Low Histamine Diet

PLEASE READ THIS PARAGRAPH FIRST!

This blog covers my personal journey with mast cell disease and histamine intolerance.  I’m not advocating that you should follow the diet I follow, or that my diet is perfectly low histamine.  I tried a basic low histamine diet, based on information from the International Chronic Urticaria Society, because I was having anaphylactic reactions every time I ate.  Only 4 months into the diet these reactions no longer happened.  This particular version of a low histamine diet works for me – it may not be right for you.  There is much confusion about which foods contain histamine, block DAO or are histamine liberators: please read this important blog post for my personal thoughts on the accuracy of low histamine food lists and keep reading below for a more thorough explanation.   Please also read this post, and this post, for more detailed reasons on why I eat the foods that I do.

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A large part of treating mast cell disease, especially if you have significant Gastro-intestinal issues or have reactions after eating, is to follow a low histamine diet.  It’s an absolute mine-field.  There appears to be very few research papers or clinical trials into the histamine content in food, although I did find a link to the histamine levels in a small sample of foods on the Food Intolerance Network website.  Added to that, the diets purported online can’t agree on even the most basic of food groups: some say wheat is fine so long as it’s unbleached flour and yeast free, some say no wheat.  Some say bananas are fine, others say no bananas.  You get the drift.

The Food Intolerance Network did a study on the reactions of over 800 histamine intolerant patients to various foods, and their results can be found here.  As it states quite clearly, each individual will be able to tolerate different foods depending on where they are in the treatment of their histamine intolerance.   Non-tolerated, and tolerated foods, will vary enormously from person to person depending on their individual reactions and from food to food, depending on how it’s been picked, stored and transported.  It really is a game of trial and error, and there are only a very small list of foods that everyone with histamine issues reacts badly to (red wine, beer, tinned tuna, tomatoes, strawberries, oranges).

Of course, it’s more complicated than just the histamine content of food.  There are also foods which are purported to block the DAO enzyme needed to ‘mop up’ histamine (eg. tea), and foods which don’t contain histamine per se but are purported to liberate histamine already in the body (eg. cocoa, nuts and some fruits).  I use the word “purported” deliberately, as I’m unclear how these conclusions have been reached.

There is also the fact that you’re cutting out large groups of foods but not replacing them with much of anything.  If you’ve had mast cell issues for some years your body is probably going to be in a state of utter disarray.  It needs to be slowly built back up, and good nutrition is the key.  I personally don’t have the time or energy to become obsessed with my diet, but I do try to buy organically wherever possible and include fresh fruit and vegetable juices.  Juicing from scratch is a total faff if I’m honest, is expensive (you need a lot of produce for a small amount of juice), it assumes you already have a good juicer, and many juices are a bit like drinking medicine (!), but it’s a great way to feed your body easy to digest nutrients without having to think about complicated recipes.  There are some juicing recipes on my Recipe page, or if you’d like to look into this further I highly recommend The Raw Energy Bible by Leslie Kenton.  Not only are the juicing recipes in this book adaptable for a low histamine diet, but so are many of her raw food recipes.

I started off following a quite strict low-histamine diet and found I was both miserable and starving half to death.  So I relaxed, and just cut out the worst offenders, however I’m aware this won’t be feasible for some people who will have to stick to a very rigid diet in order to control their symptoms.

Below is the diet I’m (loosely) following (taken from the International Chronic Urticaria Society website):  This diet excludes all:

  • foods with naturally high levels of histamine
  • fermented food
  • artificial food colouring, especially tartrazine
  • benzoates including food sources of benzoates, benzoic acid and sodium benzoate
  • butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydoxytoluene (BHT)

Items marked with an * are considered controversial and excluded, or included, by other versions of a low histamine diet.

Most of all, remember the List below is just a guide.  No definitive list of low histamine foods exists anywhere in the world!


THE LOW HISTAMINE FOOD LIST

Milk & Dairy

Allowed:

  • Plain milk
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Quark (similar to cottage cheese though thinner and made without rennet so always vegetarian friendly).
  • Butter
  • Cream (I also include Soured Cream, which is excluded by some of the diets).
  • Ice cream with allowed ingredients.

Restricted:

  • All other cheese, particularly hard mature cheese like mature Cheddar, or aged cheese like Stilton
  • *Cottage cheese
  • *Yogurt
  • Buttermilk
  • All pre-prepared dairy products made with restricted ingredients.

Eggs

Allowed:

  • All plain, cooked egg.

Restricted:

  • Raw egg white (found in some eggnog, hollandaise sauce and milkshakes).

Breads & Cereals

Allowed:

  • Any pure, unbleached grain or flour (note: all flour in the UK is unbleached by law).
  • Any plain, fresh bread, buns, biscuits, pizza dough with allowed ingredients.
  • Home-made or purchased baked cookies, pies etc. made with allowed ingredients.
  • Breakfast cereals made with allowed foods including all plain grains, plain oats and oatmeal, plain cream of wheat, puffed rice and wheat.
  • Plain crackers with allowed ingredients.
  • Plain pasta.

Restricted:

Products made with:

  • Artificial colours
  • Artificial flavours
  • Bleached flour (not available in the UK)
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Cocoa
  • Margarine
  • Preservatives
  • Restricted fruits
  • Some jams (known as jelly in the States)
  • Any food made with, or cooked in, oils with hydrolyzed lecithin, BHA or BHT.
  • Commercial pie, pastry and fillings.
  • Baking mixes
  • Dry dessert mixes
  • Pre-packaged rice and pasta ready meals.

Vegetables

Allowed:

  • All pure, fresh and frozen vegetables except those listed in the restricted group.

Restricted:

  • Aubergiene (also known as Eggplant)
  • Pumpkin
  • Sauerkraut
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes and all tomato products including puree and passata.
  • Soy and all soy products, including soya lecithin.

