What is GERD, Anyway?

What is GERD, Anyway?

Have you been trying to get rid of GERD or heartburn following all of the usual advice – elimination diets, drinking apple cider vinegar and nothing seems to work?  Using over the counter medications?

Maybe there is another reason we get GERD that has very little to do with making too much stomach acid – the usual noted cause of GERD.

Over the holidays, I began to suffer from GERD keeping me up at night and of course, I blamed it on what I was eating and drinking.  Could there be something else going on?

GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disorder is a really a disruption of the normal hormones of our digestive system that regulates the production of stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and flow of stomach contents.  Phew!

Hormones that are released from the hypothalamus (brain) signals the release of hydrochloric acid (HCL) and gastrin as soon as we smell, taste, see or even the thought of food occurs.  Enzymes to break down protein in our food are also released at this time.

Without HCL and these enzymes, proteins are not completely broken down and that leads to a myriad of side effects including the lack of absorption of vitamin B12, dysbiosis, SIBO and for some chronic fatigue.

In the second phase of digestion, hormones are released that reduce the acidity and instruct the release of the stomach content into the small intestine.

If there is a reduction of these hormones, the content of the stomach just sits there.  Eventually, it can back up and force relaxation of the esophagus – leading to the feeling of heartburn, coughing, pain and even ulcers.

This signally process can also be disrupted if the stomach content pH is too high or other words not acidic enough.  The acid level of our stomach content is what signals the gut to move forward with the release bicarbonate to make stomach content more alkaline and safer to enter the small intestine.

The continued use of antacids will slow down the whole digestion process

What causes the disruption of these digestive hormones?

  • Standard American Diet – High in sugar, unhealthy fats, processed food, commercially raised meats and low in healthy vegetables and fruits.
  • Medications – Asthma Medications, Calcium Channel Blockers (Blood Pressure Meds), Birth Control, Sleeping Meds, Anti-depressants
  • Antibiotic Use – This leads to dysbiosis and eventually can promote GERD.  This especially true with the chronic use of antibiotics.
  • Gut Flora Imbalances or Dysbiosis – Most people who suffer from GERD also suffer from IBS (constipation and diarrhea), SIBO,  and leaky gut.
  • Estrogen Imbalance – Estrogen dominance which can occur even with post-menopausal women, has been found to be a factor in GERD.
  • Chronic Stress – The release of digestive hormones can be disrupted when we are under chronic stress.
  • Histamine Intolerance – A food intolerance that lead to increased stomach acid production.

Most medications like Prilosec, Zantac, and even Tums can be even more disruptive overtime on this hormonal balance and lead to the very cause of GERD – IBS, and dysbiosis.

High Histamine Foods Psoriaisis

How Does Histamine Intolerance Make GERD Worse?

When we think of histamine, we think of antihistamines that we reach for allergies or allergic reactions.  Histamine has many other functions in our bodies, one of which is the regulation and release of gastric acid.

Not only is histamine produced in our bodies, but some foods are also very high in histamine. Usually, the body manages histamine levels by degrading histamine and eliminating it.  But if histamine levels become too high, we may experience symptoms like acid reflux and acid indigestion.

Histamine intolerance is a food intolerance where we develop an intolerance to foods high in histamine because the process of degrading and blocking histamine from food becomes disrupted.

Some common foods known to cause heartburn, like tomatoes, are also high in histamine.   See my list of common foods high in histamine.  If you are experiencing acid reflux and indigestion, you may want to see if it is from foods high in histamine by using a my food/symptom journal.

As a matter of fact, over-the-counter medications referred to as H2 blockers like Zantac block histamine from signaling the production of stomach acid.  It is not uncommon for me to recommend H2 blockers for my client struggling with histamine intolerance to get relief while we uncover the underlying cause of their histamine intolerances.

How to Prevent GERD or Acid Reflux?

There are some simply lifestyle tips that can help you prevent getting acid reflux.  Most of these also help to promote healthy digestion.

