What is Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine Intolerance is a type of food intolerance, in which affected individuals experience symptoms after the consumption of histamine-containing food. The symptoms can resemble those of a food allergy, which is why the Histamine Intolerance is also classified as pseudo-allergy.

What is histamine?

Histamine is a protein that occurs almost everywhere in the animal and plant kingdoms. It can also be found naturally in the human body. Likewise, it is contained in many foods, especially when these mature or ferment.

The data on the Histamine Intolerance is currently still limited. Some scientists are in doubt as to whether Histamine Intolerance actually exists. Others estimate that about 1 percent of the population suffers from a Histamine Intolerance. And of those affected, 80 percent are women.

Causes of Histamine Intolerance

Overall, studies suggest that an enzyme deficiency causes the symptoms of Histamine Intolerance. Some people apparently break down the histamine derived from food too slowly or incompletely. The enzyme Diamine Oxidase (DAO) is involved in breaking down histamine. If the enzyme DAO is not available in sufficient quantities for histamine digestion, histamine enters the bloodstream and triggers allergy-like symptoms.

Why does so much uncertainty exists around Histamine Intolerance?

  • Consuming histamine in large amounts leads to discomfort even in completely healthy people.
  • The histamine content in foods varies widely. Two equally sized pieces of the same type of cheese can have a different histamine content, depending on how long and under what circumstances the cheese wheel was matured.
  • Although an enzyme deficiency is causative, there is no absolute threshold value from which the diagnosis "histamine intolerance" is made. Everyone affected must find their personal tolerance threshold - which is extremely difficult for the reasons listed above.
  • How well a human being tolerates histamine depends not only on the quantity of DAO in the intestine and the amount of histamine absorbed, but also on other substances consumed with the food. In particular, alcohol slows the degradation of histamine further.
  • Even foods that do not contain histamine can cause symptoms: pineapple, kiwifruit and strawberries, for example, contain little histamine, but can cause the body to release its own histamine.

Please see also:

Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance

Diagnosing Histamine Intolerance

Therapy for Histamine Intolerance