Skip to Content

My Low Histamine Diet Journey (Updated)

My Low Histamine Diet Journey (Updated)

This is a living document keeping track of my own experience living a low histamine lifestyle. My histamine sensitivity symptoms over the years have included: severe stomach pain, GERD, nighttime reflux (causing enamel erosion and severe tooth pain), increasing levels of anxiety, mood swings, moderate lethargy (aka “brain fog”), depression, joint pain, whole body inflammation, and an overly-full feeling anytime I eat anything.

Some of these may seem small and unrelated, but they’d been plaguing me for years and either disappeared or got markedly better after I went on a low histamine diet & started adding in healing supplements. Like most people dealing with HIT, I was not born with these issue but rather developed them over time. Since I originally posted this, I’ve found a multitude of potential contributing factors for my HIT. These range from copper poisoning from my IUD, black mold in my apartment, 20 months of low-dose Isotretinoin, and an apparent genetic predisposition towards histamine issues and inflammation. I’m still working on getting better, but until then, I’ll be here. I hope my story helps you on your own health journey.

A snapshot of what I was taking in June 2020, including the PPI that was probably making my symptoms worse! At my height I took ~30 pills a day.

My HIT Journey

The first time I remember having any symptoms I can associate with my histamine issues was when I went to the dentist complaining of tooth pain. ALL of my teeth hurt, especially when I woke up in the morning, yet I had impeccable oral health. I was barely 21, and I brushed with a soft toothbrush & fancy toothpaste three times a day; I even flossed nightly. Over the next year the dentist prescribed various sensitive toothpastes, removed all of my wisdom teeth “just in case,” and gave me a night guard that I wore religiously.

The next major symptom began when I was traveling to Japan in 2017. I’d been flying since I was a few days old, but for the first time ever, I found myself worried about every dip and shake of the plane. My sister had to grab my hand for most of the flight, and this continued over the course of our trip. I got my first taste of anxiety that day, but I wouldn’t call it that for another few years.

Fast forward to May 2020, and I was laying in bed in my childhood home, miserable and scared and in so much pain. My stomach hurt right around my esophagus, and I had SO just had enough. It was 6am, and for the nth night in a row, I was being kept awake by racing thoughts and stomach pain. That night I vowed to finally start a serious diet that eliminated basically everything that could be triggering me. It had to be my food making me sick.

For just over a week, I went down to just 15 organic foods: sage, rosemary, basil, ginger, himalayan sea salt, olive oil, pasture-raised organic chicken breast, carrots, arugula cauliflower, broccoli, butternut squash, kale, blueberries, raspberries, and coconut milk.

To preface this, a year or so before trying the low histamine diet, a friend had recommended I try an anti-inflammatory diet for my then-bearable gastrointestinal symptoms. That friend has since proven herself correct for the 1000th time by accurately pinpointing the fact that my body was inflamed and just needed a damned break. So I ate only those 15 foods for one week, and my stomach calmed down immensely. I combined the autoimmune protocol, anti-inflammatory diet, and low histamine diet to get down to those foods, as mentioned in my sample low histamine diet.

May 2020 Snapshot: 40mg esomeprazole & an H2 blocker each night. I’m only 24 years old, and after nine months of taking meds, something was still clearly very wrong, maybe even getting worse. I didn’t drink alcohol or eat spicy foods, I wasn’t overweight, and I didn’t have any physical deformities causing acid reflux. It felt like everything was making me sick, and I was beyond exhausted.

Entering week two of the elimination diet, I very slowly started adding in more foods, all of which were from the approved low histamine foods list sent by a trusty friend. By week four, most of the foods I’d added in were of the actively histamine-lowering variety. At the end of that week I got several tests and panels done, as ordered by my new doctor, and I felt safe to start reintroducing some of the approved starches & grains, dairy, and eggs.

