by Dr. David Jernigan, Hansa Center for Optimum Health
There are not many issues that can cause so many problems in virtually every area of the body than Histamine Intolerance (HIT). The following is from a lecture I gave our doctors at the Hansa Center. Although every doctor has been extensively trained at the post-graduate level in virtually every pathology known to mankind, as you will see here HIT is a specialty of its own, since there is so much to know. The following are bullet points outlining everything you would want to know about HIT.
What is the difference between Allergies and Histamine Intolerance
• Allergies are an IgE mediated, histamine response to an allergen, i.e., pollen or cat dander.
• Histamine Intolerance (HIT) is a toxic response by the body due to the excessive accumulation of endogenous or exogenous histamine from an inability of the body to efficiently breakdown histamine and hypersensitivity of cell antigen receptors.
• Histamine intolerance is caused by:
– The over-production of Histamine
– The decreased ability of the body to breakdown histamine
• Decreased Diamine Oxidase (DAO)
– Histamine is broken down by oxidative deamination by DAO (former name: histaminase)
• Decreased Histamine N-Methyl Transferase (HNMT)
– Histamine is broken down by ring methylation as a result of histamine-N-methyltransferase (HNMT)
Many Systems and Symptoms can be Caused by HIT
Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance (HIT)
• Histamine serves various functions in our body. This is why histaminosis may trigger a wide range of symptoms, affecting different organ systems.
• People suffering from HIT may display highly diverse symptoms. Every person has individual weak spots, which may be afflicted earlier than other parts in the body. Sufferers may be troubled by many of the following symptoms, either simultaneously or alternately
• Some afflictions are chronic or very frequent, others may only occur sporadically. The symptoms are so varied that the people affected by HIT often do not suspect a single trigger
HIT and Gastro-intestinal and Urinary Symptoms
• Irritable stomach or an irritable bowel respectively. A direct connection between food intake and the symptoms is often difficult to discern. This is due to the fact that the ingredients of ingested foods are only slowly absorbed by the body during the bowel transit time, which may last several hours, so that problems may only manifest themselves with a considerable delay.
• Eating aged or leftover foods, or those with high histamine content, may trigger abdominal cramps and severe diarrhea within 15-30 minutes.
• Histamine increases the motility of the bowel movements, so that the bolus passes the intestines faster than normal, which impairs the absorption of nutrients because of the short retention time.
• More rarely also constipation or constipation alternating with diarrhea
• Heart burn, acid reflux (increases HCl)
• Histamine plays a role in the regulation of the circadian rhythm and acts as neurotransmitter. Histamine stimulates the production of melatonin.
• Noise sensitivity, search for tranquility and uneventfulness, vulnerability for sensory overload
• Susceptibility to stress, impaired ability to withstand stress, feeling of burnout (feeling of mental and nervous exhaustion and breakdown)
• Clearing of throat in stress situations
• Tension, nervousness, jumpiness (also without external cause), restlessness, tingling sensation, feeling of caffeine overdose
• Muscle twitching, tremor, clenched jaws, grinding of teeth (bruxism), worn down teeth
• Symptoms similar to those of poisoning with a mild neurotoxin
• Melancholia, sadness, weepiness, depressive moods, depressions (often without visible cause)
• Temporary loss or impairment of the sense of smell
• Cardiac arrhythmias
• Palpitation (stronger heart beat caused by a release of adrenaline)
HIT and Endocrine System
• Dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps)
• Development disorder, failure to thrive
HIT and Immune System
• increased susceptibility for inflammations, inflamed areas
• Sore throat
• Flulike symptoms without defined onset of disease, prolonged malaise, pain in the limbs
• Sinus infection (sinusitis): frontal sinusitis, maxillary sinusitis, inflammation of other sinuses such as sphenoid or ethmoid sinuses
• Constant swelling painful lymph nodes
• Tonsillitis, adenoid vegetation (adenoid hyperplasia), possible surgical removal of tonsils. (The tonsils serve the immune defense. Their removal may further acerbate the increased susceptibility for infectious diseases.)
