Where to start with the genetics of histamine intolerance…

Let's talk about histamine intolerance.  Over the past several weeks, we've learned more about many of the genes and enzymes involved in clearing histamine from the body.  But talking about invisible, teeny-tiny bits can be a bit confusing because the picture isn't really clear.  Let's take care of that today.

Bathtubs and histamine intolerance...

The illustration of a bathtub works really well for histamine intolerance.  Your body is the bathtub and the faucets putting more histamine into your body are things like food, environmental allergies, food sensitivities, mold exposures…even stress.  With some or all of those faucets pouring into your body, you may be able to imagine how quickly your "bathtub" will fill with histamine.  

We need to be looking for the different ways your body clears histamine, e.g., the drains in the tub.  We've talked about four of those drains recently: DAO, HNMT, MAOA and the ALDH family.  These are the genes which code for enzymes, and enzymes are proteins with a job.  The job of these enzymes is to clear, in distinct steps, histamine and allow your body to literally drain it out in urine.  

Each of those enzymes relies on and supports the others.  They create a balanced community in your body.  When one of these (or any of the other hundreds of enzymes) is significantly out of balance, the drains in your bathtub quit working as effectively and you end up with a build up of histamine.  Remember, the faucets are always running even if the drains get clogged up!

Let's get practical.  We've talked about a lot of bits and pieces, but where to start?  Each of the enzymes we've discussed requires different micronutrients (things like vitamins and minerals) to do their job.  Regardless of genetics, if those micronutrients aren't there, the enzyme cannot work.  Seems like a big piece of the puzzle, doesn't it?!

Start with the drains...

If we go back to the bathtub analogy, it makes sense to make sure the final step of the drain is working as well as possible before we start supporting and possibly pushing some of the other steps.  With a bathtub drain, the issue could be the drain is closed in the tub or there is a clog in the pipe below the drain or the pipes aren't even connected to the sewer.  Regardless, we end up with a big mess in the bathtub!  

This concept is really important in histamine metabolism - recall there are a few feedback loops in these pathways.  That means if the last step isn't working well and the system backs up, the first steps in the pathway get turned off.  Big problem, right?!  The final enzyme step (that we see) in clearing histamine is the ALDH family.  From here, the stuff that used to be histamine will go out in the urine.  But just like the drain, if the ALDH family isn't working well, everything backs up.  

How do we support the ALDH family?  

To start, let's look at the cofactors or those micronutrients ALDH has to have to do its job.  There are two - zinc and niacin (B3).  Both of these are available as supplements and you can run out and start taking them.  I do advise you discuss with a knowledgeable provider before doing so because even natural supplements can cause problems and side effects (see below).  

Next, what lifestyle things can we change to support this gene (this is the whole epigenetics concept - more to come!)?  Avoid alcohol and smoking.  Address gut health, especially if Candida is an issue for you.  Avoid aspartame.  Avoid Tylenol and aspirin.  And limit fermented foods.  Spend time in nature away from vehicle emissions and formaldehyde fumes.  And that's just a start!

Next week we'll work through the order of the other genes we've discussed.  Step by step we're putting together the map for this journey.  We're still going to solve this puzzle!

Sixty-second Self-care Tip…

Do you know someone who doesn't take at least one supplement?  Maybe a gummy vitamin or a protein powder?  Seems everyone is taking something.

Just a quick reminder that every supplement (or medication) has the potential to cause problems.  It doesn't matter how clean or natural it is.  

Consider this - you're taking a supplement to get an effect.  Either to stop a symptom or to prevent a symptom.  To do that, the supplement is literally changing something in your biochemistry.  

And that has effects.  Some we want and some may be a surprise and something we really don't want.  

If you're taking supplements or looking for something new to take, please consider discussing with a knowledgeable healthcare provider and see what helpful insights they may have.  

Otherwise, just follow my supplement motto: Start Low and Go Slow!  Start with a low dose and advance that dose very slowly, if at all.  

More to come on supplements, especially those that can help support histamine intolerance.  Want to know when the new resources are available?  Sign up and get all of the details in your inbox every Sunday morning. 


60-second self-care, ALDH, bathtub, epigenetics, histamine intolerance, supplements

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