Fruits

Allowed:

  • Apple
  • *Banana
  • Cantaloupe melon
  • Figs
  • *Grapes
  • Honeydew melon
  • *Lime
  • *Lemon
  • Mango
  • Water melon
  • *Pear
  • Rhubarb
  • *Papaya (pawpaw)
  • *Gooseberry.
  • *Blackberry.
  • *Blueberry.
  • Coconut
  • Fruit dishes made with allowed ingredients.

Restricted:

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Raisins, currants & sultanas
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Pineapple
  • Peach
  • Orange
  • Nectarine
  • Loganberry
  • Dates
  • Cranberry
  • Cherry
  • Apricot

Meat, Fish & Poultry

Allowed:

  • All pure, freshly cooked meat or poultry.
  • Any freshly caught, gutted, and cooked fish within 30 minutes of being caught (which realistically means no fish, unless you are a fisherman’s wife!)

Restricted:

  • All leftover cooked meats.
  • All processed meats, eg salami, hot dogs.
  • All fish (except those on the allowed list) and seafood.

Legumes

Allowed:

  • All plain legumes, except those on the restricted list.
  • *Pure peanut butter.

Restricted:

  • Soy beans, including miso and tofu.
  • Kidney beans (also known as red beans)

Nuts & Seeds

Allowed:

  • All plain nuts and seeds.

Restricted:

  • *This diet does not restrict nuts of any kind, but other diets restrict cashew nuts and sunflower seeds, whilst yet other diets restrict nuts of all varieties.

Fats & Oils

Allowed:

  • Butter
  • Pure vegetable oil.
  • Home-made salad dressings with allowed ingredients.
  • Lard & meat drippings.
  • Home-made gravies.

Restricted:

  • All fats & oils with colour and/or preservatives.
  • Hydroloyzed lecithin.
  • Margarine.
  • Pre-prepared salad dressings with restricted ingredients.
  • Pre-prepared gravies.

Spices & Herbs

Allowed:

  • All fresh, frozen or dried herbs and spices except those on the restricted list.

Restricted:

  • Anise
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Curry powder
  • Paprika
  • Nutmeg
  • Seasoning packets with restricted ingredients.
  • Foods labelled “with spices”.

Sweeteners

Allowed:

  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Treacle
  • Maple syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Icing sugar
  • Pure jams, marmalades, conserves made with allowed ingredients.
  • Plain artificial sweeteners.
  • Home-made sweets made with allowed ingredients.

Restricted:

  • Flavoured syrups.
  • Prepared dessert fillings.
  • Prepared icings, frostings.
  • Spreads with restricted ingredients.
  • Cake decorations.
  • Commercial sweets (candies).

Miscellaneous

Allowed:

  • Baking powder.
  • Baking soda.
  • Cream of tartar.
  • Plain gelatin.
  • Home-made relishes with allowed ingredients.

Restricted:

  • Yeast and all yeast products including marmite, vegemite & bovril.
  • All chocolate and cocoa.
  • Flavoured gelatin (ie jelly/jello).
  • Mincemeat.
  • Prepared relishes and olives.
  • Vinegar and anything pickled in vinegar.
  • Most commercial salad dressings.
  • *Quorn is restricted on some lists (I assume because it’s so commercially prepared) but other lists don’t mention it at all. I eat some Quorn (like the mince, as it only has 4 ingredients) but not other Quorn products (like the burgers or sausages) because they contain many artificial ingredients some of which, like yeast, are restricted.

Beverages

Allowed:

  • Plain milk.
  • Pure juices of allowed fruits and vegetables.
  • Plain and carbonated mineral water.
  • Coffee.
  • Alcohol: plain *vodka, *gin, *white rum.

Restricted:

  • Flavoured milks.
  • Fruit juices and cocktails made with restricted ingredients.
  • All other carbonated drinks.
  • All teas.
  • All drinks with “flavour” or “spices”.
  • All alcohol unless on the allowed list, including beer, cider, wine.
  • Non-alcoholic beer and wines.

If you want a stricter low histamine diet, try the Mastocytosis Society of Canada’s list of allowed & restricted foods, although you’ll soon notice that they allow foods my diet does not and visca versa!

Further Notes

Acetic Acid:  I’m really conflicted about this ingredient.  On the one hand it is, I think (!), made from a process of fermentation and is the main component in vinegar.  However it is NOT vinegar, which is made by a further fermentation process.  Acetic acid is naturally occurring in body fluids and plant extracts and plays a role in body metabolism.  Although an E number (E260) it is not artificial and has no known contraindications to human health.  It’s present in lots of commercial products, including some bread, as it inhibits mould growth and has antibacterial properties.  Unless someone with much more knowledge than me can tell me I shouldn’t be eating it, it’s on my ‘allowed’ list occasionally and in small quantities.

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Tags: low histamine diet, low histamine foods

77 thoughts on “Low Histamine Diet

  1. krazykemist

    Vinegar is basically a 2 to 5% aqueous acetic acid solution, with or without other stuff, depending whether it has been purified, and what it comes from. It is produced after fermentation, if you expose the alcohol produced by fermentation to oxygen. For instance, you’ll get vinegar from wine if you blow air in it, or if you simply open the bottle and leave it there for some time. Or from apple cider in the same way. And yes, it is produced in some metabolic pathways, such as the one we use to metabolize alcohol (alcohol to formaldehyde, formaldehyde to acetic acid).

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Thanks for that explanation krazykemist. I’m none the wiser, but that’s just me being totally dense lol! The mango chutney just tastes so nice that it’s going to be my little cheat once in a while – doesn’t seem to do me any harm (at least that’s what I tell myself!).

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    1. Fruitbat

      Oh yes and how about avocado (I read elsewhere its high in histamine) and grapefruit? I notice you allow some citrus (which is music to my ears) when many other folk advise avoiding all citrus.

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    2. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Fruitbat. If you see the last paragraph before the actual food list it says “Items marked with an * are considered controversial and excluded, or included, by other versions of this diet.”

