Researchers: Diet Change May Be Better than Medication for Acid Reflux (Histamine is Involved)

Bottle of essential oil with herbs holy basil flower, basil flower,rosemary,oregano, sage,parsley ,thyme and mint set up on old wooden background .

According to Time Magazine, acid reflux is one of the most common health issues in the US, with nearly $13 billion spent a year being spent on medications for it. Researchers have now found that diet is just as effective at relieving it.

An antihistamine working on the histamine 2 receptor called Zantac was in my life for a really long time because of extreme acid reflux. I didn’t realise it was an antihistamine at the time. Nor did I know back then that using it caused rebound histamine production. This means that once you stop it, there’s a surge of histamine. This is has been my experience with all antihistamines. It was brutal, but temporary thankfully. And it’s to be expected. Many medications have rebound effects as the body strives to recalibrate itself without the crutch we’ve been relying on. Proton Pump Inhibitors are now more commonly prescribed than H2 blockers, but they also impact histamine, and they also cause a rebound effect. One study reckons that using them could make you immune to the effects of an H2 antihistamine.

Thankfully, we may not have to rely on either, if we’re willing to do something really good for our bodies generally.In this recent study, researchers found that a diet high in good fats, vegetables and fruits,  was able to resolve acid reflux just as well as PPIs. This is absolutely no surprise to me, and the thousands of others reading this blog, We’ve all seen the incredible difference that a change of diet can bring.Acid Reflux Symptoms

According to the Mayo Clinic these are:

  • A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), sometimes spreading to your throat, along with a sour taste in your mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Dry cough
  • Hoarseness or sore throat
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux)
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat

Benefits of the low histamine diet (or anti-diet)

Though some of these benefits can take time to happen, I have observed the following in myself and thousands of others.

  • Increased energy
  • Clearing of brain fog
  • Better sleep
  • No acid reflux
  • Beautifully glowing skin
  • Increased immunity (when it’s needed, rather than all the time)

There’s many more, but that’s not the focus of this post.

Researchers in this particular study found that switching people from a standard diet to a Mediterranean one, was as beneficial as a PPI. I’m sure we’d be hard pressed to insist that diet can also have a rebound effect, but this seems like a pretty decent option if we’re suffering from something that caused me such awful misery that I continued stuffing my face day and night to alleviate it.

In the years since changing my diet, while still in transition, I found that nigella sativa seeds and oil were excellent at alleviating it also. That might be due to nigella’s antihistamine properties (specifically H2), but you’d have to check with your doctor on that. In particular I have no information on the salicylic acid content of nigella because this issue is not covered on my blog. Histamine is such an incredibly dense topic there’s so much to write about…

Addressing acid reflux naturally

According to the latest research, it’s quite simple: avoid processed foods and switch to a diet rich in olive oil, fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, we know it’s a little more complex than that. While an initial switch from a standard diet to one in whole foods is an amazing start that offers much relief, there’s plenty that remains in that way of eating that’s inflammatory thanks to histamine: tomatoes, olives, dairy, and meat for example.

Simply avoiding processed foods is the first advice I give people who ask me for a quick fix for histamine. People who have already made that jump will need to investigate which foods, whether they’re histamine or not, are a problem for them. I address all of this in my 28 day histamine reset. Nigella sativa and other foods with antihistamine properties that make up my books are worth looking into.


Qvigstad, G, et al. “Treatment with proton pump inhibitors induces tolerance to histamine-2 receptor antagonists in Helicobacter pylori-Negative patients.” Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 1998, Accessed 11 Sept. 2017.

“Acid Reflux May Respond Better To Diet Than Drugs.” Time, Time, Accessed 11 Sept. 2017.

“GERD: A severe form of heartburn.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 31 July 2014, Accessed 11 Sept. 2017.


Check out these other Healing Histamine blog posts


Yasmina was an award-winning broadcast journalist with a decade of experience covering war zones for CNN and the BBC. She devoted her journalism skills to researching and writing about histamine. Click here to learn about her. Each post is carefully and fully referenced with the latest scientific research. Not sure where to start? Here’s a four week meal plan and overall Histamine Reset.

4 Week Histamine Reset

Recent Posts