Histamine intolerance occurs when there is an imbalance between histamine production and breakdown in the body, resulting in high circulating levels of histamine.
While histamine is an essential cell signaling molecule necessary for a healthy immune response, excessive histamine production can trigger a variety of disruptive symptoms, including headaches, migraines, fatigue, food sensitivities, and skin rashes.
Histamine intolerance often originates in the gut, where dense populations of histamine-producing immune cells (mast cells) and bacteria are located. To resolve histamine intolerance, we must address the gut!
Probiotics are one of the most effective types of supplements for improving gut health. However, we need to make sure we’re taking the right types of probiotics for histamine intolerance, since certain probiotic strains may increase histamine levels!
Read on to learn about the best probiotics for histamine intolerance so you can address histamine intolerance from a root-cause level, reduce your symptoms, and reclaim your health!
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Table of Contents
What is Histamine Intolerance?
Histamine is an essential cell signaling molecule involved in allergic reactions, the body’s response to pathogens, stomach acid secretion, and vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels that increases blood flow). (1)
We also consume histamine through specific foods, such as fermented foods, spinach, and strawberries. (2)
Histamine intolerance occurs when there is an imbalance between histamine production and breakdown in the body, resulting in high circulating levels of histamine. Excessive amounts of histamine can be produced in the body as a result of gut microbiome imbalances, chronic infections like Lyme disease, and mold exposure. (3, 4, 5, 6)
Symptoms of histamine intolerance include (but are not limited to):
- Skin flushing (due to the vasodilating properties of histamine)
- Nasal congestion
- Postnasal drip
- Low blood pressure
- Disrupted sleep
Breakdown of histamine can be impaired if you have insufficient amounts of the two main histamine-degrading enzymes: Diamine oxidase (DAO) and histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT). DAO is the main enzyme involved in the intestinal degradation of histamine. (7)
HNMT, on the other hand, regulates histamine breakdown outside the gut in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and other parts of the body. (8)
Diet can significantly impact histamine intolerance, either making it better or worse. Be sure to check out my blog The Definitive Guide to the Mast Cell Activation Syndrome Diet for more information about how food impacts histamine levels inside your body.
The gut is a MAJOR source of histamine because it is densely populated with mast cells, which are white blood cells that produce histamine and other inflammatory mediators. (9) In addition, certain types of gut bacteria produce histamine, such as Klebsiella aerogenes and Morganella. (10, 11)
A recent clinical study titled “Intestinal Dysbiosis in Patients with Histamine Intolerance” beautifully details how imbalances in the gut microbiome (gut dysbiosis) translate into histamine intolerance. (12) If you are as much of a science nerd as me, you’ll likely find it very interesting! (13)
In summary, if you are struggling with histamine intolerance, a growing body of research indicates that your gut may need some attention!
Probiotics, live microorganisms that confer health benefits when consumed, are powerful therapeutic tools for supporting gut health. However, choosing the right probiotic is key!
Certain bacteria strains, including those found in many probiotic supplements, can increase levels of histamine and worsen histamine intolerance symptoms.
On the other hand, there are probiotic strains that can help our bodies degrade histamine, improving symptoms of histamine intolerance! “Seeding” your body with the right probiotics can help you “grow” a healthy gut microbiome capable of breaking down histamine, thereby reducing histamine intolerance symptoms.
Let’s discuss which probiotic strains you should avoid if you have histamine intolerance and which ones you should consume to help your body effectively break down histamine.
5 Probiotics to Avoid and the 6 Best Probiotics for Histamine Intolerance
Humans aren’t the only organisms that produce histamine! Probiotic bacteria can also create histamine; if you consume these histamine-producing probiotic strains while dealing with histamine intolerance, you may find yourself experiencing worse symptoms.
Conversely, there are also probiotic bacteria that degrade histamine; these are the probiotic bacteria that you’ll want to emphasize if you’re dealing with histamine intolerance.
The vast majority of probiotic supplements contain a mixture of histamine-producing and histamine-degrading probiotic strains, which can make it difficult for histamine-intolerant people to find a probiotic that they can tolerate.
5 Histamine-Producing Probiotics to Avoid if You Have Histamine Intolerance
The following probiotic strains have been found to increase histamine. These are the strains you may be better off avoiding if you have histamine intolerance:
- Lactobacillus casei (14)
- Lactobacillus delbruekii subspecies bulgaricus (15)
- Lactobacillus reuteri (16)
- Lactobacillus helveticus (17)
- Streptococcus thermophilus (18)
6 Histamine-Degrading Probiotics to Take if You Have Histamine Intolerance
Now, let’s talk about the histamine-degrading probiotics. These are the probiotics that I routinely use with my clients who have histamine intolerance.
The best low-histamine and histamine-degrading probiotics include:
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (the “GG” refers to the specific strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus.) (19)
- Lactobacillus plantarum (20)
- Bifidobacterium longum (21)
- Bifidobacterium lactis (22)
- Bifidobacterium bifidum (23)
- Saccharomyces boulardii: This probiotic yeast increases DAO activity, and may help reduce histamine levels in the gut. (24)
What about spore-based probiotics? Many histamine intolerance experts recommend spore-based probiotics for clients with histamine intolerance.
However, I am not convinced that we have enough research and safety information to support the use of certain spore-based probiotics, including a particularly popular spore-based probiotic that is currently on the market.
The one spore-based probiotic that I am comfortable with recommending today, and that can help reduce histamine release, is Bacillus coagulans. (25) This is a well-studied, safe strain and is tolerated beautifully by many of my clients.
These probiotics are either histamine “neutral,” meaning they don’t produce histamine as a byproduct of their metabolism, or they actively help to degrade histamine.
Several of these probiotics also help to repair leaky gut, resolving another important cause of histamine sensitivity!
The Probiotic Brands I Recommend for Histamine Intolerance
Here are several brands of probiotics that I’ve used personally and professionally with clients who are histamine intolerance, with good results!
- Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Factor 1: This probiotic contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a key histamine-lowering probiotic strain.
- ProBiota HistaminX: This unique probiotic contains a handful of probiotic strains, including multiple Bifidobacteria strains, that degrade histamine.
- Thorne Research Bacillus Coagulans: This probiotic contains the well-studied, safe spore-based probiotic Bacillus coagulans.
Don’t Forget to Address Other Root Causes of Histamine Intolerance!
Taking the right histamine-degrading probiotics for histamine intolerance is a great place to start for alleviating your symptoms. However, don’t stop with probiotics! It is crucial that you address the other underlying causes of histamine intolerance, including:
- Leaky gut
- Food sensitivities
- Chronic infections, such as Lyme disease and co-infections
- Mold toxicity
- Chronic stress
- Limbic system hyperactivity
Are you struggling with histamine intolerance and tired of trying to DIY your recovery process? Are you ready for expert one-on-one guidance so you can feel better faster? I’d love to help you!
I’m currently accepting new clients (U.S. only) in my functional nutrition practice. Book a discovery call with me to learn about how I can help!