Histamine Intolerance: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment


Histamine intolerance is not sensitivity to histamine but an indication that a person has developed too much of it. Histamine is a chemical responsible for some major functions –

When histamine levels get too high or when it can’t break down properly, it can affect the normal bodily functions.

In this article:

Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance
Causes of Histamine Intolerance
Histamine Intolerance: Diet
Foods to Eat
Diagnosis of Histamine Intolerance
Treatment for Histamine Intolerance

All You Need to Know about Histamine Intolerance

Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance

Histamine is known to be associated with common allergic responses and symptoms.


histamine intolerance diet

Some common symptoms associated with this intolerance include-

In more severe cases of histamine intolerance include –

Causes of Histamine Intolerance

The body naturally produces histamine along with the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO). DAO is responsible for breaking down histamine that is taken in from foods. If DAO deficiency develops and unable to break down histamine it can lead to intolerance. Some explanations that DAO enzyme levels could be affected include –

  • Medications that block DAO functions or prevent its production
  • Gastrointestinal disorders which include leaky gut syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Histamine-rich foods that lead to DAO enzymes to function improperly
  • Foods that block DAO enzymes or trigger histamine release

Bacterial overgrowth is another contributing factor for the development of histamine intolerance. Bacteria grows when food isn’t digested properly, causing histamine overproduction. Normal levels of DAO enzymes can’t break down the increased levels of histamine in the body, causing a reaction.


Histamine Intolerance: Diet

Foods to avoid –

A healthy diet contains moderate levels of histamine. However, there are some foods high in histamine that can trigger inflammatory reactions and other negative symptoms which are –

There are also a number of foods that trigger histamine release in the body such as –

Foods that block DAO production include –

  • Alcohol
  • Black tea
  • Mate tea
  • Green tea
  • Energy drinks


Foods to Eat

If having histamine intolerance, incorporating low-histamine foods into the diet can help reduce symptoms. There is no such thing called a histamine-free diet. Consult the doctor before eliminating foods from the diet.

Some foods low in histamine include –

Diagnosis of Histamine Intolerance

Before reducing a diagnosis, the doctor will eliminate other possible disorders or allergies that cause similar symptoms. Doctors may also suggest and guide following an elimination diet for 14 to 30 days. This diet requires to remove any foods high in histamine or histamine triggers and slowly introduce them to watch for new reactions. The doctor might also take a blood sample to analyze if having a DAO deficiency. Another way to diagnose histamine intolerance is through a prick test. According to a 2011 study examined the effectiveness of a prick test to diagnose histamine intolerance. Researchers pricked the skin of 156 individuals and applied a 1 percent histamine solution. For those with suspected histamine intolerance, the prick test was positive for 79 percent, revealing a small red, itchy bump on the tested area that didn’t resolve within 50 minutes.

Treatment for Histamine Intolerance

Besides dietary changes, there is no set treatment for patients with histamine intolerance. But most individuals with the condition benefit from a few different medical treatments, depending on the symptoms or the cause of the condition.


Some of the most common medical treatments include –

  • Taking antihistamine medication
  • Taking DAO enzyme supplements
  • Switching prescription medications
  • Avoiding medicines associated with histamine intolerance such as most anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) and pain drugs
  • Taking corticosteroids

Word of Caution

Histamine intolerance can cause uncomfortable symptoms but it can be treated properly with a low-histamine diet.


Histamine intolerance should not be self-diagnosed since symptoms are similar to other allergens, disorders or infections. If there is any intolerance or experiencing irregular symptoms, talk with the doctor.