New Test for Histamine Intolerance

A friend pointed me towards a link they’d seen in their Facebook news feed about a quick test being developed in Germany which anyone could use to measure the histamine content of their food. Can you imagine how absolutely brilliant that would be??!  To know that the food you are eating is actually low histamine, as against guessing its histamine content with nothing but your gut instinct to go on which is the situation at the moment.  It would be HUGE and totally revolutionize my, and thousands of other HIT sufferer’s, lives.

The FB link had come via Genny Masterman’s Histamine Intolerance website. I really like Genny’s site because we have views about HIT in common, for example this post about not believing all the crap online about histamine in foods and low histamine food lists, our distaste at the profiteering which goes on in the histamine world and the money that is being made from people’s suffering, and also that receiving a proper diagnosis (difficult as that may be) is crucial – you cannot diagnose yourself off the internet for heaven’s sake, not least because you could have some other disease which needs totally different treatment. Maybe it’s a  British thing but Genny just calls a spade a spade and there’s no psycho-babble airy-fairy bullshit to wade through.

Back to the article on the new histamine test, the link to which can be found here in German, but which I’ve Google translated below.  Bear in mind though that HIT and Mast Cell Disease are two totally different issues as outlined in my post here.  If you’re expecting a low histamine diet to significantly help your mast cell disease you’re going to be sorely disappointed, though it may play a role in helping some symptoms.  For anyone who is confused about the role of a low histamine diet in MCAD please read my post on the issue here.  For anyone with HIT though (and I have both MCAD and HIT) this test could potentially be fantastic and I’ll be keeping a very close eye on developments.


Testing instead of forgoing – Quick help with histamine intolerance

Article published 27/09/2017

In Germany, more than two million people suffer from a histamine intolerance. Heart palpitations, stomach pain or rash are the consequences. Tübingen researchers have developed a rapid test that determines the histamine content of food.

A glass of red wine, a long-ripened cheese, a few slices of Parma ham – these are culinary delights that do not pose a problem for most. However, people with histamine intolerance may respond to such foods with symptoms such as cardiac arrhythmia, gastrointestinal discomfort or skin rash. By means of a new rapid test, those affected can determine the histamine content of individual products before consumption. For them, this means a higher quality of life.

The danger can be almost everywhere. Almost all foods contain histamine in a lower or higher concentration. Products which are produced by long ripening or fermentation processes such as wine, fish, cheese or sauerkraut are particularly stressed. The histamine content varies greatly depending on the type and storage. Even one and the same cheese variety can have different histamine values. Histamine is involved as a messenger in the human body involved in the control of various processes such as sleep-wake rhythm, allergic reactions or inflammation. It is produced not only by the body itself, but also by many foods. The substance is usually degraded by enzymes in the intestine. In case of intolerance this degradation is disturbed, so that too much histamine accumulates in the body.

Very limited quality of life

Histamine intolerance can manifest itself in a variety of allergy-like symptoms. These include migraine, anxiety, swollen eyelids, eczema and gastrointestinal discomfort. A clear diagnosis is therefore difficult. The symptoms usually occur two hours after the meal and usually last for half a day. If they want to be safe, they must adhere to a strict diet. “The quality of life is severely limited and can lead to shortages, so it is important to help,” says Christoph Pfefferle, who is currently preparing the founding of ELEFA Bioscience GmbH, which has developed the rapid test for the determination of the histamine content of food ,

So far, it is only in the laboratory how much histamine contains a certain foodstuff. With the new rapid test, people with histamine intolerance can quickly and easily check a product on the spot. The test has the size of a ballpoint pen. With a punching device at the tip, the user can take small samples from the cheese. A special liquid dissolves the histamine from the sample. This is then given to an integrated test strip, which indicates whether the food contains no, little or much histamine. “The principle is similar to a pregnancy test. The result is within five minutes, “says Pfefferle.