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      1. bertieandme Post author

        The truth about low histamine food lists is this: there aren’t any. I know that’s not what anyone wants to hear, but it is the truth. As far as I’m aware (bearing in mind I’m not any kind of expert, I’m just a normal person struggling along with the rest of you) there have been no large scale studies done into the histamine content of foods and certainly no studies done into the histamine content of *all* foods. Most of the lists you will see online are based on questionnaire’s of how people with Histamine issues have reacted to a particular food, and as we all react differently that’s why the lists differ so much.

        The waters get even muddier when you get into histamine liberators and DAO blocking foods. I can’t find any studies at all done on these, so I have no idea how this information has been reached – if anyone can point me in the direction of research into these areas please do!

        It’s such a new area that I think much of the information is pure guesswork.

        As for avocado, I haven’t included it on my list because it wasn’t on the list which my diet is based on (I don’t like avocado anyway, so that’s not a problem for me).

        I’ve included *small amounts* of lemon juice because without it food is disgusting and doesn’t store – if you react to lemon juice, don’t eat it. There is *no* definitive low histamine food list – they don’t exist. The diet I’m following is one which isn’t excessively restrictive because I think the very restricted diets are unhealthy in that they cut out too many food groups. As I’ve stated in this piece, we all react differently so just eat what you can and avoid what you react to – it really is that simple.

        Jak x

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Thanks for that dj. As I’ve said above though, in my opinion there is no definitive list of low histamine foods – they don’t exist as not enough research has been done in this area yet. If you find a more restrictive diet helps then that’s great. I’m OK following a less restrictive diet and all I’m sharing with this blog is my own personal journey – I don’t claim to be any kind of expert, just struggling with histamine along with the rest of you.

      Jak x

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  2. Christine

    I’m currently suffering a horrible bout of urticaria and because I’m breast feeding I can’t take any medications. Finding your blog feels as though it’s the light at the end of the tunnel to get through this bout. Thanks so much for providing so much information.

    I’m an Aussie living in England, I noticed you’ve got some Tesco products listed so I guess you’re in the UK somewhere? Where do you buy Quark from? I’m vegetarian which further decreases my possible food choices so wondered where you were able to purchase Quark. TIA

    Christine

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Christine

      I feel for you – not being able to tolerate drugs makes managing symptoms so difficult. Are you able to use rub-on creams? I find Tea Tree cream from my local health shop helps with the itching of my hives if used 3 times a day, and will eventually settle them down. Or if you can tolerate something stronger whilst pregnant you could try a hydrocortisone cream bought over the counter.

      I buy my Quark from Tesco. It’s made locally to me (yes, I’m in England and live in the Lake District). The manufacturer’s website is here http://www.lakedistrictquark.co.uk/. This particular Quark is also available from Morrisons, Ocado and Sainsburys.

      Jak x

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  3. Christine

    HI Jak

    Many thanks for your prompt reply. I saw my GP today he prescribed prednisolone (just for 3 days). I now think this recent bout was triggered by nurofen. I’m allergic to paracetamol and following surgery last week I was only given nurofen for pain relief – I didn’t realise it was a known urticaria trigger. Had I known I would have told the anaesthetist and not just the surgeon that I suffer from urticaria :/

    On the bright side, I’ve found your site and I can implement some changes to hopefully lessen my urticaria bouts (the GP has ordered some blood tests – it will be good to try and get to the bottom of it). As an escape clause many things are not recommended for use while breast feeding or pregnancy as no tests have been conducted (and for ethics reasons never will be, I’m ok with this!).

    I’ll ask about tea-tree lotion at the health food store (time time at Holland & Barrett she recommended aloe vera – it’s done nothing).

    I must have blinkers on while I’m at the supermarket, I’ll keep an eye out for Quark next time I’m there. Thanks again
    Christine

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    1. Jen

      Hi Christine,

      I am scheduled to have surgery at the end of the month and am worried about getting a reaction to the anesthesia. So your reaction was to the pain meds and not the anesthesia itself? Do you have any advice on this?

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  4. Christine

    My reaction was definitely to my pain relief (ibuprofen – it is a known trigger for urticaria sufferers). I actually had quite severe hives on my legs prior to surgery & once I came around it had cleared up. I now joke I just need some sleep to avoid urticaria (I have 2 young children & I’ve not slept a full night through in over 2 years).

    I hope your surgery goes well & you don’t suffer any ill effects xx

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  5. nessa

    Hi!
    This list is great! I have chronic hives, many food allergies, and also DPU (Delayed pressure Urticaria) Otherwise known as pressure hives. Any minor injury, or overuse of any part of the body and it swells up with deep hives like a balloon accompanied with a lot of pain/numbness. Very debilitating and frustrating. I figured since my body is creating SO much histamine, and attacking itself constantly with hives,maybe a diet of foods with very low histamines could possibly help. This was informative!

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Nessa

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, though sorry to hear about your awful symptoms. I’m glad you’ve found the information helpful and I hope you can find a way of lessoning your hives. It took about 4 months for me to see that the diet was helping, and I initially felt quite rough on it, so don’t give up straight away if it looks like it isn’t working. Jak x

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      1. Nessa

        Hello again! I just wanted to let you know I’ve been following *your* diet for about a week and a half! I realize there are other antihistamine diets out there, but I chose yours! I started a blog, to keep track of exactly what I eat, and how I am feeling. Mostly to keep track of everything for my own self, but also to possibly help others! Trying to be as detailed as possible! I also posted my grocery list for here in the states (California). I’m not sure if it’s helping hive-wise but we sure are eating better! I’m sticking with this! Here is my blog if anyone would like to take a look at how I started all of this:

        http://dealingwithhives.blogspot.com/

        And thank you again! If i had not stumbled upon your page I probably would have never started this diet!

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        1. bertieandme Post author

          Hi Nessa

          Your blog looks great :-) . It’s a fab idea to put the information out there so that you can help other people. If the aloe is causing a problem, you could try high dose Vitamin C which is a mast cell stabilizer. You can get non citrus Vit C (I’m trying Ester C but I don’t know if that’s available in the States). Take it in divided doses during the day as you pee excess Vit C out quickly.

