anti-histamine = no more NSAIDS, tomatoes, alcohol, chocolate

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FishI’ve been exploring histamine intolerance (a mainly European issue; little seems to have done on the topic in North America), and did a short experiment with it last week. The premise is that histamine – what you take an antihistamine for if you have allergies to pollen, for example – is released/increased/natural dampers weakened by certain foods and medications. From the purely dietary side of the equation, many of the foods that are high in histamines or release histamines into the system are foods I already try to avoid due to food ALLERGIES, or acid reflux/acidic stomach issues.

FruitFoods to avoid include: citrus, yogurt and tomato (bad for  my acid issues), fermented soya products, and certain spices (e.g. cinnamon, nutmeg, curry) to which I am allergic. While tea and chocolate (chocolate, especially in combo with other triggers can cause one type of migraine for me) are mentioned specifically, caffeine and coffee are not – YEAH! And, since alcohol a) can be a migraine trigger, even if I stick to “safe” white wines, or alright hard ciders and b) is not awine good mix with my meds, often putting me to sleep after one glass of wine, leaving it off the menu for awhile isn’t always a bad idea. (Alcohol, spending money, and food binging – all issues of control/versus out of control will be the topic of a future blog)

There is some debate as to how long the list of foods to avoid should be. Some ban bananas, and nix nuts, while others suggest these are okay in moderation. Some proponents stress avoiding medications; others focus on food only. The medication side of thing is what makes it more difficult and also very interesting. Most of my medications AREN’T on the avoidance list (and one that is on the list I stopped taking because it didn’t seem to be helping with my digestive issues), but 3 which I do rely on, especially for my facial, dental, and neck pains are: NSAIDs, morphine (I use a very low dose) and the key active ingredient in Voltragen gel. image

While Lyrica helps with my atypical chronic facial pain, it doesn’t work as well on my constant dental pains. For that, I take prescription strength naproxen, and some times a  generic pain medication which contains ASA, caffeine, and a muscle relaxant. My morning, afternoon and evening routines are marked by my application of Voltragen gel (a prescription only product in the US) to my neck, and often to areas of facial pain (including the relatively new jaw/dental computer usage pain). I rub it on my forehead for headaches.  For body aches and pains, I use lidoderm patches.

button-productsI will go back to using Neuragen as I had some luck with it before. One of the main reasons I stopped was my husband’s sensitivity to certain smells, and Neuragen has a strong herbal aroma. A friend would remark that I smelled like a master chef’s home kitchen might.

My rosacea has been  more troublesome lately, partly due to flushing caused by one of my medications. Flushing is also a symptom of histamine intolerance. Quite a few of my health issues appear on histamine intolerance list of symptoms including headaches, rhinitis, abdominal pain and nausea. One site suggested that depression, anxiety and panic attacks could be linked to a histamine intolerance.

meatThe other interesting feature of histamine intolerance is that each individual has a unique  histamine level. In other words, I could eat a histamine rich food like fish, and have no immediate reaction. However, if I later consumed yogurt and an orange, I might react. Again, this is an intolerance, not an Ige related allergic reaction. That I am also allergic to many of the histamine rich or histamine releasing foods adds to the case for me to try, one more time, an elimination diet.

There is also debate as to whether supplements can help deal with histamine intolerance.  For example, some tout taking  Diamine Oxidase (DAO) as this digestive enzyme is key in dealing with histamine rich foods. I also read of increasing your intake of B6. Most sites do advocate for elimination diet, with some also suggesting the use of an antihistamine such as Benadryl if symptoms appear.

Today is day 2 of my elimination diet. This time around I am just focusing on the histamine intolerant trigger foods. Genny Mastermen, in her book, What Hit Me? Living with Histamine Intolerance: A guide to diagnosis and management of HIT – A Patient’s point of viewsuggests that if you are histamine intolerant, you probably have at least one other intolerance. In her case, the second intolerance was fructose. For more on Genny, see her Amazon.com home page.

So, for the next 2 to 4 weeks, I will be avoiding some of my favourite  foods such as yeasted bread, cheese, berries of all sorts, ham and other processed meat, eggs, and vinegar. I have my Benadryl handy, a food log printed off, and my fingers crossed that this time around the deprivation leads to a breakthrough. I will keep an eye on the fructose level (I still suspect that the “oses” aren’t the best for my system), and the other common intolerance foods. Wish me luck!

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16 thoughts on “anti-histamine = no more NSAIDS, tomatoes, alcohol, chocolate

  1. Danielle

    Go entirely grain/gluten/refined sugar and processed food free. I’m not kidding. i got diagnosed histamine intolerant about 3-4 months ago and it has taken that long for me to have my ‘break up’ with alcohol, chocolate and vinegar (salad dressings, marinades) and of course breads. It was seriously an emotional deal for me. We love our food and bread and wine here in Europe. I didn’t feel better until ALL the grain was out of the diet. My black lines under my eyes were gone in a week. My stomach went down about 3 inches. My running was faster and longer than ever before, the brain fog ceased immediately, my joint pains/mood swings/headaches went away overnight.

    I tried the conventional approach and it didnt work. Most of the time the underlying issue is candida and the overgrowth of YEAST/fungus in the system is thus making you allergic to yeast in your diet. There’s no coincidence there.

