Essential Oils for Histamine Balance

by Jodi Cohen

If you suffer from inflammatory symptoms —  like  fatigue, anxiety, depression, headaches, brain fog, food allergies and sensitivities or  allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, watery, red itchy eyes, rashes, and breathing difficulties such as wheezing, severe coughs, asthma, or hiccups – an  over-active histamine response might lie at the root of your issues.

Histamine is a chemical compound released by mast cells – a type of white blood cell – into the bloodstream when the immune system is defending against a potential injury or allergen, such as pollen, mold, and certain foods.

Histamine supports your body’s natural response to pathogens – they create inflammatory responses to signal and boost the immune system’s fighting response.

The release of histamine is a normal defense by your body that causes the contraction of smooth muscle and the dilation of capillaries, but an exaggerated histamine response can bind to cell receptor sites resulting in irritation and chronic inflammation.


Histamine Modulation

Histamine performs critical functions in the body  –  supporting neurotransmitter signals in the brain, contributing to HCL production in the gut, along with your skin and respiratory system.

Histamine levels are designed to be kept in balance by two enzymes that breaking down excess histamine and prevent allergic reactions.  One of these enzymes lives in the lining of our intestines and must be present to maintain balanced histamine levels in the gut. A damaged gut lining compromises  the production and secretion of this enzyme allowing histamine to build up and wreak havoc throughout the body.

The goal is to balance, not block, the histamine response  Ideally, you want to modulate histamine release, not eradicate it. Excess histamine can build up in your body and contribute to numerous overactive histamine responses like being allergic to and reacting to everything, including taste, touch, smell and even things that are not inherently dangerous, such as food or pollen. Symptoms present when too much histamine builds up in your body because of an inability to break it down.


Symptoms of an Exaggerated Histamine Response

Since histamine travels throughout your bloodstream, excess levels of histamine can bind to cell receptor sites and affect physiological function in your gut, neurotransmitter levels in your brain, and immune responses in your sinuses, lungs, skin, and your entire cardiovascular system.  Excess histamine can cause irritation and chronic inflammation of histamine receptor cells and impact the following:

  • Immune system: Where histamine functions as a vasodilator (dilates blood vessels). Histamine receptors are also found in immune support organs, including the sinuses, bone marrow, white blood cells, colon, liver, lung, small intestine, spleen, thymus, tonsils and can contribute to sneezing, runny nose, watery, red, itchy eyes, rashes, breathing troubles such as wheezing, severe coughs, asthma, or hiccups.
  • Stomach: Where histamine supports the release of hydrochloric acid, which plays a part in breaking down food. If your body isn’t able to do this properly, you’ll end up with symptoms like gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal discomforts.   Excess histamine in the gut can present as food allergies and sensitivities.
  • Brain: Where histamine acts as a neurotransmitter, helping to regulate important brain functions such as alertness, attention, learning, memory, stress response, sleep-wake cycles, and sexual function. Histamine can cause the blood vessels in your brain to dilate, which, in healthy levels, stimulates the brain. Excess histamine in the brain presents as fatigue, anxiety, depression, headaches, lightheadedness or brain fog. All of these symptoms are due to differing histamine receptor cells being overactive, which triggers numerous immune system reactions.
  • Connective tissue: Mast cells are the type of white blood cells that reside in the connective tissue of the body that secrete histamine as part of a local immune response when your body detects a foreign invader. When they have excess amounts of histamine in them or they release histamine too easily, causing redness and inflammation. The highest concentrations of histamine are found in the intestinal mucosa, skin, and bronchial tissues which explains why histamine symptoms seem to present as inflammatory reactions in the skin like rashes, eczema, and itchy skin or Respiratory issues like nasal congestion, sneezing, and other respiratory problems. Dilated blood vessels in the nasal passageways tend to cause sneezing and congestion.

All of these symptoms are due to differing histamine receptor cells being overactive, which triggers numerous immune system reactions.

To that end, research reveals that heightened histamine levels may be behind some of the chronic symptoms experienced by those diagnosed with complex chronic conditions like Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Food Sensitivities/Intolerance, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Dysautonomia, Autoimmune Disorders, Immune Dysfunction and mood related issues.