However, the test can not give a binding recommendation as the tolerable histamine content is individual in each human being. “Those affected need to assess what they can and can not do on the basis of their experiences. And also take into account what else they have taken, “says Pfefferle.

Further application potentials

In higher doses, histamine leads to poisoning symptoms in all humans, so it can trigger a form of fish poisoning. An EU regulation therefore requires that traders are not allowed to sell fish products with an excessively high histamine content. With the existing technologies, a test can hardly be carried out on the spot, but the quick test could still inform the shopkeeper whether the fish is safe. The test could also be used in wine production. Wines with a high histamine content are considered to be inferior in quality and could thus be sorted out during the manufacturing process.

The rapid test was developed at the Institute of Natural Sciences and Medicine at the University of Tübingen. The idea was born at the “Innovationsakademie Biotechnologie” in 2010. The Federal Ministry for Education and Research ( BMBF ) invited funded researchers, experienced economists and creative cross-thinkers to develop new product and business ideas for this two-day creative event. The path from the idea to the finished product was then thought to be longer than initially at the Histamine rapid test. Without the EUR 650,000 funding from the BMBF for the necessary research and development work, there would be no prototype today. Now the new company ELEFA Bioscience is to lead the histamine test to market maturity. In the course of the coming year it is to be available in the trade. Then people with histamine intolerance could test their foodstuffs and then eat with a corresponding test result also thought-free.



14 thoughts on “New Test for Histamine Intolerance

  1. Glo

    I am sitting here feeling awful because of something I have eaten probably within the last 2-3 days. This test would be great for me and have the dual benefit of driving my sister nuts every time I tested my food! She doesn’t believe in MCAD or histamine intolerance. This wouldn’t make her believe but it would really irritate her. Makes me feel better already. 😸


  2. Linda N

    Ok. HIT and MCAD are two different things. Well sort of. The glitch here is that histamine causes mast cells to degranulate and spill out inflammatory cytokines and other inflammatory chemicals as well as spill out histamine. Then the spilled histamine and other inflammatory chemicals cause more degranulation of mast cells, and round and round goes the patient, never getting out of symptom hell.

    So if you have HIT, then you have Mast cell degranulation as a result of the HIT. If you have mutations on the mast cells but can degrade histamine in the gut or in the cell (Via DAO, MAO and HNMT enzymes without any snps, and you are consuming enough vitamin and mineral co-factors to break down the histamine), then maybe your mast cell problem would not necessarily affect you as badly, or maybe it would affect you more severelyi depending upon your diet, your nutrient intake, your other genetic snps, etc. etc.

    Also methylating properly is also another key. If someone is not making enough SAMe because they have snps in the methylation cycle, then the pathyway that breaks down histamine inside the cell is going to be compromised because the HNMT enzyme uses a methyl group off of SAMe to methylate the histamine molecule to begin its break down.

    In addition to all of the above, if someone is not methyating properly, they are not going to repair their DNA and their cellular components, so mutations on the mast cells as well as on other cells will accumulate over time, even if one does not have any genetic snps, like in mastocytosis.

    It is a bit more complicated than that, but hopefully one gets the gist.

    Note. DAO = Diamine Oxidase, MAO = Monoamine oxidase, and HNMT = Histamine N-Methyl transferase.


    1. Jak Post author

      You appear to be very knowledgeable Linda – are you a health professional or researcher? I ask because my Consultant, the UK’s leading MCAD and HIT Doctor, diagnoses HIT and Mast Cell Activation Disorder as two separate diseases.


      1. Linda N

        Hi Jak. What to call myself. I guess I would call myself an nutritionist, although in the US, no one who is not a registered dietitian can call themselves a nutritionist in most states. I also have severe HIT and MCS. I studied nutrition in both the UK and US and I also studied Herbalism, Nutrigenomics, and Functional Medicine. During such studies I took the basic sciences of Anatomy and Physiology, biochemistry, and courses in pathology as well. I have an identical twin sister with HIT also and she has a Ph.D. in Nutrition Education and a BS in Clinical Laboratory Science. We had our genetics done and we learned how to do basic interpretations. Undiagnosed homozygous snps, and snps in methylation nearly ruined my life and cost me decades of severe illness as well as tons of misdiagnoses with their attendance of toxic medicines which harmed me further. I actually went back to school because if no one was going to help me I figured I had to do it myself, and to to do that, I had to learn clinical nutrition as well as the basic biological sciences. It took years because I was so ill.

