Tag archive for "histamine"

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? 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.

Unfortunately, the receptors commonly not addressed with meds, H3 and H4, are the ones responsible for (among other things) modulating pain and our mast cells/immune system, 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, 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, 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

Histamine’s role in fibrocystic breast disease

No Comments 26 December 2012

Suffering from breast lumps? Histamine plays an important role in Fibrocystic Breast Disease.

One of my many health scares, before my histaminosis/histamine intolerance diagnosis, was breast cancer, finally ruled out by lumpectomy. I had another cancer scare a few years later – doctors insisted on another lumpectomy, which I refused. It took me another seven years of persistent cancer fears to find the answer in a number of studies. One of the tell tale signs (that my docs should have paid attention to) was that the lumps were small, there were quite a few of them and they would completely disappear at times.

“Two mechanisms are proposed which could lead to mast cell degranulation in breast tissue. First, low progesterone levels lead to decreased intracellular cAMP levels in mast cells which enhance mast cell degranulation. Second, low progesterone levels lead to increased solubilization of breast collagen during tissue turnover. Susceptible individuals may undergo an allergic reaction to soluble collagen resulting in further mast cell degranulation. The degranulation products histamine and heparin may stimulate increased stromal proliferation and vascularization respectively. We provide evidence for the occurrence of histamine release by demonstrating an increased incidence of allergic symptoms in white women with fibrocystic breast changes.” Read the full study here.

I find it a little amusing that one of my most accurate histamine level barometers is my chest. Though I’m sure to lose your respect at this point (I promise to work hard to regain it), I must quote Lindsay Lohan’s masterpiece, ‘Mean Girls’:

Karen: Well… I’m kinda psychic. I have a fifth sense.
Cady: What do you mean?
Karen: It’s like I have ESPN or something. My breasts can always tell when it’s going to rain.
Cady: Really? That’s amazing.
Karen: Well… they can tell when it’s raining.

As soon as I feel those little lumps I know I’ve seriously fallen off the wagon and it’s high time I clamber back on up.

This doesn’t give you a get out clause from monthly self exams. I know it’s boring, so why not ask your better half to do it for you?

mean girls

Karen: There’s a 30 percent chance it’s already raining.


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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Beauty, Research & News

The allergy-hair loss link (and what you can do about it!)

1 Comment 28 November 2012

Hair loss in guys can be seriously traumatic. Now imagine the earth shattering, life ending calamity it represents if you’re a woman. I don’t have to because it happened to me. I lost at least a quarter of my hair, maybe more by the time I figured out that shampoo was causing it. But that may not be the case for everyone…

Researchers now say high prostaglandin D2 levels are responsible for hair loss

I learn so much from my mastocytosis and histamine intolerance groups. I was recently told to request a Prostaglandin D2 test from my doc (whenever that happens!). Seems the reason for that is because pd2 can potentiate the effects of histamine by up to 400% (according to some studies). Again – prostaglandin D2 can make histamine’s effects in the body up to 400 times stronger! That spells big trouble for those of us already dealing with histamine issues (allergies, histamine intolerance, mastocytosis, mast cell activation). While researching the subject I stumbled upon studies on how high levels of prostaglandin d2 are now thought to be what’s driving hair loss in men, and potentially in women.

What does that mean for your average Joe? 

Well for one, if you’re a guy suffering from baldness and allergies, it’s worth getting your histamine and prostaglandin d2 checked out. If you’re a woman too. It might not hurt to ask for the test even if you’re only suffering from severe allergies.

High prostaglandin d2 treatment options

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Research & News

Ayurvedic remedy helps fight flab, fix your thyroid and lower histamine levels!

No Comments 26 November 2012

I’m taking a number of steps to help my body recover from any inadvertent histamine hiccups (ahem, cupcake incidents) I may subject it to. One of them is the food-coaching course I’m taking with my nutritional hero Dr. Fuhrman, and an intensive immersion into herbalism, which I’m sure to expand upon in coming years. I’m currently devouring the modern herbalism bible I’ve seen the Whole Foods naturopathic gurus toting when in deep consult with customers. I naturally started in the immune system chapter where I came across yet another ayurvedic miracle herb.

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Suffering from make up allergies or reactions? Try wearing nudes…

No Comments 17 November 2012

Suffer from make up allergies/reactions? Ever noticed nudes bother you less? Me too! An interview with Ilia Beauty founder Sasha Plavsic at the fabulous Being Content in London revealed why.

Ilia’s Neon Angel has my vote as one of the top all-time greats of the natural beauty worldI asked Sasha if she thought make up allergies were the driving force behind the sudden global interest in natural beauty. I mean, in a world where the Gisele Bundchen’s of the modeling world are ditching the mainstream and flocking to natural brands like RMS, surely something’s gone awry?

Sasha reckoned it was more likely that women are just better informed nowadays and have begun to question why they’d use dirty brands (my words not Sasha’s!) over natural ones when they can now get the same texture, staying power and on trend shades hitting the catwalk each season.