While eggs and all of the starch flours I’ve added in have worked for me just fine, dairy was a screaming no from my system. I OD’d on chocolate one night and was up until 6am having a mild anxiety attack. Never. Again. I’ve now successfully reintroduced lentils & chickpeas, eggs, several types of nuts, coffee, and coconut sugar. I’ve learned a lot about supplements and some of my limits, and I’m working to ease myself fully off any daily supplements my meds (the aforementioned PPIs, which I stayed on for over a year before realizing that my GERD was caused by low stomach acid).

Now when I have stomach upset, I know that eating acidic whole food meals like lemony greens actually make me feel better (in moderation).

As of April 2021, I found out that one of the root causes of my histamine intolerance was heavy metal poisoning from my copper IUD. I’ll discuss this more in upcoming posts, but the gist is that the internal inflammation caused by the IUD (it actually prevents pregnancy by creating this inflamed environment) set off major alarm bells in my body’s immune system. My body then reacted by trying to break down the “intruder,” releasing incredible amounts of copper into my body constantly for the three-and-a-half years I had the IUD.

This incessant barrage cause my body to store all un-detoxable copper in my soft tissues, where it continued to accumulate and worsen my symptoms, not to mention keeping my entire immune system on edge for YEARS. In this post I’ll keep the focus upon my histamine issues, but there’s unavoidable overlap. In the end, my body’s attempts to rid itself of the excess copper— along with the mold and isotretinoin stressing my liver— led to an increasingly serious deficiency of most other essential vitamins and minerals in the body, including those needed for producing stomach acid, a.k.a. HCl (Sodium, Potassium, Zinc).

This caused low stomach acid production, which ironically has basically the same symptoms as high stomach acid production. A lack of proper digestion left my gut microbiome way out of whack (again, for years, while living abroad and regularly traveling internationally), not to mention the fact that you need stomach acid in order to absorb the nutrients in supplements. So even if I had realized my deficiencies earlier, without addressing the stomach connection I was never going to be able to rebalance. Enter: the histamine connection.

Even with histamine intolerance, I’m still making recipes I love & can enjoy every day.

An excess of copper & resulting depletion of minerals has a cascading effect upon the body, affecting hormone production, neurotransmitter function, gastric acid production, and more. The low histamine diet has helped me keep my toxicity symptoms under control because the copper excess actually triggered my histamine sensitivity, and the whole foods-focus of the diet is ideal for healing, especially from inflammation. This diet is full of more easily-digested foods, rich in necessary vitamins and minerals which my body continues to be low on as it detoxes.

Eating low histamine lessens the inflammation going rampant in your body, the potential toxins going into your under-sterilized gut (due to the focus on no-pesticide or organic foods), and forces you to start taking some of the antihistamine supplements that support your body’s calming. Going on such a diet while recovering from copper toxicity or any other poisoning can ease the detox burden upon your adrenals and liver, and help you rid yourself of the heavy metal much more quickly.

Due to my own unique genetic predispositions and how my HIT was triggered, my off-list foods are probably different from your off-list foods. Right now, I’m avoiding all gluten and most dairy (ghee excepted), as well as soy and all other high histamine foods (except small amounts of anti-inflammatory dark chocolate and the occasional spice, where noted). I’ve also gotten a bit flexible with my meat, buying some uber expensive uncured, unsweetened bacon from a local shop. I had no reaction to it, so I’ve kept it in my diet (along with some other types of meat).

I’ll keep this page updated as I get results back and attempt to reintroduce other foods (so far, everything else I’ve reintroduced has been off the low histamine food list linked above). Below is my “before” story, the long steps that got me to the point of even just trying a low histamine diet.

My HIT Timeline

Below is a more detailed timeline of how I got to the point of researching and trying the low histamine diet.

Mid 2017: I got my IUD in a couple montha ago, I’m living abroad, and the “monster” in my tummy every morning demands I eat immediately. I assume that’s just how I’m built; everybody’s stomach rumbles as soon as they open their eyes!

Late 2017: my teeth start to hurt a lot throughout the day; I assume I must have more cavities, but the dentist finds nothing wrong. My sister asks if I grind my teeth, and I tell her I don’t think so. Somehow, I’ve developed a fear of flying, which I attribute to higher stress levels and control issues.

