Wondering why you react to EVERYTHING you eat?

Did you know that the act of digestion itself causes histamine release [1]? No, not many people do. I get so many emails from people who are convinced they have multiple amine, food intolerance or allergy issues because they react to everything they ingest. They explore salicylate, amine, oxalate, yeast and other issues obsessively, convinced that once they hit upon the right combination, food will magically be tolerable again.

While some may be right, the simple fact is that if you have a histamine disorder (histamine intolerance, histaminosis, mast cell activation, mastocytosis), the very act of digestion requires histamine. So, the chain is: food in, histamine release, gastric acid rushed to the stomach to begin digestion. Then histamine release again from the food. If you’re on antihistamines, some of it will be blocked from attaching to the H1 or H2 receptor, so you’ll be having less respiratory or gastric symptoms. I’m always surprised that people seem to think that antihistamines somehow magically flush the histamine out from your body – that’s simply not the case. They just stop the histamine from binding to those receptors only, leaving it free to run around in your body causing inflammation and damage to your internal organs [2].

You’ll find recipes full of foods with antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties my books Anti-Recipes and The Anti-Cookbook


Unfortunately, the receptors commonly not addressed with meds, H3 and H4, are the ones responsible for (among other things) modulating pain [3] and our mast cells/immune system [4], respectively, which explains why many people with histamine issues and mastocytosis still suffer from debilitating bone pain, depression, immune system dysfunction and others, in part (in my opinion) because they are not lowering their overall histamine burden – they’re relying on antihistamines to do the job for them. But of course antihistamines open the appetite [5], leading to more histamine roaming the body causing damage, except a little less damage to the H1 and H2 receptor areas. So you feel less respiratory and gastric issues (maybe) and are encouraged to eat “normally”, use cosmetic products like nail polish that are mast cell degranulation/histamine triggers [6], but continuing with life as you know it, learning to live with the fall out of flooding your H3 and H4 receptor controlled areas (pain and immune system), which then leads to more dysfunction and pain!

Ok, I’m off the soapbox. Here’s the truly shocking bit.

Just THINKING of food is enough to trigger histamine release!

It was a complete surprise to me that for some reason that part never occurred to me: that digestion begins with the nerve impulses in the brain [7], which sometimes has a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality. I don’t mean that in a psychotic way, just that to the brain, intention is sometimes the same as action. That’s why visualization techniques are now being used to preserve motor skills in paraplegics [8].

How to make this information work for you.

The greatest relief I’ve experienced this last year is by making my peace with the fact that pretty much every food I put into my body will cause a reaction (thanks to the digestive process itself). By accepting this, I have taken the fear out of mealtime and allowed myself to focus on getting nutrition back into my body, rather than continuing to deprive my body of the nutrients needed for proper histamine metabolism, and creating an environment of fear at mealtime.

I use food prep as an opportunity to practice a little mindfulness meditation. I observe my  food fears and then let them go. I experience the textures, the colours, and imagine the good they’re going to do for me. I visualise my enjoying sitting down to the meal, how it’s not going to bother me, and how this is all helping heal me. I imagine the food going down my oesophagus, into the stomach. I notice my mast cells not being disturbed by this process. And then I sit down to eat.

And now for some practical advice!

Rule out salicylate intolerance, mast cell activation disorder, and clean up your diet.

The great Dr. Fuhrman passed on the most incredible advice to me via his forum. Juicing, smoothie’ing and souping it means you’ll need less enzymes to digest [9]. That should mean less need for gastric juices and histamine. Make the meals/juices low histamine and you’re on a roll.

My personal approach is simply to include as many antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods as I can!

You’ll find recipes full of foods with antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties my books Anti-Recipes and The Anti-Cookbook


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. 


[1] www.physiol.med.uu.nl/…/ipweb/misc/…/digestive/secretion.doc

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14530789

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3014298/

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histamine_H4_receptor

[5] https://healinghistamine.com/is-your-anti-histamine-making-you-fat/

[6] https://healinghistamine.com/my-top-10-histamine-non-food-triggers-and-how-i-deal-with-them/

[7] www.physiol.med.uu.nl/…/ipweb/misc/…/digestive/secretion.doc

[8] http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/flourish/200912/seeing-is-believing-the-power-visualization

[9] http://www.drfuhrman.com/faq/question.aspx?sid=16&qindex=4



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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