Histamine is produced by your Mast Cells, an immune cell that creates the substance for a variety of healthy reasons. It is NOT ‘bad’, but like all things, it needs to be held in balance. This is where your genes come in.
Learn all about it in this video:
Understanding Histamine and Your Genes
In this presentation, we’re going to go over histamine. For those who don’t know anything about it, hopefully this will be helpful. For those who already know that they have a histamine issue, this will help explain it a little bit that it’s not a disease and it’s not an allergy. You’ve heard that it’s a histamine sensitivity. Well we’re going to get into details of that in this presentation, so hopefully he’ll get a lot out of this. So stick with me. The first thing that we want to understand that is that histamine does a lot of really important things in our body. It helps us produce hydrochloric acid. It helps us kill things in an immune response. It functions as a neurotransmitter. It helps us get to sleep and stay asleep. It Helps other hormone functions in our body.
It acts similar to an adaptogen in our body. It helps us keep memories in the brain; that’s the neurotransmitter piece. It helps us wake up; we need histamine to stay awake. Histamine is a very important substance in our body. It’s from a classification of organic substances called amines. Histamine is made by our body. It’s made by mast cells in our body. In the presence of an antigen, like an infection, mast cells release histamine. It helps us kill that infection. It’s an important factor in a lot of different cellular function. The thing is, it doesn’t have a very long half-life in our body. So it shouldn’t stay present in the tissues for a long period of time. So the question is, is histamine good, or as histamine bad. Just like every other substance that is made in our body or that we absorb into our bloodstream, it’s really not about whether it’s good or bad.
It’s like you heard about cortisol. Too much cortisol can cause you to retain fat. And so cortisol is bad. Well, if you don’t have cortisol in your body, you won’t break down sugar stores and you won’t be able to stay sleeping at night. Cortisol is not a bad guy. It’s a hormone that’s secreted during the stress response by your adrenal glands. Histamine is not a bad guy either. We tend to think when we have a histamine reaction or we have a histamine sensitivity, that histamine is bad and we want to get rid of all histamine and our body. Well, that’s just not really true. It’s all about balance. That’s just the way our body works. It’s all about maintaining balance and keeping the right amouts of everything in our body. That’s just like when we talk about, the genetic picture. When I have a genetic defect, I don’t create enough of something or I don’t make enough enzyme to break down something. I could have excess of one thing or too little of something else. It’s all about trying to maintain that delicate balance, so we want to always classify something as good or bad. But that’s just not really true. We need histamine. The problem is, is sometimes it’s difficult to maintain that balance and if this is what you feel like on that balance beam of histamine then we can have some issues. So how do we get out of balance? How do we maintain that balance? That’s what this presentation is for. So let’s talk about that. We have to remember in maintaining that histamine balanced, that Histamine is produced by an immune response. So if I have an access immune response to something, well, how could that be?
Well, if I have chronic Lyme disease or I have a hidden chronic H. pylori infection, or I have a hidden mold sensitivity because I have mold in my body or some hidden parasite in my body. So I have this chronic ramped up immune response in my body, I am going to be producing excess histamine. So some people say, oh, I have a histamine intolerance because I make too much histamine. Well, you better figure out why you make too much histamine. There’s no imbalance that’s genetic of you making too much histamine. The reason why a person would make too much histamine is that they have a chronic, usually subclinical, infection. Meaning that they don’t know they even have this infection. For instance, we’ve talked a lot about H. pylori and heart disease. The first incidents of knowing the person has a chronic H. pylori infection is that they dropped dead of a heart attack. And in a postmortem study, that blood smear of that clot reveals an H. pylori infection. Well, we didn’t even know they had that. Death can be the first indicator, but there’s hints. One of the hints of a chronic infection is a histamine issue. So you could have histamine problems because of a ramped up immune response, number one. It doesn’t have to be a ramped up immune response as you’ll find out in a second, but that is one reason why a person could have excess histamine and they find themselves out of balance. The second way that we get histamine in our body is through dietary sources. So a dietary source of histamine are aged foods. Cheese: aged, the older the cheese, it is the more aged it is, the more histamine it’s going to contain. Eggs contain histamine. So again, how old the eggs are, how much histamine levels they’re going to be. Nuts; all nuts contain histamine. Fermented pickled foods, obviously those are aged; they contain a lot of histamine. Alcohol contains Histamine. Aged beets. Smoked meats contain histamine.
