Learning

My Low Histamine Diet Journey

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. Since the original posting, I’ve found the root cause of my histamine issues to be copper poisoning, which set off a genetic predisposition towards histamine issues and inflammation. I’m still working on detoxing years of copper deposits, so 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’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.

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 do 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 and I get the hint that maybe it’s my IUD. After all the blood tests, stool tests, urine tests, and the many bottles of supplements, the root cause was 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.

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.

Fall 2021: I start experimenting with amino acid therapy for my neurotransmitter deficiencies, and go back on iron supplements amidst a general detox protocol. Detox results forthcoming.


My 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, quiet 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).

13 Comments

  1. Just out of curiosity were you ever tested for H. pylori? Some of your symptoms could be attributed to that. It is a simple test you can ask your doctor for. Get a stool one not blood which can result in false negatives.

    1. Hi, Lisa! Yes, I tested positive for H. Pylori and have been fighting it off without prescription antibiotics since the results came back in July (mastic gum, oregano oil, etc. from my functional medicine doc). If it isn’t gone after the next stool test, I’ll probably try the antibiotics. But what’s actually been causing all my symptoms is copper toxicity from my copper IUD… I’ve felt much better since getting it out and working to balance my vitamin/mineral levels, gut microbiome, and hormones, but I’ve found that the low histamine diet helps a lot with keeping my overall inflammation down as my body work to heal itself. I’ll be posting more about copper next month, though, so keep an eye out! Thank you for your advice. 🙂

    2. Honestly, I wouldn’t touch H. pylori if you have it. Based on my research, I have a strong belief that it’s a big scam created by the medical industry to lure people into a long path of treatments. Treatments = Money. I’m not saying that H. pylori don’t exist. It exists, and I think that it’s a very important bacteria that helps to balance out other bacteria, parasites, etc. in your body. There is a reason why it comes back very often after antibiotic treatment. Your body is smart and is trying to restore the microbiome that you have destroyed with the antibiotics. And people that had a “successful” treatment where it didn’t come back…well, consider them cripples. If you are having digestive issues with your stomach(99.9% it’s low stomach acid), then it’s NOT H. pylori. Leave those cute little swimmers live in peace and stop eradicating themXD You need to experiment with your diet until you find the food that is making you feel normal. Don’t get frustrated. I know it’s easy to feel hopeless and frustrated–I’ve been there. Just keep on experimenting with food until you hit something that works and then you’ll slowly get into the momentum of figuring things out. Persist until success happens.

  2. Love your story & page.
    1. How did you detox from copper?
    2. What test did you take for vitamins & minerals?

    Thanks for all your help, I can use it 🌹

    1. Thanks, Rose! I’m actually still detoxing, and I expect to be for probably another year or so. It really REALLY sucks, to be honest, but I can tell when I’m detoxing because my anxiety goes through the roof. I’ll write about this more in-depth soon, but my current routine is: 3g of chlorella tablets crushed into a glass of water once a day, and then ~200mg of black radish twice a day. Last night I actually started on a formula that will hopefully help even more, that’s a blend of ox bile and black radish, but you can also take digestive bitters to stimulate your own bile production (bile is released to help digest fats, but it also helps your body remove excess copper). To sort out all this stuff I took an HTMA (hair test), but honestly, most of what’s happening to me is still a mystery. Even 4 years after it all starting, I have good days and bad, and I’m still continually having more and different inflammatory issues pop up. I’m just doing my best to deal with the symptoms, though, as I detox the copper and can hopefully eventually get my life back.

  3. Hi, I just found your page and I am so grateful for everything you are sharing! It makes me feel in good company on a similar journey with GI issues (which have a root cause in high histamine levels, no doubt, as I also broke out in a rash recently after eating a shrimp ceviche…)
    Your insights are so very helpful. I am looking forward to cleaning up my diet. Thank you for sharing about your experience!