Early 2018: It’s been a few months and the pain in my teeth is only worsening. Anything sweet or acidic is the worst, but water and gum seem to help. I finally make it to the dentist, and before I can ask him a thing he asks if I realize I grind my teeth. ‘That must be it,’ I thought! The pain subsides for a few months.

Mid 2018: The tooth pain is back. I’m on half-strength accutane again. I attribute my joint pain, dry skin, dry eyes, and weird chest fullness to that & only that.

Late 2018/Early 2019: The tooth pain is really bad; I’m chewing gum all the time and rarely eat sweets or much of anything unless I have gum on hand. I can only brush my teeth in the morning and at night, because I’m basically always chewing xylitol gum. I have a bit of a breakdown in a yoga class, due to stress from work and lack of communication skills, stomach discomfort making it difficult to exercise, and bad joint pain. I’m incredibly unhappy and anxious, but moving away soon. I decide to soldier through, because surely it’ll get better once I leave.

Mid 2019: I get off the accutane and wait for the side effects to subside. It’s summertime, so I’ve taken to planning meal times really carefully so I feel most physically able to work out. It feels like I’m starting to heal, even though my teeth still really hurt for some reason. I can spend more time in the sun, get a clean bill of health following the colonoscopy, and I’m really looking forward to getting out in the world to travel.

Late 2019: I’m still abroad, and my Mom is the one to suggest I might have nighttime reflux. I see a gastroenterologist for an upper endoscopy and an immediate prescription, and then I visit a dentist to see how melted my teeth really are. Over the next nine months, I range from 40mg to 20mg of esomeprazole per day, with some over-the-counter antacids added in. For the first several months, admittedly, I basically ignored the problem. My anxiety got worse, slowly accumulating with each destination. After hobbling along for several months on the meds, slowly trying to heal my teeth from years of nightly acid baths, my breaking point came in May 2020.

May 2020: I was feeling like a flat version of the person I was in college, always anxious and prone to paranoia and obsessive thinking. My stomach hurt constantly, and absolutely screamed after I ate anything. By then I’d been sleeping on my back a wedge pillow, like a disturbed vampire, for several months. My racing thoughts prevented me from sleeping until 5am or 6am, when my brain finally forced stop, so I spent many hours each night trying to find a comfortable position to read. I never did.


May 11th, 2020: I start a low histamine diet, and within a couple of days I feel way more clear-headed and most of my horrible bloat is gone. I have enough energy to cook my own meals, and I did so while looking for a new place to live (quite a stressful time, even as I was feeling a bit better).

June 2020: I start this site & move into a new place! I continue to feel better and better, and begin to dive into more research on eating low histamine and the science of what’s happening inside me. The more I know, the better & more in control I feel.

September 2020: After an initial healing over the summer, I’m having the worst month of my life and mentally spiraling, with a midnight chocolate binge sending me over the edge. I thought I was developing borderline personality disorder, and after an anxious doctor’s appointment, we get the ball rolling on a medical marijuana card. During that same appointment, I get the hint that maybe it’s my IUD wreaking all this havoc. After all the blood tests, stool tests, urine tests, and the many bottles of supplements, the root causes were inside me the whole time.

Winter 2021: I’ve thrown myself into researching copper toxicity as well as inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. I’m convinced that I’ll have detoxed my stored copper and feel all better within a year. If only.

Spring 2021: We’ve tested my hormones for the nth time and I’m officially diagnosed with PCOS, endometriosis, “adrenal fatigue,” and IBS. After a long cooling off period in which I’d nearly seemed to have healed my histamine intolerance, I’m suddenly having reactions all over again, which I attribute to the stress of once again moving apartments; I go back on a low histamine diet and feel much better. I develop joint pain in my elbows and a bit in my knees, but nothing I can’t handle.

