The inflammation bucket (why I can now eat shrimp)

the inflammation bucket

You’ve heard of the histamine bucket – whereby every little bit of histamine put into the body (food, animal dander, stress, pollen) builds, until it spills over into a reaction. You then need to spend a certain amount of time emptying it in order to feel better (antihistamines, green juice, stress relief).

But here’s a new model for you to consider – the inflammation bucket.

Rather than trying to keep histamine low, by not eating, by avoidance of triggers, I find that lowering the baseline of inflammation, through a phytonutrient rich, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory diet, meditation and happiness, allows me to fill it up with a bunch more histamine.

Sound improbable?

Histamine is stored in mast cells in the body. In addition to the histamine we get from foods, histamine is released by mast cells, as needed, to begin digestion, act as a neurotransmitter, fire up the healing process and much more. What if I were to tell you though that histamine is only one of a number of inflammatory compounds released by mast cells?

Might that change your dietary approach at all?

It certainly did mine. Rather than focus on eliminating dietary histamine, I realised that I was dealing with leukotreines (cause asthma symptoms, generalised inflammation and more), prostaglandins (cause hair loss, migraines, generalised inflammation and more), heparin (causes bruising, excessive bleeding, generalised inflammation and more) and much, much more.

So why on earth focus on just histamine?

Well, there’s a good answer for that, so I’m told, but sadly I don’t believe we have solid enough evidence to keep doing so. Many in the nutrition field believe that those of us with these funky histamine induced symptoms have a lack of histamine-degrading enzymes like DAO. They prove this to us with a test that has neither been proven to measure DAO where it really counts, a test whose results have been shown to fluctuate wildly from day to day, hour to hour. To make matters worse, we can’t test the activity of HNMT, another histamine degrading enzyme. I’m no scientist but I would think you’d need more than one marker to prove something? Ah yes, we often have our plasma histamine tested. Sadly this too fluctuates wildly and often indicates very little. But don’t take my word for it…check out my interview with immunologist Dr Janice Joneja for more.

I’m not saying that our symptoms might not be caused or aggravated by a lack of enzymes, only that it seems a little silly to stuff DAO supplements down our gullet after every meal in the hope of clearing up major symptoms. A little heartburn, acid reflux, maybe. Shivering cold in summer, vomiting after meals, hives, bone pain, dizziness, trembling, excruciating gut pain, inflamed bowels, basketball stomach, not so much maybe.

The fact is, that while dietary histamine is in fact problematic for many, as it was to me, I propose that once the overall inflammation in the body is lowered, the histamine ingested, as long as not wildly exaggerated, will not cause the same harm/symptoms.

What choo talkin’ bout Willis?

Yeah, I’m saying that histamine isn’t the bad guy here. Inflammation isn’t even the bad guy here: we need inflammation to heal. It’s a part of the healing process.  In this scenario, crappy diet and massive amounts of stress (proven to cause mast cells to release histamine) are the bad guys. And we’re not just helpless bystanders at the mercy of our genetics. I truly believe that people can heal. I believe that genetics don’t determine our fate (entirely), and that pollution, chemicals we’re exposed to in the womb, our parents’ dietary choices, our diet, exposure to stress hormones and diet and more, play a huge role.

Stress makes it impossible to eat

We all know it’s pretty darned impossible to eat when all wound up. It’s just a fact. I’ve seen this in myself and countless others I’ve spoken with. I don’t know how it works in “regular” folk, but in histamine peeps, you can pretty much bet on the stress hormones causing mast cells to break open, releasing histamine and other inflammatory elements into the body. So stress = inflammation. Inflammation = excess histamine. Excess histamine in the body = less tolerated dietary histamine.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m not stressed, I can eat more. Lots more. For many of us it’s not that we’re genetically unable to eat the strawberry, just that the environment we’re putting the strawberry into isn’t likely to react to it very well. Even if we are genetically programmed to react to strawbs (ie born with an allergy or histamine intolerance), there’s an excellent chance we’ll outgrow it or outfox it. The study of epigenetics tells us so.

I doubt it’s a coincidence that my incredible healing of late began when I really committed to my meditation practice.

The proof of the pudding is in the gambas al pil pil (so to speak)

So how have I come up with this inflammation bucket theory? While obviously based on the histamine bucket theory (attributed to Dr Janice Joneja), I believe that controlling the inflammation causing compounds released by mast cells, which includes, but is absolutely not limited to, histamine, through a high nutrient, absolutely clean diet, combined with intensive stress hormone controlling, inflammation and histamine lowering meditation is more effective than continuing to live on a limited, soul destroying, elimination diet for the rest of my life, in the hope of controlling ingested histamine.

Sound far fetched? I know it works, because I’ve done it.

I’ve lowered the contents of my inflammation bucket to the point that I even “cured” myself of a soy allergy!


The progress I made on a low histamine elimination diet (which I then lost as my body became starved of important healing phytonutrients) gathered speed after just a year on a high nutrient antihistamine and anti-inflammatory diet as outlined in the Anti-Cookbook. Gathering momentum faster than a snowball attempting a cannonball run through hell, the last five months have been a blur of happiness, with one victory after the next jostling for space in my ever-growing thankfulness memory bank. (The above collage just details this last week ).

Soy sauce (it’s neither a health food nor a hurt food, I’m a sushi junky), soy nail polish remover, shrimp, tomatoes, avocado, pineapple, oranges, kiwis, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, mushrooms, mandarins, spinach, now all feature regularly in my diet.

I balance these out with a great deal of daily meditation, stress relief, indulging in activities that bring joy to my life, a phytonutrient rich, high nutrient, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory rich diet. I do not put any garbage in my body! I’m definitely pushing the boundaries of good taste a little (nail polish?? But it makes me so very happy not to have to re-apply water based stuff every time I reach into my handbag), a few glasses of wine over the last few months (just to see if I could), a few pieces of bread (no issue whatsoever, but I remain dedicated to a gluten/primarily grain free diet).

And to think, I was told I had a soy allergy just a few years ago! All gone now…tested and gone. I’m no longer even having to stick to a low oxalate diet…I certainly don’t go nuts with them, just like I don’t eat shrimp, avocado, yeast or soy daily. Nor do I EVER put junk foods into my body.

The power of diet and mind never cease to amaze me.


 Please don’t forget antihistamine, pain killing foods can still hurt us, so please always check with your doctor before adding new foods to your diet. 


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

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