Medications and Histamine Intolerance

Those of us with food sensitivities focus a lot on what we eat, but what about the other stuff we put in our bodies that impacts our sensitivity to histamine?  What about medications?

If you're reacting to foods, you have some level of histamine intolerance.  Simply, your body has more histamine than it can deal with and it builds up.  The cause is either too much going in or not enough enzyme activity to get rid of it.  

Enzymes?  Yup - there are several enzymes your body makes which help to metabolize histamine.  Two major ones are diamine oxidase (DAO) and histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT).  DAO works primarily in the gut to address food-based histamine and HNMT is primarily in the mechanics of the cells.  

DAO is what we're going to focus on today because there are many common medications that decrease the amount of DAO in your gut.  

Why do we care?  Decreasing the amount of DAO decreases your body's ability to get rid of histamine and you're more likely to react.  Plain and simple!

We frequently take medications without a lot of thought, especially over-the-counter (OTC) options for allergies and pain.  Here are some medications which are known to decrease DAO enzyme activity in your gut:

  • NSAIDS: ibuprofen and aspirin
  • Antihistamines: Allegra, Zyrtec and Benadryl
  • Histamine (H2) blockers: Tagamet, Pepcid and Zantac
  • Antidepressants: Cymbalta, Effexor, Prozac and Zoloft
  • Immunosuppressants: Enbrel, Humira, Plaquenil

Any surprises in that list?  See any medications familiar to you?  If you do, please understand each of these medications has a purpose given the specific situation.  In fact, for those suffering with mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), some of these medications may actually play a big role in treatment.  They simply represent one of the many pieces in the food sensitivity puzzle.  

Also keep in mind any medications that impact your gut microbiome will also impact food reactions, which definitely includes antibiotics.  And don't forget to read the labels of any meds you're taking, over-the-counter or prescription, and look for any known trigger foods/ingredients; you might be amazed where they hide dairy, soy and wheat products!

If you're taking any of these medications and also struggling with food sensitivities, please discuss options with your healthcare provider.  Do not stop them all of a sudden - especially the different prescription medications.  Stopping all of a sudden can cause more issues than food sensitivities!

The one option that will put you most in control of the situation is to slowly adopt the low-histamine diet discussed last week.  (And use that really cool Food Intolerances app!)  By doing the low-histamine diet, you're decreasing how much histamine is going in…and the DAO and HNMT that you have in your body are better able to keep up with demand.  

Remember - histamine intolerance is all about your daily "dose" of histamine.  You can make a huge impact in how you feel just by being mindful in your food and medication choices!

New to the food sensitivities journey?  Looking for some quick changes you can implement today to help with fatigue, brain fog, gut issues and other common complaints related to food sensitivities?  Download my new FREE resource - Solving Food Sensitivities with Self-Care: 7 Steps to Start Today!  


food sensitivities, histamine, self-care

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