Histamine Intolerance = Headaches, diarrhoea, rashes and a sudden drop in blood pressure?
This may indicate a condition called histamine intolerance (HIT), recognised as a growing problem on mainland Europe, but barely known, under-diagnosed and under-publicised in the UK, with sufferers sometimes being given the very treatment that makes it worse.
Its effects are very uncomfortable and can show up as symptoms that look intriguingly like an allergy. Why? The answer is simple. The common culprit is histamine. But the difference between allergy and HIT is significant. In allergies the immune system is involved; HIT is the lack of an enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO). Headaches, diarrhoea, rashes and a sudden drop in blood pressure are common symptoms.
HIT is complex but is mainly caused by problems digesting histamine-rich foods. In other words, if our DAO enzyme doesn’t do its job properly then histamine levels skyrocket and make us feel very ill. Some sufferers may have had this for a long time and those with predominant symptoms of diarrhoea are likely to have been misdiagnosed with IBS.
Problem foods include matured cheeses, cured meats, processed/tinned foods, any fermented foods, tomatoes, spinach, aubergines, chocolate, nuts, citrus fruits, wheat germ, some spices and alcohol, especially red wine and microbe-contaminated foods like tuna, mackerel and sausage.
Most people can enjoy histamine-rich foods and wine in reasonable quantities and feel perfectly fine the next day, however, some may feel extremely unwell Stress or emotional upset is also known to be a trigger of symptoms. So relax, enjoy, drink moderately and eat fresh foods. The majority of HIT sufferers, research shows, are women in their 40s.
Those who believe they may have a degree of histamine intolerance should consult with their GP.