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How I Conquered Histamine Intolerance

Sep 07, 2022

I am not a medical doctor and this is not medical advice. I am sharing strictly based on my own personal experiences in illness and in healing.

A big part of my early healing has been in direct response to mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) and histamine intolerance (HIT). In 2015 I started getting intense facial rashes, swelling/puffiness and had multiple sudden food allergies.  

For years (2015-2018) I struggled daily with the various symptoms below, on a spectrum and interwoven on any given day. Mast cells are involved in almost every bodily process, which is why it can seem that the entire body and various systems are so suddenly going haywire. Reacting to many food, environmental and emotional triggers –– I was in bed a lot, pleading with myself to stay in bed a lot more (than I actually did), and generally feeling as if I was on the brink of passing out most days:

    • Chronic fatigue

    • Sudden food allergies and intolerances 

    • Acute facial and gland (lymph node) swelling

    • Rashes 

    • Flushing/redness

    • Gut dysbiosis (no good gut bacteria)

    • Chronic reactivated Epstein Barr Virus

    • Dysautonomia

    • Tachycardia

    • Near syncope episodes

    • Episodes of both extremely high spikes and low lows of blood pressure

    • Dizziness and equilibrium problems - having to stay in bed or lay down with my feet above my head throughout the day

    • Cognitive impairment - brain fog and memory lapses

    • Hypermobility and connective tissue issues

    • Chronic sinus infections

    • Tinnitus

    • Menieres/Hydrops

    • Generalized anxiety disorder

    • Panic attacks

    • Odd reactions to insect stings

    • Numbness and tingling in feet and fingers

    • Visual disturbances

    • Temperature sensitivity

    • Noise sensitivity 

    • Slow wound healing

I cycled through years of intense supplements and protocols that seemed helpful, but at the end of the day I was pumping myself with a lot of isolated chemistry. I slowly learned that true healing –– at the cellular level, where total regeneration of tissue is the goal –– is nowhere to be found in the dominant paradigm of “healthcare” or even in most naturopathic care.

Over the years of learning through trial and error with foods it became clear that a primarily plant-based diet was what “flared” me the least. I was also encouraged to try a low histamine diet for relief (through an ND who was a huge support to me at the time) and to further define my health issues. I found Yasmina Ykelenstam of Healing Histamine in 2015 and her philosophy of addressing histamine intolerance head on with nutrient dense foods, rather than avoiding histamines outright, fostered a fighting spirit in my initial approach. Although I did some avoidance of histamines I never fully removed all triggering foods from my diet for more than a week. In fact, sometimes I think it was like some sort of challenge (maybe even a little sneaky self sabotage at the time) for myself to keep some food items in that I knew would still give me reactions (avocado, tomato, potatoes, dark chocolate, Kombucha, etc.). Like the idea of building immunity or even micro-dosing, this made a lot of sense to me. Because my reactions (aside from one or two episodes that involved some scary acute symptoms) were not fully anaphylactic in nature I confidently and intuitively pushed the needle on this when I could. I would pull back and lower my bucket when I became too symptomatic, usually with juicing, soups and smoothies. 

Later in 2016/2017 I discovered Anthony William, The Medical Medium, and that is when everything changed. His books uncovered all the mysteries of my interconnected issues and it was the first time I felt thoroughly understood. His chapter titled “Fruit Fear” kicked off my big pivot towards a higher fruit diet. I did several Medical Medium cleanses (food protocols) and started to trust this information and bash the fruit fear little by little. My symptoms improved and fruit felt so good.

In 2018 I discovered Dr. Robert Morse and binge-learned about the lymphatic system and the healing benefits of getting out of the body’s way via a high-fruit raw vegan diet. I immediately went to about 90% fruit for 2-3 months in the summer of 2018 and experienced rapid physical, emotional and spiritual healing. My vision and balance issues cleared dramatically which were always the most damning. It was so surreal to experience this feeling and I remember it being one of the most emotional moments of my life. 

If I were to briefly sum up my approach to healing histamine it was this: I used a combination of short periods of “fruit fasting”, juicing and a high-fruit/nutrient-dense plant based approach to healing the body at the cell level, with the goal of reaching true homeostasis, as opposed to managing symptoms by avoiding medium-high histamine foods outright. I also rested deeply, immersed myself in emotional detoxification and clearing, and inevitably retired my brain from the puzzle piecing of histamine, therefore healing my mind compulsion around the “bad” foods. 

Here is a breakdown of the specific and concerted steps I took (based on MY personal experience) towards healing histamine intolerance and mast cell activation issues from the ground up:

Rest your digest.

The digestion process alone was a huge trigger for my mast cells acting up. Although I am a big proponent of eating fruit and plant foods in their natural state as often as possible (off the vine, fruit to face), I turned to these digestive rest tricks as often as I needed to, especially during a reaction period:

  • Intermittent Fasting (my window of eating is typically 11:00 am - 7:00 pm give or take. Take it slow when starting out with IF, this should start to become a natural progression of ease, and should never leave you feeling restricted or frustrated)

  • Simple juicing

  • Simple plant-based soups

  • Whole, high-fruit smoothies

  • Mono meals (only eating one kind of fruit at a time)

  • Breaking fast with fruit

Fruit up on those fruits you CAN tolerate.

