Histamine hypersensitivity or intolerance
Allergy is an abnormal reaction to substances that enter the body through food via another route. Hyper-reactivity is an enhanced reaction to food or other substances. Substances that can cause a quantitatively stronger reaction include the biogenic amines and, in particular, histamine. Therefore this reaction is therefore referred to as histamine hypersensitivity or histamine intolerance.
Histamine hypersensitivity is a type pseudo-allergic reaction. Reactions occur after eating foods that contain histamine or that can release histamine from mast cells (hyper-reactivity). In some cases, problems arise due to the absence or reduced activity of enzymes whose function it is to break down histamine. Histamine hypersensitivity is probably more common than is suspected. While both young and old can suffer from this hypersensitivity, in practice it appears that a large proportion of sufferers are between the ages of 18 and 40 years.
Histamine is formed in the body by decarboxylation of the amino acid histidine. In foods, microorganisms can also convert histidine decarboxylation. Histamine has a vasodilating effect and also affects the nervous system. It occurs in the mast cells and in the mucous membranes in the lungs, nose and skin. Histamine degradation takes place in the intestine, liver and in the blood by cspecific enzymes.
There are two types of histamine hypersensitivity, refered to as primary and secondary. In the primary form, there is a congenital change resulting in an absence of enzymes that break down histamine. In the secondary form, there may be an acquired shortage of degradation enzymes such as jaundice or liver cirrhosis, an inhibition caused by medication, nitrite poisoning or alcohol abuse, damage or inflammation of the wall of the small intestine (operations, viruses, Candida , food allergy and intolerance), or bacterial or yeast overgrowth.
The role of damage to the small intestine in the development of histamine hypersensitivity is not entirely clear. Changes in the composition of the mucous membrane affect the histamine content of the blood and other biogenic amines. In intestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, elevated histamine levels are observed.
All kinds of general symptoms can occur in histamine hyper-reactivity, which are indistinguishable from those encountered in food allergy, which is why they are sometimes called “pseudo-allergic” reactions. The type, degree and severity of symptoms may be different for each individual. Skin complaints, gastrointestinal complaints and headaches are amongst the most common. In addition, problems affecting the respiratory system and the the central nervous system, and palpitations and fatigue can also occur. In practice, it appears that complaints such as malabsorption, lactose intolerance and hypoglycaemia also occur, though how they are connected is still unclear.
In addition to foods that naturally contain histamine, there are also substances that cause histamine release from blood cells, know as histamine-liberators. Symptoms caused by histamine-liberators are similar to those caused by histamine-rich substances.
There is a threshold value for both histamine-rich and histamine-liberating agents. This is the amount of histamin above which symptoms will be experienced. This value is very individual and may vary from day to day. These differences are caused by influencing factors such as a diet, stress, strong emotions, smoking, alcohol and exercise, which may all play a role in the expression of symptoms and potentially worsen them. Methylhistamine and cryptopyrrol content can be measured in the urine, with increases being a possible indication of histamine intolerance. The histamine content can be measured in plasma, serum or whole blood. The most valuable measurement is determination in whole blood since, here the total content of histamine is measured. Histamine release can also be measured in full blood. Here blood cells are exposed in the laboratory to a substance suspected of releasing histamine in the patient, after which the histamine level is measured again.
In histemia, there is a continuously increased histamine level in the blood, higher than 51 mcg / ml (normal values 28-51 mcg / ml). Approximately 20 percent of schizophrenic patients are histalic. Histadelia can be hereditary and there are indications that boys in partuclar can inherit this characteristic. The symptoms of histemia usually only manifest after puberty. In families with histemia, allergies, depression and suicide are relatively common. Histamine causes an increase in metabolism, which is the reason why histadelics do not readily feel cold. Metabolically, the histamine individual is a fast digester, therefore can eat large amounts without gaining weight. An addiction to work, sex, drugs, alcohol or sugar is relatively common. In addition to allergic reactions, histamine also increases mucus and saliva production and a tendency toward hyperactivity, compulsiveness and depression, which may eventually become chronic.
Histapenia is the opposite of histemia. Histapenic patients have relatively reduced histamine levels in the blood with levels usually below 28 mcg/ml. In contrast to histemia, histapenia is not usually familial. The serum copper is often abnormally high in histopathic individuals. Copper stimulates the brain and breaks down histamine, which can lead to many symptoms. Indeed, increased copper levels could be the primary cause of the symptoms experienced by the histopathic individual. Copper may originate from copper drinking water pipes. Copper has the property, among others, of expelling zinc from the body. Therefore symptoms may also arise from a resulting zinc defieciency. Metabolism is slowed down in this individual and chronic fatigue is a common complaint. Histapenic individuals also have a tendency to become overweight.