• Autoimmune illness. Inflammation of connective tissue: tissue underneath the skin with inflammatory pain or tenderness
• Painful feeling of inflammation, heat or pressure in the head, chronic (non-bacterial) inflammation of the brain (chronic encephalitis)
• Painful/burning bladder, desire to void, frequent urination (similar to bacterial bladder infection)
• Misted, impaired vision
• Soft-tissue rheumatism: e.g. pain in the tendons or joints, back pain – the back muscles hurt similar to a strained muscle/muscle ache (muscular rheumatism, inflammation of a muscle)
• Periodic toothache, inflammation of the gums or wisdom teeth
• Herpes simplex labialis (oral herpes, cold sores) or symptoms similar to herpes (e.g. badly healing skin cracks)
HIT and Skin
• Excessive sweating, attack of sweating, night-time sweating, perspiring hands/feet, hot flashes
• Flushing of face following meals (flush), heat build-up, facial skin feels slightly irritated
• Skin blemishes, acne, pimples, blackheads, overproduction of sebaceous gland, oily skin
• Physical irritation such as scratching, strokes or heat triggering flashes/rash or itching
• Upper arms covered in little red spots/pimples, partially keratinised or purulent (impaired keratinisation), perhaps in connection with pollen allergies?
• Hands with burning/aching inflammation/blisters/nodules/
• Sun allergy – the skin goes very quickly red in the sun, but the sunburn disappears on the following day.
• Dry lips
HIT and Respiratory Symptoms
• Bronchial Asthma
• Perennial rhinitis, swelling of nasal mucous membrane, runny nose (rhinitis, rhinorrhea) especially after food intake, also independent from type and histamine content of food, possibly aggravated by cold/smoke/smog/smells
• Blowing the nose may lead to nosebleed (because of increased permeability of the blood vessels)
• Aphtha lesions of the oral mucosa, which become small yellow-white holes/wounds that hurt and will not heal for days and sometimes months. In addition to the oral mucosa, some papillae on the tongue may hurt like an aphtha.
• Chronic cough, constant tickly throat, dry cough, bronchitis, irritated bronchia
• Constant clearing of the throat, particularly in stress situations
• Sputum: viscid mucus to expectorate, frequent clearing of throat, perhaps also breathy vocal cords, particularly after sumptuous meals (similar to cystic fibrosis)
HIT and Fluid Regulation Symptoms
– Swollen eyelids
– Leg swelling
– Abdominal bloating
Possible Miscellaneous HIT Symptoms
• Sensitivity to EMF pollution, WiFi, etc.
• Sensitive to Geopathic stressors
• Sensitive to Enviropathic stressors
DAO vs HNMT (The two pathways your body has to break down histamine)
• Diamine Oxidase enzyme (DAO) expression is restricted to specific tissues, the highest activities are shown for small intestines, ascending colon, and for placenta and kidney. DAO is responsible for scavenging extracellular histamine (i.e., after ingestion of histamine-rich food) after mediator release.
• Histamine N-Methyltransferase enzyme (HNMT) is widely expressed in human tissues, the greatest expression is in kidney and liver, followed by spleen, colon, prostate, ovary, spinal cord cells, bronchi, and trachea. HNMT is regarded as the key enzyme for histamine degradation in the bronchial epithelium. HNMT can convert histamine only in the intracellular space of cells.
Sources of Histamine and the Cellular Release of Histamine
• Foods containing histamine
• Mast cell dysregulation releasing excessive histamine
• Mental/emotional Stress
• Allergies (endogenous or exogenous antigens)
• Physical stress
• Geopathic Stress
• EMF/Enviropathic stress
Examples of Medications that Influence Histamine Levels
• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen)
• Antidepressants (Cymbalta, Effexor, Prozac, Zoloft)
• Immune modulators (Humira, Enbrel, Plaquenil)
• Antiarrhythmics (propanolol, metaprolol, Cardizem, Norvasc)
• Aspirin – Histamine liberator
• Amitriptylene – DAO blocker
• Lasiks – DAO Blocker
• Codeine – Histamine Liberator
• Augmentin – DAO Blocker
• Chloroquinine – DAO Blocker and Histamine liberator
• Quinine – Histamine liberator
• All X-ray contrast – Histamine liberator
• Metoprin – HNMT blocker
• Opiates (Heroin/Morphine…) – Histamine liberator
• Thiamine/Vit B1 – Histamine liberator
The Effect of Stress on Histamine Levels
• Histamine release increases during the periods of panic attack, especially when the adrenergic, “fight or flight” response is at its peak.