        I am not sure to which consultant you are referring. The two I know of Dr. Dr. Theoharides, and Dr. Afrin. I have Dr. Afrin’s book on MCAS syndrome as well. In it he clearly states that histamine activates mast cells to dump their contents (including histamine), and that the dumped histamine causes more mast cell activation and so the patient goes round and round. There is a slide show off the Internet that I would have to find again that also talks about this circle. Also Dr. Aftin mentions that most of the mutations on the MAST cells are not genetic, but acquired over time, but then just leaves it at that, because except for known genetic diseases like sickle cell anemia or PKU or cystic fibosis, medical schools do not really teach about the more subtle genetic defects. Nor do doctors learn nutritional biochemistry. I actually wrote a review of Dr. Afrin’s book on Amazon about this issue.

        I found Dr. Afrin’s book very useful and interesting. but I found his view very allopathic, and I felt he dismissed the methylation aspect because of no knowledge in the subject. Here is one link to the methylation aspect of high histamine levels by Dr. Ben Lynch, who teaches courses in Genetics and Nutrigenomics.

        Also the last Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, who pioneered the concept of people suffering from high histamine levels, which he labeled “Hystedalia” also knew the methylation connections and would give his patients methionine supplements, as well as put them on a low protein diet. (as the amino acid histadine gets turned into histamine in the body.) but the science was not there at the time to find out about defects in DAO, nor was SAMe available as a supplement. I am not sure he knew about histamine in fermented foods either, but for his time, he was way ahead of time in understanding the ravages of high histamine.levels.

        I hope this explains where I am coming from.

        Hugs to all of us suffering from histamine issues


  3. Linda N

    P.S. Yes I am under the care of a holistic physician (M.D.), and have been for decades. I am on my third Environmental Medicine specialist (All licensed Medical Doctors), and none of them knew of or had ever even heard of HIT or MCAD. I had to educate my last two physicians about it and give them all my genetic results, literature, etc.


    1. Jak Post author

      Thanks for all that info Linda. My consultant is Dr Seneviratne, who wrote the chapter on mast cell disease in Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome for the recent international classification on the disease. He doesn’t classify everyone with HIT as automatically having a mast cell disease, but obviously you know much more about the subject than he does.

      As I say all the time on my blog I can only talk from my own experience. I’ve had MCAD from birth probably as a result of my hEDS, whereas only developed HIT in my forties which is why I see a separation in the diseases, but appreciate other people’s experience will differ from mine. Jak x


      1. Linda N

        Oh goodness! I never claimed to know more about HIT and MCAS than anyone else. Just sharing some biochemistry I have learned. My understanding is that HIT can be both environmentally caused as well as having a genetic predisposition and the line is blurred a lot in this area. Antibiotic use can set someone up for HIT as antibiotics block DAO and cause gut dysbiosis and damage. SIBO is a huge cause of HIT, as the bugs involved in SIBO (Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) put out massive amounts of histamine. There are other causes too. In fact genetic HIT is considered to be on the rare side. However,I would not know one way or another how true that claim may or may not be.

        High histamine levels do cause mast cell to degranulate, but that does not mean that they cannot degranulate on their own as well. Those with HIT do not necessarily have Mast Cell Disease per say, it just that the high histamine levels are doing a number on the mast cells. That is my understanding of it anyway. And some people do have both. It is complicated and those doing the research are still working all of this out.

