Functional Medicine Treatment of Histamine Intolerance
I recently overheard a young woman tell her friend that she had histamine intolerance, she said it meant that her body naturally does not have the chemicals necessary to process histamine found in foods.
She thought that histamine intolerance was like a severe allergy - that it was permanent and that there was nothing she could do to fix it.
This is untrue!
Many people are under the misconception that histamine intolerance is a dietary issue with no specific cause and that there is no way to avoid a life-long low-histamine diet.
If you have symptoms when eating histamine-containing or releasing foods, knowing what to do can be tough.
You have probably googled and avoided both 'Foods High In Histamine' as well as 'Histamine Releasing Foods' and have been confused by foods listed as naturally 'Anti-Histamine'...which actually contain histamine.
Treating what is causing you to be histamine intolerant will free you from being on a histamine avoidance diet for the rest of your life. Histamine intolerance is the result of a bigger biochemical problem.
Causes of Histamine Intolerance
Viruses & their neurotoxins
Fungi & their mycotoxins
Bacteria & their endotoxins
An unbalanced microbiome (due to SIBO, Food Sensitivities, or Toxicity)
Low / dysfunctional bile production
Insufficient stomach acid
What is Happening?
Histamine is a normal immune response in the body, its presence is necessary and healthy.
Histamine is released by basophils and mast cells in surrounding connective tissue to allow white blood cells to more easily engage a perceived threat (like a pathogen).
Functional medicine identifies the perceived threat your body is reacting to. By resolving these 'threats' the body can relax and will no longer 'feel' the need to overproduce histamine.
If you are experiencing symptoms when you eat histamine-containing foods then your body is reactive - it is in a state of high alert because it perceives a threat like a parasite, inflammation, a bacterial infection, or a virus.
The excess histamine in the blood and tissues is the actual problem - not histamine-containing foods. By running functional medicine testing that goes beyond simple diagnostics we can assess what your body is fighting off.
If we detect SIBO, a virus, or suboptimal digestion we can address those concerns specifically so that the histamine imbalance resolves itself.
In nearly every case of histamine intolerance - excess circulating histamine is due to a gut microbiome problem due to an underlying infection.
The body is trying to protect itself from poorly digested food, harmful bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other internal invaders - and one way it can do this is through the release of histamine.
The goal is to remove harmful microbes (bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses) and restore strong and diverse gut flora. When you remove the pathogen, you take away the body's primary trigger of excess histamine.
You can take all the antihistamines (drugs or supplements) or avoid all histamine-related foods you like but if you don't remove the culprit, you will be dependent on these antihistamines long-term and be forced to adhere to them a strict diet.
Pathogens, fungus, bad bacteria, and viruses create waste in the body. These waste products become their own type of toxin that the body often responds to with histamine and inflammation.
Every single person, that I have ever treated with histamine intolerance has had an underlying liver problem.
Their livers were so 'backed up' from years of a poor diet, stored stress chemicals, environmental chemicals, toxic heavy metals, stored viruses and bacteria, and accumulation of toxic wastes.
Once we cleaned up their liver by supporting the body's detoxification processes, eliminating hidden infections stored in the liver, and supplying the liver with the correct nutrients at the right time, these patients fully recovered.
5 Steps to Address
Avoid Excess Dietary Histamine
At the beginning of your treatment, we will temporarily eliminate high histamine foods. We will use therapies to lower histamine levels in the blood and to stabilize mast cells.
This is where most treatment approaches stop, yet this is only the foundation of healing histamine intolerance.
This step must be before any anti-microbial therapy as to not cause massive reactions when the harmful microbes are dying off. This 'die-off' reaction can cause an increase in histamine. Be sure to avoid histamine producing probiotics and it is a good idea to avoid fermented foods as well. I use different probiotic strains for different cases. Strain and potency matter when reversing histamine intolerance.
Target Underlying Infections
At this stage, we often utilize stool analysis testing, blood, and urine and identify and target underlying infections including viruses, harmful bacteria, possible parasites, and fungi.
Each type of infection must be strategically cleared when identified.
Support Liver Function
For each person, liver optimization requires a different strategy. This strategy will depend on exposure to toxins (in utero or throughout your life), the amount of hidden 'bugs' in the body, and lifestyle factors.
Support Immune System
A weakened immune system is a major reason why you may have underlying infections in the first place. Repletion of vitamin D, zinc, vitamin C, selenium are good places to start but overall immune system repair will be necessary for those with histamine intolerance.
Functional Medicine & Histamine Intolerance
Histamine intolerance usually involves many factors that must be simultaneously addressed in order for the body to get back into balance.
Functional medicine testing goes far beyond the typical testing you get at your yearly checkup. While a complete blood count (CBC) can be useful, it only lets doctors know if you are in imminent danger and what type of organ system is under severe strain.
My office runs tests like a comprehensive stool test which can test for harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungal infections, and thoroughly assess digestive strength and function.
I can also assess immune function and discover whether there is evidence of mold toxicity. Methylation status can also be evaluated for optimal histamine metabolism.
Adhering to a low histamine diet is the beginning, not the end of treatment for histamine intolerance.
Let me help you resolve underlying factors so that you can consume histamine-containing foods again - symptom-free.
Resolving long-standing infections, and optimizing digestion will allow you to have more energy and feel better overall without the pressure and stress of maintaining a strict diet all the time.