  • Avoid large meals
  • Finish eating 3 hours prior to bed
  • Eat slowly; chew thoroughly
  • Ensure adequate, quality sleep
  • Raise the head of the bed 6-8 inches

In addition to these tips, try to avoid foods that are known to cause heartburn and acid reflux because either weaken the esophageal sphincter or irritate the esophageal:

  • Fats – even healthy fats, i.e. olive oil
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Mints especially peppermint and spearmint
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Onions
  • Food sensitivities and intolerances, i.e. histamine

Medications, cigarettes, and over the counter drugs can also lead to acid reflux.  Here is my list of foods and medications that can promote acid reflux.

Are there natural or herbal remedies that can help reduce and prevent GERD?

Herbals Recommendations – Ginger, Aloe Vera, Turmeric and DGL Licorice.  I often recommend a product by Designs for Health – GastroMend works great for those struggle with GERD and for those trying to get off of GERD medications.

Digestive Enzymes –If you are struggling with GERD and acid reflux, then start with a digestive enzyme product that does not promote HCL production like, Similase for sensitive stomach from Integrative Therapeutics.

Get my Fullscript Healthy Digestion Guide Today and Get 15% off!  You will need to sign up for my Fullscript account to access my guide and get your discount.

Struggling with Chronic GERD?

If you struggle with chronic GERD, acid reflux, and indigestion, it might be time to get down the underlying cause and get off of OTC medications.  My Healthy Gut Solutions guides and coaches you through how to finally resolve your digestion conditions using a holistic approach.

Sometimes are digestion symptoms are simply a process of resolving food sensitivities and intolerances like histamine intolerance.  Other times, the solution may be more complicated, like addressing H. pylori overgrowth to microbiome imbalances.

Want to learn more about my programs? Book a Discovery Chat today.

 

Best Natural Antihistamines for Histamine Intolerance

Best Natural Antihistamines for Histamine Intolerance

Best Natural Antihistamines for Histamine Intolerance

Histamine release causes allergic symptoms like runny nose, watery eyes, and skin rashes which is a normal immune response to allergens.

That is why we reach for antihistamines like Benadryl and Zyrtec.  But maybe we should be looking at what we are eating or perhaps foods that are natural antihistamines.

Histamine is released as a natural immune response to help protect the body and as an excitatory neurotransmitter (brain chemical) to give us that get up and go feeling.

Because histamine has many different roles in our bodies, high histamine symptoms can be extremely varied.

  • Migraines, Headaches
  • Brain Fog
  • Nausea
  • IBS – Both Constipation & Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • PMS – Estrogen Imbalances
  • Thyroid Dysfunction
  • Nerve & Muscle Pain
  • Allergic Symptoms
  • Autoimmune Flares – Hashimoto's, Psoriasis

We can also get histamine from our diet from foods that are high in histamine like fermented foods.

If we develop histamine intolerance or the inability to manage histamine levels, this can increase histamine levels and the symptoms of histamine intolerance.

What is Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance is a food intolerance that is becoming increasingly more common.

Like most food intolerances, it involves a lack of enzymes that help to breakdown compounds like lactose (milk sugar) and histamine from foods.

For instance, with lactose intolerance, the symptoms usually involve digestive issues like diarrhea and gas.

Digestive disturbances with lactose intolerance are due to a lack of an enzyme called lactase.

Most food intolerances, once identified, can easily be managed by avoiding certain foods. Or, we can supplement with digestive enzymes like lactase.

What makes histamine intolerance more challenging to manage is the fact that our bodies produce histamine.  And, almost all foods contain some level of histamine.  There is no such thing as a “histamine-free diet.”

We become intolerant to histamine when we cannot correctly manage histamine levels, including lack of particular enzymes, poor gut health, nutrient deficiencies, and genetics.

Can Antihistamine Medications Help Reduce Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance?

Since I have struggled with histamine intolerance, I would love to say yes.  Popping a Claritin would be a lot easier than always avoiding foods high in histamine that I love, like wine and fermented foods.

But I am afraid that in most cases, medications like Benadryl won't work to reduce histamine intolerance symptoms, especially migraines and headaches.

Antihistamine medications act by blocking the cell receptors' response to histamine.  The target of these medications is predominately targeting our immune response to allergens.  

So, it will help with an allergic reaction but not for other symptoms of histamine intolerance like headaches, IBS, and anxiety.

What are Natural Antihistamines and Do They Work?

Many natural antihistamines reduce histamine by either reducing inflammation or by blocking histamine production from the mast cells.

