As I was reading Dr. Andrew Cook‘s book, Stop Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain, I came across a passage that grabbed my attention.
Endometrial cells release inflammatory chemicals, including histamines.
Histamine. Really? This sparked up my curiosity…. and this post 🙂
What is Histamine?
Histamine is a compound found in all tissues of your body. (It is also found in some foods).
Histamine is released from your body during times of stress or allergy. It is part of your body’s protective system, designed to respond to danger.
It causes an immediate inflammatory response.
Histamine causes dilation of your blood vessels and tightening of your muscles. This swelling puts pressure on your nerve endings and causes pain.
Histamine is a neurotransmitter. It communicates important messages from your body to your brain. Histamines that cross your blood brain barrier affect your perception of pain.
Histamine Break Down
Histamine is part of your body’s natural immune response. After it’s released, it’s either stored or broken down by certain enzymes.
The histamine in your central nervous system is broken down primarily by histamine N-methyltransferase (HMT). Histamine in your digestive tract is broken down primarily by diamine oxidase (DAO).
If you have deficiency in these enzymes (especially DAO), then you will likely have issues breaking down histamine.
DAO activity lessens when you take anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin or certain antidepressants. Your environment and emotional wellbeing also play a role.
Histamine levels increase with stress.
Effects of Excess Histamine
As I dug deeper into the impacts of excess histamine, more light bulbs starting going off. If endometrial implants are releasing histamine, then it would make sense that we’d naturally have more histamine in our bodies.
Problems arise when there’s too much histamine in your body. Let’s take a look at some of the effects….
Excess histamine impacts your adrenal glands. Your adrenals play an important role in mediating histamine release and inflammatory reactions with the release of cortisol (your stress hormone), which is an anti-inflammatory agent.
The harder your adrenals have to work, the more fatigued they become, and the less cortisol they produce, allowing histamine to further inflame your tissues. This plays into a vicious cycle of inflammation and fatigue.
Histamine stimulates your ovaries to make more estrogen, and estrogen then stimulates your mast cells to make more histamine. Estrogen also down-regulates the DAO enzyme that you need to clear histamine.
This results in a vicious cycle of estrogen → histamine → estrogen → histamine.
This relationship intrigues me and further points to the connection with histamine and endometriosis, an estrogen dominant condition.
Histamines play a role in the regulation of your sleep. Too high of levels can induce insomnia.
Anxiety & Depression
Too much histamine can produce anxiety and it could also play a role in depression.
Excess histamine can cause you to have headaches and nasal congestion. This can become worse this time of year, as seasonal environmental allergies come into play.
Histamine Levels and Stress
Histamine release is influenced by stress. This includes physical or emotional stress.
More stress = more histamine. Histamine has a major impact on the reactivity of your immune system.
All of this stress adds more work on your adrenals, adds inflammation to your body, and eventually leads to your body burning out. Exhausted.
This adds to the stress situation. So much to do, so little energy to do it. This could impact your family and work life, adding even more to the stress mix.
Natural Ways to Reduce Histamine
Although traditional histamine blocker and antihistamine medications are available, over time these medications actually deplete DAO levels in your body.
Rather then go that route, here are some natural ways to reduce histamine in your body:
#1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C can help block histamine. Vitamin C is available in many fruits and vegetables including cantaloupe, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, watermelon and pineapple, or you can supplement with it.
Speaking of pineapple, bromelain is another natural antihistamine choice. This is found in pineapples, or you can also supplement with it. I get it in the digestive enzyme blend I take called Vitalzym.
Nettle is another great natural antihistamine and nettle has many other benefits for endometriosis, including its gentle, stimulating effect on your lymphatic system, which enhances the excretion of wastes through your kidneys. You can drink nettle tea or take it in a more potent tincture form.
#4. Bee Pollen
Bee pollen, which is made by honeybees and is the food of the young bee, may inhibit the activity of mast cells – a class of immune system cells that release histamine. Bee pollen is also a great source of B vitamins, which helps with energy, mood and support for your liver.
Quercetin occurs naturally in a variety of plant-based foods. This flavonoid compound has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help stop histamine. Quercetin is found in onions and fruits with a dark red or blue coloring have the highest quercetin content. Think blueberries, plumbs, black currents, cherries and apples.
Foods High in Histamine
It’s good to be aware of which foods have higher histamine levels. If you are eating these all the time then you could be adding additional histamine load to your body.
