Your Brain on Histamine
You’re probably already aware of the miserable havoc that too much histamine can cause in your life. Histamine is to blame for your allergy symptoms, like itchy eyes, nose & ears, wheezing, sneezing, rashes, and your incessantly runny nose. It can be responsible for your digestive troubles, bladder issues and a racing heart.
But did you know that histamine intolerance is also the likely culprit behind your insomnia, junk food cravings, brain fog, migraines, and mood issues?
Why Do We Need Histamine?
Histamine is absolutely essential for life. Some of histamine’s vital functions include mediating allergic reactions, initiating the release of stomach acid for digestion, aiding hormone balance, helping with muscle contraction, and communicating messages between the body and the brain.
Not to sound dramatic, but without histamine, we’d die.
Histamine intolerance doesn’t happen because someone is extra sensitive to histamine (as I said, histamine is essential to life for ALL humans). It happens when too much histamine builds up in the body because the enzymes needed to break it down are either deficient or inactive, and often, the cells that release histamine have gone rogue.
We have histamine receptors EVERYWHERE in the body, and cells that release histamine EVERYWHERE in the body. And this means that too much histamine built up in the body can cause symptoms in every system of the body.
And this includes your brain.
In the brain, histamine can be released from a small number of mast cells, but mainly from histamine-releasing neurons in the hypothalamus. After being released in the hypothalamus, histamine then travels to other areas of the brain. Just like in the rest of the body, we have histamine receptors all over the brain, and an enzyme called histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT) is responsible for deactivating it.
Histamine has an excitatory effect on the brain, and has been suggested to be a regulator of “whole brain” activity. You may be aware that histamine plays an important role in the sleep-wake cycle by helping to keep us awake during the day. But when HNMT is either deficient or inactive, causing too much histamine to build up in all areas of the brain, it can cause all sorts of brain-related problems.
MEMORY & CONCENTRATION ISSUES
The role of H3 receptor signaling in the brain for short- and long- term memory formation has been documented extensively. Both too much and too little histamine can cause impaired memory and cognition. In very high amounts histamine can also cause brain fog and difficulty concentrating.Mood-related disorders such as anxiety or depression
Because histamine is an important neurotransmitter that influences other neurotransmitters in our brain, excess histamine is correlated with conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, and schizophrenia.
If you have trouble with procrastination, histamine may play a role. Research has shown that healthy histamine levels are correlated with motivation. Elevated levels, however, can lead to too much excitability in the brain, causing fatigue and brain fog.
FOOD CRAVINGS & EMOTIONAL EATING
Do you find yourself craving junk food and scrounging through the refrigerator when you’re stressed? High histamine levels have been correlated with excessive appetite and cravings.
BAD DECISION-MAKING, INCLUDING ADDICTIONS
Research on rats has shown that elevated histamine levels in the brain may influence alcohol addiction. Considering the excitatory effect of histamine on the brain and its correlation with excess appetite and cravings, this makes a lot of sense.
DIFFICULTY FALLING AND/OR STAYING ASLEEP
Since one of histamine’s main functions in the brain is to keep us awake during the day, too much histamine can be responsible for wreaking havoc on our sleep. In fact, most over-the-counter sleep aids contain a histamine receptor blocking agent.
Research suggests that excess histamine released from neurons in the hypothalamus may be one contributing factor to motion sickness. Interestingly, I suffered from extreme motion sickness from the time I was a small child until my late 30s when I finally resolved my histamine intolerance. I haven’t suffered from motion sickness since healing my histamine intolerance.
INCREASED PAIN PERCEPTION
Your brain is responsible for communicating how you perceive pain. If you have too much histamine built up in your brain because of histamine intolerance, your perception of pain may be elevated.
Fix Your Histamine Intolerance to Improve Brain Symptoms
The good news is that histamine intolerance and the miserable symptoms that hitch along for the ride do not need to be a life sentence! This is a fixable and manageable problem. By addressing the root causes of the problem, you can get long-term relief from both the brain-related issues and other miserable symptoms associated with histamine intolerance such as allergies, skin issues, wheezing, digestive issues and headaches.