This season’s Ilia line was created to be more of a fashionista’s indulgence than your average Birkenstock clad granola muncher’s. Interestingly Sasha tells me that the organic angle isn’t their main selling point (their line is up to 85% organic). They’re now competing with the titans of the cosmetics industry based on their gorgeous colour palette. It’s obviously working – they’ll be setting up shop in Barney’s in New York City – certainly not something I expected to hear! It makes me very hopeful that we’ll soon see other brands breaking free of their hippy shackles.

Check out their stunning Voila lipstick below. Nothing like a neon-ish coral to bring out the beach bunny in me.

Ilia Beauty’s Voila coral lipstick. 

Unfortunately a dab of this shade confirmed what I already knew – there was no way I could wear it without getting a very bad headache. Standard for me with my weirdo histamine medical condition. Sasha was kind enough to enlighten me: nude lipsticks contain far less pigment than any other shades. Red colours may affect some people simply because of the sheer quantity of pigment required.

I’m guessing it’s also because we’re really not meant to be painting on layer after layer of beetle blood onto our lips every day. Though Sasha pointed out that some companies also use red food dye instead.

How do dirty make up and cosmetics drive up histamine levels? Some studies point to up to 60% of what we put on our body being absorbed into our bloodstream. I doubt our bodies would react very well if we ate the cosmetics, so why put them on the skin? I did ask Dirk (Budka) a few times about why my histaminosis/histamine intolerance flares up when I wear most make up. In my case it’s a combination of high histamine/potential make up allergies and a bad case of hypersensitivity disorder. I’ve said it before, if you’re not improving on a low histamine diet (following diagnosis and following the low histamine list) then you should really examine what you’re putting on your skin. It took me years to accept that cosmetics were doing me in. You can read more about that in my upcoming Low Histamine Beauty Survival Guide.

Thing is I can’t honestly say I won’t run back to Being Content on Monday (or order online) to pick up a tube of Ilia’s Voila. It’s just too stunning not to. Headache be dammned, I’ve done much worse in the name of beauty! Or…I could just whip out my brand new tube of Ilia’s ‘Humble Me’ – a tasteful nude with my name all over it. So sue me, I love a sexy nude lip.

You can pick up a tube of Ilia in your shade at Being Content on Bulstrode Street in London or from their online store. You’ll probably bump into me there…and don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter for a 10% discount on the upcoming Low Histamine Beauty Survival Guide.



Optimum Nutrition

The Histamine Detox: tasty antihistamine hot beverages.

No Comments 15 November 2012

As you can see from my picture here, the histamine detox is going great! Ok, busted, that’s not me in the picture! My skin is currently up to its old tricks, so I’m sporting an acne-like rash, ruddy, broken veins and bags under my eyes. No matter, I’ll get there soon- and here are the tasty winter low histamine and natural antihistamine beverages I’m quaffing on my histamine detox.

My natural antihistamine winter beverages…

Green 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. Read the full study here.

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. Read the full study here.

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.

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.” Read the full study here.

That’s all for now folks. Don’t forget to check out part 1 of the Histamine Detox and the low histamine cookbooks for plenty more anti-inflammatory recipes, desserts and more! I’m also working on a low histamine Thanksgiving Menu that I’ll be sending out exclusively to my mailing list.


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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Research & News

Stressed out uterus?

No Comments 13 November 2012

I’m not just going for a catchy headline here – turns out that valerian root is not only a powerful anxiolytic (natural chill out pill) overall, it’s also an antihistamine which helps with menstrual cramps. I mean seriously, the study is actually called:

Relaxing effects of Valeriana officinalis extracts on isolated human non-pregnant uterine muscle.

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…Read the full study here.

Told ya I wasn’t making it up! 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 brew mine into a tea and try a sip. If my nose doesn’t stuff up then I go for it. I’ll be posting my findings over the next few days as I round up the rest of my research. I find that the best way to get a good night’s sleep is to stay low histamine and not eat too late. The not eating late thing is pretty obvious – I like to let the histamine unleash its worst before I’m getting ready for bed. I also try to do a little (very) light relaxation yoga where I pretty much just hang out upside down for about 30 minutes…

If you’re looking for low histamine inspiration, don’t forget to check out my low histamine recipe books.

Research & News

Got allergies? You need this natural antihistamine in your medicine cabinet

No Comments 08 November 2012

yellow berried nightshade

yellow berried nightshade

Here’s an interesting headline for you: nightshade flower as effective a mast cell stabiliser as commonly prescribed sodium cromoglycate. This definitely brought a smile to my face, given that most of us in the allergic world only have to hear the word nightshade to run a mile in the opposite direction. It also confirmed that some foods we’re told are bad for histamine related conditions, may have benefits that far outweigh the modest amount of histamine they release. Unless you’re allergic to them!


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I can’t believe how this book (The Anti-Cookbook) has revolutionised the way I eat.Angela


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