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 immune suppressant 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 Different 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 Bendradyl, 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 Treat 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.  See my Food/Symptom journal for foods to avoid.  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.  From there, your Living Matrix is completed, which gives us the areas of imbalances that need to be targeted.  And, how we can finally resolve histamine intolerance and reduce your psoriasis flares. 

Is Functional Nutrition Right For You?

Start your healing journey with my functional nutrition assessment and evaluation.  Reduce your outbreaks and flares!  Your health assessment includes a complimentary consult!

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 

Best Probiotics for Histamine Intolerance

Best Probiotics for Histamine Intolerance

What is Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance can lead to many symptoms but the most common are allergic-type reactions like stuffy nose, watery eyes, and sinus headaches.  We often reach for the anti-histamines to reduce the symptoms when we should be checking out what is in our pantry.

The body produces histamine for many reasons with the most important being defending the body against foreign invaders playing a major role in our immune system.   It is also found in food with fermented foods and leftover meats having some of the highest amounts.

Because our body produces it and it is in our food, our bodies have ways to make sure that histamine stays at healthy levels.  When histamine levels become too high, it can lead to allergic-type reactions.  But not for all of us.

For some of us, myself included, symptoms may vary resulting in migraines, headaches, skin conditions, and even insomnia.  Histamine intolerance is where our bodies are not able to manage healthy levels of histamine resulting in a myriad of symptoms.

Functional Nutrition Rash Histamine Intolerance

Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance

Histamine plays many roles in our body including regulating stomach acid.  It is also an “excitatory neurotransmitter”, brain signaling chemical.  Therefore, it plays a role in brain function and our mental health.

Because histamine plays so many different roles in our bodies, symptoms of histamine intolerance can vary from one person to the next.  This is one of the reasons it is so difficult to determine if you have this food intolerance.  We reach for the antihistamines, pain medications, or more instead of looking at our diet.

Whereas this food intolerance can be identified and resolved, it is difficult to manage as almost foods contain some level of histamine.  There is no such thing as a histamine free diet.

Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance:

  • Itching Skin, Eyes, Ears, and Nose
  • Hives, Skin rashes, Eczema
  • Autoimmune Flares – Psoriasis
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Anxiety, Panic Attacks
  • Headaches – Migraines, Cluster
  • Chest Pain
  • Fatigue, Confusion & Irritability
  • Heartburn, GERD
  • Bloody Noses
  • Sweaty Feet
  • Menstrual Irregularities including PMS

Causes of Histamine Intolerance

As with most food intolerances, it is a lack of an enzyme that leads to intolerance.  An excellent example of this is lactose intolerance with dairy foods.  Lactose intolerance is where we lack enough of the enzyme, lactase, to properly digest the sugars in dairy products.

With histamine, the enzyme known as diamine oxidase (DAO) produced in our gut, works a little differently than the enzyme, lactase.  This enzyme actually blocks the absorption of histamine from the foods that we consume. Thereby reducing and managing histamine levels.

On the other hand, we produce another enzyme known as histamine-N-methyltransferase, (HNMT).  This enzyme actually breaks down histamine thereby reducing levels.  Once levels get too high, HNMT, starts breaking down histamine to a manageable level.

heal the gut woman

What Could Go Wrong with these Two Enzymes?  

The enzyme DAO is produced by the bacteria in the gut as well as our body produces it.  One of the major causes of histamine intolerance is dysbiosis and a condition known as “leaky gut”.

Dysbiosis is a condition where our gut bacteria become imbalanced and, in most cases, we have an infection of bad bacteria.  This leads to a reduction of DAO and we over absorb histamine from our food leading to histamine intolerance.

With HNMT, this enzyme depends on a process known as methylation which produces a compound known as SAMe.  This process depends highly on certain nutrients like folate, vitamin B12, and B2.  If you are deficient in these nutrients or there a great demand for these nutrients, you could become histamine intolerant.

Some of the causes of deficiencies in folate, vitamin B12, and B2 are chronic stress and chronic hidden infections like dysbiosis.   So, you can see that the role of gut health plays a major role in whether you will become histamine intolerant or not.

Looking at the fact that HNMT, needs SAMe one would think that supplementing with SAMe would do the trick.  Unfortunately, like most dietary supplements, it depends on many other factors and nutrients to balance out nutrient deficiencies.

Supplementing with SAMe can lead to anxiety and insomnia, therefore, it is recommended and that you support methylation instead.  Instead, you can promote healthy methylation through consuming foods that are rich in folate like green leafy vegetables and foods rich in vitamin B12 (found mostly in animal products).

Functional Nutrition Heal Histamine Intolerance Wine Pizza

Can you resolve histamine intolerance?

With most food intolerances, you have to first identify if you have it and then it is a matter of managing your food intolerance.  This is for two reasons.

One depends on your genetic makeup as there many different genomic variances that come into play with histamine intolerance.  The other depends on your gut health and being able to maintain a healthy gut and gut microbiota.