“Wait a second,” you’re going to say. “Gosh, I thought fermented foods were really good for me. They have all sorts of probiotics in them. I’ve been making Kombucha and water Kiefer. Now you’re saying that that’s not good for me?” Time out a second there. Understand histamine. Is it a bad guy? There’s nothing wrong with eating histamine. It’s all about balance. So if I have a histamine issue then we’re going to talk about these foods. If a person doesn’t have any issue with Histamine, they can continue to eat these things. Now obviously you want to know if you have antibodies to dairy and you shouldn’t be eating cheese, or if you have Candida and you should be eating fermented foods either. So there’s all about balance.
We tend to, in this society, think that, oh, Kombucha is good for you! So everybody should eat Kombucha! Everybody should eat fermented foods! That’s not what you’re going to find is always true. So we want to see where the balance is. So if a person has excess histamine levels, then you want to look at, number one, do they have a ramped up immune response for some reason, i.e. a subclinical infection or, number two, are they eating too much dietary Histamine? There’s gotta be something else going on with that, like a leaky gut or a GI defect that we’re going to talk about in a second, that’s allowing these histamines to pass through and causing a ramped up histamine in the tissue. Remember, it’s all about balance. So keeping that balance is the key.
Even with a person with a high histamine level, it’s not that they have to eliminate all these high histamine foods. They may want to cut down on them for a while to decrease the histamine in the body and then they could still eat these. We’re not talking about an allergy, so get that difference. When we’re talking about a gluten sensitivity, that’s an allergy. You’re having an immune reaction to that gluten. We’re not talking about an immune reaction to histamine. We’re talking about what histamine does to the tissues and when we eat a lot of histamine foods with a leaky gut or with the inability to break down histamine, then those go into the tissue and we have an excess amount a histamine in the tissue. If you could think of a bucket that’s, that’s my best scenario. Think of an empty bucket that is your tissues, when we’re talking about histamines. Now all sorts of things go into that bucket and when that bucket gets full and spills over, we have an issue. So when we eat foods, foods go into that bucket and they have a lot of histamines in it. Well, we fill up that bucket. If we have a chronic infection and our mast cells are making a lot of Histamine, we fill up that bucket. So even if I have a cold, oh my goodness, I have a cold. So my cold, I’m going to produce more histamine then if I didn’t have a cold. Any common infection that I might be going through for just a short period of time, I’m going to have excess histamines.
If I have a histamine problem and I have a cold, maybe I should eat less histamine foods so they don’t spill over my bucket. Follow me? This is why people that have histamine issues go, “I can’t figure it out. I ate eggs four times this week and I didn’t have any issues, so I was trying to figure out which food is causing my issues.” What could, what issues could histamine cause? Racing heart, bloating tummy, tummy aches, stomach problems, digestive issues, itching, rashes, Eczema, rosacea type issues are all histamine issues. Foggy thinking, brain fog, anxiety, depression, emotional swings can be histamine issues. Stuffieness, nasal congestion can be from histamine issues. “I’m trying to figure out, is it a food allergy? And it’s just so confusing because I ate eggs four times this week and then I ate eggs this morning and I know right after I ate those eggs, I’ve felt so crazy my stomach bloating up like I was pregnant” or whatever symptom is causing your thoughts to concern yourself with a possible food allergy.
Understand, it’s not a food allergy. It’s the chemical histamine. It’s this amine in this food that’s filling up your bucket and finally tipping over and now you have the symptoms of this excess histamine. Got it? So it’s not an allergic reaction, it’s just a bucket spilling over.
Let’s look at some of the genetic factors that predispose us to histamine issues. When we look at your genes, there’s really two gene families that we want to look at with histamine issues. The ABP1 gene and the HNMT gene. These genes, or these families of genes, are the two most important things to consider with the histamine issue. The ABP1 gene really makes the DAO enzyme that breaks down histamine in the gut, the HNMTgene makes the DAO and the MAO enzyme that breaks down histamine in the tissue.
