Healing Power of the Brain for Histamine Intolerance

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In today’s over-prescribed, oversized yet undernourished society, we often find ourselves plagued with inexplicable ailments. I’m not talking about the hot-flash-weight-gain-tender-breast-migraine symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. I’m talking about more chronic, everyday symptoms.

As with menopause symptoms, many people are seeking out alternative treatments to prescription drugs. Interestingly, while people often look to eliminate troublesome foods from their diet, it’s less common for them to add certain foods to help alleviate symptoms.

For those who suffer from histamine intolerance, many have found relief through a combination of physical and mental “treatments.” By regulating diet and using the brain to heal, many sufferers have alleviated their symptoms.

Although histamine intolerance may affect only about 1 percent of the population, its symptoms are often confused with other maladies, such as food allergies. The majority of those diagnosed with histamine intolerance is women in their 40s. Guess what? Hormonal imbalance can trigger histamine intolerance in women who previously did not suffer from it prior to menopause.

So what are the symptoms of histamine intolerance? Here they are… and many are eerily similar to menopausal symptoms:

  • Itchy skin
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Breathing difficulties, stuffed or runny nose
  • Stomach and intestinal problems (tummy ache or diarrhea)
  • Hot flashes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fatigue, dizziness
  • Menstrual pain
  • Palpitations and feelings of anxiety

What foods can trigger histamine reactions? The following foods have the highest levels of histamine:

  • Alcoholic beverages (especially red wine)
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate (say it ain’t so!)
  • Salami and processed meats
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Tomatoes, sauerkraut, spinach
  • Citrus fruit, kiwi, strawberries

OK, so what foods are considered anti-histamine? Yasmina Ykelenstam, who bills herself as The Low Histamine Chef, eats the following foods to counteract when she has had a food-related histamine overload:

  • Apple– rich in histamine-lowering quercetin and inhibits the development of allergies
  • Broccoli anti-carcinogenic,prevents gastric mucosal damage (suggesting potential H2 receptor antagonism)
  • Fennel anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, analgesic and antioxidant
  • Ginger as potent an H2 receptor antagonist as ranitidine
  • Parsley repairs damage to the mucosal lining of the stomach andprevents histamine release; also anti-inflammatory and can repair liver damage
  • Thyme inhibits anaphylaxis in mice; anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial
  • Turmeric inhibits anaphylactic shock, stabilizes mast cells and prevents histamine release; also anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor
  • Watercress histamine release inhibitor

Ykelenstam follows a low-histamine diet to ease her own symptoms (plus meditation, not medication) and is the author of several cookbooks. She calls upon the power of the brain, using mindfulness meditation and visualization as healing tools.

Healing involves both the body and the mind, as I noted in my cousin’s brave battle with breast cancer. Studies have confirmed this direct correlation. The Western world has been turning increasingly to alternative therapies, many derived from Eastern practice and medicine.

“Meditation may be an important adjunct strategy in the treatment of chronic illness,” says Ykelenstam, but she says its benefits are often grossly underestimated or overstated. While meditation certainly isn’t a cure-all, she says its impact on self-healing should not be discounted.

In an article in Psychology Today, mind-body-spirit pioneer Dr. Henry Grayson says we’ve got it all wrong. ” Well, the common way of thinking is upside down. We think that our purpose is to heal the body. But the body is really just empty space. It’s 99.999% empty space. It’s consciousness that rules. … If we’re trying to heal the body without healing the mind, using the mind to heal the body, we missed the basic healing that’s necessary for us.”

In short, while I’ve focused a great deal on histamine intolerance here, my point is that first you need to find out whether your symptoms are menopause related or due to an underlying condition. See your menopause specialist.

Once you’ve determined what’s causing your symptoms, you can either choose to live with them or decide the best course of treatment for yourself.

Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!

After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • I suspected I have this. Thanks for the tips. Of course, I love cheese.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Carol, I love cheese, too. I do try to limit myself. Many women have mentioned these issues to me, I thought it was time to shed some light on it. I am glad that you found it helpful.

  • linda

    Hi Ellen:) so glad you brought this up! It’s so interesting how we go through life sometimes not realizing a food sensitivity until menapause… then, poof! I will never forget my first hotflash experience; I was out, looking and feeling jazzy! Taking a sip of wine… WHAMMO!I could have sat on a lean cousin and thawed it out faster then a microwave! I’ve learned and been encouraged by this blog to be as proactive as possible. I don’t look at it as a giving up of somthing, but giving your body and brain what helps it not be symptomatic. The big one for me is gluten–it’s in so many things! In the beginning after being off it,I ate somthing with wheat and had a bad flair up with stomach ache, followed by a big zit! A lesson well learned! Thankyou Ellen for the awsome info:)!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Yes, Linda, we gals can get pretty hot!!! I love your outlook – it is not about giving up something, but giving your body and brain what is healthy for it to function the best. Being gluten free is helpful to many women. Thanks for your sweet words!

  • “Chocolate” (sob)

    Thanks for posting; found you on Google+ and will add to circle.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      So happy the info is helpful, Leslie!

  • Bonnie Lee

    I’m just learning about this after stumbling on some answers FINALLY.

    I’m at a loss as to why the ‘experts’ that I’ve seen in the allergy field never told me about this. Not one of them. Tests after tests and medication but never once did they mention this and histamine intolerance fits me to a ‘T’.

    Thank you for this wonderful article.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      I hope you can find the help that you need and deserve.

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