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Dr. Karl R.O.S. Johnson's Chronic Condition Natural Treatment Blog

Intentional musings of a unique Shelby Township Michigan Chiropractic Physician dedicated to helping people find solutions to improving their health by rooting out causes to chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, thyroid disorder symptoms, balance disorders, migraines, sciatica, ADD/ADHD/ASD, back pain, peripheral neuropathy, gluten sensitivity and autoimmune disorders so they can Reclaim Their Life!

From the Desk of Dr. Karl R.O.S. Johnson, DC.....

Is Histamine Intolerance Contributing To  Your Chronic Ill Health?

Posted by Dr. Karl R.O.S. Johnson, DC on Wed, Oct 28, 2015

Histamine Intolerance Can Contribute To Your Ill Health

In a previous blog post entitled, Can Optimized Methylation Be The Key To Your Health Recovery, I explained the role of gene flaws (also called polymorphisms or Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms or SNP's) in contributing to stubborn health challenges. To wrap your head around the concept of a gene flaw, a great analogy is how a computer program with improper coding will malfunction. When the computer program with the flawed code runs, it doesn't perform as designed and odd computer function occurs. Our body carries out all its many wonderful actions via the activity of enzymes that carry out very specific functions, such as converting the food we eat into energy to run our cells. When we have a gene flaw (SNP) for an enzyme, the action that enzyme is designed to carry out either does not occur or is slowed, or in some cases sped up. The end result: chemicals that are supposed to be converted into a different chemical aren't converted. One specific example of how enzyme work in our body is when we consume an alcholic beverage.  Our body has to use three enzymes to break the alchohol down to substances that can be safely eliminated.

In the world of gene flaws, one aspect that seems to be overlooked by doctors is its STRONG ASSOCIATION with HISTAMINE INTOLERANCE (HIT). If a clinician misses this all-too-common occurrence you will NOT get (totally) better even if your health practitioner helps you heal your gut, your brain, your detoxification pathways, etc.Suffering with histamine intolerance is one thing to keep in mind, especially if you have been tested to have known genetic flaws (like MTHFR) and still have weird symptoms persisting despite good compliance and care. Also, be aware that testing for histamine blood levels (or DAO levels) is worthless because of its constant flux in the body.

The best way to determine if histamine intolerance (HIT) is a problem is to simply go on a low histamine diet for 6-8 weeks and see if you get any relief - if you do, you have HIT. 

In this post I'm going to: 

1) Provide a list of the common symptoms associated with HIT

2) Provide a low histamine diet list

3) Discuss supplements that can be used to help out HIT

4) Provide a link to low histamine foods grocery shopping list

Histamine functions to regulate stomach acid secretion, permeability of blood vessels, muscle contraction and act as a neurotransmitter. Normally, histamine is degraded by two enzyme systems: histamine N-methyl transferase (HMT), and intestinal a mucosal enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO)*. People with a MTHFR gene flaw typically have issues with HMT working correctly & DAO production is slowed by leaky gut. So, when a patient indulges in what they think are "healthy" food choices (e.g. avocado, eggs, tomatoes) their total level of histamine in their body rises because the enzymes that break down the histamine are not working correctly.

People with this type of enzyme dysfunction (DAO and HMT flaws) are often the mystery patient for the doctor.  If the doctor is not astute enough to measure gene flaws and map them out, they end up just prescribing various medications in an effor to quell the patient's symptoms, or worse deem the patient is depressed or anxious and order antidepresants or anti-anxiety medications.

At a certain critical level (which is different in every patient), signs and symptoms occur that are the result of histamine coupling with histamine receptors on specific cells, producing the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue, confusion, irritability
  • Dizziness upon rising
  • Chronic joint pain
  • Anxiety
  • Eczema
  • Digestive tract upset - heartburn, "indigestion" and reflux
  • Insomnia
  • Menstrual cramping
  • Itchininess 
  • Hives
  • Tissue swelling (angioedema) - especially of facial and oral tissues and sometimes the throat, causing the feeling of “throat tightening” 
  • Low blood pressure
  • Tachycardia
  • Symptoms resembling a panic attack
  • Chest pain
  • Nasal congestion/runny nose
  • Conjunctivitis 
  • Headaches
  • Motion sickness
  • Asthma
  • Seasonal alleriges
  • Food allergies
*Common medications such as aspirin, NSAIDs, some diuretics, antibiotics and antidepressants can affect the function of DAO. 

