1 ± 0.63 mg L−1) in the decarboxylase broth. Biogenic amine potential was not observed for the Lactobacillus acidophilus,Lactobacillus lactis subsp. lactisLactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, and Lactobacillus plantarum strains studied. This study confirmed that BA formation is strain dependent and not related to the species. Read the full study here.

English translation…


Lactobacillus casei was shown to produce histamine and tyramine, while Lactobacillus Bulgaricus increased histamine alone.

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Optimum Nutrition

Tasty antihistamine hot beverages.

No Comments 15 November 2012

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my top hot beverages…

As you can see from my picture here, the detox is going great! Ok, busted, that’s not me in the picture! But as you can see from plenty others on the site – I’m not looking too shabby!

My natural antihistamine beverages…

Valerian root

Valerian extracts may have direct inhibitory effects on the contractility of the human uterus and this justifies the traditional use of this plant in the treatment of uterine cramping associated with dysmenorrhoea….Valerian extract reduced the maximal contractile response induced by acetylcholine, phenylephrine and histamine [1].

When I was high histamine it was literally impossible to sleep. I would be up for days at a time. Very handy when I was a journalist working in war zones, but not so great when I have a 9am meeting to go through someone’s digital strategy. Generally when people tell me they’re very low histamine I ask how their sleep is. It’s a great indicator of how you’re doing diet-wise. I’m not discounting stress, but we know that also causes mast cell degranulation too!

Now while the studies I read on valerian took great pains to stress that it’s not a hypnotic which knocks you into sleep, it’s an anxiolytic that reduces stress, helping you drop off. Ever wondered why antihistamines make you sleepy? There are a number of reasons – among them is that histamine controls your cicadian rythm/wakefulness hormones, so taking an anti-histamine would naturally make you fall asleep. Given that we know antihistamines make us fat and can cause toxicity syndrome, exploring natural antihistamine herbs could help lull you to sleep.

Please do remember that many of us with histamine issues don’t do great with herbs and that they thin the blood, but I still find these herbs a great substitute for my once ubiquitous nightly glass of red wine. I find that the best way to get a good night’s sleep is to not eat too late.

Olive Leaf tea

Yet another traditional ayurvedic treatment. Olive leaf tea has been shown to exhibit “significant mast stabilizing activity”.

“According to Ayurveda, Olea europea is used in treatment of leprosy, dysentery, vaginal and uterine complaints, inflammation,burning sensation, fatigue, asthma, leucoderma etc. In the present study the histamine induced dose dependent contraction of goat tracheal chain and guinea pig ileum preparation was significantly inhibited (p< 0.01) by the aqueous extract of leaves of Olea europea (800 ug/ml and 100 ug/ml). Olea europea at the doses of 100and 200 mg/kg,i.p.,exhibited significant (p< 0.01) mast cell stabilizing activity against clonidine induced peritoneal mast cell degranulation in rats. Thus the present study revealed that the extract of olives of Olea europea has significant antihistaminic (H1 receptor antagonist) activity.” [2]

Green/White tea

I was told I could drink up to two green teas daily, because they would help lower my histamine level. Thing is, too much caffeine can aggravate symptoms, as can pretty much any dried herb. So I just dunk the bag a couple of times and then toss it.

The bioactive compound epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a major component of green tea, has been shown to target histamine-producing cells producing great alterations in their behavior, with relevant effects on their proliferative potential, as well as their adhesion, migration, and invasion potentials. In fact, EGCG has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory, anti-tumoral, and anti-angiogenic effects and to be a potent inhibitor of the histamine-producing enzyme, histidine decarboxylase [3].

I have actually found that I do better with white tea, which is basically the same, just unfermented, but I have now cut all caffeine out of my diet (I just don’t need it anymore).

Guava leaf tea

I’m really loving this stuff. Not for the taste really, but because guava leaf tea has been proven to inhibit mast cell degranulation (histamine release) in rats. I seem to tolerate it much better than the fruit itself.

