Why do I react to histamine, sulphites and salicylate?
Everyone isn’t the same. We have thousands of genes; they are the blueprints which tell us how to make proteins, like muscle, enzymes and hormones. We can expect some of our genes to cause us to make inefficient enzymes, so that we have problems that other people don’t. However, they will have other problems that we don’t.
We were designed to live as hunter-gathers in an unpolluted world, eating vegetables, meat, shellfish, nuts and insects. We cannot live like that any more. We live on a densely populated island, and are exposed to traffic fumes, waste processing plants, factories, wifi, microwaves, mercury containing fillings in teeth, preservatives in vaccinations, and drugs. The detoxification system we had in the Stone Age isn’t enough for some of us today.
One very important part of detoxification is carried out by sulphate. Sulphate attaches to chemicals called phenols and amines. Salicylate is a phenol and histamine is an amine, but there are others. We have to be able to make sulphate. We start with protein, and convert it to sulphite, a nasty chemical in coal smoke and some industrially made foods and drinks. Then we convert the sulphite to sulphate. The minerals, molybdenum, magnesium and zinc, the omega three fatty acids in fish and flax, and vitamins B1, B2, B5 and B6 are needed for us to make sulphate. We have enzymes that transport the sulphate to where we need it. We attach this sulphate to phenols and amines, so that they can no longer harm us. Although fruits and vegetables contain many healthy nutrients, they do slow down this transport. Orange, spinach and radish are particularly bad in the extent to which they slow down sulphate transport. If we are not very efficient at making sulphate, we can bath in Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) as the sulphate passes through the skin.
People who are inefficient at making or transporting sulphate may react to salicylates in food, aspirin, paracetamol, histamine in foods, histamine made by the immune system, tyramine in mature cheese and phenylethylamine in chocolate. They may develop depression, migraine, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, auto-immune diseases or cancer, all because of poor detoxification.
Making sulphate and transporting it are very protective, but, if there are a lot of phenols and amines to deal with, we run out of the capacity to carry out this task. For phenols, there is a fall-back system. We add glucuronide to them, which also makes them safe. This system has a lot of capacity, but isn’t as efficient. Some people have a problem with this. A liver function lab test shows their bilirubin is high, and they are told they have a harmless condition called Gilbert’s. The only trouble is that, if you have poor sulphate production or transport, and you also have Gilbert’s, the two together make you especially poor at dealing with phenols. Calcium D-glucarate can help with this.
What about detoxifying amines? As well as adding sulphate, you can detoxify histamine with an enzyme called histaminase, sometimes called diamine oxidase (DAO). This enzyme needs copper. You may have a genetic problem with making this enzyme, or you may lack enough copper. Either way, this enzyme will be inefficient.
Another method for processing amines is to add chemicals called methyl groups to them. This process involves having enough magnesium, zinc, vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12 and folate, as well as enough methyl groups. For those who like beetroot, that is a good source of methyl groups. Others take dimethylglycine (DMG) or trimethylglycine (TMG) or choline as supplements.
If you have a problem with histamine or salicylate, it isn’t enough to minimise your intake of these. You need to minimise your intake of amines and phenols in general. This includes resveratrol in red wine, tyramine in mature cheese, and phenylethylamine in chocolate. Green tea is to be avoided, because of the quercetin in it. Do not take tablets of quercetin. Take vitamin C without bioflavonoids, which are phenols. Compounds that suit one person do not suit another.
Boron is in tablets, and also in foods like tomatoes, chilli and peppers, soya and peanuts, broccoli and parsnips. It causes the excretion of vitamin B2, thus messing up your ability to make sulphate, to produce energy, to carry out methylation, and to make enzymes and hormones. Vitamin B2 also recycles a very protective substance called glutathione. Avoid any supplements containing boron.
If you have salicylate or histamine intolerance, you can eat a broad diet, with vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, nuts, lentils, grains and fats. You just have to eat the right ones. Epsom salt baths, adding the right supplements, and avoiding the wrong ones can reduce your sensitivity, making life much more pleasant.
Find a nutritionist near you
or try our advanced search