Summer 2021: I’ve once again thrown myself into research, this time on neurotransmitters and naturally boosting your brain (sort of like biohacking), as I add fibromyalgia, mold toxicity, and lead poisoning to my now-confirmed copper poisoning diagnoses. My doc declares me “the most toxic patient she’s ever seen,” in response to the aforementioned findings. I see a rheumatologist who tells me that my joint pain isn’t severe enough, and he doesn’t feel he knows how to help me. I begin what ends up being 4 months of physical therapy that not only hurts immensely, but doesn’t help my back pain.

Fall 2021: I start experimenting with amino acid therapy for my neurotransmitter deficiencies, and go back on iron supplements amidst a general detox protocol, which I follow for 3 months. By the end, I feel somewhat better in some ways and somewhat worse in others. As the weather darkens, I definitely feel more down, but my personal life takes on more stresses, as well. Posts on this site markedly slow down.

December 2021: I got my booster shot in early December, and within a few days I started noticing that my arms were going numb really easily when I slept on my side. By the end of the month my hands were losing dexterity in the cold, and it took hours for feeling to return.

January 2022: At the end of January I spent a whole night awake with uncontrollable tremors, my arms going in & out of feeling, and a terrifying sense of doom. My mom took me to the ER the next morning, and after a visit with a doctor who declared my complains “non-life-threatening,” we made an appointment with a neurologist. This month I start low-dose Naltrexone and my depression very slowly begins to lift, but my anxiety remains concentrated on my arms.

February 2022: I started feeling lightheaded at random times, before we even had our visit with the neurologist, and ended up in the ER once more. A series of 7 spinal MRIs ruled out MS or any other structural cause. My joint pain had gotten much worse, but that felt like the least of my worries. A more comprehensive chronic Lyme Disease panel comes back negative. I didn’t connect the timing of my shots with my symptoms until I desperately read some posts on Reddit that brought up the possibility. While I’m glad I haven’t had the disease itself, which would unquestionably have been worse, I do wish I’d been made aware that your immune system could be thrown off and affect you neurologically. On February 8th I start an arthritis supplement protocol.

March 2022: One month later, the arthritis protocol I follow has reduced my arm numbness by about 90% and reduced the joint pain by maybe 40%. My doctor still hadn’t ordered repeat tests to verify that the excess lead and copper were removed back in the fall, but I don’t really care. I begin acupuncture, holistic physical therapy for my back, and make an appointment with the head of rheumatology at a local hospital. I’m hopeful he may be able to adjust my protocol and stop the rampant inflammation, allowing me to rebuild my muscles and heal. I develop an esophageal ulcer sometime in the middle of the month.


My own breaking point came in Spring 2020, when my emotional instability created a rift between me and my family. They didn’t recognize me anymore, and I certainly didn’t recognize myself. They couldn’t understand why I’d become such a lazy, irritable, sad human, and the transformation after one week eating low histamine is the reason why I started this site. My story is still being written, but maybe it can help someone else understand their mysterious health issues.

If any of these ailments sounds familiar to you, consider trying a low histamine diet. It could literally save your life (not to mention your sanity).

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Rae

Sunday 24th of April 2022

Hi there, have you experienced worse symptoms at the same time as ovulation or PMS? I know most women get moody, tired, hungry, sore, have cravings, etc. But have you experienced that the mood symptoms are just unbearable? Like PMDD? My depression and anxiety go way up during these times, and it feels like they increase too much than what is in the normal realm. I haven't done a lot of research, but there seems to be a connection between copper, estrogen, progesterone, and histamine.

Also, I tried to gather from this post and comments how long it takes to detox from elevated copper levels but don't quite get it. Am I reading that it takes years to detox from too much copper?

lowhistamineeats

Sunday 24th of April 2022

There definitely seems to be a response, yes, as histamine is also a hormone released in the face of stress, and stress messes with the delicate balance of all your hormones. So while there may not be a direct connection, there seem to be a cascading of events which occur around these particular substances. But I was so deeply depressed and anxious for most of the last two years that it was pretty hard to tell if my period affected it at all. I had my hormones checked many times, and all the inflammation seems to have caused my testosterone to spike, my progesterone to drop, and some cysts to grow. We've gotten the hormones under control, but the other side effects of so much inflammation may take years to fully heal.

