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 test for histamine intolerance, in my opinion, is to do at least a Food Symptom Journal   By reviewing what you are eating and connecting your symptoms, you begin to see if there is a connection. 

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 

Top 5 Reasons Your Sunscreen Does Not Protect Against Skin Cancer

Top 5 Reasons Your Sunscreen Does Not Protect Against Skin Cancer

Slathering on sunscreen may not be your best protection against skin cancer and may actually speed the development of skin tumors and lesions.  After years of being told that sunscreens are the best protection against developing skin cancer – this may not be the best advice.

As a kid I spent hours in the sun swimming, running, tennis and biking without a thought in the world about skin cancer.  But at age 44 I developed a very aggressive form of melanoma on a mole on my hand which was caught early so I did not have to treatment just removal.

I have not had a re-occurrence since but looking back, I was struggling with gut issues, high stress, and hormonal imbalances – so was it the sun exposure or….???

At first, I slathered on sunscreen – the higher the SPF the better.  But then I started to question this advice when I learned more about endocrine disruptor chemicals commonly used in sunscreens, facial lotions, and cosmetics which are implicated in cancer especially breast cancer.

Rate of Skin Cancer Increases Despite Using Sunscreens

The rate of new melanoma cases among American adults has tripled since the 1970s with the melanoma death rate for white American men, which has escalated sharply from 2.6 deaths per 100,000 in 1975 to 4.5 in 2015 according to National Cancer Institute.

So Why Are Sunscreens Not Working?

Don’t they protect our skin from the damaging UVB radiation?  Maybe they might be causing skin cancer because of some of the ingredients that are used to block UVB rays that are now known to be endocrine disruptors and may promote tumor growth.

Sunscreen Block The Production of Vitamin D

The one “vitamin” that is actually produced in the skin from sun exposure has been known to protect us from cancer. Research shows that vitamin D has protective effects against many forms of cancer however as of today no direct link to skin cancer protection.

Most skin sunscreens block UVB rays which are essential for the production of vitamin D.  You need to make sure that you are exposed to some sun to produce this vitamin (which is actually a hormone).  Limit to 20 minutes of sun exposure and make sure to get your levels checked annually to assure you have adequate vitamin D levels.

Staying in The Sun Too Long

This is especially true with high SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreens. You know the 50 SFP products.  These products protect against sunburn BUT not the damaging UVA rays.

These products protect against UVB radiation which burns the skin but not the UVA rays which penetrate the skin, suppress the immune system, accelerate skin aging, and may lead to skin cancer.

Vitamin A Added to Sunscreens May Cause Cancer

Vitamin A in the form of “retinyl palmitate”, if often added to sunscreens to provide anti-oxidant benefits despite the fact that there are studies that show retinyl palmitate may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions.

Used in anti-aging night creams it acts as an anti-oxidant and supposedly has anti-aging effects.  So, I am going with the studies that link it to tumor growth as most of the sunscreens containing retinyl palmitate also contain other hormone disruptor chemicals.

Key Chemicals in Sunscreens – Oxybenzone, Octinoxte

Very commonly used in sunscreens to block UVB rays BUT they can penetrate the skin, get into the bloodstream, and act like estrogen in the body.

Commonly referred to as endocrine disruptors, these chemicals can lead to hormonal imbalances, impact the thyroid, and increase your risk for cancer.  One study found that oxybenzone was linked to endometriosis (estrogen-related disorder commonly seen in younger women) in older women.

Most Contain Parabens and Phthalates – Known Hormone Disruptors

These ingredients are commonly found in skincare products and cosmetics especially foundations along with sun protection chemicals.

Both of these chemicals are known endocrine disruptors so along with oxybenzone, octinoxte you are doubling down on chemicals that are implicated in cancer especially breast cancer.

What is The Best Protection Against Skin 

The best protection against skin cancer – support your immune system with anti-oxidants, reduce exposure to chemicals/toxins, and use safe skincare products.  My favorite products for protecting the skin contain zinc oxide in non-nano particles allowing for a smooth application that does not have a pasty look on the skin.

Zinc oxide protects against both UVB (Burning Rays) and UVA (Aging) rays.  My favorite brand of sunscreen products is BeautyCounter.  Want to learn more about BeautyCountercontact me today to learn about this clean, safer, and better beauty cosmetics and skincare line of products.