The Histamined Philosophy
In medicine, there are many different labels for conditions. We identify symptoms, run tests, arrive at a diagnosis, and then apply the treatment option that best matches the diagnosis.
Functional Medicine acknowledges that this is important and necessary, but not always enough.
A core component of Functional Medicine is digging deeper to find underlying causes of disease. This means taking into consideration the whole person and all of the different factors that contribute to their state of health.
What may have led to the development of this state of disease? How can we identify and treat these underlying issues, instead of only treating the symptoms?
Connecting the Dots
Functional Medicine involves the understanding that everything is connected in the body and mind. An example is the constant crosstalk that takes place between the gut and the brain.
The reality is that many different chronic conditions can be traced back to similar root causes.
Most are multifactorial, meaning that we’re looking at a combination of various environmental and genetic factors.
Inflammation Throughout the Body
At the root of many chronic illnesses is inflammation. Two people may receive diagnoses that are seemingly very different -- for example, one may have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis while the other may have depression or heart disease-- but underlying many of these conditions is chronic, systemic inflammation.
In fact, whenever you see the suffix “itis”, it is referring to inflammation. Colitis is inflammation of the colon. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Bronchitis refers to inflammation within the bronchial tubes. Dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition.
The Histamine Connection
In my Functional Medicine practice, I work with patients who have been diagnosed with various chronic illnesses. The cases are often complex, and frequently an individual will have more than one diagnosis.
Histamine intolerance may not be a term that’s been applied to them by other practitioners they’ve worked with, but it’s often something that I recognize and treat.
This may not be surprising when you remember that inflammation underlies so many chronic illnesses. Where there is inflammation in the body, there is often histamine.
Other pathways, like oxidative stress and immune system dysregulation, may also contribute to a number of different chronic illnesses. There may be multiple metabolic issues or imbalances contributing simultaneously to a state of histamine intolerance.
Histamine Throughout the Body
What is Histamine, Anyways?
Histamine is a natural substance that comes to us from a number of different sources. Histamine is found in varying levels in what we eat and drink. It is produced by certain kinds of gut bacteria. It is released by mast cells as part of our immune system response.
In order for histamine to cause symptoms or reactions in the body, it needs to bind to a kind of protein called a receptor. There are four different types of histamine receptors found all over the body, which helps to explain why so many different systems and areas of the body may be affected.
What is Histamine Intolerance?
Histamine intolerance refers to an imbalance between accumulated histamine and the body’s ability to degrade histamine. In managing histamine intolerance, we want to focus on supporting histamine metabolism and reducing our overall load. In my experience, this approach can help with many different conditions and health concerns.
I don’t want to use “histamine intolerance” as just another label. Histamine intolerance doesn’t replace an existing medical diagnosis, and it doesn’t come with a one-size-fits-all road map. Rather, it provides a helpful framework for reducing inflammation, improving gut health, and restoring overall wellness using a functional medicine approach.
Keep in mind that histamine intolerance is not considered to be a standard medical condition. While histamine intolerance is described in the medical literature, it is not something that is agreed upon by all medical doctors, including specialists. In this sense, it should be considered distinctly from Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
The Histamine Bucket
A helpful concept that is often used to illustrate the management of histamine is that of a bucket. We may be constantly taking in histamine from our various sources, and we can imagine it being added to a bucket. If the bucket starts to overflow, histamine may start to trigger receptors, and we may experience symptoms and problems.
In considering this, we should remember that histamine is a natural substance that has functionality within the body. We are never seeking to eliminate it completely, nor can we. Rather, we want to manage our overall histamine load so that the bucket does not overflow.
Like many chronic conditions, histamine intolerance exists on a spectrum when it comes to severity. An individual’s symptoms and reactions may also fluctuate based on any number of the factors that contribute to their overall histamine load. For example, a course of antibiotics may create changes in the gut microbiome that affect histamine production and metabolism.
Other changes to diet or environment, or even the time of year, can also impact histamine load. For this reason, histamine intolerance is a condition that should be continuously monitored and managed.
The Histamined Approach
In managing histamine intolerance, as in Functional Medicine as a whole, we consider a multitude of both environmental and genetic factors, and the overall load.
My approach and philosophy are based on the latest scientific research combined with decades of both clinical and personal experience.
Through the Histamined platform, I hope to share as much useful information as possible with you to help you better understand your personal relationship to histamine, inflammation, and your own health.
With that in mind, in Functional Medicine we recognize the individual, and that there is no one-size-fits-all condition or treatment. Accordingly, as you read through the resources and work through the programs I provide, I encourage you to take what fits for you, and leave what does not.
Please keep in mind that the information on this website does not constitute or replace medical advice. Always consult with your doctor before making changes.