    • Danielle

      Oh yeah, and the bipolar/borderline symptoms will clear themselves right up. They did with me and I was a hopeless case. :)

    • Thanks for all the interesting information. I have wondered about yeast in the past, but as I don’t get yeast infections, the connection seems less clear. And, I’m not sure I’m ready to give up my morning coffee, lol for some other elimination diets.
      I do have trouble giving up the “oses;” and struggle to stay away from glucose, for example. Often gluten free products rely on sugar to “improve” the flavor.
      Over time, for example, eliminating gluten helps with my digestive issues. I think it would be easier to stay on/eliminate foods if the this change in my eating regime was more immediate, dramatic and obvious — easier, then, I think to stay on track!
      Due to allergies and food sensitivities, I have to create my own sort of diet drawing on aspects from other eating regimes. When the unexplained weight gain (up to 2 pounds a week while dieting and exercising) in the spring of 2011, it has bee frustrating. In the past, medication related weight gain disappeared when the med was removed from my regime.
      I hope to use my blog to follow my eating regime, and walking for exercise. Thanks again for the info!

  2. AmandaC

    I have some of the same symptoms as you — diagnosed with environmental allergies, IBS, rosacea, fibromyalgia, and bipolar 2 — and I have found that a low histamine diet makes a huge difference. I also have noticed a difference with magnesium malate and I take B6, D3, Vit C, calcium, and zinc, based on recommendations. I’ve been taking claritin for a few years for allergic rhinitis but I might try famotidine to see if it helps me tolerate more foods more. (So many pills though!)

    The holidays were very difficult — I ate all of the wrong foods and made myself very ill. I haven’t had a drink in over two years so that didn’t play a role in how crappy I felt. By the way my son has histamine intolerance and develops asthma, eczema, gerd, stomach cramps, headaches, and muscle pain if he eats too much of the wrong foods — i.e. his favorites :-(

    Do give the diet a try now that the holidays are over. I have found that it is good to remember — and remind my son — that it is dose dependent so, for example, if my son wants a slice of pepperoni pizza he can have it if he’s really good for a few days before and after. Too much self-denial can be toxic psychologically and I am already prone to food issues.

    • Thanks for sharing the information and your experiences. For a variety of reasons, I haven’t been following any particular diet; mostly to deal with unexplained weight gain and to avoid the foods I’m sensitive or allergic too.
      My comment is rather long — I just realized today that I probably hadn’t responded to yours, and have been thinking a lot about the relationship between food, vitamins and minerals and the body and mind’s overall health.

      Finding the right combination is rewarding — my problem is sticking with any diet as usually improvements are gradual. The problem with gluten, besides its appearance in a wide range of foods, is the cost of going gluten free. As it is “in” right now, I’ve seen prices on gluten-free mixes and products shoot through the roof. We’re still considering buying a bread baker; the best gluten free bread I’ve had is made with ancient grains so it has additional health benefits.

      I’ve been wondering about adding minerals such as magnesium malate and zinc. I take calcium and D3 for osteoporosis, For me, B12 is more crucial than B6. It’s been recommended for me to take B12, B complex, and a Q10. I take calcium with D3 (and sometimes K) for osteoporosis.

      The only way I’ve been able to raise and maintain a passable level of B12 is to eat the gummy version. I have to be aware of the other ingredients in all products due to food allergies, sensitivities, and side effects. That’s why I had to switch my calcium from those lovely Adora chocolate calcium, lol.

      There are, of course, issues with what makes a gummy vitamin a gummy, but if it’s not too much of a mind field, I have proof that at least with B12 gummy was the only method that worked. I utilize the gummy version if available. Any large pill has to be cut into smaller pieces to ensure I get some of the benefit.

      I didn’t stick to the antihistamine diet — I’ve tried some other elimination diets with varying success. I do go through periods of hypersensitivity, need to cut spending, etc. that make things a bit more out of whack. Food allergies complicate matters. As with your son and pizza — there are some I can have a bit of. But because I’m allergic (in varying degrees) to all legumes, for example, it restricts how closely I can follow any particular diet.
      Been working on a diet to try that’s an amalgam of several different ones. Things are pretty stressful right now, and the budget tightened, but I’m experiencing mostly unexplained weight gain and the potential for weight gain from a new medication. Of course, eating regimes such as the antihistamine focus on physical health and weight loss can be a good side effect (of course depending on your weight, and/or worries about it, etc.)
      Thanks again for your input — sorry it’s taken so long to reply!

  3. Thanks for stopping by. AS to how the diet goes, unfortunately life intervened, and I had to come up wth a diet regime to fit into the chaotic moments
    I did l keep some aspects of the diet as I rewrote my eating plan. Been really stresfull lately, so keeping on a diet has been difficult/
    I do go gluten free, for weeks at a time, and it does seem to help my IBS some what. When (if?) things settle back into a routine, I will try it again to fellow — just sems like a good “fit” to try!

  4. Also keep in mind that a strong histamine cascade is one our body’s natural defenses. Sometimes it goes hay-wire, but we don’t want it to go away! Anxious to see how your elimination process goes-if you can, please blog about your observations! Thanks for being the guinea pig!

    • My days as a guinea didn’t last all that long! Tried some other diets, and am trying to create one that is “doable” and “stick to able” There may be yet a story to be told!

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