Histamines have multiple important roles in a healthy body. They are immune signalling proteins that regulate stomach acid, stimulate your brain, cause blood vessels to dilate, smooth muscle in the uterus to contract and they also play a role in our fertility, particularly healthy ovulation and implantation.
Histamines also cause the well known allergy responses and swelling.
An excess or intolerance to histamines can also cause multiple hormonally linked symptoms.
Regular cyclical headaches, hives and brain fog that seem to be worse near ovulation and just before your period could have a more precise explanation than a simple hormone imbalance. A better understanding of the mechanism behind your symptoms, can create a better treatment protocol and get better results!
Sometimes we need to look a bit deeper to find solutions. If you have tried treating your cyclical symptoms without a good outcome, its worth digging deeper into histamines and histamine intolerance. Often, we need to consider the complex relationship between histamine and our hormones, particularly oestrogen.
If your symptoms worsen at times when oestrogen is high, or high in comparison to progesterone, this is a hallmark of histamine involvement.
High symptom times-
What we know now is that excess histamines- or a histamine intolerance, are involved in many of the symptoms we previously thought of as purely related to ovarian hormone imbalances.
If you suffer cyclical-
Headaches or Migraines
Pain and tenderness
Or heavy periods..
It may be that a nasty little vicious cycle of oestrogen increasing histamine production and histamine stimulating the ovaries to make more oestrogen that’s to blame.
Oestrogen also reduces the activity of an important enzyme – DAO, which clears out your histamine….Double Whammy!
So, the symptoms we might previously have identified as linked to oestrogen dominance, are also symptoms of excess histamine!
Histamine and your fertility
Histamine has an important role in implantation. There is an interaction between the histamine secreted by the embryo and the histamine receptors in the uterus. This is an important part of healthy implantation into the endometrium of the uterus, science hasn't discovered all there is to know yet, we’re still learning more about this delicate interplay.
There is one study that shows antihistamines reduce blood flow to the uterus. Healthy circulation to the uterus is vital for a receptive implantation site, suggesting caution in the use of these medications while trying to conceive.
A third way that histamine impacts on fertility is on egg quality. There are fluctuating levels of histamine within follicular fluid, its understood at this stage that high histamine levels can cause premature ovulation and the release of an immature egg. Again, we are still discovering the intricacies of histamine and its impact on fertility and ovulation.
The information we have so far suggests its important to moderate histamine intake, production and breakdown naturally and to minimize or avoid the use of antihistamines to maintain healthy fertility.
What to do if you suspect histamine excess or histamine intolerance
You’ll need to balance the amount being generated or eaten AND the amount being broken down and excreted.
Start by avoiding high histamine foods-
bone broth and fish stock
vinegar and fermented foods such as sauerkraut
red wine and champagne
smoked or canned fish
And avoiding histamine stimulating foods
Then work on-
Improving oestrogen clearance through the liver and bowel
Support your natural production of progesterone (progesterone has a natural antihistamine effect)
Boosting B6 and Vit C because they up-regulate the histamine clearing enzyme DAO.
Boost bioflavonoids like Rutin and Quercetin in your diet to stabilise mast cells and reduce histamine release.
Improving gut health to manage histamine breakdown better.
Avoid Xenoestrogens in your environment to interrupt that vicious cycle!
Some probiotics are known to be histamine elevating, its important to choose the right strains- below are the strains best for promoting histamine degradation.
Its exciting to discover a deeper understanding of the mechanisms driving our hormonal symptoms. So many of my patients have made breakthroughs in difficult to treat hormonal symptoms since they've learned about the relationship between hormones and histamines and how to manage their histamine levels successfully.
Implantation and deciduation process after the action of the antihistamine preparation diaprizin in early rat embryogenesis. Ontogenez 1981; 12(6) 596-604.
Identification of a histamine-releasing factor secreted by human pre-implantation embryos grown in vitro. Cocchiara et al, Journal of Reprod Immunology 1988 Jun;13(1):41-52
Ncbi.nim.nih.gov PMID 6838950
Ncbi.nim.nih.gov PMID 3250185