Chronic inflammation increases the release of histamine and is a significant contributor to histamine intolerance. 

Therefore an anti-inflammatory diet like the Mediterranean Diet can be very effective at reducing histamine levels.

Other natural antihistamines help support DAO production, the key enzyme that blocks histamine absorption from our food and degrades histamine.

Foods Rich Polyphenols Reduces Inflammation & Histamine

Some of the foods rich in polyphenols or bioactives are not just anti-inflammatory; they reduce histamine production, acting as a natural antihistamine.

One study found that watercress, a cruciferous vegetable, inhibited up to 60% of histamines released.  Watercress is very rich in vitamins and compounds that significantly inhibited histamine release.

Watercress is challenging to find in the grocery store and very seasonal.  Would other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower have the same antihistamine qualities?

Considering that cruciferous vegetables are high in bioactives, I would bet that they are a natural antihistamine.

Other foods, herbs, and spices that have been shown to have antihistamine qualities are:

  • Moringa – A SuperFood 
  • Chamomile Tea or Supplement
  • Ginger, Galangal (Tai ginger)
  • Turmeric
  • Apples, Peaches
  • Brazil Nuts – Due to their high selenium content.

 

Vitamin C as Supplement is a Powerful Antihistamine

Besides vitamin B6, vitamin C is vital to DAO production (diamine oxidase), the enzyme that degrades histamine.

DAO also blocks the absorption of histamine from our food in our gut.  Numerous studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin C is a powerful antihistamine.

Some evidence shows that synthetic vitamin C can be high in histamine as the majority of synthetic vitamin C or ascorbic acid comes from fermented corn. 

If you are sensitive to corn or are concerned with the potential histamine levels of ascorbic acid, Perfect Acerola might be a better choice for you as it is just one ingredient that comes from acerola cherries. 

Supplementing with vitamin C does come with challenges, however. 

Using vitamin C as an antihistamine requires larger dosages, upwards of 2000 mg. per day, to be effective.  This large of a dosage can cause digestive disturbances like diarrhea, gas, and heartburn.

You can also use vitamin C that has added minerals like this one, which reduces these negative side effects. 

Taking it throughout the day also will reduce heartburn or stomach upset from this large of a dosage.

When Not to Supplement With Vitamin C as An Antihistamine

Besides causing digestive disturbances, vitamin C in large dosage can cause oxalate toxicity.  Oxalate toxicity can lead to kidney stones, nerve and muscle pain, as well as joint pain.

We absorb oxalates from our food, and the body produces oxalates.  Vitamin C is one of the vital nutrients that are needed to make oxalates.

Several studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin C can lead to oxalate toxicity.

Also, vitamin C can lead to iron toxicity.  Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron from our food which is excellent if you are iron anemic.

But if you are not, then you could absorb too much iron leading to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation from too much iron.  And, this will increase your histamine levels.

 

Thorne Quercetin Antihistamine

Quercetin and Stinging Nettle – Can They Replace Antihistamine Medications?

Quercetin is a polyphenol found in many foods, with one of the rich sources from the Allium or onion family.  Foods like green onions, garlic, leeks, yellow onions, and red onions are rich in quercetin.  

But you would have to consume a large amount of these foods to have the same effect as an antihistamine medication.  

Stinging nettle is a common medicinal herb found in teas and supplements and is a potent antihistamine.

As seen with HistaEze by Designs for Health, combining quercetin, stinging nettle, and vitamin C is a powerful natural antihistamine.  With a lower vitamin C dosage, you are less likely to experience vitamin C's adverse side effects.

Taking quercetin alone can work as an antihistamine if you are trying to avoid vitamin C.  Thorne Quercetin Phytosome works great as it is a in a very absorbable form that also contain sunflower phospholipid (lethicin) for better absorption and effectiveness. 

When should you not take large dosage of  quercetin?   While quercetin is very effective at reducing histamine levels, it also can “down regulate” the enzymes known as Catechol-O-Methyltransferase or COMT. 

COMT helps to degrade dopamine and estrogen to help balance our neurotransmitters and estrogen levels.  If you have a reduced COMT as I do, taking large dosage of quercetin may lead to anxiety and estrogen imbalances.  If you do not know your genomics or if you have a reduced COMT, then start slowly with 250 mg. per day and increase to 500 mg. 

