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Histamine & Inflammation

Histamine, Inflammation & PMS Symptoms and PMDD Symptoms

by Dr. Shannon Reive-Schmidt
Dr. Shannon Reive-Schmidt Dr. Shannon Reive-Schmidt

Dr. Shannon Reive-Schmidt is a licensed naturopathic doctor who specializes in women’s health, including PMS & PMDD; anxiety and depression; and other chronic diseases. [more]


Maybe you’ve recently cut out soda, or are eating less sugar and more fiber. Some of us may try a vegan diet, while others are eating more animal protein. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all optimal diet. I wish there was. Each of us has a unique biochemistry and gut microbiome that drastically changes the way we respond to certain foods.

One person may feel great on a paleo style diet, while another finds optimal health through a juice fast or raw food diet. Some people avoid gluten or dairy. Others, however, feel their best when they avoid foods that either contain histamine or cause the body to release histamine when eaten.

What is histamine? Histamine is a messenger in the body. It helps cells communicate with one another. Although histamine is best known for its role in the body’s allergic response, it also helps regulate proper digestion, sleep patterns, and even lowers blood pressure. Histamine is an important regulator in our systems. High levels of circulating histamine can be a result of low levels of DAO (diamine oxidase), the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine. Genetic predisposition can contribute to low levels of this important enzyme. DAO is also highly concentrated in the membranes of the cells lining our small intestine and part of our colon. So, those of us with unhealthy GI tracts tend to be more reactive to histamine-rich foods.

Interestingly, women are more likely to suffer from histamine intolerance than men. There appears to be a relationship between histamine and estrogen. As estrogen increases, the mast cells, containing histamine, degranulate more readily. This causes an increase in circulating histamine and systemic inflammation. For those of us dealing with premenstrual cramps, menstrual headaches, or even premenstrual hives, it may be exacerbated by an excess amount of high-histamine foods in our diet.

Certain foods tend to be higher in histamine than others and should be avoided if you suspect a histamine intolerance is contributing to your PMS symptoms or PMDD symptoms.

Foods High In Histamine:

  • Alcohol, especially red wine
  • Tomatoes, eggplant, and spinach
  • Cultured dairy products: our cream, yogurt, and ripened cheeses
  • Salami, pepperoni, and other processed meats
  • Citrus fruits, bananas, and berries
  • Chocolate
  • Vinegar and any fermented food

The best way to know if lowering histamine will help you better manage your premenstrual symptoms is to avoid the abovementioned foods for at least one month and see how you feel.

Other things that may help you lower your histamine levels and decrease inflammation:

  • Try a supplement containing diamine oxidase (DAO) to optimize histamine metabolism.
  • Load up on vitamin C and quercitin. These are potent mast cell stabilizers and can lower the amount of histamine in your blood stream.
  • Optimize your intake of calcium and magnesium. Insufficient magnesium increases the activity of the enzyme that produces histamine from the amino acid, histidine. While at the same time, a lack of magnesium can decrease the activity of DAO.

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We want to help. Give us a call at 1-800-731-6327, drop us an e-mail, or send us your question.

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Principal Author: Shannon Reive-Schmidt, N.D.
Last Modified: June 4, 2015


The information and contents contained in this Web site has not been evaluated by the FDA. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, intend to become pregnant, or nursing, please consult a physician before taking any dietary supplement. If taking prescription drugs, consult your healthcare practitioner prior to use. You must be 18 years or older to purchase products. Individual results do vary.

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