So if in this case there’s actually, I couldn’t get all of the family of the HNMT gene on here. This is how a 23andme panel reads out: 5 of the ABP1 genes and about 20 of the HNMT genes and this person’s case scenario that I took the screenshot of, this is a person’s gene profile, they have 2 single allele defects in the ABP1 gene. They’re going to have a decreased production of DAO enzyme in the gut and therefore any food that they eat that has histamine in it is not going to get broken down quite as well as if they didn’t have those gene defects. So this is a gene profile that ABP1 is a gene, a family of genes. That 1 means that person as a signal allele defect on two of those family of genes, those ABP1 genes. Single allele defect is going to cause that gene to not quite work so well. So what does that gene do? That gene makes DAO enzyme that breaks down histamine in the gut. So they’re not going to break down histamine quite as well as if they didn’t have this defect. Therefore they could absorb more histamine, and they could have an excess histamine in their body. Well, in this person’s scenario it gets much worse because their HNMT gene, they have double allele defect, on 4 of the 6 in the above picture. Now that really bad. So that gene is not working very well at all. Even if they get a common cold, they’re going to have a ramped up histamine level. That’s normal, right? The common cold is going to increase histamine production. That’s normal. But normally histamine should have a very short half-life. Why? Because this wonderful HNMT family of genes should be making DAO and MAO enzymes that should be breaking down the histamine so that this person doesn’t have any excess histamine. But in the case of the poor soul that has this gene defect, they don’t make that very well at all. So in the tissues, they don’t get rid of Histamine. So now their bucket is going to fill up quite quickly. So even if they don’t eat any histamine foods and they don’t absorb any histamine foods from the gut, which is really relatively impossible, I’m just saying, pretend they’re still, if they get a common cold, they’re going to have a spill of histamine into the body. They just don’t get rid of it very well, so they’re going to be prone to problems with histamine.
So from a genetic standpoint, these two genes make the enzymes that break down histamine in the gut and in the tissues. If you have defects in those two gene families, you are going to have problems with histamine. Well, it gets worse than that because there’s another gene: the FUT2 gene that makes that healthy slime layer for your microbiota to live in the gut. So your flora can live in the gut so that you have this healthy symbiotic microbiota. All these different bacteria and organisms that live symbiotically and your gut to help you absorb food, help you break down food and they live off of you and you live off of them. Now FUT2 is a gene that helps make the apartment complex for them to live in.
Now, this poor person has a double allele defect on the entire family of the FUT2 genes. They don’t have any carpenters making the apartment complex for the gut flora to live. They’re going to have a much damaged gut flora. So you’ve heard of leaky gut syndrome, well leaky gut syndrome ties into that. So a person could have leaky gut syndrome because they took antibiotics for three months and now that killed all their flora and they have to take probiotics to regrow that flora. But if you add an FUT2 gene defect to it and they took antibiotics for three months and now they take probiotics now for the next six months to try to re-heal their gut. That’s the person that says, “I can’t figure out why my gut has still got such problems. I know, I shouldn’t have taken those antibiotics for three months, but I’ve been taking probiotics for the last two years and they don’t do anything.”
Well, let’s look at your gene profile and golly jeepers, you got a FUT2 gene defect. Well you’re not going to get better period. Unless we give you prebiotics and we do a bunch of other stuff to heal your gut. This histamine thing is a little bit more complicated than maybe you have been once led to believe. You have to look at the genes, the ABP1 and the HNMT and FUT2 gene. It’s very important because it really tells us a story and how we’re gonna fix this person. This is why I’m so keen on doing your genetic testing. Your immune response is going to ramp up your histamine release. It’s going to fill up your bucket. Any chronic immune response, right? Or an acute immune response is going to fill up your bucket quickly. Dietary intake of excess histamines is going to fill out your bucket, because even if I have a really healthy gut and no leaky gut, still lots of consumption of histamines.
If I’m on a Salami and cheese, gouda diet, I’m going to have a lot of histamines in my gut. Even if I have a healthy gut, some are going to be absorbed. It is going to fill up my bucket. Well if I have a healthy ABP1 and HNMT gene, I’m making plenty of enzymes to break it down. It’s no big deal. I’m not going to have a Histamine problem. And that’s the majority of people. They don’t have a histamine problem because they don’t have a gene defect and they can handle it just well, then you add a leaky gut on top of that because this person was exposed to genetically modified organisms and they eat a typical American diet or they have taken antibiotics and that damaged the gut. Add an FUT2 gene defect and now you got to chronically ill individual. You add all these things up and it gives you the picture of a person having a histamine intolerance.
There are some things you could do. So let’s just think this through. Just think it through on everything that we’ve talked about so far. Well, doesn’t it make sense that we should work on healing the gut? Yeah. Well we don’t want to absorb, you know, excess histamines so maybe we should work on healing the gut. And that gets back to healing the gut is a very important thing to do, no matter if you’ve got cancer or Lyme or headaches or whatever you’ve got. Healing the gut is really important. So how do you heal the gut while you want to reduce inflammation of the gut from other sources too?
Does this person have a gluten sensitivity? Do they have a dairy sensitivity? Do they have a parasite infection? Is there something else, an H. pylori infection that we need to kill in the gut. Well I talks about ramped up inflammation too and ramped up immune system too and increased mast cell production of histamines right there. But you don’t want to try to heal the gut causing inflammation by eating gluten. When you have a gluten sensitivity, you’re never going to heal the gut. Right? Well, we already talked about eating less histamine foods, so less aged cheese, eggs, nuts, etc. I have a whole list of high histamine foods that we give our patients that have histamine issues that, again, it’s not that that’s an allergy. It’s that these are foods with high histamines so it would be a good idea to reduce those for a period of time until we get your gut healed until we get your bucket down a little bit. Also take a look at our low histamine diet food list.