On the other hand, a fast COMT can lead to decreased dopamine levels and you may benefit from taking quercetin.  Are you ready to find out more about genomics testing?  Get started on journey on how you can truly personalize your nutrition with my FREE Genomics Discovery Chat today!

 

Thorne FiberMend

Could Fiber be a Natural Antihistamine?

Allergies and histamine intolerance have become more prevalent while the Western diet has become very low in fiber-rich foods.  Could there be a connection?

A recent study determined if fiber-rich foods and the metabolites produced in the gut from fiber reduced histamine levels.

They found that specific fibers, including resistant starch, helped regulate mast cells and reduce histamine levels!  

Fiber also helps produce anti-inflammatory compounds like butyrate that reduce inflammation in the gut and help resolve IBS and IBD.

The fiber blend in FiberMend is an excellent combination of different types of fiber that help to rebuild and heal the gut reducing release of histamine.  Get 15% off with FREE shipping on all products by signing up with my Thorne Dispensary.  Easy to sign – no code necessary!

Whereas fiber in itself cannot act as an antihistamine, it does help regulate mast cell release of histamine.

It is not uncommon for my clients to have IBS, histamine intolerance, and allergies.

Resolving their digestion conditions helps overcome their histamine intolerance, allowing them to enjoy fermented foods, cheese, and even wine!

 

Choline Deficiency May Make Your Histamine Intolerance Worse

Choline Deficiency May Make Your Histamine Intolerance Worse

Choline Deficiency Make Your Histamine Intolerance Worse

Are you avoiding eggs because they are high in histamine?  You may be making your histamine intolerance worse by avoiding eggs that are high in choline! 

Eggs are often referred to as being high in histamine.  But are they?  The egg whites are histamine liberators while the yolk which contains choline is actually low in histamine.

Choline is one of the most overlooked essential nutrients, and deficiencies are becoming more common, especially in post-menopausal women. 

Often referred to as a B-vitamin, choline plays a crucial role in the B-vitamin cycle or what is known as methylation.

Since our bodies make choline, it is not a vitamin as vitamins are considered nutrients that the body needs but does not make.   If the body makes choline, why has it been declared as an essential nutrient?

Many different factors, including your genetics, can increase our need for choline.  Research shows that choline's pathway is insufficient to support our body's needs, making choline a vital nutrient.

Choline Plays Many Crucial Roles Making it an Essential Nutrient

Every cell in our body depends on choline as it makes up our cellular membrane by providing phosphatidylcholine (PC) or structure to our cell walls. 

A healthy cellular membrane means that the right things like nutrients are going into our cells.  And that our cells are removing the bad stuff – making for healthy cells.

Choline also is used to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter or brain signaling chemical that is involved in learning, memory, and attention.

This neurotransmitter also plays a role in digestion by signally the production of digestive enzymes.  Are you taking digestive enzymes? 

Maybe you should increase your intake of choline-rich foods like eggs instead.

But most importantly, choline is used to make betaine, a compound that helps to recycle homocysteine in the process known as methylation.

Whew – what does that mean?  Methylation is a significant pathway in our bodies that produces SAMe.  And SAMe supports the enzyme histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT), which helps to breakdown histamine.

Foods Rich in Histamine

How Can Choline Reduce Histamine Intolerance Symptoms?

The breakdown of histamine, especially the histamine produced by our bodies, depends on methylation and folate. 

Folate and vitamin B2 are vital nutrients in methylation that provide SAMe and support for histamine N-Methyltransferase (HNMT), which helps break down histamine.

However, the body can also get SAMe from recycling homocysteine, which depends on choline, reducing the need for folate.

Reducing the need for folate is even more critical if you have genetic variants in folate like MTHFD1.  Research shows that if you have a variant in MTHFD1, you will have an increased need for choline.

How does choline help to recycle homocysteine?  Choline can be converted to betaine, which acts as a methyl donor promoting the recycling of homocysteine.

Recycling homocysteine not only produces more SAMe, it also reduces homocysteine levels which has been shown to be pro-inflammatory.

By providing support for HNMT, the histamine produced by your body is broken down and eliminated, reducing histamine levels. 

