We’re all familiar with histamine, especially as it relates to allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, and they’re the fifth leading chronic disease in the U.S.
But what if I told you there’s more to histamine than just allergies, asthma, and hives?
What is Histamine?
Histamine is a physiologically active amine that is found in plant and animal tissue and released from mast cells as part of an allergic reaction in humans. It stimulates gastric secretion, causes dilation of capillaries, constriction of bronchial smooth muscle, decreased blood pressure, and also functions as a neurotransmitter.
Yep, that’s right. A neurotransmitter.
Histamine and Mental Health
As a neurotransmitter, histamine influences mood, appetite, sleep and thought.
When elevated (called undermethylation), histamine causes depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and perfectionism. Disordered eating typically has an undermethylated profile. Simple blood tests are all that’s required to determine methylation status.
We now know there’s a biochemical reason we read our emails 12 times in a row and get really irritated when the Christmas tree leans over one-sixteenth of an inch. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or gambling. All addictions share a common theme: imbalanced biochemistry.
When histamine is too low (called overmethylation), there is a tendency for high anxiety, panic disorder, depression, and food and chemical sensitivities.
Overmethylation is correlated with Obsessive Compulsive Personality disorder (OCPD), while undermethylation is correlated with traditional OCD. The latter usually only covers one or two obsessions, while the former is generally obsessive compulsive in most areas of their lives.
Treating Histamine Imbalance
Like gluten intolerance, merely staying away from high histamine foods does not address the underlying problem. In both scenarios, there is an imbalance of Metallothionine (MT), which are cysteine-rich proteins with powerful antioxidant capabilities. MT proteins also perform a wide variety of vital functions including (but not limited to):
- Detoxification of mercury and other toxic heavy metals
- Development and functioning of the immune system
- Delivery of zinc to cells throughout the body
- Prevention of yeast overgrowth (SIBO and dysbiosis are both linked to over and undermethylation)
- Regulation of stomach acid pH
- Taste discrimination by the tongue
- Protection of enzymes that break down casein and gluten
- Enhanced efficiency of the intestinal and blood-brain barriers
- Reduction of inflammation after injury or illness
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