The first step to resolving histamine intolerance is to identify if you are histamine intolerance.  Doing a food/symptom journal is a great place to start.  By connecting what you eat to your symptoms you can begin to see if there a connection.

Due to the fact that food intolerances are dosage dependent, in other words, it depends on how much you eat not just what you eat.  You will have to do a food journal for at least 1 week or so.  This is how I found out I was histamine intolerant.

Foods High in Histamine

  • Processed, cured, fermented meat
  • Leftover meat, poultry, pork and fish
  • Fermented milk products like yogurt
  • Seafood: shellfish, fresh, frozen, smoked or canned
  • Fish especially tuna fish (canned)
  • Fermented foods – sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented soy products
  • Tomatoes
  • Artificial food colors and preservatives
  • Chocolate, cocoa and cola drinks
  • Alcoholic Beverages – wine and beer

Almost all foods contain some histamine.  This list does not include all foods high in histamine but includes the most commonly eaten foods high in histamine.

Unlike food allergies, where the response is immediate, food intolerances can take up to 2 days for symptoms to occur.  For me, it was the realization that every time I indulged with a glass of red wine and pizza, I would get a migraine.

All of these foods are high in histamine.  My migraines would usually start up around 3.00 am when histamine release is at its highest for most of us.

Once you have determined if you are histamine intolerant, then you have to try to determine the underlying root cause.  In most cases, healing the gut is key to resolving histamine intolerance.

Begin with my FREE Health Assessment to assess how healthy your gut is and how you can improve your gut health.

You may also have genomic variants that lead to poor enzyme functions like MTHFR, which can increase your need for folate and vitamin B12.  For me, I have the rarest variant in MTHFR as well as variants in both DAO and HMNT.  The key to truly managing your histamine intolerance is genomic testing and evaluation.

With my Optimize Health Genomic Package, you can finally get down to the underlying cause and manage your food intolerances.  Or, you can get started today with Nutrition Genome, reviewing key variants to your overall health, gut health, and potential food intolerances.

 

Are There Probiotic Strains That You Should Avoid?

Yes, definitely.  I learned the hard way on this one.  Trying to experiment with making my own yogurt, I purchased a culture to make my yogurt containing Lactobacillus bulgaricus.  Oops…

Lactobacillus bulgaricus can be found in many popular yogurt brands, i.e. Fage.  Always, read the labels on yogurt and other fermented products to see what strains that they are using.  Avoid products that do not properly list probiotics strains.

Probiotic strains that are histamine producers:

  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • S. thermophilus*

These stains should be avoided.  Along with fermented products, be careful with probiotic supplements. Always read the label.  For instance, S.thermophilus is commonly used in broad-spectrum supplemental probiotics.

What Are the Best Probiotics for Histamine Intolerance?

Just like there are probiotic strains that promote histamine, there are strains that degrade histamine.  So along with DAO which blocks absorption, these strains degrade and breakdown histamine.  These are also commonly found in fermented foods and dietary supplements.

  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Bidobacterium longum
  • Lactobaccillus gasseri
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus salivarius

Using probiotic supplementation is a great way to improve your gut microbiota and resolve histamine intolerance.  But don’t forget to add in the healthy foods that contain prebiotics to truly heal leaky gut and dysbiosis.

Some of the foods that high in healthy prebiotics like apples, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus and even barley are all high in prebiotics.  Root vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes provide the gut bacteria with the food that the good bacteria need to flourish.  If you having problems digesting these foods, you might need a digestion tune-up.  Check out my FREE Health Assessment to get started.

 

Functional Nutrition Approach to Healing Histamine Intolerance

To end the madness of elimination dieting and to enjoy wine and cheese again, start with my FREE Health Assessment.  Followed up my complimentary 15-minute consult, begins the journey of getting to the root cause of your food intolerance.

Histamine intolerance, like most intolerances, did not occur overnight.  Nor, were you born with it.  Over the years, gut health, hormonal imbalances, medications, poor diet, and chronic stress can take its toll on our gut.

That is why functional nutrition using a comprehensive health history and profile.  From there it might be recommended to conduct integrative testing like a stool or organic acid testing.

Genomic testing is highly recommended as it involves not just variants that can impact enzyme production, but variants that have an impact on your gut health.

In addition, some of these variants can have an impact not just on food intolerances but autoimmune conditions like psoriasis.  For me, genomic testing was a game-changer as I finally got down to the root cause of my histamine intolerance and autoimmune skin conditions.

 

  1. Histamine and histamine intolerance, Laura Maintz and Natalija, American Journal Clinical Nutrition, 2007;85:1185-96
  2. Headaches, Hives and Heartburn Could Histamine be the Cause, Chris Kresser
  3. Degradation of Histamine by Lactobacillus Plantarum Isolated From Miso Products, Kung, et al, PMID: 28885051
  4. Probiotic Lactobacillus Rhamnosus Downregulates FCER1 and HRH4 Expression in Human Mast Cells, Oksaharju, et al, PMID: 21390145
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.