Here is what constitutes a low histamine diet:


  • MEAT
  • FISH (Fish - may only be consumed if FRESH caught and eaten right away)
  • Shellfish
  • Egg - a small quantity of cooked egg in a baked products is typically OK
  • Processed, smoked and fermented meats - luncheon meat, sausage, wiener, bologna, salami, pepperoni, smoked ham, cured bacon
  • Left-overs - freeze any uneaten protein-based food. Bacteria quickly break down protein at room or refrigerator temperatures, resulting in histamine production
  • Milk and Milk Products (cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, kefir
  • Fruit (orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, cherries, grapes, strawberries, apricots, raspberries, pineapple, cranberries, prunes, dates, raisins, currants) 
  • Vegetables (tomatoes - tomato sauces, ketchup)
  • Soy and soy products
  • Spinach
  • Red beans
  • Eggplant
  • Olives in vinegar or brine
  • Pumpkin
  • Avocado
  • Pickles, relishes and other foods containing vinegar
  • Seasonings (cinnamon, cloves, vinegar, chilli powder, anise, curry powder, nutmeg)
  • Miscellaneous:
  • Fermented soy products (such as soy sauce, miso)
  • Fermented foods (such as sauerkraut)
  • Tea (regular or green)
  • Chocolate, cocoa, and cola drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages of all types
  • “Dealcoholized” beverages (e.g. beer, ale, wine, etc)
  • Tartrazine and other artificial food colors
  • Preservatives - Benzoates and Sulphites

Yes, this list is daunting. Several colleagues of mine had to use this diet who also have the MTHFR gene flaw, in order to regain their health.

For a list of what you CAN EAT, you can download this helpful shopping list.

Patients who eliminate the histamine containing food are amazed at how many strange, life-long symptoms go away in days of starting the low histamine diet.

By eliminating histamine containing foods you can determine what is your particular tolerance THRESHOLD for histamine. After you determine that you are feeling much better on this diet, you can try to add back some histamine containing foods. For instance, some patients find out they can have foods on the list above in moderation as long as they don't "over do it." Sitting down with a glass of wine AND a bowl of spaghetti (with tomato sauce) will throw some into a histamine storm of symptoms, but only eating one histamine containing food or beverage or the other works does not. Basically you have to start with a "clean slate" by following the low histamine diet AND have most or all of your symptoms go away first before you can determine your tolerance.

At Johnson Chiropractic Neurology & Nutrition we have had very good success with using Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET) in helping patients with histamine intolerance.

For patients with a low level of  histamine tolerance I also recommend some specific supplements that can help ease the histamine burden.  for these individuals following supplements for those with HIT:

1)  Designs For Health AllerGzyme 
2)  Designs For Health HistEase - DAO supplement
3)  Seeking Health - ProBiota Bifido

Designs for Health and Seeking Health are professional brands, offered exclusively to health care professionals and their patients through referral.

If you would like to find out if you have gene flaws (SNP's) or seek help for your chronic health challenge, click on the link below to request a case review.

I Could Use Some Help With My Health

For more details about the natural approach I take with my patients, take a look at the book I wrote entitled: Reclaim Your Life; Your Guide To Revealing Your Body's Life-Changing Secrets For Renewed Health. It is available in my office or at Amazon and many other book outlets. If you found value in this article, please use the social sharing icons at the top of this post and please share with those you know who are still suffering with chronic health challenges, despite receiving medical management. Help me reach more people so they may regain their zest for living! Thank you!



Topics: Health, Chronic Health Challenge

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