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Histamine, leaky gut... stop the madness

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  • Histamine, leaky gut... stop the madness

    Guys. I'm in a pickle. Veeeerrrrry long story short, a few weeks ago I came to the soft conclusion that a bunch of crazy (and steadily worsening) symptoms I've been having over the past several months are due to histamine intolerance and what seems to be a huge buildup of histamine in my system. It's to the point now where I can barely eat any histamine-rich food without breaking out in hives and swelling on and inside my mouth. Thankfully, they're like teensy little pinprick hives that aren't really visible other than being red, so it's not like I'm feeling disfigured or anything; however, they're extremely annoying and sometimes painful, and are coupled with other obvious "allergic" reactions, like fatigue, soreness, bloating, stuffy/runny nose, itching, etc.

    The biggest triggers for this histamine cascade seem to be alcohol (mostly red wine), blue cheese, shellfish, grapefruit, nightshades, and spicy peppers like cayenne, chili, and japapeno. Oh, and yogurt, pickles, other fermented stuff. Like I said, it's hard to tell anymore because it's to the point where eating anything at all triggers me, and I'm just walking around with constant hives and allergies. But the first big obvious triggers, when I first started breaking out in hives, were wine, blue cheese, chili powder, and grapefruit.

    I tried taking antihistamines, but they only took the edge off for about a week, and then stopped working.

    From the reading I've done on histamine intolerance, it seems that I need to adopt a low-histamine diet for a while (which, LOL, I dare you to google this--it esentially limits all the heavyweights on the Primal foods list) to lower the level of histamine in my system. However, I haven't really found any concrete discussions of HOW people have done this. (And it sounds pretty difficult/impossible to me.) And now, on top of this, I've been getting a lot of pushback from a coach who's also a nutritionist, who suggests that I might have leaky gut, and that's something I need to heal first.

    I'm on information overload. I'm totally confused. I've been a happy 80/20 (recently, more like 95/5) Primal girl for almost five years now. I can't imagine giving up my Primal diet. But I also realize I'm in an unsustainable loop here and the allergies are going to keep getting worse.

    Has anyone experienced histamine intolerance or leaky gut that kind of came out of nowhere after years of good health? What did you do to heal it? Tell me what to do, hive mind. I really hate to post one of those "everybody else do my thinking for me!" threads, but I've done the research and I'm still completely at a loss here. Also I searched the forum thoroughly and the results were vague and unhelpful. So, I don't want any "Derp, read The Primal Blueprint" responses, k? ;P

  • #2
    I am having the same issue here. After over a year of being 95% Primal (except the sleep), I now have really bad reactions to high-histamine foods. I'm finding an apple with every meal helps, and I've stopped eating large amounts of chocolate and meats kept for a long time.

    Otherwise, I am very open to finding out what everybody else has to say on these symptoms, because I don't think I have my head completely wrapped around it.
    My chocolatey Primal journey

    Unusual food recipes (plus chocolate) blog


    • #3
      Reduce the animal products in your diet for awhile. You are also pretty low carb correct?

      I would stop eating any muscle meat and heavy fat sources, start eating for fruit, veggies, starch as the bulk of the food and supplement with gelatin. A few times a week have some lighter protein like reduced fat milk and seafood. Maybe lamb or beef.


      • #4
        Wow, sorry to hear. That sux cause I always considered Paleo have such great success for such a great variety of people particularly cause its the "anti-leaky gut" kinda diet. I mean there are tests for this sort of thing. Mannitol and lactulose test particularly. My assistant was having persistent hive outbreaks until we got her vitamin D levels up to normal.... however she never did adopt anything close to a paleo diet. She was the worst form of SAD. Honestly I think you need to find a practitioner in your area to work with. You could use some structured testing for diagnosis and treatment. I love being on these forums cause we can all just "throw" answers around and shoot from the hip, but sometimes thats just not good enough. I hope you can get things back on track! There was a poster (paleobunny I think) that I recall saying she had histamine intolerance issues. Maybe you could search out some of her threads. I don't recall her entire story and haven't seen her round for a while.

        One of the first things that popped up when I typed "low histamine diet" was this:

        Paleo/Whole30 Shopping Lists: Autoimmune, FODMAP, and Low-Histamine | Whole9 | Let us change your life.
        Last edited by Neckhammer; 08-20-2013, 02:37 PM.