You can enjoy that glass of wine with pizza and not have to worry about getting a nasty skin rash or headache a few hours later.

Whereas choline is converted to betaine, betaine is also found in many different foods.  Some of the richest sources of betaine are beets, quinoa, wheat germ, and spinach. 

By providing choline and betaine in your diet, you can support histamine's healthy breakdown reducing symptoms of histamine intolerance.

Can a Deficiency in Choline Increase Histamine Intolerance Symptoms?

Histamine intolerance is becoming increasingly common and is often seen with autoimmune conditions, poor gut health, and allergies.

Fluoroquinolone toxicity or other chronic conditions like Lyme disease and mold toxicity can also increase the likelihood of histamine intolerance.

This is because histamine is one of the key players in our immune system response to toxins, bacteria, and viruses.

Symptoms of histamine intolerance can significantly vary as histamine plays so many different roles from the production of stomach acid, hormonal balance, brain health, and of course, our immune system.

Even our mental health is affected by high histamine levels, leading to anxiety and lack of focus. Because choline plays a crucial role in support of methylation and the production of the enzyme, histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT), a deficiency may increase your histamine levels.

Since we also get histamine from our diet, your high levels of histamine will increase your intolerance to foods rich in histamines like preserved meats and fermented foods.

 

But What are Signs that You Might be Deficient in Choline?

Since choline is every cell of our bodies, symptoms can be extremely varied.  One of key symptoms is increased fat in the liver. 

How do you know if you have a “fatty liver”?  The best way to find out is to make sure that you have a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel that looks your liver enzymes either done by your doctor or through functional medicine practitioner.  

Other Symptoms of Choline Deficiency

  • Muscle Damage
  • Nerve Dysfunction
  • Poor Digestion
  • Gallbladder Dysfunction
  • Increased Anxiety
  • Glutamate Intolerance
  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Elevated Liver Enzymes
  • High Homocysteine Levels
  • Mental Health – High Anxiety

One of the most overlook roles of choline is acetylcholine production, which in turn reduces glutamate “spikes”, which can increase anxiety. 

One study found that women who had higher choline intake also had the lowest anxiety levels.  This is also extremely important if you have genetic variants in GAD1 – glutamate metabolism.

 What Foods Are Rich in Choline that Can Reduce Histamine Intolerance?

There is no doubt that when I went to look up foods that are high in choline, it seemed like there was quite a bit of confusion.  One thing is for sure is that eggs and liver are the highest in choline.  But who likes liver?

If you are histamine intolerant, remember that egg whites are a histamine liberator and can increase histamine levels.  Egg yolks on the other hand, are not high in histamine and is where you will find choline. 

Other foods high in choline are:

  • Beef Liver
  • Wheat Germ
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli

Good sources of betaine (another form of choline) are quinoa, beets, and wheat germ.  Betaine is used in the process known as methylation which helps to support HNMT and reduce histamine intolerance symptoms.

Are there Genomics or Genetics That Increase Your Need for Choline?

Our body makes choline through a very complicated pathway in the liver that depends on the enzyme phosphatidylethanolamine N-methyltransferase or PEMT. 

Having a genetic variant or reduced PEMT enzyme can increase your need for choline from your diet.

Some studies have shown that 80% of women who were homozygous for this variant showed signs of choline depletion – liver and muscle dysfunction. Research does show that having variants in folate like MTHFD1 will increase your need for choline as folate will less available to promote methylation.

Other variants in methylation will also impact your need for choline, like MTHFR, MTR, MTRR, and MAT1 will also increase your demand for additional choline.  How do you know if you have these variants?  Check out my Genomic Solutions!

Nutrition Genome offers a comprehensive report that review not only the genomic variants in methylation but also those that are involved with histamine intolerance. 

Supplements

Should You Supplement with Choline?

The best way to safely supplement with choline is to incorporate lecithin into your diet.  You will benefit the most from using an organic sunflower or soy lecithin blending into a smoothie.  You can also use in salad dressings as an emulsifier.  My favorite organic sunflower lecithin is this one.

Using lecithin instead of supplementing with choline, you will lower the risk of forming too much trimethylamine -N-oxide (TMAO).  TMAO is a natural compound that has known to increase cardiovascular disease risk.