Exaggerated Histamine Response and Mood

When histamine levels are out of balance, mood and behavioral problems can result. Research finds that those with high histamine levels often experience mood disorders such as hyperactivity, obsessive-compulsive behavior, panic, anxiety, and depression. Mast cells in the brain contain granules of histamine along with numerous mediators that are released in response in certain situations, particularly stress. The number of mast cells in the brain fluctuates with stress and various behavioral and endocrine states, which suggests that they can influence neural systems underlying behavior.

As my friend, Dr Becky Campbell explains in her article “Can Histamine Intolerance Cause Anxiety? “Excess histamine can also be associated with the presence of panic attacks. Anxiety or feelings of panic make sense when one considers the progression of a reaction to excessive histamine. Histamine causes the vasodilation, or widening of blood vessels, throughout the body… There is less resistance to the heart moving the blood throughout the body because of the widened vessels, so in order to make sure that you are still getting a consistent level of blood to the newly widened vessels, your heart has to pump faster (tachycardia). So now, we are in a situation where your body has ensured that your heart needs to race in order to make sure the blood gets to the right place. You also may experience shortness of breath, dizziness, a pounding heart, flushing, and/or redness in the face. Because of the cumulative nature of more stress causing more histamine release, more stress and excessive histamine can also cause more panic attacks.”

What’s more, animal studies have suggested that histamine may be implicated in anxiety disorders.  One study showed that mice without mast cells had greater anxiety-like behavior than mice with normal mast cells But when mast cell activation was blocked, the researchers noticed an increase in anxiety-like behavior. It appeared that a mast cell deficiency caused a reduction in the levels of histamine in the mice’ brains, which led the researchers to suggest that central mast cells are involved in the modulation of anxiety-like behavior.


Essential Oils for Histamine Balance

Essential Oils are natural immune modulators and can be used to help balance and modulate the histamine release, not eradicate or block it.

There are many essential oils that can act as natural antihistamines to help stabilize mast cells and relieve the symptoms of heightened histamine levels. These essential oils are often derived from herbs that possess powerful antihistamine properties and the essential oils concentrated from these herbs often contain those same beneficial properties.

Because essential oils are gentle natural solutions they can provide you with gentle relief, without throwing your body’s natural system off balance.  For example, essential oils of herbs like Rosemary tend to be detoxifying, gently assisting the liver in releasing toxicity that may be the underlying cause of histamine over-reactions or mast cell activation.

Essential oils with antihistamine properties are an ideal natural approach to the inflammatory response of histamine, as they can easily permeate our nasal cavities to loosen mucus and promote drainage.

The essential oils in the Histamine Balance blend are uniquely suited to modulate excess histamine excretion, balancing histamine levels and helping to reset the immune response and reduce allergic reactions.

Individuals who suffer from histamine intolerance and mast cell activation often express concerns about essential oils derived from flowers or trees as they can be cross-reactors for mast cell triggers.


Histamine Balance Blend

Histamine Balance™ blend contains a proprietary formulation of organic and/or wild crafted essential oils of Blue Tansy, Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Manuka, and Spruce, but we find them to be non-triggering in most because of the many other ingredients – including Rosemary, Peppermint, Ravensara, and Vetiver – that work together to prevent histamine release. Blue Tansy, in particular, is known for neutralizing histamine and helping to control allergic reactions.

Blue Tansy (Tanacetum anuum):  Known for neutralizing histamine and helping to control allergic reactions. Key constituents such as sabinene and camphor contribute to blue tansy’s anti-inflammatory properties, including its ability to counteract allergic discomfort by reducing the levels of histamine in the body. It helps enhance the properties of the other oils in the blend and will help you relax your mind and body.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia):  Known for its anti-histamine properties, Lavender helps reduce inflammation, stress and tension, calm the mind and enhance the other oils in this blend for optimal effectiveness. An animal study conducted in South Korea showed lavender inhibits histamine and inflammatory protein release from mast cells. These results indicate that lavender oil inhibits immediate-type allergic reactions by inhibition of mast cell degranulation in-vivo and in-vitro. Additional research found the medicinal compounds in lavender oil, and especially its component linalool, help to inhibit the production of histamine and suppress inflammatory responses in the airways.

Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium): This amazing oil from New Zealand is known to quickly and easily reduce the production of histamine, relax the nervous system and support a reduction in systemic inflammation. A German study published in the year 2000 demonstrated that this powerful essential oil could destroy a wide variety of bacteria fungi and yeast. This is important in terms of allergic reaction because these dangerous microbes can cause inflammation and also cause the immune response to overreact. Manuka honey is created by bees after pollinating the flowers of the Manuka plant. Manuka essential oil shares many of the properties of the honey. Additional research out of the United Kingdom found that Manuka honey was found to inhibit mast cell degranulation.

Ravensara (Cinnamonum camphora): Known to reduce allergic reactions and fight inflammation. A 2016 study published in the journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that inhalation of ravensara essential oil reduces the allergic reactions and helps your body build resistance and modulate reactions to allergenic substances. Ravensara is also an expectorant that helps strengthen the lungs and the respiratory system. Components of Ravensara like limonene and methyl eugenol help support the immune system by preventing bacterial and fungal infections. It inhibits the growth of fungus, including mold, and even kills their spores.

Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis): A natural antihistamine, noted for its soothing effects and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2010 study published in Molecular Medicine Reports found it helps balance and inhibit excessive histamine responses. The study highlighted the benefit of topically applying Chamomile essential oil as its anti-inflammatory properties ”penetrate below the skin surface into the deeper skin layers” to calm inflammation and amplify healing.

Similar research suggests that the methanol extract of Chamomile showed potent anti-allergic activity by inhibition of histamine release from mast cells.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct Camphor): Known for its histamine lowering/mast cell stabilizing properties, Rosemary naturally alleviates allergic responses, relieves stress and stimulates the immune system. A small study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacol suggested that rosemary essential oil can inhibit muscle contractions of the trachea caused by histamine.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Flavonoids contained in Peppermint were found to have a potent inhibitory effect on excessive histamine release from mast cells. The menthol constituent helps support throat infections, colds and flu along with asthma, bronchitis, and sinusitis. Research on, “the anti-inflammatory activity of L-menthol compared to mint oil in human monocytes in vitro: a novel perspective for its therapeutic use in inflammatory diseases,” found that menthol is an effective treatment for chronic inflammatory conditions like allergic rhinitis and bronchial asthma. The Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that peppermint oil has an antispasmodic effect on the windpipe muscles and has “expectorant actions and is anti-congestive.”

Spruce (Tsuga canadensis): Derived from the leaves of the spruce tree, Spruce essential oil is high in camphene, a monoterpene known as a powerful mucolytic that is beneficial for inflammatory respiratory issues. It safeguards your respiratory tract from airborne viruses and pollution which helps break up excessive mucus and congestion to support the treatment of colds, flu, and other respiratory infections. Camphene is also a powerful antioxidant that also adds to its therapeutic benefits. Spruce also contains high levels of the chemical components a-pinene and bornyl acetate which give Spruce essential oil its anti-inflammatory, antihistamine and analgesic properties. Spruce essential oil has a high content of esters, which contributes to its balancing and antispasmodic properties which is why it is often added to saunas, hot baths and massages.

Vetiver (Vetivera zizanioides): To help modulate a histamine response, root oils like vetiver help ground the body, thus anchoring the immune system and helping to balance excessive immune responses. Vetiver has been found to reduce and relieve inflammation, especially in relation to your circulatory and nervous system. A 2005 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed that vetiver oil was high in antioxidants that possessed free radical scavenging benefits, which can help boost your immune system.


How to Use Histamine BaIance™

Designed for aromatic and topical use. If using topically, we recommend you start by applying 1 -2 drops on the bottom of the feet before bed, and cover your feet with socks.

Slowly work up to applying 2 -3 times daily to support histamine reactions in the gut, brain and body.

Start by putting it behind your ears, on your sternum or even under your nose to open airways and calm an itchy, rashy, allergic episode. It’s also great for mast cell-related GI upset or headaches.

  • For allergic reactions, smell or apply 1 – 2 drops behind your ears, on the back of your neck, or on your sternum to open airways.
  • For the gut and food intolerance support, apply in a clockwise direction around belly button.
  • For brain congestion, apply 1-2 drops at base of skull on the back of the head.
  • For Aromatic Usage, hold the bottle under nose for 3 or 4 breaths.

That said, if you get headaches or feel bad with any type of essential oil smell, you shouldn’t use essential oils.


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About The Author

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.

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Subscribe to Vibrant Blue Oils and receive weekly information on oils and how to use them. As a bonus, we’ll send out Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils to your inbox immediately!