          Your reaction after the carrot/sprout dinner was odd – just because something is low in histamine doesn’t mean you won’t react to it though. I found I was reacting to apples – I was drinking loads of fresh apple juice! Be interesting to see what happens when you have the same meal again and if you react, or whether it was indeed just stress that day. Well done on the blog and keep me posted as to how it goes. Jak x

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  6. Lynn

    Hello!
    I have read so many blogs, articles, webpages, and even ordered a cookbook for low histamine diets. By far, your list is the best. An acquaintance told me to basically follow a gluten free diet- but I could eat plain oats. He also told me under no circumstances should I eat tomatoes, spinach, chocolate, strawberries, bananas, peanuts, tea (certain “teas” are allowed), chewing gum, soda pop (carbonated beverage), cranberries, licorice, or chicken. Brown sugar should also be used over white sugar. The “teas” that were recommended were organic ginger/ turmeric tea, organic chamomile tea, organic oregano tea, and organic Reishi mushroom tea. These teas will supposedly counteract (?) histamine; the reishi mushroom tea is supposed to stop histamine before it starts. I have ordered these teas, but have yet to try them. I will post my experiences with these teas.

    Thank you so much for your blog, grocery list, and recipes! I literally printed off your lists and added a few ingredients of my own. Lynn

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Lynn

      I’m delighted you’re finding the list and recipes helpful :-) Funnily enough I don’t do well with Oats – just shows how individual we all are! I’m not a big believer in cutting out things unless I can prove I react to them – lists are just guidelines. I try something for a week and if I’m OK on it I eat it, even if some list somewhere says not to! Jak x

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  7. Kay

    Waw confusing but im sure when my head calms down il make sense of it. I should definitely try this as its made the most perfect sense I thought my body was going crazy im now hoping this will make a difference. It adds up especially with how my gut reacts debilitating symptoms the dr just have pills as a sultan id got to the point of I can’t find the course im stuck nit knowing when I will be in shere agony ans when it will be just bearable or not able to eat or when do I need my next anti histamine because the uncontrolled ridiculous itching would serfice again and the list just goes on. I know something is wrong I just didn’t know where to begin. But it makes sense because I use anti histamine to control my symptoms like itching so much that just that alone kinda says it all and its often 1every 2-4 days or somewhere in between and with out fail it will return. This could be just what I need to reduce the issues

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Kay

      Really sorry to hear you are suffering. I hope the low histamine diet helps. It sounds like you need to try and find a doctor who is knowledgeable on mast cell issues too, which sadly I can’t help with unless you are in the UK, USA or Spain? You could try joining one of the online groups listed on the Links & Resources page and see if anyone knows who are the mast cell experts where you live. Good luck with it all, I know how overwhelming it all seems.

      Jak x

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  8. Cindy Cluett

    Finally someone can tell me what I should be eating and what to avoid, as I have been asking Profeesionals (Doctors and Dieticians) for the last 15 years and no one could help!
    I love the internet and modern technology.

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      I’m with you on loving the internet! To be fair though, the whole histamine field is so new that hardly anyone knows anything as so little research has been done, so it’s unsurprising that medical professionals don’t have the answers to our questions. Do bear in mind that this is a basic list which suits me personally – it’s a good starting point, but you may find you can tolerate things I can’t and visa versa. We’re all so individual we need to find a diet which suits us personally. Good luck and I hope the diet helps x

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  9. Heather

    Thanks for your time for writing “Low Histamine Diet
    | Mast Cells & Collagen Behaving Badly”. I reallymight certainly be
    back again for more reading through and commenting soon
    enough. Thank you, Launa

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      I feel your pain Lisa! The first 4 months were hell, but I’m used to it now and gradually finding foods to substitute my old favourites. Still miss chocolate but!! The worst part for me is the time it takes. Making everything from scratch is *really* time consuming, and expensive! But to not be worried about anaphylaxis every time I eat is worth it all. I’m still on drugs too though, they’re just as important as the diet for me personally. Jak x

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      1. Ker

        So glad I happened upon your website through a Pinterest search! Thank you for all the info you’ve posted.
        I really miss chocolate…but I just had to reply to the previous comment because I had something tonight that tasted like chocolate to me for the first time in so long and had no chocolate in it! For some reason I’m able to have soy milk (since everyone tolerates things differently)… I had Vanilla soy milk (365 brand at Whole Foods in the States) with rice crispies cereal (Trader Joe’s brand in the States). If anyone reading this tolerates soy milk and really misses chocolate, this combo is really worth a try!

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  10. Lisa Helt

    I swear sometimes I live on a steady diet of gas x, maloxx, pepto bismol , and the like, I have been so sick for 2 days, extremely bloated and distended, been like this since I was a teen, my mother has it, my grandmother suffered her whole life with it

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  11. Ragnarok

    i guess we all have our different sensitivities, I’ve been trying to nail down my migraine triggers…
    So far, They are:
    Non-dairy coffee creamers
    American cheese (Funny I don’t react to cheeses on the no-no list)
    Azodicarbonamide (used in bread)
    Chicory root extract
    Honey
    Peanut butter (just store brands)

    American cheese is by far my worst trigger, It’ll have me on the couch for a least a whole day writhing in pain…

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Thanks for the comment though sorry to hear you’re suffering. Food intolerance/sensitivities are a whole other area from mast cell disorders. MCAD isn’t an allergy or sensitivity disorder, which I know many people find confusing as it involves histamine and histamine is produced in allergies etc. Glad you’ve found your triggers though – migraines are the pits!

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  12. Susan

    It’s funny when I’ve never reacted to food before. I’m wondering why all of a sudden now? I wonder what happened t o change me. And I’ve always eaten large amounts of things on the ‘no’ list. Another one to add on the avoid list, is animal fats and deep fried fats.

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Susan

      I know, I felt the same way. I’d reacted to drugs for many years but the one thing that was never affected by anything was my stomach. Apart from slow transit I never had *any* stomach issues and absolutely loved my food. My entire diet was made up of things high in histamine and they just didn’t both me! And then 2 years ago BAM – I started reacting to everything I ate! Like you I’ve no idea what set it off. However, when I had an endoscopy they found 11 stomach polyps, so obviously damage had been occurring in my stomach for years without me realising.

