The Link Between Gut Health and Histamine: Unravelling the connection

The Link Between Gut Health and Histamine: Unravelling the connection

Are you struggling with unexplained health issues like allergies, migraines, or digestive problems? The answer might lie in your gut health and its connection to histamine.

Histamine is a natural compound produced mainly by mast cells (a type of white blood cell), and it plays a crucial role in our immune response. However, when our gut health is compromised, it can lead to increased histamine levels, causing a range of uncomfortable symptoms.

In this article, we delve into the intricate relationship between gut health and histamine. We detail the common triggers that can contribute to histamine intolerance and share practical tips to optimise your gut health and tame that immune system!


Understanding the Role of Histamine in the Body

Histamine is a naturally occurring compound in the body that acts as a chemical messenger. It plays a vital role in our immune response, helping to regulate various physiological processes. When we encounter an allergen or pathogen, histamine is released, causing an inflammatory response to protect our bodies. This response includes increased blood flow, dilation of blood vessels, and the recruitment of immune cells to the affected area.

While histamine is essential for our immune system's proper functioning, imbalances can lead to various health issues. Excessive histamine levels or an inability to break down histamine efficiently can result in histamine intolerance. This condition can manifest in a wide range of symptoms including skin rashes, nasal congestion, headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances, and even anxiety or depression.


Symptoms and Conditions Related to Histamine Intolerance

Histamine intolerance can present itself in various ways, making it challenging to diagnose. Common symptoms include itching, hives, flushing, and swelling, which are often mistaken for allergies. Digestive symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, and acid reflux can also be indicators of histamine intolerance. Additionally, migraines, fatigue, brain fog, and mood disorders can be linked to imbalances in histamine levels.

Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and autoimmune disorders have been associated with histamine intolerance [1].

If you have endometriosis you may likely have an increase in mast cells which produce histamine, and higher levels of histamine are found in the follicular fluid of women with pelvic adhesions impacting fertility [1, 2].


The Gut Microbiome and Its Influence on Histamine Levels

Our gut health plays a significant role in regulating histamine levels in the body. The gut microbiome, the collection of microorganisms residing in our digestive tract, is responsible for breaking down histamine and maintaining a healthy balance.

When the gut microbiome is imbalanced or compromised, it can lead to an overproduction, or reduced breakdown of histamine [3].

Dysbiosis is associated with histamine intolerance [3].

There may be an increase in histamine producing bacteria or a reduction in the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) that helps breakdown excess histamine. In healthy individuals, DAO is mainly released by mucosal cells lining the intestinal tract.

Factors such as a poor diet, antibiotic use, chronic stress, and environmental toxins can disrupt the delicate balance of the gut microbiome. This disruption can result in an overgrowth of bacteria that produce histamine, such as bacteria from the Staphylococcus, Photobacterium and Clostridium genus [4], or a decrease in beneficial bacteria that help break down histamine.

With dysbiosis comes intestinal barrier disruption and blood histamine levels can become elevated, leading to symptoms of histamine intolerance.


Strategies for Improving Gut Health and Reducing Histamine Intolerance

Fortunately, there are several strategies you can implement to improve gut health and reduce histamine intolerance symptoms. One of the key approaches is to focus on supporting your gut microbiome. This can be achieved through dietary changes, including the incorporation of prebiotic-rich foods that nourish the gut microbiome, improving diversity and reducing intestinal permeability.

Identifying and avoiding histamine-rich foods can also help alleviate symptoms while you are working on building the diversity of your gut microbiome. Histamine-rich foods include aged cheeses, fermented foods, processed meats, and alcohol. Higher levels of histamine are associated with gastrointestinal symptoms and IBS patients associated symptoms with histamine-releasing foods such as milk (43%), wine/beer (31%), and pork (21%) [5].

Working with a Clinical Dietitian may help you identify a strategy to manage histamine levels and ensure a diet rich in key micronutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B6, and zinc that support histamine breakdown.

Other effective strategies to manage enhance microbiome diversity and support a healthy immune system and histamine levels include:

Managing stress levels: implement activities that calm your sympathetic nervous system. What microbiome nurturing strategies help you unwind? Is it yoga or meditation, reading a book or relaxing with a Cacao Latte?

Getting regular exercise: Lifting weights and getting that heart rate up with aerobic exercise will promote the growth of beneficial species in the gut, reducing dysbiosis.

Prioritising sleep: While the exact mechanisms are still being studied, adequate sleep is thought to help regulate the body's natural histamine levels, potentially reducing symptoms of histamine intolerance.

Restoring your intestinal barrier: while histamine can alter your intestinal barrier, enhancing your intestinal integrity may reduce histamine translocating from the gut to your systemic circulation.


Taking Control of Your Gut Health and Overall Well-being

If you are experiencing symptoms of high histamine, taking proactive steps to improve your gut health may just reduce those symptoms and discomfort.

Targeted dietary changes, stress management and lifestyle adjustments, can all contribute to a healthy gut microbiome and reduce histamine intolerance symptoms.




  1. Shrivastav, P., et al., Follicular fluid histamine concentrations in infertile women with pelvic adhesions. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand, 1988. 67(8): p. 727-9.
  2. Istrate-Ofiteru, A.M., et al., Clinical Characteristics and Local Histopathological Modulators of Endometriosis and Its Progression. Int J Mol Sci, 2024. 25(3).
  3. Sanchez-Perez, S., et al., Intestinal Dysbiosis in Patients with Histamine Intolerance. Nutrients, 2022. 14(9).
  4. Mou, Z., et al., The taxonomic distribution of histamine-secreting bacteria in the human gut microbiome. BMC Genomics, 2021. 22(1): p. 695.
  5. Bohn, L., et al., Self-reported food-related gastrointestinal symptoms in IBS are common and associated with more severe symptoms and reduced quality of life. Am J Gastroenterol, 2013. 108(5): p. 634-41.


About the Author

Hi, I'm Dr Cecilia Kitic founder of Fertile Gut. We can't wait to help support you on your journey to improving your gut health! Having spent over 20 years researching in the areas of immunonutrition, physiology, biochemistry and gut health we now get to translate science into practice, sooner. Our gut microbiome provides a foundation for our immune system, metabolism, brain and heart health, and hormone balance. With our scientifically crafted natural formulations you will be creating a Fertile Gut!

You May Also Like

1 of 3