What I'm saying is that yes, it can take years to detox from elevated copper if you've had very long-term exposure (5+ years with a copper IUD, for example) or very high levels of exposure to copper. I'm not a doctor, but from my own research & observations, it takes some women years and it takes other women a few months to recover form any damage. I'm now 18 months post-removal, and while I believe I've gotten rid of the excess copper, I'm still dealing with the effects of my immune system being totally thrown off. I expect it will take another year or so to fully recover this part of my life and get over my constantly-flaring histamine intolerance (though I'll always be extra vulnerable to histamine issues), but all of this is downstream from the copper. It's all very complicated and connected, and the faster you gather a good team of doctors, the better off you'll be. Good luck!

Jillian Wilson

Wednesday 13th of April 2022

You mentioned having a booster shot in December 2021, and then later say that you hadn’t connected your neurological symptoms with the shots. I’m curious to know if you’re referring to Covid-19 vaccination shots? My good health has deteriorated since my 1 and only Pfizer shot, 6 months ago - recurring ME/CFS from having been headed back in 1997, with strange symptoms. Am now on a low histamine diet. Can you comment?

lowhistamineeats

Wednesday 13th of April 2022

Yes, that I am, but I got the other main corporation's shot. I don't want to talk about it much one here, as I know that Google is still blocking some posts that talk about it without medical credentials, and I don't want this post (or site) blocked. But I found way more info on dealing with negative long-term effects from either corporation's shots on Reddit, to be honest. For my own symptoms, I personally found 2g of high-quality Omega 3s + 1g l-arginine to be a game-changer. Lowering stress and taking colostrum and other immune-regulating supplements have continued to lessen my symptoms. But once I feel markedly better, I do plan to write a more thorough overview of what I've dealt with (hopefully with a lot more scientific research to back up any treatments).

I'm sorry you're dealing with what you are, but I highly recommend doing some research on Reddit into what has helped some other people with long-term effects. From what I've gleaned from my own reading, you (& I) are dealing with a relatively small version of what would have happened had we actually gotten sick, so the procedure would be similar for if we were dealing with long-term effects from the illness. I DID also start taking an immune-regulating medication called "low dose naltrexone" in early February, and to be honest, I think that + time has made the most difference. It's worth asking your doctor about low dose naltrexone (LDN) and doing some research yourself, as it's also been looked into as a treatment for ME/CFS.

Jann

Friday 8th of April 2022

I'm literally combing your site now and gleaning SO MUCH info from your health journey. Like everyone else I'm so grateful to have found you and your story! 👏

Last month, My Functional medicine doc put me on a detox diet and it was full of pea protein smoothies and lots of high histamine foods. I knew I had " some' histamine problems but I thought it wasn't major- just itchy skin. However, the detox diet confirmed that my main 7+ year struggle with symptoms was connected to histamines! ( after hypothyroid Hashimoto's and Thyroid Eye disease). It was a LOVE/HATE moment! So, I'm currently on the low histamine diet, and I'm starting to sleep better and have very few internal tremors now. However, I still wake 2-3 times per night and feel slight tremors and have to calm racing thoughts, and I still have a case of the itchies on my upper back and face flushing occasionally, so I'm still a work in progress! 🤦‍♀️

I'm now determined to study to be a nutritional health counselor/ coach. And even though I have scoured the internet and health podcasts, It seems that symptoms vary as well as some of the food's histamine levels depending upon which website you are on.

I want to know more! What Facebook and Instagram groups are you, members, with? What other low histamine resources do you have? I pray that you are feeling well these days and thank you for all of your help! 🙌

lowhistamineeats

Friday 8th of April 2022

Thank you so much, Jann! I can definitely relate to the love/hate relationship with those moments of realization. Anyone with a chronic, mysterious illness knows what we mean. But definitely keep track of any lingering symptoms (after a month or more on the diet), and keep a food diary to note any non-histamine sensitivities or preferences (For example, I do best at night with grilled meats + veg for dinner).