Holy Basil tea

I’m not a big fan of aniseed/licorice. But this tea rocks my world! As I mentioned in my post “Holy basil! Anti-inflammatory and antihistamine superstar” – holy basil is as effective as Zantac/Rantidine at treating gastrointestinal upset. You can also find green tea/holy basil blends.

You’ll find a collection of all liquid high nutrient antihistamine and anti-inflammatory rich recipes for days when my histamine bucket overflowed in the new Anti-Detox book

The Anti-cookbook, while it doesn’t treat any conditions, due to its high nutrient, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory ingredients, has been instrumental in helping me feed myself on a limited diet. It features a six page list of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods. It comes in regular and Paleo. 

The Low Oxalate Cookbook features antihistamine and anti-inflammatory rich recipes. 

Don’t miss the Low Histamine Beauty Survival Guide for non-toxic beauty tips, the skinny on histamine releasing (mast cell degranulating) beauty ingredients, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory beauty alternatives and the top brands natural brands I’ve found.

Take a peek at my other low histamine and antihistamine cookbooks for more high nutrient recipes.

If you’ve found this information useful I’d appreciate your support (at no extra cost to you!) – please check out my online store for your health foods, supplements, kitchen items and beauty product purchases. Affiliate sales through my online store go towards maintaining the website, funding travel to interviews and purchasing all the lovely foods for my free online recipes. You’ll find these items in the “Shop with us” drop down menu on my homepage.  

Please don’t forget antihistamine, pain killing foods can still hurt us, so please always check with your doctor before adding new foods to your diet. 


[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19178774

[2] http://jpronline.info/index.php/jpr/article/download/223/187

[3] http://www.springerlink.com/content/18480505ht4q2228/

[4] http://www.springerlink.com/content/n1426040742tn4r8/


The Histamine Detox

2 Comments 14 November 2012

As you may have read in my “3 days off diet = 3 weeks recovery“, I ditched the histamine intolerance diet for a few days. It didn’t agree with me, so now I’m back on the horsey. Giddyup I say! I then realised this is the perfect time to share some of my tips and tricks for bringing down my histamine level in a hurry. Now I’m a natural healing kind of gal and as such I don’t rely on herbs or any other such 21st century malarcky. Ok, so not true, but I’m not a doctor. So we’re down to the bare bones – which is really how I do it most of the time.



I’ve just had my blood work done. Not only will your test results tell you it’s safe to embark on a high nutrient low histamine diet, checking in with your doc is a must before changing something as crucial as your diet. Lay out your plans for the next few weeks and ask for his blessing. When you bring back your test results to him, he’ll have to eat a number of his words. I usually like to squeeze an “well if you manage to do that through diet I’ll eat your test results.”

It has happened.


Not that they actually went through with it, but for them eating their words is just as hard.


I’m blessed to live with a man who is as healthy an eater as I am. More so even. Luckily he loves my tasty low histamine food – when I’m whipping up new recipes for the low histamine recipes books or blog anyways. Otherwise I’ll sometimes just skip real food and brew up whatever’s in the fridge, zap it in the blender and call it soup! Here’s the thing. I wasn’t always able to live with marmalade or gingerbread cookies lurking in the cupboard. The idea of Ben and Jerry’s languishing in the freezer, unattended, forlorn, made it impossible for me to sleep without a midnight skulk into the kitchen for “one last” spoon, till not a scraping was to be had.

At that point I just said “Stop the insanity.” Yes, I watched a lot of 80s informercials and lusted after Susan Powter’s incredible charisma! But that’s what I did. I cleared out EVERYTHING that was on the high histamine lists. Nothing remained but a pack of rye crackers, two measly carrots and a shaker of himalayan sea salt.


The supermarket was my next challenge. I found myself lingering in the naughty aisles, having nervous breakdowns over whether I should take home a box of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. After all, they were the first brand in over a year (compulsive label reader right here) that didn’t have soy (which I’m allergic to). But I was in TOTAL denial. Really, the minute amount of  soy lecithin in those cookies was the least of my worries. For despite being organic, sugar was the first ingredient on the list (meaning it’s the main ingredient), and white sugar makes me degranulate faster than a bag of demerara being attacked by cannabinoid receptor testing rodents.

