After I got the covid vaccine I started suddenly reacting to some foods by having a histamine reaction. The night I got my second shot, I thought it was just my fever causing my face to be hot, but I realized after this event, wherein I started flushing after eating a fermented (high histamine) food, that it was actually a histamine response. Particularly those that have had covid before have been said to be more likely to have this kind of reaction. I had covid twice, at least, I believe, so that definitely makes sense when my reaction was strong. While I was concerned, I didn’t regret getting the shot, I felt very good after getting it, and before I knew it was the right thing to do (upon learning all of the ingredients from a fellow NTP, who has a spouse that actually works at Moderna– which is actually an independent and small start- up company– and a parent that works on RNA technology). It was an opportunity to learn. Now I have new information I can share with you because, thankfully, what I did to help it actually worked.
Upon learning about the mechanisms behind a histamine response, in retrospect, it may have also been ibuprofen I wound up taking out of desperation for my chest (lung) pain. A cytokine storm had clearly been ignited, again, after having it (at least) twice, the second time certainly being worse. I understand that my immune regulation was likely out of whack and the inflammatory cells going overboard. In learning about histamine and things that can lead to an excess, ibuprofen was one of them. However, the ibuprofen took my very severe chest pain away with miraculous power. It was painful for me just to turn in bed my lungs were so inflamed– much less walking and doing anything not absolutely necessary was painful and difficult, if not out of the question. Sometimes, we have to choose less than optimal symptoms in order to negate a more awful state or overall outcome.
The pathways I found to be really important to the proper metabolism and excretion of histamine require B6 and copper. I also found natural anti-histamines were Vitamin C, quercetin, and stinging nettle. Kidney and DAO enzyme are important as the DAO enzyme metabolizes histamine and some with histamine issues don’t make enough of it, or some foods or medications can negate its presence.
I didn’t need to try the kidney/ DAO or stinging nettle as the mere nutrients were effective. I found copper to be particularly relevant because I had been taking lots of zinc since the pandemic began; zinc and copper can work against each other and therefore need to be taken balance. Iron can also work against copper utilization and therefore needs to be taken into consideration as well in relation to copper quantities. This is worth noting especially for those on the carnivore diet. While studying histamine I discovered this— that because meat, especially beef, is high in both zinc and iron, and very low in copper relative to it (all meat including organs, ultimately), those on the carnivore diet may go through this and wonder why. This also speaks to the concept of restriction, dieting, and how— while trying to make things better— it can actually make them worse and worse.
A perfect exemplification of the deleterious effects on histamine reactivity of dieting and restricting was a study I read upon doing a google search based on a hunch. It revealed that mice who are were fed less than the control group developed more histamine receptors. This means those that ate less calories were more likely to develop a histamine response or allergic- type reaction. In the same vein there was an examination of several studies with humans showing that anorexics (those who ate less calories) developed seemingly allergic responses, and became intolerant, unable to handle or digest various foods. This makes sense fundamentally as when one is eating less calories, slowed gastric emptying will ensue; (I know from experience) and basic physiology by way of the metabolism explains it. The slowed emptying inevitably leads to putrification of proteins in the gut, leading to more inflammation and eventually leaky gut. When the gut is “leaky” (gap junctions aren’t as tight as they normally are), proteins are found in the blood stream that shouldn’t be, the body mounts a response, and false allergies can ensue. I’ve suffered from this myself when I tried following “up to date health knowledge” and assertions that eating carbs was bad, or, less restrictively, grains and certainly gluten. I had biofeedback done showing that my personal body would handle gluten fine, but the practitioner who performed the very test and used those results to make all kinds of recommendations and diagnoses (and people would indeed seemingly miraculously recovery following her advice) told me to basically disobey that based on this commonly held assertion. I didn’t question it at the time, but now looking back, I see the absurdity of it. But I digress; I was saying that as I began cutting out more (in one instance, carbs in any substantial amount, and began eating “paleo”) I immediately began having digestive distress. For some bizarre reason, I kept on with it until I became bed bound and truly unable to tolerate anything. I could barely eat. All I knew I could ingest for sure was bulletproof coffee in the morning, touted in the health circles often supporting gluten- free, low carb, and paleo living (or dying, depending on your perspective). But I tried eating “healthy” meals, using grated cauliflower in place of rice, neglecting to realize the massive amount of valuable calories I was losing by eating this way all of the time. My teeth were even starting to lose their coloration and became translucent. ☹ It was very sad looking back, and at the time, a scary wake- up call. I knew deep down I was using it to abuse myself and eat as little as possible. Who doesn’t want weight loss? And minimally eating is basically touted in all areas of “health” promotion, and the role of calories was ignored, if not avoided intentionally. Eventually, I thought I might have sibo and found another “diet”, low fodmap, that helped with so many of my symptoms. This would impose even more restrictions. Unfortunately to me at the time, but turned fortunate– this would really limit the foods I had been increasing so much in the low- carb phase. Eventually, I conceded to realize I had to try to eat some grains, or at least starch to begin with, to try to start healing (or, repair the damage the low- carb diet had done, that is). And not surprisingly now looking back, due to the re-incorporation of more high calorie foods, I started feeling better!
I was even able to start including gluten back in after realizing I needed the calories, and learning something from doctors who specialized in helping people get rid of parasites. Parasites in the body will lead to an increase in white blood cells called eosinophils, which release mast cells, creating a histamine response to certain foods. So it’s actually the parasites reacting to various foods (gross, I know!). This is common with milk and dairy, and can happen with other foods like gluten. Having been doing cleansing for many years (while avoiding gluten) I hoped I would be able to tolerate it, along with milk, which I used to react to, getting a fast heart beat and instant cramps (never happened when I was a kid or earlier on—before I began restricting as much on my attempted health journey). This hope came true when I started recovery and began drinking milk– I suffered no problems, even though I was challenging myself not to be restrictive even with types of milk (organic, grass- fed, raw, or A2, which arguably can be better for those in an inflammatory state— the problem is we miss a piece of what’s causing an inflammatory state. A big part of this was also likely body temperature (metabolism) which simultaneously will lower a pathogenic burden in the body (similar to how fevers do)).
Knowing the immune system and the importance of its balance (TH1 vs. TH2) in such a response, I took colostrum as this is known to balance the two sides of the immune system which can get out of hand and cause auto- immunity and allergies (mast- cell over reactivity, or parasites getting out of hand and leading to this in the long- term). Vitamin A, D, E, C, and fish oil have this same balancing influence. I prefer to utilize holistic modulation over supporting one side over the other (although it sometimes is necessary to support TH1 or TH2 specifically in more extreme cases) so as to prevent tipping the scale in the opposite direction and potentially creating more problems.
Niacin can also be helpful for modulating histamine reaction, as it causes the body to “dump” histamine— releasing it from the cells. Taking various over the counter medicine— especially so- called anti- histamines— even products like quercetin excessively and longer than needed, out of balance with other foundational nutrients, can lead to build- up in the cells, further exacerbating symptoms, making them appear insurmountable.
It seems like histamine intolerance can feel like a life- sentence, and I felt that way too when I first had the reaction, wondering if I’d forever experience an array of honestly concerning symptoms I’d finally gotten a handle on by healing my metabolism. Contrarily, it just opened my eyes to the way we can re- balance symptoms after taking various interventions deemed necessary for the ultimate good. In my case, this was a vaccine and ibuprofen—after long covid (twice) and a bit of a pre- existing propensity (like flushing when consuming wine and alcohol at times). Now I have an upper hand and foresight regarding these reactions and can even further work on healing the root cause of those more subtle symptoms that were trying to hint at an underlying issue long before the acute response even happened.