Histamines are a naturally occurring compound found in all human cells and a vital part of the body’s immune and neurological systems.
Patients with allergies are very familiar with their body’s histamine response.
With environmental irritants (pollen, dander, etc.) histamines generally utilize the nasal passages to rid the body of offending allergens through a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes.
Food intolerances cause histamines to work in the gut to trigger a response with symptoms like nausea, cramping, skin redness/flushing or elevated heart rate.
Histamine released after insect bites or exposure to certain plants can result in itchy skin rashes or swelling and breathing difficulties.
These are all natural, effective responses by the body to protect itself from perceived threats.
While in more serious cases these responses can require medication such as an antihistamine or Epipen, in healthy individuals the histamine release is usually followed by a natural counter reaction. An enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO) breaks down histamines and excretes them once the threat has passed.
Some people, however, lack adequate DAO, causing a buildup of histamine in the body that leads to chronic symptoms such as those mentioned above, as well as others like migraine headaches, acid reflux, anxiety and premenstrual cramping.
This is known as histamine intolerance and has a number of causes, including genetics.
Genetic variants on several genes, including the AOC1/ABP1 gene and the MTHFR gene, can affect the production of the DAO enzyme, leaving the body unable to effectively break histamines down. Left unchecked, they then build up and cause symptoms often mistakenly diagnosed as food allergies, diseases of the GI tract, and others. Patients often get frustrated when typical treatments for those conditions don’t eliminate the symptoms, which is often the case when histamine intolerance is the cause.
To further complicate things, certain medications, which can inhibit DAO production, and diets full of foods that are naturally high in histamines can exacerbate the problem as they lead to even higher histamine levels in people who can’t break it down efficiently.
Genetic testing through Infinity Wellness can identify whether or not you have these variants and if histamine intolerance might be the cause of your symptoms.
If you suffer from recurring rashes, hives or eczema, headaches/migraines, frequent allergy symptoms, gastrointestinal or blood pressure issues and want to know if it could be due to histamine intolerance, talk to us about genetic testing, supplementation and nutritional counseling.
We want to set you on the path to wellness.