My Low Histamine Diet Journey

This is a living document keeping track of my own dealings with a low histamine lifestyle. My histamine sensitivity symptoms over the years have included: severe upper stomach pain, GERD, nighttime reflux (causing enamel erosion and severe tooth pain), increasing levels of anxiety, moderate lethargy, mild depression, join pain, the occasional canker sores, moderate acne, mild dandruff, occasional gas, a moving pain & itchiness on the bottoms of my feet (made worse when I stepped down, as if it were a bruise), 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 could associate with my histamine issues was when I was traveling Cuba. In a tiled bathroom around 2am, I found myself clutching my chest in pain, freaking out because my travel companion was asleep and I might be having a heart attack. I was 20. The same issue occurred for 2 more nights in a row, and while I can’t remember the exact city or time of night, that pain is unforgettable.

Nearly 4 years later, I was laying in bed in my childhood home, miserable and scared and in so much pain. My upper stomach hurt, around my esophagus, and I had SO just had enough. That night I vowed to finally start a serious diet that eliminated basically everything that could be triggering me. 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.

A year or so back, a friend had recommended I try an anti-inflammatory diet for my then-bearable gastrointestinal symptoms. That friend has proven herself correct for the 1000th time by correctly figuring out that my whole system needed a reboot and a fricking break. I ate only those 15 foods for one week, and my stomach calmed down immensely. I had combined the autoimmune protocol, anti-inflammatory diet, and low histamine diet to get down to those foods.

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 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 the 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 my meds.

As I don’t yet have a firm diagnosis, as of July 2020, my off-list foods are probably different from your off-list foods. Right now, I’m avoiding all grains and dairy, as well as corn and 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.

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 2016: weird chest pain for a few nights in Cuba.

Early 2017: 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.

October 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. It was why I started this site, and that story is still being written. If any of these issues sound familiar to you, consider trying a low histamine diet. It could literally save your life, not to mention your sanity.

2 Comments

  • lisa December 30, 2020 at 4:53 pm Reply

    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.

    • lowhistamineeats December 30, 2020 at 11:18 pm Reply

      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. 🙂

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