    1. You are certainly in good company, Tina! There are lots of us struggling with histamine issues, and in the year or so since I started this blog, soooo many more people have joined the histamine Facebook groups I’m in. Clearly the issue is both growing and being better-identified by people like us. But just remember the histamine issues aren’t a root cause, but merely the name for a group of symptoms we’re experiencing (stomach pain, rashes, etc.) , and those symptoms have a separate cause– for me it’s copper, but it could also be SIBO, mast cell issues, DAO deficiency, etc.

      I wish I could post more often, but between my job and my unpaid internship in being chronically ill, it’s usually just a few times a month. Hopefully that will change as I continue to get my health under control, though, as I’m looking to share more info I wish I’d had when I started out cleaning my diet! Good luck with the transition, and please let me know if you have any questions!

  4. Hi there,

    I found your page because I was looking for low histamine breakfast foods–and I love your fried rice idea! 🙂

    I just wanted to reach out because I read in your story that you have stomach pain and I thought I’d share something that happened to me that might be helpful. I started getting severe upper abdominal bloating a few months ago. It was next level painful. Not like regular bloating; this made me feel sick and dizzy and I had to walk around and massage my abs until the feeling passed each time it happened, which felt like every time I ate something. I thought something was seriously wrong with my digestion or perhaps that I had developed gastritis. But then one night (after a particularly bad attack), I noticed a tin of peppermints on the table. I had been eating these mints for a while at the time, but I had forgotten to add them to my food diary. For some reason, I looked at the pack closely and realized that they were actually sugar-free mints. Their main ingredient was sorbitol, which is one of the main sugar alcohols. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I worked out that sugar alcohols (like sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, isomalt etc.) wreck havoc on digestion. When I investigated, there were case studies in the UK where patients presented with years of stomach pain that was completely resolved when it was discovered that the people chewed sugar-free gum. Because the sugar alcohols were also in the mints I’d been eating, I stopped eating the mints and my stomach pain has 100% vanished. When I read your timeline, I wondered whether the gum you were chewing because your teeth hurt could be inadvertently causing your stomach problems? I have to eat low histamine too, but this is separate from the stomach issue for me. Anyway, I hope this finds you well!

    1. Hi, K! I’m so happy you found the breakfasts post, and that it’s got some good ideas for you to mix up the routine.

      I’m sorry you were dealing with that sort of stomach pain, and for so long; it definitely reminds me of my own, though mine preceded the gum use by many months. I still credit that gum with getting me through some really tough days, but since moving back to the States I switched to Simply Gum (only 5 ingredients on a chicle gum base, and sweetened with raw cane sugar), and I still chew it almost every day. It’s more expensive, but I’d read the same sort of studies on sugar alcohols as you must have, and it seemed worth it to lower my stomach’s irritation load. So even 16 months later, I still get that weird stomach pain occasionally, but usually in conjunction with IBS (sorry if TMI), and I really think I still chew the gum mostly because of the years of tooth paranoia still pushing some of my anxiety-induced behaviors. Healing is a process, and I’m not ready to give up that crutch yet, but I’m grateful for your input, and hopefully it’ll cue someone else in on something that may be hurting more than helping!

  5. Hello, have you been tested for SIBO? It can trigger histamine intolerance, and can also be treated. I also would look at acutane as a potential root cause, all of my issues (similar as yours) started 3 weeks afters I started this treatment… It can create such an imbalance in the intestines…

    1. I was tested for SIBO last summer and it was negative. DAO has helped my stomach symptoms, so it really does appear to be connected to histamine, but I’ve kept accutane in my medical history exactly because I believe it was likely a contributing factor to my overall malaise. I’m glad you sussed it out for yourself so quickly, though, and I hope it helps you find answers!

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to put this website together. I run a website myself and know just how much time it takes. I’ve self-diagnosed myself with histamine intolerance after 3 years of mild symptoms and then 1 year of hell. So grateful to you for sharing what you’ve learned. Elaine

    1. You’re very welcome, Elaine! It does indeed take up much more time than I was expecting haha but I’ve learned a lot from the experience– I’m sorry for your years of mild annoyance and hell, but I really hope the hellish era has come to an end!

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