Histamine Intolerance: A Root Cause Approach

Histamine intolerance is a complex issue that affects many people – and may be an underlying factor in many health concerns. At its core, histamine intolerance is an imbalance between the histamine present in your body and your body’s ability to break it down. This can lead to an array of symptoms ranging from digestive issues, headaches, and skin problems to more severe allergic reactions. A root cause approach to healing histamine intolerance will involve a great deal of gut healing, and a great deal of patience, and ultimately lead to much-improved histamine tolerance.

Common symptoms include digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, which are frequently mistaken for food intolerances or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Understanding Histamine Intolerance

Histamine is a chemical in your immune system, digestion, and the central nervous system’s functioning. It’s naturally found in many foods and produced by the body as part of its immune response. Histamine intolerance occurs when there’s a buildup of histamine because the body can’t break it down efficiently – often, one element at play is a deficiency in the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO). This imbalance can wreak havoc on the body, leading to uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating symptoms.

The Symptoms Of Histamine Intolerance

Histamine intolerance can manifest through many symptoms, making it a condition often misunderstood or misdiagnosed. Common symptoms include digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, which are frequently mistaken for food intolerances or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some people may also experience chronic headaches or migraines, skin problems like hives, eczema, or flushing, and respiratory issues, including nasal congestion, sneezing, and asthma-like symptoms.


Diagnosing histamine intolerance correctly for quality of life is vital because it can lead to more systemic effects. A histamine intolerance creates inflammation in the body, which can be an underlying factor in developing all kinds of diseases.

Leaky Gut As The Root Cause Of Histamine Intolerance

One of the primary culprits behind histamine intolerance is a leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability. This condition allows bacteria and toxins to “leak” through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, causing inflammation and triggering an immune response, releasing histamine, and exacerbating histamine intolerance. Therefore, healing the gut is a critical first step in effectively addressing histamine intolerance.

The 4 R’s of Gut Healing

A practical approach to gut healing is the 4R program, which stands for Remove, Replace, Reintroduce, and Repair:


  • Eliminate factors that negatively affect the gut; in this scenario, that would include high histamine foods, generally inflammatory foods, potential infections, ‘bad’ gut bacteria, and/or stress.


  • Then, we add the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption that may have been depleted, like ‘good’ bacteria and/or digestive enzymes. This takes time!


  • Eventually, the goal is to carefully reintroduce the removed higher histamine foods to monitor for adverse reactions and assess tolerance.


  • Support the gut’s healing process with necessary nutrients, including mucilaginous herbs, bone broth, l-glutamine, and omega-3 fatty acids.

These 4 R’s are not always done individually, and some bits may happen simultaneously (such as repair and removal). An experienced practitioner will guide you through a custom plan rather than a pre-made protocol.

Adopting a Low Histamine Diet

Diet is pivotal in managing histamine intolerance. A low histamine diet involves reducing the intake of high-histamine foods, such as aged cheeses, processed meats, fermented foods, and alcohol – this falls into the remove phase of the 4 R’s. It also means avoiding foods that block DAO enzymes, including certain fruits, vegetables, and artificial additives. While this diet can be restrictive, it’s not intended to be permanent. Over time, as the gut heals and the body’s ability to handle histamine improves, more foods can be gradually reintroduced.

Time and Patience

Healing histamine intolerance is not an overnight process. It requires time, patience, and a commitment to a holistic healing approach. Gut healing can sometimes take up to a year, and higher histamine foods should be reintroduced very slowly and gradually. An experienced practitioner can guide you through testing, the 4 R’s, potentially more testing, and all the phases of your diet. 

Key Supplements for Histamine Intolerance

Supplements can play a crucial role in managing histamine intolerance, especially when it comes to improving the gut’s health and the body’s ability to break down histamine. I want you to know that the below supplements are just some basics, but a full, personalized protocol will likely include more supplements used in specific phases of this healing journey.

  • DAO Enzyme Supplements: Taking DAO supplements before meals can help break down dietary histamine, potentially reducing symptoms.
  • Quercetin: This natural antihistamine can help stabilize mast cells and prevent them from releasing histamine.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C may lower blood histamine levels and help degrade histamine more efficiently.
  • Probiotics: Certain strains of probiotics can help balance the gut microbiome, improving gut health and potentially aiding in the breakdown of histamine.

Mucilaginous herbs: Marshmallow root and Slippery Elm bark are perhaps the most well-known examples of herbs that support the mucus membrane.


Histamine intolerance can be a challenging condition to navigate, but by focusing on the underlying issues such as a leaky gut and adopting a comprehensive approach that includes a phased diet (remove, then reintroduce), gut healing, and often some key supplements, it’s possible to significantly improve symptoms and quality of life. Remember, the path to healing is so personal and requires a tailored approach to meet your body’s unique needs.

Drag Watch video View Discover