Histamine Intolerance, Inflammation and RLS (Part 3): WHAT CAUSES AN INCREASE IN HISTAMINE LEVELS?

Imagefrom Healthy Pixels
The most common food allergies include dairy, wheat, shellfish, eggs and nuts. Contact allergies can include a wide range of substances such as rubber, nickel (in jewelry), acrylates (artificial nails), pine resin, and sunscreen or shampoo ingredients (such as benzophenone). Some people experience an early response to allergens, while others might only notice a late-phase response that can appear up to 10 hours later. Symptoms of this delayed response can last up to 24 hours.

If any type of food allergy is suspected, consult with an allergist and start carefully taking notes about diet and symptoms. ChartMySelf.com can help you keep online records of your health. Blood tests for both immediate and delayed food allergies are available to doctors from Great Plains Laboratory, US Biotek, and many others. Depending on the type of allergy exposure and related damage, a body may require days, weeks, or even months to fully recover.

Air pollution and pollen
New research shows that air pollution contributes to cardiovascular disease by the increase in histamine and inflammation. Genetics also play a role in a person’s susceptibility to pollution.

These collective studies suggest that both short- and long-term PM inhalation can enhance thrombotic and coagulation tendencies, potentially via increases in circulating histamine and inflammatory cytokines and/or activated white cells and platelets.  

Interestingly, new research shows that some of us can experience inflammation from pollen without any specific allergy! Future studies will undoubtedly reveal how particles in our environment can affect our immune system beyond the classic allergy response.

Water pollution
Studies have shown that common environmental contaminants trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene raised histamine levels in lab rats by increasing their sensitivity to allergens.

Symptoms can often be prevented by avoiding foods high in histamine

ImageFermented foods like wine, aged cheese, aged or smoked meats, fermented soy products (including tofu and soy sauce), vinegar (including pickles, ketchup and prepared mustard) and sauerkraut.

Foods exposed to high amounts of bacteria such as fish/shellfish.

Leftover meats can quickly accumulate microorganisms which result in histamine formation.

Chocolate/cocoa, spinach, eggplant, nuts, pumpkin, tomato, strawberries, citrus fruits, and seasonings like cinnamon, chili powder, and cloves can stimulate the release of histamine.

Wheat-based products.

Beverages such as tea (herbal or regular) and soy milk are high in histamine.

Any type of alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to break down histamine.

Prepackaged meals.

Yeast – even though it does not contain histamine as such, yeast serves as a catalyst for histamine generation during manufacture. There is no yeast in the end product

New studies show that fat absorption may dramatically increase the release of histamine and contribute to chronic inflammation.

ImageNutritional imbalances
When the body is low in B vitamins, vitamin C, and copper, histamine may not break down sufficiently to overcome symptoms of intolerance. Foods high in Bs include potatoes, sunflower seeds, and soybeans. Foods high in vitamin C include bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, and kale. Researchers found that vitamin C may work by increasing the activity of the DAO enzyme.

Some foods like potato are also high in oxalate which can release histamine in certain people. Keep in mind that while citrus is high in vitamin C, it releases histamine within the body and can aggravate symptoms. A food allergy to any of the above foods will also increase histamine.

Heat and UVB light
Studies show that UVB light caused histamine release in vitro, though it was protected by ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Some people notice that rashes and skin conditions can worsen with exposure to sun and heat.

Some episodes of anaphylaxis have been triggered by moderately intense exercise, particularly in warm environments. These extreme reactions are typically related to food allergens that were consumed prior to physical activity. Strict avoidance of allergens may help prevent symptoms of histamine intolerance that occur during exercise – particularly dynamic exercises such as jogging, running, and aerobics that involve less resistance. Recent studies indicate that the amino acid L-carnosine is released during these exercises and then converted to histamine.

Hormones – including stress hormones
Rising estrogen levels have been associated with elevated histamine, and women might notice increased sensitivity and symptoms of histamine intolerance at different times in their monthly cycle. Periods of high estrogen link to sinus sensitivity to histamine. Environmental estrogens such as pesticides, agricultural growth hormones, and PVC in plastics may also activate histamine release. Conversely, histamine appears to stimulate estrogen levels as well and exacerbate symptoms. Diamine oxidase levels are much higher in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, theoretically reducing the risk of excess histamine during that phase.

The “stress” hormone cortisol appears to increase histamine in stomach and intestines in lab studies. Reducing stress can lower the amount of stimulating hormones that activate mast cells which release histamine and other factors of inflammation.

