What Are Histamines? | Second Opinion Physician

What Are Histamines?

Inflammatory markers that also tell us about serotonin, dopamine and methylation status

There are two places that we can identify levels of histamine through testing, intracellularly (within the whole blood) or extracellularly (in the plasma). Histamines in the plasma rises and falls depending on our exposure to various foods and antigens, and are broken down by amines that our body produces. Whole blood histamine remains relatively stable through life and is an important measure of one's methylation status. 

Produced within  mast cells, neurons and basophils and released into the blood, extracellular histamine is activated when exposed to specific antigens and inflammatory activators.  Histamine binds to target receptors in the nose, lung, skin, gastrointestinal tract, brain and near blood vessels via specific histamine receptors, especially H1 receptors. They are capable of activating 4 receptors: H1, H2, H3 and H4.

The result is typically chemotaxis or a localized inflammatory response, much like what is seen when a red mark appears on the arm when scratched.

Once activated by an antigen, intestinal and plasma histamine causes a series of events leading to increased vascular permeability and dilation, nerve activation, and inflammatory cascades that are collectively produce symptoms of hypersensitivity including itching, sneezing, increased mucus secretion (i.e. rhinorrhea, etc.), bronchospasm and, if enough vascular tissue is involved, low blood pressure.

With the advent of selective antagonists or antihistamine medications (H1 blockers, H2 blockers, etc), histamine binding to receptors are blocked and symptoms are suppressed. It appears this is done by interacting with basophils, monocytes, macrophages, eosinophils and T-cells.

Testing histamine to determine METHYLATION STATUS - Whole blood histamine blood test serves as a test to determine intracellular histamine which remains relatively constant in a persons life and is a marker of one's true methylation status.

While plasma histamine tends to vary with food and antigen exposure and is controlled by the enzyme DAO, diamine oxidase, intracellular histamine remains fairly stable in life thanks to the relatively stable level of HMT, histamine methyl-transferase. If born with high intracellular histamine then this is a sign of low levels of the methyl dependent enzyme. Ones methylation status, and so level of intracellular histamine remains relatively stable throughout life. 

Depression and Mood Disorders accompany HIGH AND LOW intracellular histamine: Thanks to the research of Dr William Walsh PhD we understand more about the role that high and low methylation plays in depression. Methylation, when it comes to brain function, is inversely correlated with serotonin and dopamine levels. High whole blood histamine is associated with undermethylation or low serotonin and dopamine while low whole blood histamine is associated with overmethylation and high serotonin and dopamine.

A significant percentage of individuals that suffer from depression, ADHD, panic disorders, phobias, oppositional defiance, OCD, autism and schizophrenia have methylation imbalances that are the primary cause of their condition.  These mood disorders have commonly been addressed by giving SSRI medications or SNRI medicines that increase serotonin and dopamine.

However, because persons who are overmethylated have mood disorders related to high serotonin and dopamine, increasing serotonin and dopamine may lead to a very bad outcome. For that reason a whole blood histamine test is recommended prior to making treatment recommendations. Often conditions of high or low serotonin and dopamine can be completely treated with nutritional supplementation. 

Second Opinion Physician provides consultation and testing for methylation status and recommendations for supplements to assist with managing high or low serotonin and dopamine conditions.

On the other hand, treating high intestinal histamine or plasma histamine involves consideration of diet, probiotics, inhaled or consumed antigens and the body's production of DAO, diamine oxidase. There are also medicines such as LDN, low dose naltrexone, and supplemental DAO and vitamins that have proven to be effective in mediating the immune system and reducing inflammation caused by high plasma or intestinal histamine. 

Follow this link for more information on LDN and other methods such as saunas, exercise, intermittent fasting and ozone therapy to regulate inflammation.


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