      Jak x

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  13. susie

    jak x,

    First, I’d like to know where collagen ties in? And second, I feel much of the why this is happening is related to gut dysbiosis, as least it is for me.
    I’ve had issues with constipation most of my life and within the past five years my symptoms (many of the same complaints as everyone else) have steadily gotten worse to where they can’t ignored any longer.

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Susie

      MCAD appears to be much more common in the Ehlers-Danlos population than the healthy population. No research conclusions have been reached yet as to why, but Dr Maitland (a leading MCAD Immunologist in New York who also sees many EDS patients) theorizes it’s because mast cells live in the “extra cellular matrix” (ie. the connective tissue) and of course in EDS the connective tissue is faulty. The collagen doesn’t have enough ‘brake’ – in other words it’s over excitable. She thinks the collagen is mis-communicating with the mast cells living within it, in turn making them over-excitable.

      I know many people agree with you re the gut dysbiosis, but I’m unsure whether it’s a chicken or an egg situation. The gut is prolific with mast cells. The gut is also almost entirely made up of connective tissue, which again in EDS is over-stretchy and causes mast cells to be overactive and de-granulate too readily. Mast cell de-granulation causes the gut walls to become leaky (see the Canary post on this blog for more info) and allow proteins from food to enter the bloodstream (ie leaky gut syndrome) causing food reactions.

      It’s all such a minefield of overlapping ‘faults’ it’s hard to know what is primarily causing what.

      From the people who have contacted me, nearly all are women and most seem to develop really severe EDS and mast cell issues around the age of 40 so one can only assume there is some hormonal trigger which increases the severity of symptoms.

      Jak x

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      1. Susan

        I fit into that category although the first time I had dermatitis all over my body (showed up a little differently back then), was 10 years ago when I was in my early 30s. At the time I didn’t attribute it to food – histamine. I was stressed, lacked sleep, we were moving, and I had cleaned out with a gloved hand what I think was a huge block of dried mold from around my under-the-sink pipe. Back then I didn’t know about health and alternative medicine, so I did the standard drugs and steroid creams to make the dermatitis go away.

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  14. Susan

    It’s funny as I’ve never had an allergy to food before, never restricted my diet, and all of a sudden certain foods trigger horrible eczema on me. Thank God that is all it is. I feel for the rest of you who have other symptoms. An acupuncturist has helped me calm down the eczema , yet no one can seem to offer an explanation on what created my sudden histamine intolerance. I’m wondering, is it that we have recent pollutants in the environment we didn’t have before? Even stranger is I was really careful to eat only healthy, unprocessed food, raw dairies, pastured meats, healthy fats. The rest of me is healthy except my skin.

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      I’ve reacted to drugs for many years, but could eat absolutely anything I liked with no problems whatsoever until April 2012 when all hell broke loose and I started passing out after every meal. It came totally out of the blue and I’ve no idea why. I live in the middle of nowhere with very clean air and water (I live in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), my home and myself are virtually chemical free, I eat organically – I wish I had the answers but sadly I don’t think anyone does.

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  15. Michelle

    Hi, I’m new to all this! Have hives on and off since about 16 I’m now 38! Very bad at the moment. Have seen various people over the years urticaria mentioned food stress heat etc. I just paid to do some allergy testing m wasn’t all adding up. Did some research n came across this. Gonna try a low histamine diet n see if helps. Gonna be hard. Allergic to coffee n thought that bad but no chocolate too!! Well wish me luck. Any tips appreciated x

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      A year down the line and I still miss chocolate Michelle!

      I try not to give advice as I have no medical or nutritional qualifications and all I can do on my blog is say what I’ve been doing, which might not be right for someone else (my diet isn’t very strict and some people react to things I eat fine). I started off for the first month quite strictly, and then re-introduced contentious foods (mushrooms, bananas, peas, nuts, soft cheeses etc.) one at a time to see how it went – I tested them for a week and if no reaction they stayed in the diet but if my symptoms got worse they were banned.

      I still have hives *all* the time, so going low histamine plus taking anti-histamines hasn’t helped mine I’m sad to say but you might find it helps yours – wishing you luck cos it’s not an easy diet to follow! :-)

      Jak x

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  16. michelle

    Thanks, I suppose what I was after was for someone to tell me what to eat!! sounds silly being as I’ve been eating for years but I’m just at a loss. I find that mine seems to be a build up at times, maybe fine one day with the choc and the banana but the next day its bad. But I think its back to basics and clean living for a while and see what happens, then they can just be treats
    Michelle x

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      I totally get where you’re coming from – as I said on one of the pages on my blog that’s all I wanted too, just someone to tell me what to eat and what not to eat to make me feel better. I wish it were that simple, but as hardly any research has been done on the histamine content of foods there aren’t any definitive lists available :-(

      Re being OK one day and not the next, it’s not as daft as it sounds. Histamine intolerance is not an allergy, so we don’t have immediate allergic reactions. Histamine builds up in the body – so you can eat tomatoes for 4 days no problems but all that time the histamine is building up and building up so on day 5 it spills over and you get a reaction. During my period I react to things that I’m usually OK with, simply because mast cells become more active during menstruation. We also produce histamine as part of normal digestion, so some days can react regardless of what we eat!

      Now I’ve been on the diet for over a year and my histamine burder is lower I’ve found I can ‘cheat’ now and again without too many consequences, just so long as it’s occasional – if I overdo it I can now feel the histamine build-up and know I’m getting into trouble!

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  17. michelle

    Thanks I really appreciate this, I just had some allergy testing done (Hair sample) as thought it was something eating daily. Came back with coffee, oats, carrots, spices, tomatoes, some fish, ginger, lemon, pumpkin, vanilla!!!. I was like not choc yey scoff scoff and then NOOO by yesterday hence the additional research. I am very allergic to aspirin so looked at low salysicate diet but this seems to tie in better with my symptoms etc. Going to try, gonna be hard and suppose will take some time to get out of my system. Will now read your blog etc. Also just printed off your shopping list !