The nutritional counselor approach is one I've thought of often, but I just haven't had the bandwidth the last few months to do much research. I even thought of going back to school to get my degree in dietetics, but even the thought of all the paperwork needed to apply makes my brain want to explode, so that tells me it's too soon in my journey to take on something so big. If you find a program that's credible and takes a year or less, please leave another comment, as I'd love to hear about it! This seems to be a common pull for people of a certain disposition once they've dealt with something so life-consuming, and I wish you great luck! Right now I'm not in any Instagram groups, but I follow several people on the platform who do great advocating and info-sharing about histamine issues; you can follow the link to my profile to see who that is, because I haven't scrolled through in awhile. As for Facebook, I'm only in the main group for histamine issues, as I don't like to spend much time on social media, when I can help it.

I try to share everything I have on the site, but I'm also working on a post about the books that have helped me the most & other low histamine bloggers for people to check out. Those should be up soon, but until then, honestly my favorite book has been one for practitioners (that you could def find cheaper elsewhere): https://www.bookdepository.com/Biochemical-Imbalances-Disease-David-S-Jones/9781848190337

Jackie

Monday 28th of February 2022

You've been through so much and are an encouragement to those who are searching for answers. Remember, losses are wins in disguise as we learn from them and soldier onward. As you know, sharing these experiences with others is a double-win, as they may help others, and knowing we are not alone in the struggle encourages us to keep trying. I have Lyme & Borrelia (tick-borne co-infection) with neurological symptoms and Breast Implant Illness (BII). Since Lyme & Co bacteria produce a biofilm that may adhere to breast implants, I'm working on getting them removed so that (hopefully) the treatments will be successful. For years I thought I had rosacea, as my skin is always flushed. Now I know otherwise (symptoms began after the implants but I never made the connection) and am going to pursue the AIP/low histamine diet until I can get in for the surgery. Your info has been very helpful. Thanks for putting your story out there - it has helped!

PS - I was watching a 3-part video on YT about prolotherapy and the vagus nerve. It appears as though, when the vagus nerve is pinched and/or malfunctions, all organs of the body can be affected because they can no longer fully perform their usual functions. This may slow down or even prevent the healing we are working so hard towards, just the way toxic mold or copper can also interfere with our healing. While this info may or may not be helpful to others with histamine intolerance, it may be a missing puzzle piece for some and is something to perhaps consider.

lowhistamineeats

Wednesday 2nd of March 2022

Thank you, Jackie. Your kind words mean a lot, as even if I've been through hell, I've made it back. Having compounded illnesses is extra tough; I'm so sorry you're going through all that, and I hope you can get the implants out soon. My goal in sharing my story has been to help other people start to sort out their own mysterious illness, so I'm glad to have aided you in any way on your journey. I always go back strict low histamine in any times of stress, so it's certainly worth trying a low histamine diet while you know your body is focusing its anti-inflammatory fight elsewhere!

I've been reading even more about HPA Axis dysfunction, lately, and the connection between physical symptoms & psychological stress, and the vagus nerve certainly plays a large role. I haven't yet sussed out the mechanics of why my body seems to be locked in a fight-or-flight/trauma state, but that will definitely be the topic of another post, once my brain fog lifts a bit. I had my first holistic PT appointment today, so the fight continues! Good luck with everything, Jackie, and thank you for the leads-- I'm sure they'll help multiple someones who read this.

Becky Ackroyd

Friday 11th of February 2022

Also, I'm so grateful you mentioned about your teeth hurting. My son's teeth ache if he eats crunchy foods (like carrot sticks) and it didn't make sense with his dental history. So many things are clicking into place!

lowhistamineeats

Monday 14th of February 2022

Yeah, this was still one of the craziest symptoms, in my opinion, as it took so many steps to have gotten to tooth pain! I highly recommend he try using MI Paste every night for a couple wees and seeing if it help. You can buy it on Amazon.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.