I am seeing an increasing number of people with complaints of persistent itching skin that won’t respond to any of the treatments their healthcare provider, dermatologist or allergist have given them. They are frustrated and want answers because it has taken over their lives. What is going on?
A little known cause of persistent skin itching is something known as histamine intolerance.
Histamine intolerance can cause more than itching skin. Do you suffer from anxiety, stomach cramps, hives, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, flushing, dizziness, menstrual irregularities, or high blood pressure? These are just some the symptoms you may experience with histamine intolerance. You likely have sought out help from your healthcare provider, had several tests yet no one can find an answer to what is going on. Now certainly there can be other reasons you are having these symptoms, but for the purposes of this article, let’s look at one possible cause; histamine intolerance.
So what is histamine anyway?
Histamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in your immune and nervous system. It is also important to digestion. If you have too much histamine, this can result in an immune system attack because your blood vessels are dilating and your white blood cells go in to fighting mode. If your immune system is in overdrive and you do not have enough of the enzyme diamine oxidase to breakdown histamine, this will result in too much histamine in your system.
So what do you do?
Certainly taking an anti-histamine can help, but it does not treat the underlying cause. There can be many causes of histamine overload. One of which is not producing enough of the diamine oxidase enzyme to help breakdown histamine. There are environmental and chemical causes. You may have an undiagnosed digestive disorder that is actually making your skin itch. For the purposes of this article, your food may be the source of your histamine intolerance.
Did you know certain foods contain histamine? Did you know if you avoid those foods, you may actually finally get some relief?
So what foods contain histamine? Bananas, avocados, spinach, eggplant, tomatoes, citrus fruits, fermented foods, nuts, pineapple, papaya, chocolate, dairy, alcohol, and strawberries.
There are more foods then what are listed here. If you suspect you have a histamine intolerance, I would recommend you try following a Low Histamine Diet for 30 days. If you see improvement in your symptoms, you likely have histamine intolerance. Some people who suffer from histamine intolerance also may not produce enough diamine oxidase. This is the enzyme that helps break down histamine in your body. If this is the case, you may want to try taking diamine oxidase or DAO with meals to see if this helps.
What can I eat then?
So you are probably wondering what foods are safe for you to eat. There are many foods that are low in histamine left for you to eat, such as: gluten free grains, eggs, chicken, apples, grapes, broccoli, almond milk, herbal teas and more.
Additional Resources on Histamine Intolerance: