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.
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.