Welcome back. 😌 Here we are again, continuing our discussion on my recent experience with chronic diarrhea. It started last Fall and lasted about 8 months. As discussed in part one, I landed on “histamine intolerance” as the cause of the problem. So…..
What is Histamine? Most of us associate histamine with hay fever kinds of symptoms. Runny noses, sneezing and itchy eyes. But even though histamine can be naughty like that at times—it’s actually a really good guy. It’s produced by our immune cells and helps the body in 3 important ways.
1. In the central nervous system, it carries messages to the brain and spinal cord, helps us sleep & stay asleep, wake & stay awake, and help us keep our memories, and many other other hormone functions.1
2. It’s the main digestive component of gastric acid, which helps the digestive tract to function normally.1
3. In the immune function, it helps to dilate blood vessels so that white blood cells can reach where they need to get to combat illness in our bodies.1
So, yeah, it’s a super-duper good guy, and having proper histamine levels is important for all the above things and more to work well and in tandem. The problem comes when the super-duper good guy overstates his cause and begins overloading the system, which then sends the body into what we call an allergic reaction (though it’s not really an allergy). The most common of which we see as hayfever-ish kinds of symptoms, but the same kind of “allergic” reaction can essentially happen in your gut as well….and it shows up as chronic diarrhea.
So, I kind of visualize my digestive tract as experiencing red, itchy intestines, lots of snot/mucous, and fits of sneezing (pooping) occasionally. I don’t know if that’s actually the process, but the visual in relation to seasonal allergies helps me understand the basics of what was happening to me and what histamine overload is in the gut.
To understand how to combat histamine overload, we need to understand how histamine gets excessive and extreme.
A number of different things can effect histamine levels. First off, there are two main enzymes that keeps histamine in check. One enzyme breaks down histamine in the central nervous system (n-methyltransferase, HMT), and the other one works in the digestive system (Diamine Oxidase, DAO). So, in digestive troubles if the DAO enzyme is not present in large enough quantities, then an allergic response (diarrhea) will occur, and unless the DAO enzyme is replenished then the diarrhea will become chronic.
There’s several factors for these enzymes decreasing. Aging is a big one–we lose enzymes as we age. So, since I’m getting older, what might have seemed like a sudden onset of diarrhea for me was actually in the making over several months or even years. Hormonal imbalance is another cause for excessive histamine levels. So, since I’m in menopause, my hormones are everywhere (but I’m learning to balance them). Having problems in your gut like irritable bowel syndrome, Chrohn’s, a leaky gut, or SIBO, etc can play a part. Also, certain medications can decrease the effectiveness of the DAO enzyme. Things like NSAIDS (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc), aspirin, and some diuretics2. There’s also food that causes histamine overload as well, which we’ll touch on later.
My first stop in the process of beginning to heal my chronic diarrhea was finding a good enzyme supplement. One that was recommended over and over was “Histamine Block” by Seeking Health. It had excellent reviews and their website had so much good info, and after praying about it and feeling peace with it, I went ahead and ordered some. Kinda steep at about a dollar a pill, but as a starting place, I have to say it did the trick.
But that was only the beginning. Join me for part 3 to hear the rest of my healing journey…..
2 Maintz L, Novak N. Histamine and histamine intolerance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(5):1185-1196. http://www.drkristamoyer.com/histamine-intolerance.html
The purpose of Jordan’s Crossing Herbal Connections is to promote the sharing of information about healthy, natural products and dietary supplements. JCHC’s views and opinions are INFORMATIONAL ONLY and are not intended to constitute medical advice. If you are sick, injured or pregnant, please consult a licensed health care professional.