Histamine, Anti-Histamines, Allergies, and Recovery
Raise your hand if you've ever had a runny nose, stuffy nose, head congestion, clogged ears... You get the idea. Sinus infections and colds, we reach for those anti-histamines. But...should we?
Before we dive into that, I'm going to throw a massive curve ball in here. Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition? Or Celiac Disease? Or IBD? What about SIBO? Leaky Gut? Thyroid Issues like Hypothyroid? If this is you, this post is for you.
Back to all those horrible symptoms we associate to allergies and winter colds. An anti-histamine, like Benadryl, Allegra, and Zyrtec, are medications meant to decrease your body's natural histamine levels. So, what is histamine and why do we have it? I'll explain.
Histamine is something your body needs - yep, you heard that right. Histamine helps your body get rid of allergens by dilating your blood vessels (aka congestion) and in turn causing inflammation that alerts your body to attack a pathogen (allergies, viruses, etc). So why do we reach for anti-histamines? For one, we're adapted to basically reach for meds as soon as we have symptoms (sorry, not sorry - learn to tough it out a day or two). And while I recognize symptoms can often get WORSE, that transitions us to my next point.
When you get to the point of a sinus infection, it's because your immune system couldn't battle it. So, natural logic says - strengthen your immune system! So you down that elderberry, grab some gummies, some zinc, maybe an Emergen-C packet (I DON'T recommend those - just FYI), and move along hoping you can fight it off and not have to go see a doctor with that darn high deductible you have.
But it doesn't stop there. When your immune system is down, something is unstable within your small intestines - aka your Gut. (See above - SIBO, Leaky Gut, IBD, etc). When your gut is out of wack, stuff like allergies, sinus issues, colds, depression, anxiety, and a BUNCH of other stuff can rear it's ugly head. But wait, aren't we still talking about Histamine? Yep! We are. Stay with me.
Histamine in your body fluctuates. Up, down, up down. Think of it like a water bottle (come on, guys - drink your water!). But what happens if you don't drink your water, you go back and fill up an already full water bottle....it OVERFLOWS, right? Sometimes that happens with histamine in the body. We get way too much of it and we might develop histamine intolerance. Our body needs to be able to break down histamine, and DAO is this really cool natural enzyme we produce that can do JUST that. DAO is made from critical nutrients like B6, Vitamin C (remember Emergen-C? Yeah, just stick with a high quality Vitamin C, guys), and Copper. (Many people see "copper free" multi-vitamins, etc, and think they don't need copper in the body - you do! But you need it in the right balance).
Ok, so we build up DAO so it breaks down histamine, easy peasy. Right? Well, once you have a histamine intolerance, you might need to do a little temporary food reset. How do you know? Do you need a fancy test? Nope! Just increase the foods that are HIGH in histamine (see list HERE). Try it for a few days. If symptoms increase or you get new symptoms, you probably have it. Want to double check? Remove those foods and see if symptoms improve after a week.
Ok, so, thyroid. Conditions like hypothyroid are often linked to autoimmune conditions. Autoimmune is essentially related to (wait for it) immune, which we just learned is supported by the GUT. So, taking care of your gut is critical when you have autoimmune. Should you follow AIP? (AutoImmune Protocol)? Should you follow Low Histamine? The answer is, I don't know. Your BEST protocol is entirely designed just for you based on your symptoms and intolerances, and I suggest you work with a professional (FNTPs are great at this if it's a segment they work in - you know. FNTPs. Like me. <insert winking smiley face and shameless plug here>)
Now, this is definitely more of an overview of info. Hopefully you can see where I'm going, and if you are concerned about histamine (and anti-histamines - those meds can weaken your gut and stress your liver), try doing that self check above. Need more support? You know where to find me.