• Histamine factors into the fight or flight because H3 histamine receptors in the brain promote the most “wakeful” firing pattern. In fact a sudden rush of histamine in the brain could contribute to a schizophrenic episode.
• Histamine is involved in panic events by causing a closing of the airways in the lungs. When released in the lungs, histamine causes the airways to swell shut in an attempt to close the door on offending allergens and keep them out. Panic attack periods are known for the sense of weight or contraction on the lungs.
Effects of Sleep on Histamine
• Sleep – It has been shown that histaminergic cells have the most “wakeful” firing pattern of any neuronal type. They fire rapidly during waking, and completely stop firing during sleep.
• The cell bodies of neurons which release histamine as a neurotransmitter are found in the posterior hypothalamus, in various tuberomammillary nuclei. From here, these histaminergic neurons project throughout the brain, to the cortex through the medial forebrain bundle.
• Antihistamines, substances that block the H1 histamine receptors improve sleep.
• Destruction of histamine releasing neurons, or inhibition of histamine synthesis leads to an inability to maintain vigilance.
Influence of Histamine on Libido
• Histamine is released as part of arousal from mast cells in the genitals, and histamine release has been connected to the arousal flush in women.
• The female orgasm can be facilitated by supplemental folic acid along with niacin, which will increase histamine release.
• Men with high histamine levels may suffer from premature ejaculations.
Four Types of Histamine Receptors in the Body (H1, H2, H3, H4)
• Ileum contraction
• Modulate Circadian rhythms
• Systemic vasodilation
• Broncho-constriction (allergy-induced asthma)
• Pain and itching due to insect stings
• Primary receptors involved in allergic rhinitis symptoms and motion sickness
• Initiate release of intracellular stores of Ca2+ and opens Voltage gated Calcium channels
• Speed up sinus rhythms
• Stimulation of gastric acid (HCl) secretion
• Smooth muscle relaxation
• Inhibit antibody synthesis, T-cell proliferation and cytokine production
• Decrease Acetylcholine, Serotonin and Norepinephrine neurotransmitter release inCentral Nervous System (CNS)
• Presynaptic autoreceptors
• Found primarily in bone marrow and white blood cells. Also expressed in the colon, liver, lung, small intestine, spleen, testes, thymus, tonsils, and trachea.
• Mediate mast cell chemotaxis. Histamine was shown to mediate signaling and chemotaxis of mast cells via the H4 receptor. This mechanism might be responsible for excessive mast cell accumulation in allergen sensitive tissues.
Problems with Antihistamines
• In HIT syndrome, the OTC and prescription antihistamines will cause of worsening of symptoms.
• Most over-the-counter antihistamines only block the H1 and/or H2 receptors
– The excessive histamine is still circulating so it can be forced more to the H3 and H4 receptor pathways
– H3 and H4 receptors are more related to headaches, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, circadian rhythm problems, arousal, insomnia, appetite issues, memory problems, learning, and body temperature problems.
Click here to continue reading Part II – Methods to Address Histamine Intolerance!
For over 20 years the Hansa Center for Optimum Health, in Wichita, Kansas has specialized in the restoration of health for people with previously unresponsive and chronic illnesses of virtually all types. Over 85% of people come from other states and countries. If you have done everything you and your doctor know to do and are still struggling, contact our wonderful Patient Care Coordinator, Kara, at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is for educational purposes. Always consult your healthcare professional regarding any protocol. Due to the complexity of the human condition there remains the possibility of symptoms getting worse. Again, discuss this protocol with your health care professional before beginning, and stop or get support if your condition worsens. This protocol is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, or mitigate any disease or illness, and has not been evaluated by the FDA.