Histamine Intolerance: The Not So Well-Known Issue That May Be Affecting Your Fertility
Please note: This is a guest post from Ashley Looft, Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
Not many people have heard of histamine intolerance yet it may be really common especially amongst those who have a lot of gut health issues.
Histamine is a compound in our bodies that has many roles. One of histamines largest roles is in our immune response to foreign invaders but it also plays a factor in digestion and acts as a neuro transmitter between the brain, spinal cord, and the uterus. Histamine intolerance comes into play when your body is overwhelmed by the amount of histamine present. This can happen for many reasons including gut permeability, dysbiosis, excess estrogen, hidden infections and genetic predisposition.
While many doctors don’t often look into histamine intolerance when presented with fertility and menstrual issues it can in fact be playing a large role. As mentioned above histamine acts as a neurotransmitter between the brain and the uterus and it plays a large role in estrogen production.
What happens is histamine aids in the release of LH, which in turn prompts more estrogen to be produced, which in turn can stimulate more histamine to be released if the previous LH surge didn’t stimulate ovulation.
This means that you can be stuck in a histamine-LH-estrogen-histamine cycle if you are unable to effectively lower histamine. The histamine-estrogen cycle can also affect estrogenic diseases like endometriosis making symptoms much worse and further affecting your fertility.
The other affect of excess histamine in the body is that when there is too much for too long it creates inflammation. This is because histamine is part of our immune response and with immune action comes inflammation.
Normally, when your body reacts to a foreign invader it creates histamine, which calls in
the big guns, who release killer compounds to kill the foreign invader. Once the threat is neutralized everything gets cleared up, but when you continually have excess histamine your body never gets the chance to clear out the inflammation and you become chronically inflamed.
Chronic inflammation in the abdomen and uterus can create issues with ovulation, implantation, and the ability to carry a pregnancy to term.
To determine if histamine intolerance is affecting our fertility first check in to see if you have any of the following symptoms:
The easiest, cheapest, and quickest way to determine if histamine intolerance is behind your
symptoms and fertility troubles is to cut our high histamine foods (see the list below). You should be
able to tell with in a week or two of cutting out these foods.
If you don’t feel like you are seeing an improvement in symptoms, try reintroducing these foods and see if your symptoms become suddenly worse. If you find that your symptoms are relieved by removing these foods then it’s time to get to the root cause of your histamine intolerance.
You may have more than one root cause for your histamine intolerance, so make sure to check for all of these. While there are some companies you can find online that offer self-prescribed testing, many of these tests need to be ordered by your doctor or a qualified practitioner (note: if your doctor dismisses your concerns about histamine intolerance or doesn’t know anything about it, seek out another doctor or practitioner for help with this).
1. Leaky gut and or dysbiosis – These can be tested for through a GI Map and (leaky gut can also be tested for with a blood test).
2. SIBO – most commonly tested with a breath test
3. DAO gene mutation – genetic testing done by cheek swab or blood draw.
4. Estrogen Dominance – blood test or DUTCH test (DUTCH testing can be pretty pricey, but it’s worth it because it can give you so much more info on the possible root of your excess estrogen)
5. Mast Cell Activation Syndrome – Blood test (note that MCAS is often actually caused by a hidden infection like Lyme, Mold, or Epstein Barr Virus).
Once you have determined which of these are your root cause/s for your histamine intolerance, it’s time to go to work in healing them. No matter which is your root cause you will need to make some diet and lifestyle changes to help reduce your histamine burden in order to heal.
First you want to remove as many histamine containing foods from your diet as possible as well as any known food sensitivities.
Then you will want to include as many histamine reducing foods as possible in your diet (unless that food is a known food sensitivity). Typically, you should remove all the foods for at least 30 days up to 3 months after that you should begin to reintroduce them one by one to see how they make you feel.
If you don’t react to something you can include it in your diet occasionally, just don’t over do it because histamine intolerance is like a bucket. Eating something occasionally adds some extra histamine to your body, but not too much so in a couple of days your body can clear it back out. But if you try to add it in everyday, you may end up overfilling your bucket and causing all of your symptoms to come back, as well as causing damage from the inflammation it brings.
Over time as you work on healing your root cause, you will be able to tolerate more and more histamine containing foods. Some people may even be able to go back to completely normal eating, while others may still need to limit their histamine intake some.
There are some great supplements that can help you heal and also mitigate your symptoms. Things like stinging nettle, bromelain, and quercetin can help your body remove excess histamine while you are working to heal.
Vitamin C and fish oil are good for supporting mast cells in their work to store histamine. You can also supplement with DAO, which is one of the enzymes that helps your body breakdown and clear histamine.
I would not recommend long term supplementation of DAO as it’s just a band-aid and as with many enzymes your body creates naturally there may be risk of your body starting to produce even less DAO on its own. In general, it’s better to use DAO at the beginning to help calm symptoms and then only use it in times of great need like going to a wedding where you don’t have control over the menu and can’t easily avoid histamine foods.
Histamine intolerance can feel really frustrating and can take time to fully heal from, but with these steps you are on the right track to being able to get relief and regain your fertility. As always, I’m here for support. If you would like to work with me on getting to the root cause of your histamine issues and healing them sign up here for a FREE discovery call where we will discuss your symptoms, goals, and first steps to feeling better!
Ashley Looft is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. She helps women who are experiencing period, fertility, and mood struggles address the root cause of their issues through nutrition and lifestyle so they can live their most healthy, happy, and fertile life. Ashley became an FNTP after experiencing several pregnancy losses and couldn’t find the answers she was looking for from her traditional doctors. She currently lives in central Phoenix with her husband and two dogs where she loves to read, run, hike, cook, sun bathe, and watch cheesy romantic comedies. Find her at her website.