What is Histamine Intolerance?
Histamine is a chemical best known for its role in triggering an allergic reaction. During this type of reaction, the source of histamine released is from cells known as mast cells.
Histamine intolerance (HIT) is also mediated by histamine, but is caused by an inability of the body to metabolise histamine efficiently. With HIT, the source of histamine is from food which is either high in histamine or capable of liberating histamine in the body.
Foods which are high in histamine include:
|Champagne, red wine, beer, cider and other fermented drinks and spirits||Tinned and smoked fish (tuna, salmon, herring) and crustaceans|
|Sauerkraut and other pickled foods||Mushrooms and Quorn|
|Vinegar and vinegar-containing foods (dressings, pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard)||Seeds and nuts|
|Tofu and soya sauce||Dried fruit|
|Parmesan cheese and other cheeses||Yeast extract, yeast|
|Sausages and other processed meats (ham, salami, gammon, bacon)||Chocolate, cocoa, cola|
Foods which also encourage the release of histamine within the body include:
Under normal circumstances, when histamine-rich / histamine-liberating foods are eaten, excess histamine is broken down by specific enzymes and removed from circulation. One of the main enzymes involved in the breakdown of histamine is diamine oxidase (DAO).
If a person is deficient in the DAO enzyme they will be unable to metabolise histamine efficiently. As a consequence, when histamine-rich / histamine-liberating foods are consumed, excessive amounts of histamine can accumulate in the lungs, skin and colon, primarily.
This build-up of histamine can then trigger the onset of symptoms commonly associated with HIT, which can appear very allergy-like. Understandably, the initial symptoms may be confused as being due to an allergic reaction, but once this has been ruled out, it is possible that HIT may be the culprit.
Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance
Typical symptoms include:
• Digestive tract problems including diarrhoea and bloating
• Dysmenorrhea (painful periods)
• Flushing (face and chest)
• Hypotension (low blood pressure)
• Runny nose
• Skin rashes
• Swellings (mostly around the eyes and lips)
• Symptoms resembling anxiety / panic attacks
• Weepy eyes
Until recently, the conventional method for diagnosing HIT was to adopt a low-histamine diet and then observe if symptoms improve. However, following a low-histamine diet can be very restrictive, especially as it requires you to avoid healthy foods. Being able to test for histamine intolerance can, therefore, provide assurance that you are restricting your diet for good reason.
Utilising proven ELISA-based technology, the DAO Screen test offers a convenient and reliable method to detect circulatory levels of DAO in the bloodstream.
Requesting a test is straightforward and convenient. Simply collect a Dried Blood Spot sample using the components provided in the Sample Collection Pack and send to the CNS Laboratory using the pre-paid envelope supplied. Please refer to ‘Taking the Test’ for more detailed instructions.
Before taking the test, it is important that you:
• Stop using anti-histamine medication for at least 1 week, unless this has been recommended by your doctor
• Avoid following a low-histamine diet
• Avoid fasting
The test is not suitable for pregnant women as DAO levels increase during pregnancy.
A test report that details the DAO concentration detected in the blood sample will be available within 15 working days.
When you have been found to have a low DAO concentration in your blood, initial treatment will focus on reducing the intake of histamine through the diet. Following such a diet can be quite complex, so we strongly recommend that you seek advice from a suitably qualified nutritional therapist or healthcare professional before making changes to your diet.