However, if you want to supplement with choline, it is vital to use the right form depending on your needs.  For instance, betaine or trimethylglycine (TMG) is very helpful for promoting methylation and reducing histamine intolerance.

Rather than supplement with betaine (TMG) alone,  I recommend that you look for betaine or TMG in a methylation support product like this one.

Phosphatidylcholine is another form of choline that has been shown to benefit gallbladder health, fat digestion, and fatty liver conditions.   Lecithin contains phosphatidylcholine, so you should get what you need from lecithin.

However, if you choose to supplement with capsules, then I recommend BodyBio PC, which has three phospholipids types making it more beneficial.

For brain and nerve health, especially if you struggle with fluoroquinonal toxicity, I recommend the form known as alpha-GPC.   The neurotransmitter acetylcholine is produced from this form of choline and supports brain and gut health.

You can receive 15% off the recommended supplements by signing up for my FullScript account on these products.

Purchase products through our Fullscript virtual dispensary.

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Does Histamine Intolerance Make Your Psoriasis Worse?

Does Histamine Intolerance Make Your Psoriasis Worse?

What Your Dermatologist Is Not Telling You About Psoriasis

When it comes to psoriasis, the usual protocol is getting you started on a steroidal cream to calm down the inflammation allowing the skin to heal.  Steroidal creams calm down the inflammation by suppressing your immune system.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disorder where the immune system causes rapid skin cell growth. With healthy skin and normal skin cell growth, dead skin cells are sloughed off leaving, healthy new skin. However, with the rapid skin cell growth, the cells will begin to pile up, creating psoriasis plaques.

Steroid creams or immunosuppressant medications treat the symptoms and not the underlying cause of your psoriasis.  One of the underlying causes of your flare or outbreaks can be your diet and nutrient deficiencies.  Most dermatologists will not ask you about your diet and lifestyle habits.  Except for limiting alcohol as this is a known trigger for psoriasis.

They also do not talk about food sensitivities and food intolerances.  One food intolerance that has been shown to trigger or make psoriasis worse is histamine intolerance.

What are Some of the Most Common Triggers of Psoriasis?

Some of the most commonly known triggers of psoriasis are stress, alcohol, and certain medications.  Injury to the skin as well as dry, cold weather can also trigger a flare or outbreak.

Ironically, both stress and alcohol can increase our levels of histamine.  As a natural response, histamine is released when we under stress.  Chronic stress will eventually lead to chronically high histamine levels.

Alcoholic beverages are high in histamine, as well as some of our favorite foods that go with alcohol like cheese, pizza, and preserved meats.  There are many plant-based foods too that are high in histamine, including avocados, chocolate, and some nuts.

Is There a Difference Between a Food Intolerance and  Food Sensitivity?

Food intolerances are usually due to a lack of enzymes that helps to breakdown and manage levels of certain compounds like lactose, histamine, and glutamate.  Symptoms of food intolerances can vary greatly and usually involve headaches, allergic-type reactions, and digestive disorders.

On the other hand, food sensitivities are an immune reaction to certain sugars in foods.  For instance, you may have developed a sensitivity to say soybeans, green peppers, or avocados.  The most common symptoms of food sensitivities are digestive disturbances like IBS, heartburn, gas, and bloat.

The one food intolerance that can make psoriasis worse or increase flares is histamine intolerance, as it has been shown to trigger autoimmune skin conditions.  However, both food intolerances and sensitivities make psoriasis worse as they both trigger an immune response and promote inflammation.

High Histamine Foods Psoriaisis

What is Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance is a food intolerance that is becoming increasingly more common. Like most food intolerances, it involves a lack of enzymes that help to breakdown compounds like lactose (milk sugar) and histamine from foods. With lactose intolerance, the symptoms usually involve digestive issues like diarrhea and gas. This is due to a lack of an enzyme called lactase.

Most food intolerances, once identified, can easily be managed by avoiding certain foods. Or, we can supplement with digestive enzymes like lactase. What makes histamine intolerance more challenging to manage, is the fact that our bodies produce histamine. And, almost all foods contain some level of histamine. There is no such thing as a “histamine free diet”.

We become intolerant to histamine when we cannot correctly manage histamine levels resulting in a myriad of symptoms. As it is found in food and we produce it, it can be a challenge for some of us to keep histamine at manageable levels.

