What is Histamine?
We've been talking about histamine issues a lot lately and this is for a few reasons:
- I myself, have just discovered that I have HIT quite severely (this is one of the main reasons I am so focused on this particular issue and I'm creating this content for myself too)
- There are many people suffering with HIT and some may not even know it yet
It is my mission in life to get well and to also educate and help people in the process. This healing journey can be confusing, complicated and lonely at times.
I want you to know, that i am here for you of you need a friend or someone to talk to. You can direct message me over on Instagram here.
Histamine is an important chemical that your body makes to help rid your body of allergens. It is a big player in your immune system.
Think of histamine as a soldier, there to protect your body from harm.
Speaking of allergens, it can seem confusing when we start talking about anti-histamines as it may imply that histamine itself is an allergen.
Histamine is NOT an allergen but if we have a problem breaking it down, they build up in the body and cause an "allergic" response.
Some people like to call it a "histamine bucket" and when this bucket gets too full, that is when reactions like hives, migraines and sinus issues begin.
Going back to the soldier analogy. When you have too many soldiers in your body, you now are at war and war is never a good thing.
Where is Histamine Produced?
Histamine is produced by immune cells such as basophils, eosinophils and mast cells. The mast cells are the most commonly known and if you have mast cell activation syndrome, these cells can get triggered to produce histamine from a variety of triggers.
We will go into detail about MCAS (mast cell activation syndrome) soon.
Histamine Intolerance or Overload?
The name 'histamine intolerance' is not accurate and this terms bugs me but it is what it's commonly known as so it is the term that we also use. It is the most searched term when compared to 'histamine overload'.
Histamine overload is a far more accurate way to describe this condition. As mentioned earlier, when your "histamine bucket" gets too full, you get an overload and this causes HIT and a cascade of symptoms for many people.
There are many factors that contribute to histamine overload (HIT) and this area of health is far more complex than anyone would like.
That does not mean that healing is impossible, you just need to be aware that there are many things to consider, address and even test for.
What Contributes to HIT and How is Histamine Broken Down?
Did you know that there are two groups that contribute to HIT?
These are exogenous and endogenous.
Exogenous: this relates to food, beverages and medications as these are things that you take into your body from the outside. (exo = originating externally)
When we eat or drink something from the following three categories, it can contribute to our histamine bucket. It could be:
If your DAO levels are low, you will struggle to break down histamines. DAO stands for diamine oxidase and it is one of the enzymes that metabolises histamine.
Endogenous: this group is far more complicated than the exogenous group because you can control what you consume (food/drink/medication). You can't as easily control the endogenous part. ]Endogenous is what's going on internally at a cellular level. Mast cells for example.
Mast cells are a type of white blood cell that release histamine when triggered to. This is a normal immune system response but it can also malfunction if you have MCAS (mast cell activation syndrome).
Gut bacteria is another factor. There are certain bacteria in your gut that create histamine (can you believe it)? Not only, do you have to consider diet and lifestyle, but now we have to think about our gut bugs.
Well, if I'm being honest, we should always be considering our gut bugs as they make up a very important part of human health and that is the gut microbiome!
To put it simply, if you eat, drink or do anything that greatly upsets your gut microbiome, you could be affecting your histamine levels.
(see, I told you it was complex) 🙃
To learn more about this topic, please read our other related blogs:
Disclaimer: This article is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as health advice. Statements made have not been evaluated by the TGA and are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent and one should always consult with their trusted health professional before adding a new supplement to their diet.