Histamine Intolerance – Why Do We Get Symptoms Everywhere? Part 2

Histamine 2DWhen I show people the list of symptoms for histamine ‘intolerance’, there’s always that look of doubt as it does seem you could literally get symptoms anywhere in the body. People distrust that unsurprisingly – a bit snake-oily, isn’t it?!

The reason is because histamine plays so many roles in the body and there are histamine receptors all over the place. Much of where the symptoms show up is down to which receptors are affected.

Histamine receptors and effects diagram
Diagram adapted from Maintz 2007 Am J Clin Nutr 85:1185–96

Here’s a bit from the factsheet…

Histamine has a dual role in the body, which is why people are often confused by it. It acts as a neurotransmitter and as an immune system modulator. It increases metabolism and suppresses appetite, is involved in the sleep-wake cycle and in inflammatory processes in the body. It also helps regulate stomach acid levels.

There are receptor sites where histamine molecules ‘dock’ all over the body – and this is why histamine intolerance symptoms can occur all over the place. The different types of receptor are broadly broken into four types:

H1 receptors are all over the body and if excess histamine docks here, this is mainly what causes the allergic reactions we know and (don’t) love. H1 receptor blockers or agonists are used as antihistamines to help.

H2 receptors are mainly in the stomach and they influence the release of stomach acid. This is why H2-blocking antihistamine medications are used to control excess stomach acid. H2 receptors in other body sites can also influence allergic responses.

H3 receptors are in the brain and nervous system and they are involved in regulating the sleep cycle, nerves, mood, cognition, energy, inflammation and appetite.

H4 receptors are quite newly-discovered but so far are thought to influence the level of white blood cells and movement of mast cells. They may also be involved in allergic skin reactions.

Scientists are working on meds for H3 and H4 receptors but they don’t really exist yet. However, we can influence it ourselves.

Once the histamine has done its job, it then needs to be ‘undocked’ from the receptor and we use a couple of enzymes to help us do that – much more on that later in the factsheet…

The Histamine Effect on Mood

The H3 receptor is an interesting one as people tend not to consider histamine excess (or indeed deficiency) could be a factor in their mood issues. But histamine works as a neurotransmitter as we’ve said as well as an immune-modulator with H3 receptors in the central nervous system.

A nutritional pioneer, Dr Carl Pfeiffer, discovered the link between histamine and mood. Some people are genetically programmed to make too much and this is termed ‘Histadelia’. Some people have too little and this is ‘Histapenia.’

It’s a question of degree. In the right proportions, Histadelics (too much histamine) are driven and achieve great things but, out of proportion, trouble can occur as things become obsessive and addictive.

If mildly increased, this type of person may wake early, eat well, cry easily, has an active mind, tends towards being compulsive and obsessive and suffers from allergies. Histamine causes allergic reactions, as we know, but it can also cause a tendency to hyperactivity, compulsive behaviour and depression.

In addition, histamine produces a faster metabolism and a lot of heat in the body. In turn, this leads to a greater use and demand for nutrients and, if this is not met, the person can ‘burn out’ and all sorts of ‘deficiency’ type symptoms can start happening. This often starts with adrenal and thyroid issues in my experience – probably because magnesium both of those glands are dependent upon drops and many of us are deficient in that anyway. (Red cell magnesium testing please, not serum which can be misleading).

If the histamine level gets unusually very high, though, this can cause severe compulsions, obsessive behaviour, depression and suicidal tendencies. This person can have abnormal thoughts, is confused, has a blank mind and cries a lot. In fact, Pfeiffer discovered that about 20 per cent of schizophrenics are histadelic, and a great many people suffering from depression.  It is a trait that usually runs in families. Patients do not usually respond very well to orthodox drug therapy or electrotherapy.

If people have too little histamine (which I do find surprisingly regularly), they can have a whole different set of problems. Dr Pfeiffer discovered that many people with abnormal fears, anxiety, phobias and paranoia had very low histamine levels. This often occurred because they had very high copper levels in the blood that depresses histamine (and zinc actually, a key mood mineral). The characteristics of a histapenic person are more or less opposite to those who have too much.

Fascinating isn’t it – but not nice if it’s you experiencing the consequences of a histamine imbalance on your mood, I know. For more info, check the factsheet – it’s a mere fiver on the shop and on Amazon.

Next, I’ll do some histamine testing notes for you…

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