        As patients, what we obviously are concerned with the most is finding relief from the symptoms! And for everyone that is different. For me, Dr. Afrin’s protocol of using H1 and H2 blockers, and drug mast cell stabilizers just wasn’t the answer. For others it works fine. Blocking the histamine receptors not only don’t help, they make me worse. I also tried quercetin and that made me a mess as well. For me, with a slow monoamine oxidase, it really messed me up. I have to support the biochemical pathways that help my body break down histamine while sticking to a strict low-histamine diet. I have found some additional relief using some herbal mast cell stablizers, but others, however find great relief with quercetin or Neuroprotek (Dr. Theoharides’ patented product.)

        I have developed such severe food sensitivities over the years that even many low-histamine foods are still off limits for me and I am still struggling to put more foods back into my diet.

        We all just need to support each other in our struggles because so many of our friends and family just do not get what we go through. I am lucky I have my twin who has the same thing, so we so totally understand each other. Others are not so lucky.


  4. Linda N

    BTW, it is not myself that is coming up with these alternate views of the interrelationships between HT and MCAS (thus somehow implying that I know more than Dr. Seneviratne) This research is coming from duly licensed professional researchers and clinicians that are just as interested in finding answers for suffering patients as is Dr Seneviratne. And they too have published literature on the subject. I do think that having various views on the causes and treatments of HIT and MCAS, as well as looking into genetic defects and biochemical pathways to find the “whys” is a good thing; not a bad thing.

    Even Dr. Seneviratne admits that “current drug treatment options for people with MCAS are poor and much more work is needed.”

    No one professional has all the answers, and we as patients really need all the help we can get.



  5. That Other Jean

    Thank you, jak! I have been slowing coming to the conclusion that I have some sort of histamine intolerance, in addition to the hypermobility version of EDS. I’ve been looking for reliable guidance regarding food, and found that there’s a bunch of New Age woo-woo in addition to good info out there on the Internet, so it’s great to be guided to a reliable site.


  6. Ellie

    Thank God for your website! I thought I was going mad, the Drs used to think it was all in my head or that I was a hypochondriac until I ended up in hospital for a week with dangerously high eosinophilia. Now they know somethings going on but cant decide what, Ive been tested for all sorts including leukaemia, churg strauss and mastocytosis – such a shame they didnt check for mast cell activation disorder. my symptoms are pretty much identical to what MCAD suffers have with a few other weird things thrown in for good measure. I recently unwittingly ate too much hisamine as I thought it wasn’t something I responded to (salcylates are a huge problem) Im still suffering three weeks later, wracked with pain, perpetual head ache, episodes of “I cant breathe” severe chest pain, joint slipping all over the place, brain wont work & now I keep stuttering & losing words & the more I get wound up over it all the worse it gets. WEnt to A&E a week ago & they did two ECG, blood test for eosinophils & told me my oxygen saturation was fine – everything was fine – go home! I still couldnt breathe, or walk properly & steroids dont seem to make a difference. Clarityn, not eating & drinking lots of water helps a lot though, Im hoping it will all calm down so I can brace myself for another round of battle with the Drs for a diagnosis. I also have hyper mobility which causes many issues – popped something in my pelvis today putting a belt in my trousers, that will cause sciatica until I can pop it back in again… rolling over in bed is fun everything starts shifting. I also have severe perfume response, I have to wear a mask in public & have to sent someone else in to chemists because of the chemicals.
    Your website has really really helped me – thank you so very much. X


    1. Jak Post author

      Hi Ellie

      I’m so pleased you’ve found my blog helpful – it’s such a relief when you finally find other people who have the same weird and “unexplainable” symptoms as you.

      Sounds like you’re quite severe and I’m really sorry to hear about your experiences 😦 Have you heard about Dr Afrin’s book ‘Never Bet Against Occam’? It’s excellent and explains a lot about MCAD – you can find it on Amazon.

      Good luck in obtaining a proper diagnosis – if possible travel to see an MCAD specialist rather than trying to persuade your local Doctors about mast cell activation syndrome as they will be clueless.

      Jak x



Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.