It’s allergy season.
If you are experiencing allergy symptoms, including coughing, sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes, it’s likely that your immune system is reacting to pollen and producing excessive amounts of histamine as a defense mechanism. Histamine attaches to the cells in our body and causes irritation that can trigger an allergic reaction or seasonal allergy symptoms.
Histamine is a chemical compound released by your immune cells that helps your body eliminate allergens and respond to injury or inflammation. This histamine response causes smooth muscles to contract and blood vessels to dilate, so that your white blood cells can quickly find and attack the allergen, virus or infection.
Histamine is part of the body’s natural immune response, and typically enzymes, like DAO (diamine oxidase), support histamine metabolism in the digestive system and helps break down and balance histamine levels. Another enzyme, HNMT (Histamine N-methyltransferase), helps break down and mop of excessive histamine in spaces between cells.
When these enzymes are not present or when you are suffering from a metabolic issue that makes it hard to break down histamine, it can build up and contribute to health concerns.
Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance
While the release of histamine is a normal defense mechanism, excess histamine can build up in your body – a condition known as histamine intolerance. Since histamine travels throughout your bloodstream, excess levels of histamine can affect physiological function in your gut, neurotransmitter levels in your brain, immune responses in your sinuses, lungs and skin, and your entire cardiovascular system, contributing to a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Itchy skin, eyes, ears, nose
- Bloody Noses
- Difficulty falling asleep – Histamine from mast cells in the brain can promote wakefulness
- Headaches or Migraines
- Eczema or other types of dermatitis
- Profuse sweating during exercise
- Fast resting heartbeat, heart palpitations or irregular heart beat
- Super-itchy mosquito bites
- Trouble regulating body temperature
- Facial swelling or other tissue swelling
- Tightness in the throat
- Vertigo or dizziness – allergies effect the Eustachian tubes in your ears, which help regulate balance
- Abnormal menstrual cycle
- Hives or Rashes
- Breathing issues like asthma
- Anxiety or panic attacks – Histamine acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and can contribute to anxiety, depression and other psychiatric conditions
- Flushing or redness of skin
- Depression or mood changes
- Nasal and sinus congestion
- Swelling and redness of eyes
- Heartburn, reflux, indigestion, nausea or diarrhea
Histamine can bind to cell receptor sites. Excess histamine can cause irritation and chronic inflammation of histamine receptor cells in the following areas:
The 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.
The stomach where histamine supports the release of hydrochloric acid which supports digestion. Excess histamine in the gut can present as food allergies and sensitivities.
The brain where histamine acts as a neurotransmitter. Excess histamine in the brain presents as fatigue, anxiety, depression, headaches and brain fog.
All of these symptoms are due to differing histamine receptor cells being overactive, which triggers numerous immune system reactions. This blog does a great job explaining more about Histamine production in the body.
What Causes Histamine Intolerance?
Histamine levels are designed to be kept in balance by two enzymes that breaking down excess histamine and prevent allergic reactions. “Histamine intolerance is not a sensitivity to histamine as you might imagine, but an indication that too much of it has built up in the body or that there is an inability to break it down properly,” according to Becky Campbell in the Histamine Reset Plan.
Excess histamine can build up in your body if too much histamine is released or if your enzymes are unable to break it down. This can occur when the body is suffering from:
Metabolic Disturbances, such as leaky gut or a defect in enzyme producing genes, which make it difficult for the body to break down and metabolize histamine in the proper way. DAO enzymes live 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.
Some foods like red wine, avocados, green and black tea, most citrus, and meats can either be high in histamine, or histamine liberating, meaning that they free histamine from other proteins. They may also block the activity of DAO, the enzyme which is responsible for breaking down histamine in the gut.
Stress triggers the release of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals into the body.
More specifically, the stress hormone cortisol activates mast cells, a type of white blood cell, and an inflammatory cascade that triggers the release of histamine.
Research has shown that the Parasympathetic Nervous System regulates and modulates mast cell activity, noting “parasympathetic nerve-mast cell functional units in the skin, lung, and intestine have the potential to regulate a range of physiological processes.” Supporting the Parasympathetic Nervous System can help calm mast cell activation and balance the resulting histamine response. The Parasympathetic Nervous System interrupts the Fight/Flight/Freeze reaction that has been triggering your Mast Cells. Once heart rate, blood pressure and breathing are slowed down or decreased, your brain stops flooding the body with stress hormones, and mast cells stop firing.
Hormonal Imbalances, such as estrogen dominance, can contribute to histamine intolerance. High levels of estrogen, especially in the form of estradiol, have also been found to activate mast cells which release histamine.
Thyroid imbalances Low levels or thyroid hormone (Hypothyroidism) can increase mast cell production which increases the amount of histamine in the body. High levels of thyroid hormone (Hyperthyroidism) can increase the number of histamine receptors which increases your body’s response to histamine.
Genetic mutations and certain medications, like antacids, antibiotics and antihistamines can inhibit DAO enzyme activity which increases histamine production.
Balancing Histamine with Essential Oils
The goal is to balance, not block, the histamine response as histamine performs critical functions in body, contributing to HCL production and neurotransmitter signals.
Certain herbs and plants are known for their ability to calm and balance histamine levels. These benefits are often attributed to anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine constituents of these plants, commonly known as flavonoids. Research is finding that the concentrated essence of these herbs and plants in essential oils contain many of the same constituents and derive the same histamine balancing benefits.
For example, research found that Geranium essential oil was found to inhibit mast cell degranulation. This histamine balancing property is attributed to Citronellol, a major constituent of essential oils found in Geranium, Rose, Neroli, Chamomile, Basil, Lemongrass and lavender. “Geranium essential oil inhibited the degranulation of cultured mast cells. Citronellol is the major component of Geranium essential oil and inhibited cultured mast cells degranulation… These findings suggest that citronellol may represent a candidate compound for the effective treatment of allergic diseases.”
Similarly, the constituent Luteolin, found in peppermint essential oil, has been found to protect against histamine release from mast cells. The study found the natural flavonoid “luteolin has numerous useful actions that include: anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, microglia inhibition, neuroprotection, and memory increase.”
Citrus peels, the part of the citrus fruit from which essential oils are derived, also contain flavonoids that inhibit mast cell release.
Histamine Balance Essential Oil Blend
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. It is ideal to apply topically as oils can penetrate below the skin surface deep into the body to calm histamine reactions.
Histamine Balance™ is also ideal for inhalation, especially if you suffer from any digestive dysfunction or Salicylate Intolerance. Inhalation allows you to benefit from the health supporting benefits of the plants and herbs without having to ingest them.
Histamine Balance™ contains the following organic and/or wild crafted essential oils:
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 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 help to inhibit the production of histamine and suppress inflammatory responses in the airways.
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. 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.
Research found that Manuka honey was found to inhibit mast cell degranulation.
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.
Known to reduce allergic reactions and fight inflammation. Research found that inhalation of ravensera 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 helps support the immune system by preventing bacterial and fungal infections. It inhibits the growth of fungus, including mold, and even kills their spores.
Known for its histamine lowering/mast cell stabilizing properties, Rosemary naturally alleviates allergic responses, relieves stress and stimulates the immune system. A small study suggested that rosemary essential oil can inhibit muscle contractions of the trachea caused by histamine.
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 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 anti-spasmodic effect on the windpipe muscles and has “expectorant actions and is anti-congestive.”
A natural anti-histamine, noted for its soothing effects and anti-inflammatory properties. Research 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.
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. 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, anti-histamine 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.
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.
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