        • #5
          My husband is dealing with this issue right now. In his case, his IBS-D gets triggered as soon as he eats foods either high in histamine or that trigger histamine release, and his allergic reaction to things seems to be really amped up lately.

          The problem (as you mentioned) is that it is essentially impossible to avoid histamine in foods because it's in everything, to higher or lesser degree. He also tried antihistamines, which seemed to help short term, but after a few days really didn't help anymore. He also noticed that certain types of histamines helped while others didn't (Benedryl worked initially, Allegra and Zyrtec didn't).

          Something that he just started experimenting with (and seems to be working) is to supplement with the enzyme HISTAME (one or two capsules 15 min before a meal with high histamine). He ordered it from Amazon, and it wasn't too expensive, it was something like $10 and there are no sketchy filler ingredients.

          From his research, it seems that there are bacteria in the gut that produce the enzyme that breaks down histamine, but after some kind of gut flora damage (food poisoning, antibiotic use, etc...) these bacteria get killed off so they aren't producing the enzyme, which is why this problem can seem to come on spontaneously. We're unclear how to bring those good bacteria back aside from promoting general gut flora health which is a bit of a Catch-22 as fermented foods with probiotics are high in histamines and trigger the problem.

          If you do find a cure, I hope you post about it, because we're in a similar boat, and I don't know if these enzymes are a long term fix.
          Last edited by BestBetter; 08-20-2013, 03:02 PM.


          • #6
            Thanks, everyone! I think I'm going to just try to do a low-histamine diet as best I can, order some Histame, and see if I can find a nutritionist or naturopath or somebody in town who will take me seriously and won't just prescribe steroids or something.

            There just isn't a lot of info to go on, here. I think that's why I'm so frustrated. I'm getting a lot of "this is what you have" from the Internet, but not a lot of "here's how to fix it" (besides "avoid histamine", which, thanks, never woulda guessed, Internet).


            • #7
              I used to talk to paleobunny, who no longer frequents these boards, but she did a pretty good job of maintaining a low-histamine diet, including fresh soft cheeses and plenty of fish.

              On self-diagnosis, I also feel that part of the reason we may be easily susceptible to histamines is because there is some other issue with our health that is preventing our body from reacting properly to it. But that is just my guess.
              My chocolatey Primal journey

              Unusual food recipes (plus chocolate) blog


              • #8
                Mini-update: I've 100% cut coffee, tea, nightshades, and anything fermented, and am avoiding as best I can all foods on the high-histamine list. The real struggle is with not eating leftovers. Usually I cook double meat at night and have the leftovers for lunch at work the next day. But I'm only allowed to have fresh meat and vegetables, nothing that's been sitting around.

                As far as what I'm adding, I'm taking a bunch of magnesium and vitamin C, drinking nettle tea and licorice tea, and eating an apple after every meal. I also ordered something called DAOsin and hopefully that'll boost the DAO enzyme that's supposed to be bulldozing the histamine I ingest.

                I'm not worrying about the leaky gut possibility right now. It's too much to think about. And I would be shocked if I somehow developed leaky gut after four years of Paleo.


                • #9
                  I remember paleobunny. If you can search for "histamine" and posts made by her on the forum, you might some some info about what she did. I looked into this as a possible issue for myself at one point, but it didn't really fit my symptoms.

                  I think histamine intolerance is more commonly recognized/diagnosed in the UK, or at least not in the US. That may help with your searches? I do remember reading about the DAO enzyme so I hope that helps.
                  Depression Lies


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by heatseeker View Post

                    As far as what I'm adding, I'm taking a bunch of magnesium and vitamin C, drinking nettle tea and licorice tea, and eating an apple after every meal. I also ordered something called DAOsin and hopefully that'll boost the DAO enzyme that's supposed to be bulldozing the histamine I ingest.
                    I'm glad you mentioned the nettle tea, I forgot to list that as something he was using - I have a ton of stinging nettles in my garden, and I harvested and dried them for him. It seems to have helped calm his histamine reaction (although many things seem to help short term then stop working).

                    On a slightly unrelated note, when I was drinking nettle tea during my period, my bleeding was unusually excessive (which is something concerning because I have anemia and need to limit my blood loss). I found out it was due to the nettles, so during the next few days I stopped the nettle tea (bleeding normalized) and resumed afterward.

