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By Dr. Michael Veselak, D.C.

Histamine is an important molecule in the body that is part of our immune response when we come in contact with an allergen.   The intent of the histamine response is to assist the body in dealing with the allergen by dilating the small blood vessels and creating an inflammatory response.

So how does this natural immune response get out of control. First high histamine foods are way too prevalent in our diet. The popularity of wines, aged cheeses, fermented foods and nuts contribute to this issue.

Also, when I evaluate my patient’s 23andme genetics there is an enzyme called DAO, which can be affected. The role of DAO is to breakdown histamine. There is another gene called HNMT, which can also play a part especially with food coloring and ADHD.

What are some of the symptoms of histamine intolerance: 

  1. Headaches
  2. Itchy Skin
  3. Puffy Eyes
  4. Abdominal pain, bloating
  5. Hives
  6. Asthma
  7. Panic Attacks
  8. Insomnia
  9. Pre-menstrual cramps

The most common reason why histamine levels are high can be found in the foods we eat.

Foods that are high in histamine:

  • Alcohol
  • Pickled or Canned Foods
  • Aged Cheeses
  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Chocolates
  • Vinegar
  • Smoked meats like salami, ham or sausages
  • Snacks with preservatives

Foods that are low in histamine:

  • Fresh meat
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables

There are also some medications that will block the ability of DAO to perform its job even if we do not have the enzyme.

Common Medications that are DAO blockers :

  • Aspirin
  • NSAIDS – motrin or advil

Another major cause of histamine reaction can be our chronic stress overload. This will affect the Hypothalamus-Pituitary- Adrenal Axis. We recommend support of this axis along with dietary restriction of histamine.


  1. Keep a food journal to monitor intake of high histamine producing foods
  2. If have DAO genetic snp then supplement with DAO. I recommend Histamine Block from Seeking Health.
  3. Eat a low histamine diet. There is a great facebook page called low histamine chef that provides great low histamine recipes.
  4. Reduce stress levels and support HPA axis. I generally recommend a good adaptogen such as Adrenotone from Designs for Health; herbs such as Ashwaghanda
  5. Supplements such as Vitamin C, B6, Zinc and Copper are all necessary for DAO to work properly. Quercetin supports mast cells
  6. Avoid Alcohol
  7. Pay attention to Medications that can affect DAO
  8. Buy Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
  9. Avoid Energy drinks, green and black tea they are DAO blockers





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