Do you feel a bit nutty leading up to your period?
Perhaps you’re struggling with intense period pain or heavy periods?
It is a common understanding that PMS can be caused because of “oestrogen dominance” (high levels of oestrogen, in comparison to progesterone). But did you know that Histamine Intolerance can also play a role in female hormone issues?
Histamine plays a role in immune signalling (i.e. allergies trigger production of histamine), but also regulates stomach acid, stimulates the brain, and plays a role in ovulation and female reproduction. Normally your body regulates histamine by making it, and then by clearing it with specific histamine-related enzymes (interesting fact – when pregnant, the placenta makes a huge amount of these enzymes, which is why histamine intolerance and food sensitivities often improve during pregnancy).
When Can Histamine Go Wrong?
There are MANY ways histamine can go wrong, with either too much histamine being produced or going in, or too little histamine being cleared – or both! Some common signs of histamine intolerance include headaches, anxiety, insomnia, brain fog, rash, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, fatigue, achiness, gastrointestinal distress and in some cases, PMS and painful and heavy periods.
So what’s the connection with histamine and female hormones? When oestrogen is high in comparison to progesterone, oestrogen increases histamine. Oestrogen stimulates mast cells to make more histamine, and to make matters worse, oestrogen down-regulates the histamine enzyme that you need to clear histamine. At the same time, histamine stimulates the ovaries to make more oestrogen. So here you see there is a nasty cycle of oestrogen producing histamine producing oestrogen producing histamine! This is why some women feel worse during ovulation and just before the period, because this is when hormones surge.
Likewise, some women can feel a relief of PMS symptoms when they reduce histamine.
Reducing Histamine – A Holistic Approach
My role as a Functional Medicine Practitioner is to ultimately help my clients to reduce their ‘bucket load’ of ‘stresses’, in order to heal. Histamine can be something that can ‘fill’ a person’s ‘bucket load’. Depending on the client, some of the ways I work to reduce/clear histamine from the body are:
- Reduce high-histamine foods, such as fermented foods, wine, cured meat, chocolate.
- Reduce high-histamine-liberating foods, such as eggs, strawberries, avocado.
- Identify and eliminate food sensitivities (big ones include gluten, soy & dairy), as reactive foods can stimulate histamine release.
- Reduce stress (stress triggers histamine production), and rebalance stress hormones.
- Rebalance female hormones, as excess oestrogen can stimulate histamine.
- Eliminate pathogens and reduce bacterial overgrowth in the gut (some bacteria produce histamine, and any inflammation in the gut will trigger histamine).
- Identify any genetic polymorphisms of histamine-clearing enzymes, and supplement as needed.
- Identify any nutritional deficiencies related to histamine-clearing.
- Test and support liver function needed for efficient histamine-clearing.
As you can see, there is never a ‘one pill’ (even one ‘natural’ pill!) solution for healing the body. Healing must be addressed holistically, and often you need to start thinking ‘outside the box’ for what might be causing your health issues.
If you need help pinpoint the underlying cause to your hormonal issues, feel free to get in touch!
Functional Medicine Practitioner