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  18. Balayla Bazzy

    I no longer have the hives and symptoms, however it took 8 months,day and night working on it from myself and husband who is a ND. If either one of you would like to contact me and see if what worked for me will work for you, please feel free.
    Sincerely,
    Balayla

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  19. Balayla Bazzy

    Hi,
    I came down with Chronic Utiicaria/ Histamine Intolerance (CU/HI), with out knowing what it was or what caused it. I have my ideas, but I can not say with 100% this is what happen to cause it. However, I believe my first symptoms of Chronic Utiicaria/ Histamine Intolerance was while on a extensive vacation which included being on 21 different flights in 2.5 months and changing my diet drastically overseas . At any rate while on vacation I recall not being able to sleep two night straight and itching like never before along with having severe ache
    and hyper-pigmentation. My solution was to keep taking showers and rubbed oil base product all over my skin which helped a little but not enough! Not knowing at that point I had(CU/HI), I continue to eat foods I know now I should not have been eating, lol. For example, when I was returning to the states, I ate cheese on the plane, and Oh boy, my head and wrist were itching some kinda fierce! I had never experience something like this before. I was considered what we would call in good health. So all of it was new to me. I was very scared because I was not able to sleep for days and was itching so badly. By this time, I started to get the Hives, which had not shown up until I returned although most of all the other symptoms were there. I thought I had contracted something from overseas at first. After a week of being back in the states, my husband who is a Naturopathic doctor ran all sort of test on me from H. Pylori to Parasites. I had none of these things. So of course we tried everything from probiotics to Quercetin, which my body could not handle. Eventually, I ended up in the emergency after having a juice mixed with spinach, carrots, apple,beets, and celery. Along with having a Kombucha earlier that day. I remember falling asleep and waking up with tachycardia and barely able to breath. In addition, my body went into sympathetic mood and my digestion started to cut off. I was swallowing my own saliva in the emergency room to stay hydrated since I was not allowed water. I also became very constipated. They kept me over night and while waiting gave me lorazepam. It seem to calm the rapid heart rate but not the bronchial constriction! Of course after all the test and all levels came back normal. I was misdiagnosed and sent home. I started my homework at that point. I needed to know what I had and what I needed to do. Barely able to eat anything without anaphylactic reactions, I spent most of my time not sleeping and on google reading. The journey continued until we figured out I had (CU/HI). Once we knew what I had we started to treat me with many herbs, vitamins, meditation, sleep, minimum stress,HI foods, and german medicine. In eight months I can honestly say my body is almost back to before:-)

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    1. Diane

      Balaya,
      Thank you so much for your story, but could you please expound on the herbs and vitamins that helped you?
      Thank you.
      Diane

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  20. Michelle

    Query, on some of your shopping list items you say as long as on ingredients list re bread cakes etc. What r the ingredients x

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Michelle is that comment for me about my Shopping List page? If so I don’t understand the question as I don’t ever say “as long as” but list all the ingredients after each item? Jak

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  21. Lulu

    This is so great to see, because our versions of this diet here in the States tend to be quite a bit stricter than what you show here. For example, most of our versions of the low histamine diet cut out wheat and citrus completely (including citric acid, which is in EVERYTHING), don’t allow dairy milk at all, and limit the berries to nothing but organic blackberries and gooseberries. It’s awesome to know that patients in the UK have had success with a more reasonable sounding version. Cheers!

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Lulu

      The diet I follow isn’t a UK diet – we have virtually zero knowledge of MCAD in Britain unfortunately. The most popular diet is the Canadian Mastocytosis Society’s diet http://www.mastocytosis.ca/MSC%20HT%20Restricted%20Diet%20Nov2012.pdf, and the diet I follow is from the International Chronic Urticaria Society http://chronichives.com/useful-information/histamine-restricted-diet/ which is based on a book by Dr Joneja, a physician and researcher also based in Canada. So you can thank the Canadians lol :-)

      I’m not sure why many people cut out dairy and wheat – neither are histamine high foods in their natural state. Hard cheeses like Cheddar are aged so become high in histamine and other dairy foods like buttermilk are cultured so become high in histamine, but milk per se is fine. Wheat/gluten is demonized in general (see my post on wheat http://mastcellblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/wheat/) but is not high in histamine, so long as it doesn’t contain yeast or any restricted ingredients.

      I think many people who follow a low histamine diet also follow an anti-inflammatory diet, and wheat and dairy are thought by some to be inflammatory foods – but if you’re simply doing low histamine there is no need to avoid either based on the information I’ve read.

      Jak x

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      1. Debbie S.

        Dr joneja did an interview with the Low Histamine Chef that is posted on YouTube under histamine intolerance which I watched yesterday. It is filled with so much information many of us will find useful. I was amazed at how much Confusion this interview cleared up for me, I have indolent systemic mastocytosis, along with pressure urticaria, the test for this is high Tryptase and high prostaglandins in the US. I’m not well educated in the health field at all, so I was completely lost for a while knowing what to do, I don’t respond medications very well and if I do it doesn’t last very long. Dr, Joneja sheds light on so many questions I couldn’t find answers on. No doctor where I live has any understanding of combating histamine production even if I drive five hours away to a specialist, sorry but he seems clueless, his focus is on prescribing one Anti histamine after another.
        Search YouTube for histamine intolerance interview with Dr. Joneja
        Best of luck everyone, I did have a punch biopsy on one of my rashes it was histamine based, a histamine based rash is treated with diphenylhydramine, which in the US is Benadryl, I hope that helps someone, here you can find it in a spray form, you can find it in offbrand creams as well, that’s my new moisturizer. Thank you for the list of foods, somewhere to start, everybody has a different idea than this one sounds rather sane, it’s nice to have.

