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Symptoms and causes of high histamine
November 1st, 2022 + The Naturopathic Co.

Histamine is found in food, and is considered to hold the highest risk for human health when ingested in high amounts.

Histamine foods and histamine liberators

Histamine is synthesized in the body, by an enzymatic reaction performed by microorganisms. Some foods increase histamine as we consume them, other foods are liberators, meaning they help to release histamine from food.

We find higher histamine levels in aging foods, fermenting foods, and other high histamine foods such as:

Alcohol and other fermented drinks/ ie kombucha

All citrus fruits — oranges, lemons, lime and grapefruit

Any foods containing artificial colouring or preservatives


Berries — fresh, frozen or canned

Chocolate and cacao

Dried fruit

Fermented dairy products, including cheese, yogurt and buttermilk

Fermented foods, such as pickles, relishes, sauerkraut

Leftover meat

Meats that are processed, cured, smoked or fermented



Spices — including curry powder, cayenne, chili, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg


Tomatoes — fresh, canned, pureed or in sauces

Bone Broth


Symptoms potentially related to histamine excess

Painful or heavy periods

Fluid retention

PMS, PMDD, anxiety, depression

Headaches/ migraines / dizziness


Stool fluctuations


Nasal congestion


Skin flushing

Appetite changes

Muscular pain, fibromyalgia


Various causes of high histamine

When we can’t clear histamine from the body efficiently, then it accumulates, and for some people can cause symptoms mentioned above.

This can be due to excess dietary histamine intake, gut dysbiosis, mast cell release, or an inability to metabolise histamine sufficiently (low plasma DAO concentrations).

Gut dysbiosis as a link to higher systemic histamine

Research has shown that individuals with significantly lower abundance of of beneficial bacteria can have difficulty in clearing histamine from the body. And particularly individuals with higher presence of histamine secreting bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Proteus, Enterobacteriaceae , Clostridium perfringens and Enterococcus faecalis.

Having a gut full of healthy and diverse beneficial bacteria (and minimal pathogenic bacteria) is an important component of good digestive health in general, but also very much a requirement for clearing histamine.

Mast cell histamine release

Histamine can be released through mast cell activation from some pharmaceuticals, through some foods (listed above), through viral infection, and through oestrogen.

Other factors that can contribute to increased circulating histamine can be perceived or actual stress, fasting, dehydration, and insufficient sleep.


We need Diamine Oxidase (DAO) to break down histamine

DAO enzyme is reliant on vitamin C, vitamin B6, and copper.

Causes of DAO deficiency

Genetic predisposition, high histamine intake, vitamin B6/vitamin C/copper/SAMe deficient, gastrointestinal dysbiosis/inflammatory bowel, over-use of some pharmaceuticals

Histamine and under methylation

DAO deficiency is not the only reason for histamine symptoms, we need to address methylation problems as well as oestrogen metabolism. Constipation and gut dysbiosis may contribute to ‘oestrogen recycling’ too.

Insufficiency in SAMe, can also contribute to difficulty in metabolising oestrogen. High oestrogen triggers more histamine release.

Food sources of SAMe: animal proteins, particularly tuna, brazil nuts, whole soy foods, legumes.

Deficiencies in folate, B12, and choline can cause low methylation and low SAMe too

Nutrients to consider for histamine issues

B6, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, Quercetin, broccoli extract, SAMe


Remember, a histamine is a gut issue. It’s a SYMPTOM. In order to treat the underlying issue, you must look to the gut.


Yvette is a qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia.

Yvette specialises in the treatment of gut health and digestive complaints, skin issues, mood disorders, hormonal concerns, fatigue, and more.









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