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What exactly is a histamine intolerance?

  1. People who suffer from certain allergies have heard of histamine. Often people hear that histamine is responsible for the unpleasant symptoms they suffer from. But what exactly is histamine? What does it do to our body?

  1. Is it only annoying for people with allergies? In this article, I'll take a closer look at the topic of histamine.

The standard definition of histamine

  1. If we look at the standard definition, histamine is a chemical neurotransmitter that is produced by the body during an allergic reaction. The most recognizable symptoms of histamine production are irritation of the skin, nose, throat and lungs. This includes itching, redness, swelling, rash, cough, and mucus in the throat. This irritation is often a reaction to various allergens: insect bites or actual irritants such as dust particles or food allergies or intolerances.

  1. These reactions are part of our body's inflammatory response. This is an important part of our immune system. It also has several other functions: histamine helps regulate physiological function in the gut, helps us regulate our sleep properly, and aids in our sexual response.

Histamine as a neurotransmitter

  1. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that is passed between neurons in the nervous system. When a neuron releases molecules of a chemical neurotransmitter, it passes through what is called the "presynaptic nerve terminal," also called the end of the neuron. It passes through the "synapse" or space between neurons and is eventually taken up by a "receptor" region at the recipient neuron. This neuron then transmits the signals from the neurotransmitter, and this triggers a response from our body.

  2. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that is passed between neurons in the nervous system. When a neuron releases molecules of a chemical neurotransmitter, it passes through the so-called "presynaptic nerve terminal," also called the end of the neuron. It passes through the "synapse" or space between neurons and is eventually taken up by a "receptor" region at the recipient neuron. This neuron then transmits the signals from the neurotransmitter, and this triggers a response from our body.

  1. The continuous stimulation of neurons triggers responses in the body specific to the type of neurotransmitter being passed on. Histamine is classified into a group of neurotransmitters called “Small Molecule Neurotransmitter Substances.” Other neurotransmitters associated with this include serotonin, epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine. [! 159491 => 1130 = 6!] Histamine for allergic reactions

  2. The continuous stimulation of neurons triggers responses in the body specific to the type of neurotransmitter being passed on. Histamine is classified into a group of neurotransmitters called “Small Molecule Neurotransmitter Substances.” Other neurotransmitters associated with this include serotonin, epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine.

Histamine for allergic reactions

  1. At any given time of the day, there is always a small amount of histamine in our body. If a foreign substance is introduced into our body, such as toxic chemicals from an insect bite or a reaction to poisonous plants such as nettles, the body will deliver larger amounts of histamine to the site of the infection. So it does this to help our body, but sometimes it has the opposite effect on our health.

  1. In people who are allergic to certain foods such as strawberries or foods containing sulfur, the body can release very large amounts of histamine, which can cause shock or even kill. The body cannot handle large amounts of histamine properly.

  1. To cope with this, the body will produce epinephrine (adrenaline) when we have to process a large amount of histamine. This ensures that histamine works less well in our body. But high amounts of adrenaline can lead to unwanted anxiety and panic attacks.

  1. Medicines such as Benadryl (Diphenhydramine, often available only through US websites) or other antihistamines can help remove some amount of histamine from the body.

  1. This reduces the symptoms. This is also the reason that when people suffer from a cold they should take medicines containing an antihistamine. This relieves the swelling that results from the infection in the nasal cavity and stimulates the excretion of fluid.

  1. A histamine response to our immune response (in both allergic and immune responses) has two different functions:

  2. A histamine response to our immune response (both allergic and immune responses) has two different functions:

  1. Both reactions are an important part of our body's inflammatory response. Vasodilation makes it easier for our white blood cells to move to the site of the infection.

  1. Fluid secretion is important because the body can get rid of pathogens and allergens so easily.

What are the effects of histamine on different tissues?

  1. Histamine is a molecule that is stored in the white blood cells. This chemical compound plays an important role in activating the immune system in response to invading pathogens or germs. However, histamine is also responsible for allergic reactions when too much histamine is released in our body or when the immune system has become hypersensitive to this substance.

  1. Histamine acts as a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger in the brain and stimulates the production of stomach acid for digestion. Histamine causes various reactions in the body (including allergic) reactions, due to its effects on different tissues.

  1. Allergic asthma is caused by a strong response of the immune system to the increased secretion of histamine. Patients with allergy-induced asthma are more sensitive to histamine-mediated bronchoconstriction, or narrowing of the smooth muscle lining in the bronchioles of the lungs. Histamine causes contraction, narrowing, muscle cramps and inflammation in these lung passages, causing problems with asthma. Symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness.

  1. Histamine causes angioedema or swelling in the lining of the nose, mouth, throat, lungs and our gastrointestinal tract. This swelling occurs because histamine opens up blood vessels further, causing certain fluids to leak into these tissues. This also happens just under the skin, which can cause allergic skin reactions such as swelling, hives and itching. In the most severe of allergic reactions, it can even cause swelling in the mouth, throat and lungs and make or even hinder our breathing.

  1. Histamine also increases mucus production in the nasal passages and lungs, causing problems such as a runny nose, nasal congestion and fluid in the lungs. Histamine causes secretions that are both thick and thin (extra thick mucus or the traditional 'runny nose'). This happens in allergic reactions because histamine activates both H1 and H2 receptors in the body which then produce mucus to stop the foreign particles entering the body.

  1. Histamine also affects gastric secretions. This mechanism involves the activation of H2 receptors in the stomach that secrete acid. Partly because of this, certain drugs that lower the acid secretion in the stomach work to reduce the reaction between histamine H2 receptors.

Histamine intolerance and eating

  1. Histamine is a chemical that is also naturally found in certain foods. In addition, we have also already discussed that histamine is one of the most important substances released in the body as a result of an allergic reaction. This causes people to experience standard allergy symptoms such as itching, sneezing, wheezing and swelling of the skin.

  1. We all have an enzyme (diamine oxidase) in our body that causes us to break down all the histamine that we absorb from histamine-containing foods. When we eat a food that contains histamine, it does not normally affect us. However, some people simply have too little of this enzyme. When you eat too many histamine-rich foods, you may experience 'allergy-like' symptoms such as headache, rash, itching, diarrhea, vomiting or stomach pain. This is called a histamine intolerance.

  1. Certain foods (even products that are low in histamine) can stimulate the release of histamine from the mast cells in your body (this is a type of immune cell). These foods include:

  1. Note that all allergy tests that measure IgE levels, such as the skin prick test and specific IgE blood tests, would not see these foods as problematic. This is because the reaction to histamine is not caused by an IgE food allergy, the cause is histamine intolerance.

Diagnosis

  1. The diagnosis of histamine intolerance is usually made by having people eat a diet containing little or no histamine-containing products for a few weeks. If the symptoms then improve, it would make sense that histamine is the problem. Blood tests claiming to be useful in measuring histamine levels or the level of the enzyme that normally breaks down histamine have not been reliable.

  1. The treatment of histamine intolerance consists of avoiding histamine-rich foods, but only to the amount necessary. The amount of histamine-containing foods that can be tolerated by a person will vary from person to person. Taking an antihistamine regularly is often helpful for people who suffer from histamine intolerance.

  1. The exclusion of certain foods should always be followed by a period of reintroduction, this can confirm the diagnosis of histamine intolerance. If this does not happen, chances are that the daily diet for that person will only become more limited. At worst, nutritional choices can become inadequate.

Sources



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