                    I just looked into DAOsin, and it turns out to be the same thing as Histame.
                    Last edited by BestBetter; 08-22-2013, 08:38 AM.


                    • #11
                      I've had allergies forever. I had hoped that paleo would change that but after 3 1/2 yrs I see no improvement. Antihistamines sort of work though lately not really. Benadryl seems to be the most effective but it puts me to sleep.

                      I've looked into the histamine diet and it just seemed too overwhelming, I also tried GAPS, I probably didn't do it long enough because the allergies didn't improve. Along with allergies I have Hashimoto's so i'm definitely dealing with a lot of autoimmune stuff. i've finally found a doctor that seems to be familiar with gut and hormone issues so I'm hoping he can help me sort all this out.

                      I like the idea that apples could help; we have a tree that's loaded with them. I'm not a big fruit eater but I may as well give it a try.
                      Life is death. We all take turns. It's sacred to eat during our turn and be eaten when our turn is over. RichMahogany.


                      • #12
                        I would look into supplementing Vitamin C (Ester C), Fish Oil, Curcumin, Quercetin, Vitamin D, Zinc, and Magnesium, to make sure that that the immune system is in align and histamine and inflammation is regulated and not in excess.

                        GAPS isn't for everyone some people can be allergic to the excess sulfur (moly B is the treatment) and can cause adrenal fatigue to become worse.

                        If I were you I would treat for SIBO and SIYO to eliminate all excess bacteria and yeast, then rebuild the gut from the ground up. Look at my most recent blog post on my blog for advice.
                        My book Fix Your Gut is available on Amazon The book price is $7.99.

                        I also offer coaching:

                        Twitter: @fixyourgutjb


                        • #13
                          Dude, I'm sorry, that sucks, heatseeker. I don't have any helpful advice for you, but I hope you figure something out and get better soon!

                          My journal


                          • #14
                            Well, I'm reporting back after about a week of attempting a low-histamine diet. I basically cut out all coffee, tea, alcohol, and fermented foods, as well as anything that is a known trigger for me (aged cheeses, nightshades, shellfish, citrus fruit), and have been avoiding as best I can the rest of the "bad" foods. The first couple days off coffee were hell on earth but now I'm feeling fine and definitely sleeping better. If my histamine ever gets better and I can drink coffee again, I think I'll stick to decaf, because I LOVE the flavor of coffee (it's my crack), but kicking the caffeine monkey was just not fun at all.

                            I've also started a supplementation regimen of the following:

                            B-Complex (liquid, sublingual)
                            Vitamin D
                            Vitamin C
                            Fish oil

                            Before bed:

                            In addition, I've been drinking a lot of nettle tea and licorice tea, constantly. I find the nettle really helps with the allergy symptoms and also energizes me. And lastly, I've been trying to eat an apple a day. Sometimes I forget. But I've been trying to make it happen.

                            After about four days of this (so, by Friday-ish), I was doing really well. My mouth hives were totally gone and I didn't have the usual stuffy/headachey/itchy feelings. Then yesterday was kind of bad--I decided to see if I could tolerate some Tony Cachere (it's like a spice mix with salt and some kind of chili or cayenne powder) and put a little on my eggs. Then I was teaching a yoga class, so beforehand I had some green tea for energy. And finally, at lunch, I had two strips of bacon (no-no because it's processed meat) and single strawberry (with some other stuff, obvs). The combination of these Bad foods meant that I'd broken out in some mouth hives and was feeling stuffy/achy again by 2pm. And actually, as I was sitting there eating the bacon, a bunch of fire ant bites I'd gotten on my hand a whole WEEK ago, and that had been healing and not itchy, suddenly started popping out and itching like crazy right before my eyes. It was insane.

                            So, some small preliminary conclusions are: My symptoms definitely get better while I'm sticking to a low-hist diet. But I'm not even close to healed, and if I ingest even a little bit of high-hist food, I get knocked on my ass.

                            I'm at least happy I know how to control it! Now if my shipment of DAOsin would just arrive from Amazon already, I'd be a happy girl. I don't like walking around feeling like anything could throw me into an itchy hivey tailspin at any moment.


                            • #15
                              I wonder if L-Glutamine would help. It's supposed to be good for healing the lining of the gut. I'm going to be taking it whenever I can buy it to help my IBS.

                              What B-complex are you taking? I'm on the hunt for a good one.
                              Depression Lies