The answer was simple. Yes I could have the cookies as long as I was prepared to spend the next few days in a histamine induced coma, hugging the toilet like my long lost war buddy. Eventually I was not ok with that. So now I order my groceries online. I have a regular low histamine shopping list and I run out for fresh foods or get an organic seasonal box delivered right to my door. I do still love going to the supermarket, and occasionally bad stuff still does happen, but now my poison is usually dried mango, olive oil rice crackers, or other such tasty treats. It’s funny how taste buds adapt so quickly…


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Dispatches, Research & News

5 top tips to kickstarting your histamine intolerance recovery

No Comments 07 November 2012

Tropical Fruit Cup

Tropical Fruit Cup – On the Go Cookbook

A lot of people ask me how I’ve got from total histamine intolerance breakdown to where I am. While I do believe my recovery is still a work in progress, I thought I’d share how a combination of militant food planning, 30 minutes of inflammation fighting yoga and daily chanting (OM!) have allowed me to reach a far better place than I have ever been.

Thanks to my years studying nutrition (unofficially) through the teachings of Drs Fuhrman, Weil, Oz and others, I was well aware my new low histamine diet had the potential to be unhealthy and counter-productive, if applied strictly, and blindly.

To acknowledge something and to implement it are two very different things. It took me a while to get my sea legs. I floundered around for some time, terrified to add new foods or even entertain the idea of being proactive in my recovery. But I knew I had to take action when I began to approach meal time with fear and hatred, focusing on the food rather than the state of my broken body and mind. I was now eating the same five foods every single day, usually in large amounts, not understanding why I wasn’t “recovering”.

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Optimum Nutrition

There’s more to the low histamine lifestyle than elimination!

No Comments 06 November 2012

Sweet Potato Pizza

I spend a lot (a LOT) of time on the net chatting with people who are in various stages of eliminating high histamine foods. While going low histamine does mean binning a number of high histamine foods, eliminate too many and you could end up worse off in the long run. I know because I spent a number of years doing it myself. Cut cut cut was all I did, but I soon became reactive to the “safe” foods and I just wasn’t getting any better overall.

A little dabbling in supplements showed me they’re (mostly) out. I just don’t tolerate them. So I eat them instead. I’m quite convinced that their magical qualities, in balance with other nutrients, renders them effective, thought I do realise I’d have to wear a trough around my neck to ingest a therapeutic dose (100mg per kilo??) of some herbs.

Why this emphasis on nutrition rather than antihistamines? Well, antihistamines only work on one or two of the four (known) histamine receptors. Is that bad? Depends – do you enjoy eating obsessively till obesity? How about suffering from chronic infections, liver damage, heart failure or antihistamine toxicity? I personally don’t. Also, my experience on them was, ok, I can eat more – well – I don’t have a choice really – I’m desperate to fill every minute of my day stuffing my face (read is your anti-histamine making you fat). Oddly, if you eat enough, you’ll need more antihistamines! It’s a vicious cycle of filling your bucket, then instead of emptying it, fooling your body into thinking it’s ok to fill it even more.

While my On the Go Cookbook is (and will be) my most commercial/crowd pleaser of a book, I managed to sneak in as many natural anti-histamines and anti-inflammatories as I could.

Take the sweet potato “pizza” for example:

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Optimum Nutrition

Low histamine recipes in 20mins (or less!)

No Comments 03 November 2012

Do you spend hours roaming the supermarket in search of a quick meal? Are you bored with eating the same five foods over and over? Would you like to whip up nutritious, low histamine recipes in 20 minutes (or less)? Then make sure you’re signed up to my  newsletter for an exclusive 10% discount on the 60+ page Low Histamine ‘On the Go’ Cookbook!

The Low Histamine ‘On the Go’ Cookbook takes you on a whirlwind tour of Vietnam, Lebanon, Italy and India, via the good ol’ US of A. Eating healthy’s NEVER tasted so good, or this easy.



The fridge and fields are my medicine cabinet. I’ve managed to withdraw from all pharmaceuticals including: anti-histamines, anti-anxiety meds, antidepressants, migraine, nausea, and dizziness meds. I’m now the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been. I’ve learned to harness the positives that high histamine bestows (appetite suppression, higher metabolism, energy) and make them work for me!