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  22. Balayla Bazzy

    Hi Diane,
    I’m sorry just getting back to you… have been extremely busy. What I did and would recommend to anyone as a basic step is to detox each organ ( look for a ND or OMD in your area to help assist you with this ). Our organs are over worked due to the rise of histamine in our bodies, therefore, a detox will allow rejuvenation and strengthen them. As far as herbs I took, it was a combination. Some were more effective than others but the ones I believed help my body heel itself were the following; Black Seeds,Turmeric, Cayenne pepper, Cloves, Ginger, Ginseng, Apple pectin, UNDA’s. As for Vitamins/Mineral, I took trace minerals, MSM, adrenal glandular, GLA, lots of Vit C, Calcium (not in Liquid form ) Intramax, B-12 shots, Coral Calcium, Enzymes, Cactus, and plenty of garlic. Hope this helps, take care.

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  23. Ellen Oblander

    I was diagnosed with “atopic dermatitis” but without any recommended cures. One day in a healthfood store I met a gal who had psoriasis (with bad itching), and she recommended flax oil (1 tbsp a day) and a borage lotion to take the edge off itching. Because flax oil is messy, I eventually switched to flax meal (t tbsp in cereal each morning). (Bob’s Red Mill Flax Meal, available very cheaply through Swanson’s, which you can find on the Net.) It seemed to help. However, the borage lotion was a godsend. I keep it by my bed and in the bathroom for instant use when I get an intractable itch. It comes in an 8-oz. green plastic bottle and is made by ShiKai: Borage Therapy – dry skin lotion. I paid $14.69 for it here in California in a healthfood store. It has the virtue of instantly relieving the extreme itching that makes you want to scratch to the bone.

    Very recently my favorite niece put me onto the role of histamine in itching. She recommended Histame, which is a capsule containing diamine oxidase, the enzyme that controls histamine in the body. It too works well, but it is quite expensive for me, since the bottle contains 30 capsules, and the dosage is one within 15 minutes of eating anything suspicious (see above). (I might add that I have Lyme Disease, which entails many expenses.) Histame can be found on the Net for around $25 a bottle; it’s OTC. (I should caution that Swanson’s diamine oxidase is much weaker.)

    In searching the Net myself, I came across a website that I found very helpful for a neophyte like myself (Mindbodygreen.com). The article is appropriately titled “Everything you need to know about histamine intolerance,” though I’m sure it doesn’t begin to exhaust the subject (see above).

    Now, I have another serious problem for which someone out there might be able to provide some advice. Among other things, histamine over-production can apparently cause diarrhea. A year ago I had severe pneumonia, along with a virulent co-infection. The heavy-duty antibiotics apparently triggered a gut problem which has plagued me ever since, to the point where I have to go to the ER each time to be rehydrated. At this point I have no idea if excessive histamine is involved, since I’ve never had a proper diagnosis. I have had every blood test imaginable and have been “scoped” from here to eternity, and all the results are negative (good), which I guess should make me happy. They would if the problem didn’t persist.

    If anyone on this blog has had bouts of “dire rear” that might be related to histamine overproduction, I would be most happy to hear from you.

    I hope I’ve helped you, and I hope you can help me! Thanks for listening.

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Ellen

      Apologies for the delay in replying to your post. The majority of people with mast cell issues have problems with diarrhoea unfortunately (the entire GI tract is packed with mast cells), whereas Histamine Intolerance tends to cause more IBS-like symptoms such as cramping and alternating constipation/diarrhoea.

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve been suffering and hope you can find someone who might look at testing for HI or MCAD.

      Jak x

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  24. Elena

    Trying to psych myself up for trying a low histamine diet. But no matter how hard I try the idea of doing without some of my favorite “right out of the box foods” just drives me up the wall. Always nice to pop those Anne Chungs instant rice into the microwave with a piece of left over chicken and tada its dinner. Is rice okay? if its fresh? There are so many comfort foods I’m going to be missing but if it saves me from the poops and the rash and running nose… I’m willing to give it a try.

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Good luck with the diet Elena! Got to say, it’s *really* hard!! I would have given up ages ago if it weren’t for the fact that if I eat a high histamine diet I pass out after every meal, so not following the diet isn’t an option for me these days.

      Plain grains like rice are fine histamine-wise, although some people avoid grains as they’re thought to be “inflammatory” (I’m not sold on that idea personally as I eat grains and my inflammatory markers have always been excellent).

      Jak x

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  25. Kathy

    Hi Elena! This blog is really helpful. I can eat rice…but only if it is the stripped down “bad” for you rice (i.e. white). The “good” rice I have problems with. At this point, white rice is about the only grain I feel safe to eat. I had a nasty reaction last night, which ultimately resulted in an epi-pen, so I am back on the band-wagon. ANY form of pepper(s) will give me problems, and I had a small handful of barbeque-flavored chips. THEN I went to our local ice-cream parlor and had a small scoop of chocolate-chip mint ice-cream. THEN I had a handful of macademia nuts. Several hours later, I am on the floor by the toilet, sweat pouring off me, lower ab cramping, blood pressure nose-diving. Thank God for Epi-pens. So this morning, I ate a small bowl of Rice Chex to take my anti-histamines with, and am sipping on Chamomile tea. I should have known better. Thanks for your blog!

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  26. notjustadizzyblonde

    This doesn’t match other low histamines diets. For example I’ve been told by my naturopath today that bananas are OUT. I would suggest any readers of this article do some thorough research before embarking on a food plan – any restrictive food plan.

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Thanks for your comment, unhelpful as it was. You obviously missed this bit before making your observation:
      “this blog covers my personal journey with mast cell disease. I’m not advocating that you should follow the diet I follow, or that my diet is perfectly low histamine – it clearly is not. I tried a basic low histamine diet because I was having awful reactions every time I ate. Only 4 months into the diet these reactions no longer happened. This particular diet works for me – it may not be right for you (for more detailed reasons on the diet I follow see this blog post http://mastcellblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/whattoeat/ and my personal thoughts on low histamine food lists here http://mastcellblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/histaminediets/).

      This isn’t an “article” it’s a personal blog following my own person journey. I’m not offering advice to anyone, just saying what *I* do. If you don’t like it read someone elses blog you like better.

