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.
- 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.