Imagefrom Stephanie Faris of Healthline Networks

Basic Symptoms of Mold Allergies
If you’re allergic to mold, you’ll likely experience histamine reactions similar to those from other types of airborne allergies. Those symptoms include: sneezing, coughing, congestion, watery & itchy eyes and postnasal drip

You may initially mistake your mold allergies for a cold or sinus infection, since the symptoms can mirror each other. If your allergies are compounded by asthma, you may notice your asthma symptoms worsening when you’re exposed to mold. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, and chest tightness. You also may experience wheezing and other signs of an asthma attack.

Mold Allergies in Children
If your children are the only ones in the family suffering histamine-related allergy symptoms, it may not be related to mold in your home. Some school buildings have unchecked mold, resulting in asthmatics suffering increased attacks while at school. But it could also be that your child has a sensitivity to mold, whereas no one else in the family does.

Since some children spend time playing outside in areas parents might not venture, mold may be prevalent in the outdoor air. Asthmatic children may experience more attacks while playing outside for this reason and you may note more symptoms in the summertime months, when your children are playing outside more often.

Is Mold Toxic?
You may hear many myths about the toxicity of mold—for example, that inhaling mold can cause permanent damage. The truth, according to scientists, is that it would be very difficult for someone to inhale enough mold to do that kind of damage. If you aren’t sensitive to mold, you may never even experience a reaction.

Furthermore, the mold that asthma has been associated with is generally found outdoors, not indoors. So that leaky window at work isn’t likely to cause you to develop asthma. Outdoor mold will only exacerbate symptoms for asthmatics, and not cause asthma itself. However, a serious condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis is rare, but attributed to prolonged mold inhalation in patients who are sensitive.

Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis can develop over time in patients who are sensitive to mold spores in the air. One of the most often seen types of hypersensitivity pneumonitis is known as “farmer’s lung.” Farmer’s lung is a serious allergic reaction to mold found in hay and other types of crop material. Because farmer’s lung is so often undiagnosed, it can cause permanent damage in the form of scar tissue on the lung. This scar tissue, called fibrosis, can worsen until the patient begins to have trouble doing simple tasks.

Once farmer’s lung progresses to a more chronic form, symptoms may become more severe than simple histamine reactions. Farmer’s lung patients may experience fever, chills, blood-streaked sputum, and muscular pain. Those who work around potentially moldy crop materials on a regular basis should watch for early histamine reactions and seek treatment if they suspect farmer’s lung may be developing.

While mold exposure is generally not deadly, increased exposure can make symptoms worse. Mold allergies are progressive—that is, over time the attacks become more severe. The key is to prevent moisture from building up by repairing any leaks in your home.

If you notice a water build-up in any part of your home, stop the leak immediately. When working in situations where outdoor mold may be present, wearing a face mask can drastically reduce your exposure to the allergen. Masks that will protect your respiratory system from being affected by mold spore exposure are available.

Histamines and Electromagnetic fields (EMFs)

Image“A theoretical model based upon mast cells and histamine to explain the recently proclaimed sensitivity to electric and/or magnetic fields in humans.” Gangi S, Johansson O. Experimental Dermatology Unit, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


The relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and human health is more and more in focus. This is mainly because of the rapid increasing use of such EMFs within our modern society. Exposure to EMFs has been linked to different cancer forms, e.g. leukemia, brain tumors, neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, asthma and allergy, and recently to the phenomena of ‘electrosupersensitivity’ and ‘screen dermatitis’. There is an increasing number of reports about cutaneous problems as well as symptoms from internal organs, such as the heart, in people exposed to video display terminals (VDTs). These people suffer from subjective and objective skin and mucosa-related symptoms, such as itch, heat sensation, pain, erythema, papules and pustules. In severe cases, people can not, for instance, use VDTs or artificial light at all, or be close to mobile telephones. Mast cells (MCs), when activated, release a spectrum of mediators, among them histamine, which is involved in a variety of biological effects with clinical relevance, e.g. allergic hypersensitivity, itch, edema, local erythema and many types of dermatoses. From the results of recent studies, it is clear that EMFs affect the MC, and also the dendritic cell, population and may degranulate these cells. The release of inflammatory substances, such as histamine, from MCs in the skin results in a local erythema, edema and sensation of itch and pain, and the release of somatostatin from the dendritic cells may give rise to subjective sensations of on-going inflammation and sensitivity to ordinary light. These are, as mentioned, the common symptoms reported from patients suffering from ‘electrosupersensitivity’/’screen dermatitis’. MCs are also present in the heart tissue and their localization is of particular relevance to their function. Data from studies made on interactions of EMFs with the cardiac function have demonstrated that highly interesting changes are present in the heart after exposure to EMFs. One could speculate that the cardiac MCs are responsible for these changes due to degranulation after exposure to EMFs. However, it is still not known how, and through which mechanisms, all these different cells are affected by EMFs. In this article, we present a theoretical model, based upon observations on EMFs and their cellular effects, to explain the proclaimed sensitivity to electric and/or magnetic fields in humans.