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  27. Layla

    Notjustadizzyblonde, I’m just curious how your Naturopath concluded that banana’s were off. Was there a food allergy test done to conclude this? Reason, I ask is because I am a recovered histamine intolerant/Chronic Urticaria and I was told by my husband who is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing here in Fresno CA, that banana’s are fine when I had histamine intolerance. In addition, “my” body responded find to them. What we found was to approach this disease with an open mind. Not everything ( food, heat, touch, etc ) will affect everyone the same way because our bodies are unique. In saying that, just listen to your body and make adjustments. Not one Naturopath/ MD/ DC/ ND/ OCD can tell us what our body can. We are our own healers and the body can cure itself, its just a matter of providing it with what it needs to do the job.If you want to take an active role in your health. Your body is perfectly designed and is able to heal itself !!!

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  28. ellie

    super helpful, thank you for taking the time to write this all down! i have had chronic idiopathic urticaria for 4 years & it was so good to find your blog! xo

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Ellie

      I’m so sorry it’s taken weeks to reply to your comment – I’ve obviously missed it. But thanks for taking the time to write and I’m so happy you’ve found my blog helpful. Jak x

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  29. nichola

    Thank you so much, I have been living on brivita breakfast biscuits and water for 2 weeks since finding out about my histamine intolerance because no one could tell me what had high histamine levels and what didn’t and everything I had tried mad me Ill again. Thanks again for your time explaining how you control your diet I can try to have a meal now

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Nichola

      Sounds like you’ve been having a tough time – I really empathise:-( I can only say what foods work for me, but remember we’re all different and you might react to things I cope OK with, so do bear that in mind. It took about 4 months to not have a reaction every time I ate anything – I’d spent years accumulating high levels of histamine in my body and it does take some time to reduce the levels. Good luck and thanks for taking the time to comment. Jak x

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  30. Vanja

    Hi,
    I would just like to say BIG thank you for this page. It opened my eyes and now I can see what I was doing it wrong since I know (and before that) I’m intoleranced to histamine (and many other stuff – gluten, kazein…). Your list of food is a great guide and I’m now hanging on to it, but of course I also listen the reaction of my body and inner organs. My biggest problem was/is asthma and polyposis nasis (without any alergies) – now I know why …. that damn histamine (and gluten and kazein) … arrr :D
    Greetings from Slovenia (Europe)

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Vanja

      Good luck with trying a low histamine diet – I really hope it helps your symptoms and I’m glad you’ve found my blog helpful :-)

      Jak x (over in the UK)

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  31. Leah Bisquert

    Many thanks. I’m biochemistry and I have a daughter ( 18 years old) with DAO deficiency.
    She suffered continuous headaches, extremely dry skin, asthma, diarrhea, loss of appetite, muscle fatigue … until, thank God, myself he discovered the common cause of all symptoms. But now there is still more way to know how you can be so good and nurturing strong.
    We were born in Spain. Now we are living in Israel. We talk Spanish, Catalanit ( maternal languages) and basical French , English and Hebrew. If you have good information for me, please leave it to my electronical adress: jubeiza@gmail.com. Many thanks!!!!

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Leah

      Sorry to hear your daughter has DAO deficiency. I’m just a patient and can’t give you any advice other than what is already on my blog. Have you been to the Low Histamine Chef’s website? http://thelowhistaminechef.com/ She has some very good info on nutrition and I think she also used to live in Spain so might speak your language. I wish you luck.

      Jak x

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  32. MOG

    Hi Jak x,
    Thank you for creating this blog. I too, have been suffering from chronic idiopathic urticaria, and what I’m now realizing is HIT for 10 years now. I have been to so many different types of doctors who just want to put a band aid on the symptoms and not treat the underlying cause. I actually can trace the origins of when my body changed, unlike many people. In my case the change was definitely hormonal. I had been on birth control pills for 10 years prior and then started the birth control patch. That is where everything changed. In the first few days after beginning the patch, I developed tachycardia, shortness of breath and hives. I have been getting hives every day since then, with the exception of the two times I was pregnant. After reading the low histamine chef’s website, I am certain my condition is histamine intolerance. I have almost every symptom listed there and on other sites about the condition.
    I live in the US and this condition (HIT) is certainly not widely recognized. My hives are effectively treated with antihistamines, however as I mentioned I feel that is just a band aid and it does not treat my other symptoms which are now multiplying and I can no longer ignore. Additionally, the side effects of the antihistamines are unpleasant. So, antihistamines are no longer an option for me. I generally believe that the food we consume is the underlying cause of so many modern medical conditions. I have tried elimination diets and juicing and now that I have come across your blog and a few other sites, I feel positive that I have enough information to hopefully eliminate or drastically reduce my HIT.
    I am curious… there are many posts on here that are from a few years ago – Have other people on here followed these guidelines and successfully reduced or eliminated their histamine conditions?

    Thank you!!!

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Mog

      Thanks for the comment. It’s great when you have that “a-ha” moment and realize what’s been causing your problems isn’t it?

      As I have both HIT and mast cell disease I’m still taking anti-histamines (both an H2 and an H1). Diet stopped my anaphylactic reactions after eating, but has done little to stop my mast cell reactions to other things like changes in hormones (I’m in peri-menopause), weather, pollen season, my dog etc. It’s easier to control symptoms with a straight forward case of HIT, whcih is digestion based, than it is with mast cell disease which is much more complex.

      My blog was only started in April last year, so any comments are only a year old.

      Wishing you lots of luck with your diet – I really hope it helps.

      Jak x

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  33. Layla Bazzy

    Hi Tracy,
    I could give you tons of herbs to take but that would be selfish on my part knowing that Histamine intolerance & Chronic Uticaria has so many different triggers and what triggered mine may not trigger yours. In saying that, you may demand other herbs/vitamins/medicine, etc. It’s possible you may be Th1 or Th2. That is one of the things you want to find out. It will help you along this journey. However, I will pass on this Doctor info to you. He treats Histamine intolerance and he and I treated my condition together. Hope this helps. Take care. Here is the link below……

    http://www.thegoldencenter.us/ourdoctors/

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