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Histamine Intolerance and Reproductive Health

Updated: Jun 27

Histamine is a chemical involved in the immune, digestive, and central nervous systems. It works as a neurotransmitter and helps to communicate messages from the body to the brain. It is also present in the stomach where it helps to break down food.

Histamine creates an immediate inflammatory response by telling your body that there may be foreign attackers present. This happens in response to Immunoglobulin E (IgE) stimulating mast cell productions which release histamine. Think about how swollen a bee sting may get or how someone with a severe allergy to peanut butter may have an anaphylactic reaction where their throat swells shut. These are examples of IgE or mast cell mediated reactions.

Histamine causes blood vessels to swell so that white blood cells can move around faster to address whatever the "issue" may be. Since histamine travels through the bloodstream, it can affect a number of organ systems.

histamine mediated response

What is Histamine Intolerance (and how it affects reproductive health)?

Typically, after a histamine response, enzymes will break down histamine so that it doesn't build up in the body. If you don't break histamine down properly, it builds up and leads to histamine intolerance.

As histamine travels throughout the bloodstream, it can begin to affect the gut, lungs, skin, brain, reproductive and cardiovascular system. This can cause a wide array of symptoms since it helps to communicate messages to the brain, triggers release of stomach acid to help digestion, and releases after injury or allergic reaction. Disruption to the body due to elevated histamine can negatively impact reproductive health.

histamine intolerance symptoms

Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance:

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Nausea


  • Nasal congestion, sneezing, difficulty breathing

  • Vomiting

  • Irregular menstrual cycle

  • Estrogen dominance issues

  • PMS or PMDD

  • Anxiety

  • Hives

  • Arrhythmia or accelerated heart rate

  • Difficulty falling asleep

  • Difficulty regulating body temperature

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue (mental or physical)

  • Flushing

  • Headaches/migraines

  • High blood pressure

  • Tissue swelling

  • Vertigo or dizziness

How is Histamine Broken down?

Once formed, histamine is either stored or broken down by an enzyme. In the central nervous system, histamine is broken down by histamine N-methyltransferase (HMT). In the digestive tract, histamine is broken down by diamine oxidase (DAO).

The American Society for Clinical Nutrition has determined that DAO is the main enzyme responsible. If you are deficient in this enzyme, you will likely deal with symptoms of histamine intolerance. Leaky gut, allergies, SIBO, certain medications and certain foods can decrease levels of DAO.

Foods to avoid with histamine intolerance

High Histamine Foods:

  • Cured meats: bacon, salami, pepperoni, lunch meats

  • Dried fruit

  • Most citrus fruits

  • Nuts: walnuts, cashews, peanuts

  • Soured foods: sour cream, milk, sourdough bread, etc.

  • Smoked fish

  • Fruits: avocados and tomatoes

  • Vegetables: eggplant and spinach

  • Vinegar containing foods: pickles, mayo, olives, etc.

  • Leftovers, espeically meat

  • Aged cheeses including goat cheese

  • Fermented alcohol: especially wine, champagne, and beer

  • Fermented foods: soy sauce, vinegar, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, etc.

high histamine foods

Histamine Releasing Foods:

Although these foods may not be high in histamine, they can trigger cells to release histamine.

  • Alcohol

  • Artifical preservatives and dyes

  • Bananas

  • Chocolate

  • Cow's milk

  • Nuts especially cashews, walnuts, and peanuts

  • Papaya, pineapple, strawberries, tomatoes

  • Shellfish

  • Wheat germ

DAO Blocking Foods

These foods are not high in histamine, but can interfere with your body's natural balance of HMT and DAO enzymes. As you consume more of these, it makes it more difficult for DAO enzymes to break down histamine.

  • Alcohol

  • Black tea

  • Energy drinks

  • Mate tea

  • Green tea

Low Histamine Foods

These foods may help to reduce symptoms of histamine intolerance.

  • Cooked eggs

  • Cooking oils: olive oil, coconut oil

  • Dairy Substitues: coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk

  • Fresh Fruits: mango, pear, watermelon, apple, kiwi, cantaloupe, grapes

  • Fresh veggies (minus tomatoes, spinach, and eggpalnt

  • Fresh fish

  • Fresh cooked meat or poultry

  • Gluten Free grains like quinoa and rice

  • Herbal teas

  • Leafy herbs

What to do next?

Certain types of testing can determine how well your body breaks down histamine. If taking anti-histamines relieves some of these symptoms, this may be an indicator that you have histamine issues or histamine intolerance. There are natural ways to manage these symptoms as well as decrease histamine intolerance in your body so that you don't deal with these symptoms as chronically.

Supporting your gut health by adjusting your diet, filling

your body with proper nutrients, and addressing any underlying GI infections will help to reduce symptoms associated with histamine intolerance.


Working with me

If you are hoping to get pregnant in the future and want to make sure that your body is healthy and well prepared, you can click here to sign up with a complimentary 15 minute phone call with me. We can discuss your goals at that time and determine whether or not we will be a good fit for each other. During the time before you get pregnant, and during pregnancy, we will discuss necessary nutrients, dietary options, as well as lifestyle and exercise programs catered to YOU specifically.

dr. katie zaremba natural fertility

About Dr. Zaremba:

Dr. Zaremba received her bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University in Biomedical Sciences and minored in Chemistry and Psychology. She completed her doctoral training at Palmer College of Chiropractic. During her time in school, she took post-doctoral training through The Clinic on Disease and Internal Disorders (CDID) earning her a Diplomate from the American Board of Chiropractic Internists (DABCI).


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1. doi: 10.1159/000090280.


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