The cause of histamine intolerance is a lack of the enzymes that break down histamine. These enzymes also reduce the absorption of histamine from food. This lack of enzyme production is usually due to poor gut health, chronic stress, and hormonal imbalances.

Nutrigenomics or genetics also play a role as there are gene variants in the production of enzymes that manage histamine levels.

This is why you will see symptoms like allergies and skin conditions run in families. See my Genomic Solutions for more information.

How Can Histamine Intolerance Make Your Psoriasis Worse?

With a psoriasis outbreak or flare, your immune system will increase the production of histamine as a natural immune response.  With the consumption of high histamine foods, your histamine bucket overflows, resulting in histamine intolerant symptoms like skin rashes, overreaction to bug bites, and other allergic-type reactions.

Studies have shown that take anti-histamine medication, like Benadryl, reduced psoriasis plaque as well as reduced the itchiness of psoriasis. 

Anti-heartburn drugs like Tagamet have also been shown to reduce the severity of a psoriasis flare or outbreak.  Tagamet is a H2 blocker that blocks the production of histamine, which plays a role in the production of stomach acid. 

Another study found that the majority of patients with psoriasis were deficient in the enzyme known as DAO.  This critical enzyme helps to block the absorption of histamine from food that we eat. 

One of the major triggers of psoriasis outbreaks is excessive alcohol.  Alcohol, as noted earlier, is high in histamine, especially beer.  And, alcohol dramatically reduces the production of the critical enzyme, DAO. A double whammy!

Can You Test for Histamine Intolerance and Reduce Psoriasis Outbreaks?

One of the significant causes of histamine intolerance is leaky gut or gut dysbiosis.  Leaky gut decreases the amount of DAO that we produce as well as produces more histamine—creating a vicious cycle. 

Currently, the best test for histamine intolerance is testing for levels of histamine, DAO, and Zonulin, a compound found to be high if you have leaky gut.  This test is an integrative blood test and not commonly used by conventional medical practices.  See more on integrative testing.

The best way to determine if you are histamine intolerance, is to complete a 30 day food/symptom journal.  Grab my Histamine Intolerance Food/Symptom journal complete with a list of food high in histamine.  

Histamine intolerance can result in myriad symptoms and occur hours later after you consume high histamine foods. For me, my scalp psoriasis will get worse and itchier, after a high histamine meal, usually within 3-4 hours.  Reminding me once to watch those histamine rich foods if I have a flare-up. 

Can You Resolve Histamine Intolerance and Reduce Psoriasis Flares?

Unfortunately, you cannot treat food intolerances like histamine intolerance.  But can resolve them by doing a little detective work.  You need to determine why your body cannot correctly manage histamine levels.  Some of the significant causes of histamine overload are:

  • Lack of enzymes – DAO, HMNT
  • Nutrient Deficiencies (Folate, B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, B2)
  • Poor Gut Health or Leaky Gut
  • Bacterial Imbalance or Dysbiosis
  • Genetics

The first step, however, is to go on a low histamine diet.   Remember, there is no such as a histamine free diet.  See if this does help to reduce your flare or the frequency of your flares.  If it does, then you need to get down to the underlying cause of why you are not correctly managing histamine levels.

To get down to the underlying cause is where the detective work begins.  With my Functional  Nutrition Assessment, I start by looking at your health history and profile.   Also, evaluated is common blood lab work like the comprehensive metabolic panel and complete blood count. 

As a functional medicine nutritionist, I use an integrative approach when reviewing lab work looking for nutrient deficiencies and imbalances.   And, how we can finally resolve histamine intolerance and reduce your psoriasis flares. 

1.  Efficacy of nutritional treatment in patients with psoriasis: A Case Report, Wong, et al August 30, 2014

2. Antihistamine in the treatment of pururitus in psoriasis, Domagata, et al, Advances in Dermatology and Allergogy 5, October, 2017

3. Psoriais and Diet, Part 1, Psoriasis Eczema Clinic, Australia Psoriasis Eczema Clinic, Accessed July, 2020

4. Histamine and histamine intolerance, Laura Maintz & Natalija Novak, Am J Clin Nutr 2007, 1185-96 American Society of Nutrition