Who the hell am I to give dietary advice? My cookbooks reflect the incredible amount of research into histamine and other biogenic amines in food that I’ve obsessively collected over the last two years since my histamine intolerance diagnosis. As a former journalist with over 10 years research and international news production experience for 60 Minutes, CNN and the BBC, I know how important the facts are. Not only do I back up each claim on my site with numerous studies, I’ve even used myself as a guinea pig, taking myself from washed up medical mystery to successful 21st century businesswoman.

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Research & News

The surprising link between allergies and migraines.

1 Comment 01 November 2012

Histamine induces migraines even in healthy subjects

At some point I finally came to the conclusion that my headaches, which made me bang my head against the wall on occasion, had something to do with my diet. I was vindicated by the person who diagnosed me with histamine intolerance in London, and now by the growing number of studies clearly spelling out the allergy/histamine migraine link.

I cannot even begin to properly thank my lucky stars for curing me of this blight. I was about six weeks into the low histamine diet when I was able to trash the 600mg ibuprofen that I had been scarfing daily by the handful for most of my adult life. Not to mention the migraine injections. Youch! You truly haven’t experienced hell till you’ve had a constant migraine for six months. Interestingly, in Spain (and France), it’s commonly acknowledged that migraines are caused by a lack of the histamine-lowering enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO). Seems that the US and UK are way behind the curve on this one.

But histamine can also cause migraine in “healthy” people:

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Research & News

Surfing the crimson wave make you crazy? Could be histamine…

No Comments 29 October 2012

A little insulting but still pretty funny…

Tired of your man attributing every nuance of behavior to your menstrual cycle? Well, he could have a point, but you’d die before admitting it (yup that’s me I’m talking about).

Well here’s a little nugget to wave under his nose. It’s not the menstrual cycle, it’s the histamine stupid!

Japanese researchers have (re)confirmed that the histamine lowering diamine oxidase enzyme (DAO) is influenced by the menstrual cycle.

“Serum DAO levels were influenced by the menstrual cycle. Furthermore, our findings suggest that serum DAO levels should be interpreted cautiously in premenopausal women.”

This could explain why an allergy to food or environment seems to affect you differently each time, depending on where you are in your cycle and how much histamine-lowering diamine oxidase is available to you.

We know from Maintz and Novak’s seminal histamine study, that DAO is at its highest during pregnancy (500% – 1000% higher) so it’s a not unreasonable to conclude that lower hormones = lower diamine oxidase? BUT, that’s not right…

“estrogen can influence histamine action. A significant increase in weal and flare size in response to histamine has been observed to correspond to ovulation and peak estrogen concentrations (118).” Maintz and Novak.

This would seem to point to diamine oxidase being lower during ovulation – though we’re now not taking the potential involvement of monoamine oxidase and HNMT (the other enzymes involved in histamine metabolism) into account. Phew, I’ve confused myself. What is certain is that high histamine mimics the symptoms of anxiety so if you have a histamine-related disorder, certain times of the month are going to be tougher than others.

So, where does this leave your average diamine oxidase impaired lass?

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Research & News

Is your anti-histamine making you fat?

5 Comments 25 October 2012

In last week’s post “Histamine’s upside: I lost 35kgs in 6 months” I mentioned the role of histamine in appetite suppression. I recently had a  conversation with a friend whose family member suffers from anorexia nervosa. I felt compelled to share that in my teens I too was thought to be anorexic. Food was hurting me so badly that I was starving myself to make it stop. It was more than just a physical reaction, because as we know, histamine is a neurotransmitter and as such affects mood. Food made me crazy, depressed, anxious and manic but I had no clue what was causing it all, despite my raging allergy symptoms.I’ve spent the last few days doing some more research into what’s behind my suddenly stable weight these last two years:H1 receptor antagonists like loratidine (claritin) and cetirizine (zyrtec) make you fat. It’s just a fact. It’s in the medical inserts of both and my own personal hellish experience on them confirms it. Continue Reading



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