Results from the above-mentioned studies show that EMFs affect the MCs and may result in MC degranulation and release of inflammatory substances, including histamine. It is obvious that the MC, and also the dendritic cell, population is affected by EMFs. However, it is still unknown whether EMFs affect these cells directly or indirectly. EMFs may primarily affect the MCs, and they will consecutively release mediator substances which, in its turn, activate dendritic cells and their release of somatostatin. However, EMFs could affect the dendritic cells directly and these cells could then activate MCs’ release of inflammatory substances, such as histamine, heparin, serotonin, VIP, etc. The third possibility would be that EMFs affect both MCs and dendritic cells directly and degranulate these cells.

The release of inflammatory mediators from MCs in the human skin results in a local erythema, edema and sensation of itch and/or pain, and maybe the release of somatostatin from the dendritic cells in the skin gives rise to subjective sensations of on-going inflammation and the reported sensitivity to ordinary light. All the above-mentioned cutaneous symptoms are the common symptoms.

Interactions of EMFs with MCs may result in MC degranulation and release of inflammatory mediators, such as histamine. In addition, cardiac symptoms have also been reported. MCs are, as described before, also present in human heart tissue. From the results of studies on the interaction of EMFs with the cardiac function, it is clear that relevant changes are present in the heart after exposure to EMFs. These changes may be due to the influence of EMFs on the cardiac MCs and their release of inflammatory mediators. One could argue that the cardiac MCs, with their intimate relationship to the nerves, could be affected and degranulated directly by the EMFs, or indirectly through a neuropeptide pathway.

Thus, it is clear that certain changes occur in different MC populations after electromagnetic / magnetic exposure, and these changes may consequently be a direct cellular response to EMFs. The results of the previously discussed study of Donnellan et al.confirms this assumption.

Finally, if the above reported effects, seen in different laboratory animals, such as mice and rats, as well as in various in vitro situations, would occur in human beings exposed in similar ways, it is not surprising at all to find persons claiming different subjective and objective symptoms, such as itch, flare, edema, etc., after exposure to e.g. mobile telephones, VDTs or fluorescent light. On the contrary, these persons may very well function as biosensors, thus revealing to the rest of the human population a warning signal that has to be taken seriously!


  1. CJ said

    I live within 100 yards of a cell phone tower. My bedroom is in direct path of this monster. Recently, I had been having an especially difficult time sleeping. The sensation I had been having may be what you call restless leg syndrome. Only I call it restless body syndrome because it’s everywhere throughout my body; it’s in my arms, and my legs. I toss and turn, and have to get up and walk all night, after a few hours I am so irritated I could hurt someone. I am baffled because no one else I have asked has this symptom. I’m convinced it comes from the cell tower hovering over my backyard fence. A few days ago I saw some technicians working on the tower, so I decided to find out what I could about this tower that may be causing me such discomfort. As I walked up on the technician I overheard him on the phone talking to a supervisor or coworker and saying that he discovered a componant was out on this tower and four componants were also out on a nearby tower, I think he said a transformer or maybe receiver, I’m not sure which one now. But I felt that the improper working condition of this tower had directly affected my symptoms none the less. It’s not the first time this has happened; twice in the past I had been having severe discomfort and within days, if not within 24 hrs, there were technicians working on the tower.

    There are other symptoms I suddenly developed and can’t explain why since I have always been perfectly healthy…a constant high pitched hum in my ears, muscle contractions, severe diagnosed gastritis, increased asthma symptoms, excessive fluid retention, elevated CRP level, blood pressure averaging at stroke level, increased heart rate, constant joint and muscle pain, and insomnia.

    When the work is done on the tower, all the symptoms decrease. Oddly, like the throw of a switch. Meaning not gradual relief but like someone just flipped a swich or pulled a plug. In seconds the worste discomfort just fades away.

    • rlsottawa said

      Hi CJ

      Sorry to hear about your difficulty. A friend of mine swears that grounding helps to soften/heal the damage that electrical currents are causing. I have a mat myself. There’s all sorts of information about it here: http://www.grounded.com Their products are a bit expensive, but if one of the mats or sheets helps you to remain healthy, then it’s a small price to pay.

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