Early on while working with our integrative pediatrician on dietary changes and the incorporation of a handful of supplements (which we’ve since discontinued), we noticed that our sons eczema drastically increased. What were once small little dime sized rough spots on his skin, grew into an angry head to toe rash covering most of his body.
Assuming it was something his skin was coming into contact with, I overhauled household items he was frequently exposed to – cleansers, detergents, fragrances, switched to organic cotton, etc. and he was still inflamed.
When that didn’t work, we proceeded with IgG food sensitivity testing (see post for additional info). Despite removing over 30 different food sensitivities, gluten, dairy, soy, glutamate and cleaning up his chemical exposure, he was still reacting. It took taking a simple family trip to discover that his eczema had substantially improved. Of course, upon our return home, the eczema was back with a vengeance. So what was it? Histamine. While traveling, I had intentionally left his probiotics at home because they needed refrigeration and we were eating fresh food (no leftovers). As a way to save time in the kitchen back home, I would double up on meals and freeze them for a later date. Turns out he was reacting to the histamine levels found in or release from these sources. Once we removed these high sources of histamine his skin was almost 100% better
So here is my understanding of why this was problematic for us. When the body senses an invader, threat or allergen, mast cells release histamine as a sort of SOS for the immune system. This is exactly what occurs when histamine causes flushing or red skin around a bug bite, which is typically a good thing. However, this can be come problematic when the body is chronically inflamed and dealing with immune activation because those mast cells are chronically activated (Mast Cell Activation Disorder MCAD) and releasing histamine. Therefore, adding additional sources of histamine will only further tip the bucket, resulting in more of a reaction. A histamine type reaction doesn’t always have to be eczema. It may manifest in the form of flushing, irritability, hives, bloating, itchy eyes, runny nose, night waking, carsickness, bloody nose and so on. For a period of time, we were able to manage his symptoms by limiting the amount of high histamine foods he was consuming a day.
Initially, the biggest changes we made in reducing histamine were limiting meat to once a day, strictly avoiding processed or leftover meat, eliminating probiotics/ferments and limiting how many high histamine foods he consumed in a day. We even tried low histamine probiotics but discovered he couldn’t even those. His most reactive histamine foods are indicated in our original rotation diet, here. We were often most reactive to histamine, following a good homeopathic remedy as part of the healing reaction. Because of this, we have also had to occasionally incorporate the use of histamine lowering herbs (Nettle, Goldenrod, Milk Thistle, Red Clover, Gingko) and the homeopathic remedy (Histaminum). Through working with Dr. Reid, I discovered that sure enough, glutamate activates mast cells, which release histamine in return. So, reducing glutamate became key to our healing. Additionally, excess histamine can increase glutamate, resulting in unwanted behaviors/symptoms. We’ve also witnessed slight histamine flares in response to the toxicity of homeopathic die-off. Today, we no longer outwardly suffer with histamine or mast cell issues. I believe that this has resulted from keeping a low glutamate diet, incorporating histamine lower herbs and working on lowing our overall inflammation and immune activation with homeopathy. This process took time but I am thankful we are in a better place now. If you’re looking for more information on histamine intolerance, I strongly encourage you to take a look at The Low Histamine Chef. Additionally, nutrient deficiencies, underlying infections/pathogens and various gene SNP’s (MTHFR, DOA, MAO, etc.) if activated can all greatly contribute to a histamine intolerance.