Whole blood histamine levels are tested when determining cause of depression and other mood disorders.
Histamine is reduced or broken down by methyl compounds and so with high histamines the body may become depleted in the methyl groups. Because histamine depletes methyl compounds, it is easy to identify ones methylation status from their histamine levels. Elevated histamine depletes methyl compounds and the resulting undermethylation leads to depression and a host of other mood disorders.
Some common symptoms of undermethylation:
· OCD obsessive compulsive tendencies
· SAD Seasonal affective disorder
· Competitive & perfectionist
· SSRI medications usually effective
· Calm exterior with inner tension
· Strong willed
· High libido
· Seasonal allergies
Using the Walsh protocol to treat undermethylation I recommend supplements high in methyl compounds such as the amino acid methionine and SAMe (s-adenosyl methionine).
Diet is also an important factor. Foods that are high in methionine include lean meats, egg whites, poultry, halibut and other fish, soy beans, white beans and brazil nuts. SAMe and methionine help break down histamine by methylating it. Vegetarians and people with high histamine have a hard time getting sufficient methyl compounds in their diets and should be encouraged to take methionine supplements.
Another approach to improving methylation status lies in reducing histamine levels in the first place. To this requires a study of one’s health condition and assessment of factors that raise histamine.
Histamine rich foods: Foods that are associated with high histamine levels include fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, pickles, wine, yogurt, mature cheeses and fermented soy products. It also includes cured, smoked and fermented meats such as salami and sausage, etc. Tomato paste, spinach and canned fish products also have high histamine levels. Citrus foods are histamine liberators which increase histamine release and so should also be avoided.
Histamine is chemically known as a “biogenic amine”. Fermented foods have high levels of these biogenic amines. These are foods that are exposed to microbial decomposition as part of the fermentation or in storage. Lactic acid bacteria are the most problematic biogenic amine producers in fermentation. These bacteria break down amino acids into amine-containing compounds. Biogenic amines are commonly found in wines, cider, dairy, meat, fish, beer, spinach, tomatoes and yeast. Biogenic amines in the form of histamine are the product of bacteria breaking down amino acids. Control biogenic amines to treat elevated histamine
Diamine Oxidase DAO
This is an important enzyme that naturally lowers histamine levels in the body. DAO can be provided as a supplement to lower histamine levels. Symptoms of low DAO includes:
· Skin irritations – hives, itching, rashes, eczema, psoriasis, and acne
· Painful menstrual periods
· Gastrointestinal symptoms
· Intolerance to fermented foods and alcohol
· Mucous in sinuses
Supplements and OTC meds that increase DAO levels include:
· Vitamin C
· Vitamin B6
· Pancreatic enzymes
Foods and meds that inhibit DAO
· Curcumin (turmeric)
· Cimetidine – an antihistamine
Histamine and Mast Cells
Histamine is released from “mast cells”. Mast cells are immune cells that line the mucous membranes of the sinuses, digestive tract, the skin, lungs, eyelids, and tissues surrounding blood vessels and nerves. Activation of mast cells plays a key role in asthma, rhinitis, eczema, itching, pain, autoimmunity and hives. Elevated mast cells are associated with female infertility and decreased sperm motility. Stabilize mast cells to treat elevated histamine.
Supplements that stabilize mast cells:
· Curcumin (also decreases DAO)
· Reishi mushrooms
Cortisol and Corticotropic Releasing Hormone CRH
It is commonly believed that cortisol causes allergies. That’s only part of the picture. The fact is that cortisol itself lowers histamine levels. It is the hormone that stimulates the adrenal release of cortisol that causes histamine release from mast cells. Chronically elevated CRH is associated with stress, as the release of CRH causes cortisol release from the adrenal glands. Under chronic stress, cortisol levels are low as the adrenal glands become exhausted and cannot produce sufficient cortisol. Yet the CRH hormone is likely elevated in chronic stress because the hypothalamus releases CRH via the HPA axis as the body is trying to induce more cortisol to address the stress perceived by the brain. Chronic stress is thereby a major cause of histamine release from mast cells due to the effect of corticotropic releasing hormone CRH. We can make assumptions about the level of CRH and cortisol by testing salivary cortisol levels. Because they have a circadian rhythm we test four salivary cortisol levels in a day to establish the overall performance and need for supplementation. Treating elevated cortisol or depressed cortisol levels requires a salivary cortisol test and understanding of the underlying condition.
Herbs and cortical extracts are used to down regulate or supplement the adrenal gland performance. This has the effect of lowering CRH and mast cell release of histamine.
Histamine and Lectins
Foods such as potatoes are high in lectins. Lectins can bind the lining of the intestinal wall and cause leaky gut syndrome. Undigested lectins then enter the blood system and lead to antibody formation and which releases histamine. Foods high in lectins include:
· White potatoes and unmodified potato starch
· Gluten containing grains
Histidine Decarboxylase HDC
The conversion of the amino acid histidine into histamine takes place with the help of HDC enzyme. It is possible to slow the conversion of histidine to histamine by inhibitors of HDC.
Inhibitors of HDC are:
· Catechins – found in green tea, chocolate, kola nut, peaches, acai, apricots, apples, blackberries, raspberries, plums with skin and broad beans
· NAC N-acetyl cysteine
· Treat any underlying infection of H Pylori (very common with gastritis)
Histamine and Probiotics
Probiotics in the digestive tract are responsible for producing many compounds in the body. There are bacterial strains that increase histamine as well as intestinal microbes that reduce histamine.
Decreases histamine – B infantis, B lognum and L plantarum
Increases histamine – L casei, L reuteri and L bulgaricus
Summary of supplements and recommendations to lower histamine while treating undermethylation:
· Take methionine (500mg-1gm) and SAMe (200mg) supplements
· DAO diamine oxidase enzymes 2-3 caps
· Probiotics B infantis, B longum, L plantarum
· Vitamin C 1000 mg
· B6 (can also increase histamine carboxylase)
· Avoid lectin in diet – potatoes and tomatoes
· Avoid fermented foods
· Increase proteins high in methionine
· Use Cromolyn – OTC mast cell stabilizer
· Bromelain and Quercitin
· Chocamine 1-3 grams – mast cell stabilizer
· Improve adrenals with herbal and glandular supplements
· Curcumin (also decreases DAO)
· NAC N-acetyl cysteine
· Catechins (green tea etc)