Here’s a 7-step protocol to tackle histamine intolerance.
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Read the Transcript
Here are seven steps to curing histamine intolerance.
Hi. I’m Dr. Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com, and this is Chris Masterjohn Lite, where the name of the game is “Details? Shmeetails. Just tell me what works!”
And today we are going to tie together all the different approaches to histamine intolerance into one seven-step path.
Now, histamine intolerance, once again, is diarrhea, migraines or other headaches, nasal congestion, asthma, wheezing, low blood pressure, heart palpitations, hives, itching, flushing in response to foods that contain histamine, which is especially fermented foods, aged and preserved foods, as well as a number of others.
Now, in histamine intolerance, we can look at seven ways to approach it.
Way number 1: endogenous diamine oxidase, or DAO, meaning support your own production of DAO, the enzyme in your gut that is supposed to clear all the histamine from your foods. That means making sure your copper, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 status is good. I have covered how to manage your copper, vitamin C, and B6 status in previous episodes, and I’ll link to those in the description of this one. In addition, estrogen and pregnancy are important, so keep in mind that your DAO is naturally going to go up in pregnancy, and your DAO is naturally going to go down when estrogen peaks during your menstrual cycle during ovulation and in the few days before you start menstruating if you are a menstruating woman.
Number 2: supplemental DAO. DAO is naturally found in some of the I’m sure placenta is very rich; that’s why it goes up in pregnant women, but kidney, more commonly eaten as an organ meat, is a very good source of DAO. You can eat kidney. You can also eat liverwurst. For example, I like US Wellness Meats liverwurst, and that liverwurst has a significant amount of kidney ground into it. And then there are the kidney supplements. So, I do recommend Ancestral kidney supplements. Ancestral is an advertiser with this podcast. And I also recommend Seeking Health Histamine Block, which is a DAO enzyme supplement that you can use in strategic spots before the meals that contain histamine. I’ve covered how to use those supplements in more detail in a previous episode. I’ll link to it in the description.
Number 3: support your methylation. Methylation is one of the principal ways that you get rid of histamine. DAO is more important in the gut, and it’s more important outside of your cells in general, whereas methylation is more important inside your cells. But if you’re thinking about cells of the immune system, such as mast cells and basophils, that are likely to release histamine and contribute to your histamine bucket, then you can reduce the amount of histamine they’re carrying around by making sure you’re supporting your methylation. I’ve covered methylation in many episodes and other resources. All of my methylation resources can be found at chrismasterjohnphd.com/methylation. And I will put that link as well in the description of this episode.
Number 4: mast cell control. Now, from a nutritional perspective, you want to focus on nutrients where their deficiencies have been shown to increase the burden of mast cells, and the principal deficiencies to look out for are selenium and vitamin A. So, I will put selenium and vitamin A, the episodes that I made about those nutrients, I will link to those as well in the description so you can make sure you know how to control and manage and investigate your status of those nutrients. It’s also possible that you could have an inflammatory disease increasing mast cell burden that needs to be dealt with directly with your doctor, but these nutritional approaches could be holes that you need to look for in managing your histamine balance.
Number 5: the histamine in your diet. If you need to, you should cut out the worst offending foods. As a general principle, the worst offending foods are things that are fermented, aged, or preserved, especially hard or semi-hard cheese, canned anchovies, smoked fish, deli meats, but also curry, mustard, soy sauce, yeast, avocado, banana, dried fruit, dried nuts, lemon, mandarin, and pineapple are the foods that are most consistently high in histamine. You’re not really curing histamine intolerance if you need to get rid of these foods; you’re just managing it. So, the other steps that I’m listing out are ideally helping you to tolerate these foods, but to the extent that you need to take them out short-term, those would be the foods to target in the process of getting over histamine intolerance to make sure that in the moment, you feel good.If you need to cut out the foods, I would start kind of cold turkey cutting out the worst offenders. I wouldn’t get obsessive about many of the other foods that I didn’t just list there because there are many others where there’s conflicting evidence about histamine, but once you get your symptoms down to something that is manageable or ideally to zero or close to zero, then you can start reintroducing foods and test where your boundaries are to see how well you tolerate those different foods.
Number 6: alcohol and other drugs that interfere with histamine clearance. As I mentioned in the previous episode, there might be some dose of alcohol that’s beneficial. It’s probably something small, on the order of a half a drink three times per week. In general though, you can expect the more alcohol you consume, the less likely you are to tolerate histamine. So either get rid of the alcohol or find whatever that sweet spot is that helps give you the best control of your symptoms. And then the many other drugs are too many to list in this episode. So I’ll link to the episode where I cover the drugs. Go back to that episode if you’re on any medications. See if any of the medications line up, and if they do, talk to your doctor about it and see whether there’s a way you can get off them or transfer to another one that doesn’t disrupt histamine metabolism.
Number 7: fix the gut. Gut problems could involve poor production of the DAO enzyme because your intestinal cells are damaged, an increased mast cell burden contributing to histamine there, or microbial dysbiosis, meaning the wrong mix of bacteria are leading to the overproduction or under-degradation of histamine in the gut. And healing from any of these problems could be centra to fixing your tolerance of histamine.
I think this topic is way too big to address in any comprehensive fashion here, but some of the things that could be important are focusing on foods that lead to healthy stool quality, focusing on foods that don’t upset your GI tract, supplementation with gut-healing supplements, such as glutamine, or collagen, or bone broth, and in general, rest can all be super important.
But again, if you have a serious problem with your gut, you may well need to work on a detailed protocol with an experienced healthcare practitioner.