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, depression, joint pain, moderate acne, occasional gas, a moving pain & itchiness on the bottoms of my feet, 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.
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).
As of April 2021, I’ve found out that the root cause 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 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 led to an increasingly serious deficiency of most other essential vitamins and minerals in the body, including those needed for producing stomach acid, AKA 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.
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 whole foods-focus of the diet is ideal for healing. 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 ant 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 grains and dairy, as well as soy and all other high histamine foods (except small amounts of chocolate and the occasional spice, where noted). I’ve also gotten a bit flexible with my meat by buying some uber expensive uncured, unsweetened bacon. I had no reaction to it, so I’ve kept it in my diet. 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)
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.
My breaking point came when my emotional instability created a rift between me and my family. Thy didn’t recognize me anymore, and I certainly didn’t recognize myself. They couldn’t understand why I’d become such a lazy, irritable human, and the transformation after one week 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.