Here are some foods that have higher levels of histamine:
- Fermented foods (sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, pickles, etc)
- Cured meats (bacon, salami, pepperoni, lunch meats, and hot dogs)
- Most citrus fruits
- Dried fruit (raisins, dates, cranberries, etc)
- Cow’s Milk
- Sour cream
- Aged cheese
- Many artificial preservatives and food dyes
Pay attention after you eat these foods to see if you have a reaction. As with all things, moderation is key.
One such reaction of histamine could be mucus, like you would get when you have a cold, or allergies. I definitely notice this when I eat bananas, Ha. I notice that they make me sneeze too.
I’m going to pay attention to the others on this list.
Histamine reactions can also show on your skin in the way of rashes or hives. Or it could trigger a painful reaction. Histamine travels in your blood stream, so it has the potential to impact many organs and systems in your body.
On the Positive Side?
I love putting these connections together, as the pieces to the puzzle continue to fall into place.
I understand that this may feel overwhelming, especially after I’ve included another long list of foods to pay attention to, but awareness is a key factor in healing.
With the change in season upon us, we are in high allergy times. I hope this insight into endometriosis and histamine helps you to piece together your own allergic reactions to the foods you eat or your environment in general.
As with most things, a big piece in keeping histamine under control is to reduce stress in your body: from the foods you eat, to what you put in and on your body, to the environment you spend your time in and how you consciously respond to the emotional stress in your life.
Do you know if you have histamine issues? Do you follow a low histamine diet? How has this impacted you?
I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.
I have been saying for along time that there must be a connection somewhere.I suffer with chronic sinus pain+infections and also developed hayfever a few years ago.I take hayfever tablets daily and use a steroid nasal spray each day.A few years ago I started on the FODMAP diet(which helps symptoms).However I can’t seem to shake off a bad cold+cough(nasal pain+nose bleeds).
Hi Joanne – Sorry to hear of your struggles. I think the medication can make things worse. They may provide a temporary fix, but they could be diminishing your body’s natural ability to breakdown histamine. I think it’s great that you’ve adjusted your diet. It takes a long time to heal your gut, which is the key to relieving a lot of symptoms. Sending LOVE.
I’ve managed to leave the nasal spray behind when I started rinsing my nose. I know it sounds awful, I hated the idea at first as well… but it truly helps! nasal irrigation helps me a lot!
Wow!!!! I have endo and dermagraphic skin, aka skin writing(I have extra mast cells). I knew there was a connection. I have to take zyrtec everyday just to try to keep my skin calm.
Hi Janet – Happy to hear you found a connection 🙂 I think the deeper connection goes back to digestive health and leaky gut. My skin is much happier once I made moves to eliminate the sensitivities I have with gluten/dairy.
I suffer from the SAME exact thing Janet! Zyrtec daily to relieve the constant itching and raised skin writing/dermagraphia. I have stage 4 endometriosis and had an ovary removed that was unfortunately unrecoverable. I think the thing about endo most people don’t know, is it has the ability to travel around the body. I had a partially collapsed lung a few months ago and currently have a mass on my brain… my neurologist suspects it may be endo reaking havoc… I’m going to do more research on foods to avoid and avoiding histamines is the first thing on my list. I already eat Gluten Free and avoid salycilates, praying that being more strict with food intake will help!
It sounds like you are going through so much Christine. I hope you get things settled down. Sending love + light.
Great article! I have known about the connection between histamines and endometriosis. But you did definitely draw a couple other dots together that I had not. I’ve always made the connection of needing to cleanse the liver because of the histamines being too high but not the fact that endo produces histamines. Fascinating! I’ve been doing some research on Quercertin as to whether or not it is estrogen reducing or estrogen producing. The jury is still out as I have found support of both. Have you come across any information as to one or the other that you feel strongly?
From what I see it seems that Quercetin is supposed to help block bad estrogens form binding to estrogen receptors. If you’re concerned about it, I’d stick to getting it from food, rather than supplementing with it on its own.
I have been diagnosed with angioedema/uticaria in the last 6 months. This blood disease causes swelling and anaphylaxis, welts/rash, allergy symptoms, because of raised histamine levels. It’s interesting to know it could be connected with endo.
Sorry to hear that Luisa. I hope some of the suggestions help you. Sending love.
This is just in time. I was wondering why my sinuses where getting so bad now. I stopped getting migraines last year when I took sugar out of my diet the I started getting sinus migraines in the past couple of weeks. I’ve been on the verge of insomnia this past week. I was blaming hormones for it all. Well I started my period today like I thought I would. I didn’t realize how much it all was linked. I’m gonna look into that Vitalzym now. Thanks for all the research you do. You’ve been an extreme help.