Where to Start:
1. Dial in Your Diet.
The single biggest factor in your overall health and wellbeing is determined by what you choose to put at the end of your fork.
I recommend that you begin with making changes to your diet. I developed my companion digital programs, the Histamine Solution, Allergy Freedom Toolkit, and Toxin Takedown, to help you get to the bottom of your histamine intolerance. In these programs, I teach you how to balance your meals with anti-inflammatory and/or anti-histamine foods and herbs that will counterbalance any high histamine foods in your meals (and my color-coded food list makes it easy-peasy).
If you are struggling with histamine-related symptoms and want to have quality of life back, addressing diet is non-negotiable. Eating the most nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods available will help you begin the process of healing your gut and your histamine intolerance. You can learn how to do this in my Histamine Solution, Allergy Freedom Toolkit & Toxin Takedown digital programs.
2. Try supplements that support healthy histamine levels.
Check out my carefully curated selection of supplements to support healthy histamine levels and a healthy response to histamine.
- A histamine-friendly probiotic. Many probiotic strains can cause a histamine flare because they produce excess histamine in the gut. Not this one! This probiotic supports your gut’s natural response to ingested histamine while supporting healthy bacterial balance in the gut.
- DAO enzyme to take before meals to support healthy degradation of histamine from food. DAO is the enzyme that breaks down histamine in the digestive tract. If you have a deficiency of this enzyme (largely due to gut issues such as infections, dysbiosis or leaky gut), you lose the capacity to break down histamine, leading to build-up in the body.
- Herbal support including flavonoids and bioflavonoids that support healthy histamine release and immune regulating properties.
- Liver nutrients designed to support healthy liver detoxification. Contains milk thistle extract, N-acetyl-L-cysteine, taurine, trimethylglycine, and alpha-lipoic acid.
- Sustained release magnesium to support healthy magnesium levels.
*All supplements are practitioner-grade supplements and do not contain any fillers or allergens, including dairy, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts or wheat.
*To order these supplements, follow these 3 easy steps:
- Create your account on Fullscript.
- Click on “Catalog” on the left side of the screen.
- Click on “Tamy Anderson Functional Wellness Favorites” to view Histamine Support supplements.
As you’ve learned, histamine causes problems in EVERY system of your body, including your brain. Histamine can be responsible for your migraine headaches, memory and concentration issues, mood issues, procrastination, food cravings, addictions, sleep dysfunction, motion sickness, and increased pain perception. Histamine intolerance can be a debilitating problem that totally hijacks your quality of life.
If you are suffering with brain and other health issues associated with histamine intolerance, and want to take a deeper dive into root causes with strategic lab testing and go ALL IN with a commitment to getting to the bottom of your histamine intolerance, schedule a qualifying call so we can chat and find out if one of my intensive health coaching packages is right for you.
Ishizuka, T., and Yamatodani, A. (2012). Integrative role of the histaminergic system in feeding and taste perception. Front. Syst. Neurosci. 6:44. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2012.00044
Torrealba, F., Riveros, M. E., Contreras, M., and Valdes, J. L. (2012). Histamine and motivation. Front. Syst. Neurosci. 6:51. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2012.00051
Vohora, D., and Bhowmik, M. (2012). Histamine H3 receptor antagonists/inverse agonists on cognitive and motor processes: relevance to Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, schizophrenia, and drug abuse. Front. Syst. Neurosci. 6:72. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2012.00072
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Takeda N , Morita M , Hasegawa S , Horii A , Kubo T , Matsunaga T . Neuropharmacology of motion sickness and emesis. A review. Acta Otolaryngol. (Stockh.) Suppl. 1993;501:10–15.
Theoharides, T., Stewart, J., Hatziagelaki, E. & Kolaitis, G. (2015) “Brain “Fog”, inflammation and obesity. Key aspects of neuropsychiatric disorders improved by luteolin”, Front. Neurosci. V.9 2015.