But I love fermented foods. I love pickles. Well you could still eat pickles, but maybe don’t eat so many. Make sure you eat a lot of fiber with your pickles and balance it out. Think of that bucket. We don’t want it to overflow. Okay?
How else do you heal the gut? Well there’s a bunch of different nutritional things you could take. I’m really big on prebiotics. Especially if you have FUT2 gene defect, you’ve got to use prebiotics or you are toast. These are the people that are on probiotics for four years and they say, “I can’t figure out why I can’t heal my gut.” Well, you’re probably depositing the probiotics in the toilet every day because you don’t have any place for them to live. So, prebiotics help your gut cells make the apartment complexes for the probiotics to live.
Also, helping with HCL and digestive enzymes and increasing your stomach acid production. There’s a whole bunch of things we want to do to heal the gut, and we have other presentations on that, but that’s a good place to start.
The other thing is reduced systemic inflammation. What’s causing my increased mast cell production of Histamine in the first place? Right? Better look at that! Do I have a chronic infection that I don’t even know about? Do I have H. pylori? Do I have Lyme disease? Do I have mold? Do I have a parasite of some kind that I don’t even know about? How would I know that? There are labs you could do. There’s testing you can do. We do that in our personal lab tests and kinesiology testing of every patient. There’s lots of ways to know that. Just because your doctor did a blood test and the blood test didn’t show H. pylori does not mean you don’t have H. pylori; it’s not going to stay in the blood for very long. Same thing with Lyme. “I had a negative lyme test.” What did you do? “A blood test for Lyme.” Did it test for antibodies? Well then it was a pretty lousy test, because Lyme isn’t going to be circulating your blood for very long or you’re going to be dead. So you have to go to a doctor who knows something too. Look at my videos on addressing chronic lyme. This video ins’t on chronic infection, but chronic infections are rampant. And it’s a cause of a lot of people’s problems, so just know that. The other thing you could do is to use products that will help scavenge histamine out of your body.
This first one is a proprietary product I’ve developed called HistaClear. That is actually the DAO enzyme. And there’s a number of companies that make that and supply the DAO enzyme. I don’t suggest using that a lot. First of all, the DAO enzyme does not absorb, so it’s only going to stay in the gut. Well that’s okay. Right? Because if I eat some cheese, then I take the DAO enzyme then it’ll break down and I won’t absorb it. Yeah, that is okay. But it’s kind of a pricey products. It’s about $1/pill. So I’d suggest that’s not the way to go. Now granted, if you want to splurge at you know your bucket’s full, then you could take a few of those. All of my patients with histamine issues, I have them buy a bottle of that, but then try to have them not use it. You could use it in an emergency if you know you’re going to go out an have a lot of histamine foods, or you were exposed to a lot today, or you’re under a lot of stress. Stress increases it too, then you can take some of that.
There’s other histamine scavengers like the Professional Health product called Histamine Scavenger that works really well. Or you could use by famous stress reduction kit, just start banging your head against the wall. That always helps. Maybe not.
So remember that it’s a bucket. That’s the biggest thing I want you to get out of this, because I said that word probably 500 times. The more that you put in the bucket, the more symptoms you’re going to have. You’re not cursed to not be able to eat cheese, eggs, nuts, fermented foods, etc. the rest of your life. But the more you eat, the more you’re going to put in that bucket and the more symptoms you’re going to have.
Many times it’s good to just clean it out, figure out these problems, heal your gut, and then you can go back and experiment and see how much you could tolerate without having symptoms. Again, if you have never done it, the genetic tasks, go to the genetic tab on the website and you’ll learn how you could run the genetic test on yourself. And even if you’re not a patient, I’ll still read the test for you and we can go over that. That’s the best way to look at this. I think that’s super important. Anybody that’s been told that they have a histamine hypersensitivity, and they’re really working hard at staying away from histamine foods really should do the genetic test. It’s not that expensive to find that out.
That’s what we do with all of our patients, because we really want to personalize their medicine. It just goes back to balance with everything. Remember, just because Kombucha is really good does not mean it’s really good for everybody, or just because histamine is not good for you because you have excess histamine does that mean histamine is bad? So you want to personalize your care and how you’re going to treat your disease as best as possible too.
I hope you learned something from this on. Watch the video presentation above if you want, and enjoy some of the other videos on we’ve produced as well. Thank you. Have a great day.