Good luck Holly! I hope you find something that helps you. Sending Love.
Thank you so much for this fascinating article. I have had a hunch for a while about all the inflammatory responses in my body being related. Whilst my endo symptoms seem to be under control and quite manageable, for the last few years my facial skin has taken a turn for the worse. Apart from the occasional severe case of seborreic dermatitis, I have horrible rosacea that seems to be getting worse and worse. Do you know if histamine play a major role with skin conditions like rosacea? Thanks again!
Hi Magui – Yes. Histamine intolerance and rosacea go hand in hand: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23814966
I have high histamine levels and never thought it could have been caused by endo. Within the past few years I developed severe anxiety, and the fight or flight symptom was ruling my life. After testing, my Doctor put me on Hydroxyzine 3xs a day. Which helped tremendously, with my mental health. As far as foods go, I do Acv daily and thought sauerkraut and pickles were good for you. Now I know. Sorry for the long rant, just amazed that this is endo related. Btw, I had a hysterectomy (kept ovaries) in March. 7 months in and feel great.
I just came across this article. Thank you for making the connections! I have endo, had a hysterectomy 8 years back, since then no more pain but I have been suffering from asthma more and more as well as exhaustion when I eat certain foods or consumed alcohol. I just knew there was a connection but I’m having a hard time finding doctors in Germany that are specialized in this. People think I’m crazy and I’m making it all up…. I love working out and most days I have all the energy in the world. On days when my histamine Levels are high I can barely make it upstairs… thank you again for sharing.
Hi Kat. Glad that you found me here. Please let me know if I can support you further. Much Love.
Thank you Aubree! This is a very informative post. I knew that women with endo often have an impaired immune system, I did not know that endo releases histamine, It explains a lot. Btw, I have a yoga course for endo online, if you’d like to take a look. Yoga is fantastic for chronic pain, but you need to practise specific yoga xxx
Thanks Allannah. Glad you found it helpful. I agree that yoga helps so much. Thanks for sharing.
Wow! This is so helpful. Thank you. Two questions, what book do you recommend regarding endometriosis general knowledge and what type of medical specialty would help to check these things out for a patient who has endo and cyclical monthly hives with pain and fevers?
I have a list of recommended reads here: http://peacewithendo.com/start-here
I’d recommend seeking out a functional doctor to help you sort out what’s going on: https://www.ifm.org/find-a-practitioner/
Wow! Thank you so much for this article! I am currently on day 31 of hives and I also have endometriosis. I had my upper and middle lobes of my right lung removed in 2014 due to a mass ( pathology report came back endometrial tissue and MAC infection). All of this info is super helpful and will hopefully spark a good conversation when I see the allergist on Tuesday! Thanks again!
Sorry to hear that Ellen. I hope you find some relief soon. Sending love.
Hi dear Aubree, so helpful article – again! Your research helps others very much! Finally it makes sense why my worst endo pains & brain fog & lack of energy is during days 7-12 of my cycle instead of my period, as that’s when the estrogen starts climbing again! Another thing to look now, those histamine triggers… and also how stress always seems to make this time of my cycle worse, even if it was experienced a bit earlier, and not just that time. Endo truly is fascinating-and ah such a challenging – life companion! It has definitely taught me: “don’t make a final statement but remain open” as every time I think I figured something out, it throws a curveball!
Hi Pauliina! Glad you found it helpful. Histamine is a big deal with endo. Glad you’re putting that connection together and I hope it helps you find some relief. Much Love 💛
I do believe this story had my name all over it … It was like hitting the nail on the head it explained issues I’ve had for years and have been to half a dozen drs but none could properly diagnose it… sure they got each issue individually but none ever as a whole , been diagnosed with endometriosis, anxiety disorder, gerd, eczema, … I have muscle tension in my legs that is painful but dr just keep sending me to other drs because they have no idea …what kind of dr do I need to find, what specialty to help me diagnose and treat
Hi, Janet! I think most of the connecting underlying issues with me connect back with a sluggish liver, and it seems from your diagnosis is that’s likely an issue with you too. I’ve found success following the advice and protocols in Anthony William’s Medical Medium books. Recommend checking out his Liver Rescue one and/or the new Cleanse to Heal: https://amzn.to/3dx4SrJ
Best of luck to you!