I did have noticeable histamine reactions to certain high-histamine or histamine liberating fruits. But once I removed all animal products from my diet and other general cross-offenders for me, (nuts, grains, highly fermented foods or drinks, etc.) my histamine reactions to any fruit, even high-histamine ones, were generally so dumbed down in comparison. I believe that the inappropriate food combining of high-healing and astringent fruits with mucus forming foods (even in a given day) is partly why we end up maligning fruit in the histamine circle and why we might blame nasty reactions on the fruit. Fruit will also point out stark weaknesses in the body. Not only should you move cautiously towards high fruit but you MUST remove the other offending foods if you want to do this regeneration work seriously. Work a gentle, realistic transition plan from whole foods plant-based, to mostly raw foods, to higher fruit, etc., and take your time and enjoy in each stage. I say this because you will experience levels of detoxification as you give the body the space to start healing. Healing can be uncomfortable! And as you navigate this territory in the beginning I think it’s super helpful to just eat as much low-medium histamine fruits (or whatever fruits you LOVE and can tolerate) as possible:

  • Wild blueberries

  • Blackberries

  • Apples

  • Cherries

  • Persimmon

  • Melons (always eaten alone)

  • Peaches 

  • Plums

  • Mango

  • Coconut

  • Figs 

Keep a small rotation of high histamine fruits to your tolerance. And keep at it. 

All other fruits are generally considered more medium-high histamine. Avocados, tomatoes, bananas, strawberries, papaya, all citrus fruits, etc. Once I was in a groove with resting my digestion regularly and cutting out the mucus-forming foods I was able to tolerate these offenders much more easily. I always kept avocado and tomato in rotation and then slowly added more bananas, strawberries, citrus, gapes, etc. I was able to do this quite liberally over time. I still had histamine related reactions but they were different. If I needed to I would go days without avocado and tomato (seemingly my worst offenders) but I would always bring them back in, slowly. Countered with the new energy and clarity I felt from finally getting the fruit sugar and carbs I desperately needed to heal and function, the dark shadow of my daily histamine reactions started to fade. I started to stop thinking about histamine (HUGE). 

Take this piece slowly but don’t be afraid to toy around here too (unless you have severe anaphylactic reactions). This can be a tricky space to navigate as you start to detoxify the body. What’s a reaction? What is a detox symptom? My experience here was a lot of bliss paired with dropping the excessive worry. If you are okay with the mild reactions and you don’t get caught up in fear and guilt in this process of bringing in the heavy fruit, you will begin to see incredible long-term relief and major structural changes here. It must be self customized based on your experiences, I can’t emphasize that enough. 

Remove histamine from your brain. 

In my personal opinion, you have to let go of your disease mastery. Oh dear, did I cling tightly to the knowledge and the community. I was obsessed with the forums and felt so much comfort in the collective suffering and feeling as if I was “figuring it all out” with other folks like me. There was empowerment here, I thought. But at the end of the day, nothing is empowering in knowing the ins and outs of the science of histamine triggers and the overlapping syndromes you have if you’re still hanging out in hellville. Graduate out of there. Once you turn to fruit you your presence of mind will take over and this retiring from the label of chronic illness will start to happen naturally. But only if you want it to. Perhaps the best thing I did to get over the cycle of these crippling daily reactions and victimhood was to STOP THINKING of histamine. Not overnight, but over the days and months that I felt strong surges of healing, I just stopped thinking about the food makeup and I stopped talking about it too. This is where the real healing happened for me. 

It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. 

I am about 16 months into a high-fruit diet. In that time I have ditched ALL animal products, focused on a raw vegan diet, done two 10-day fruit juice fasts (once was included in a 21 day melon only fruit fast), rested a ton and have re-evaluated and re-routed a lot about my life and my conditionings. Healing is not overnight, it is not one-way, it is not linear. Am I immune from all reactions? No. But I feel closer to that than ever. I recently wrote an IG post documenting my incredible experiences with overall skin healing in the last year. I consider myself to be about 85-90% healed from the overrun of histamine intolerance and mast cell activation issues that once ran me ragged and dominated my momentarily muted existence. 

We cannot improve on nature and what was designed for us to heal. Because we have ventured so far off the path of nature, it will take a total lifestyle reset to reach the healing that you might expect or want in this life. Embrace this, have fun with this, love the massive changes and the sometimes scary ascension that becomes you. Healing is hard work. But the reward is utterly priceless and much more transcendent than you would ever expect. 

Happiest histamine healing! I’ll leave you with these wise words from Dr. Robert Morse:

“People don’t want to change their diets, I get that. But if you don’t want to change your diet, enjoy your suffering.”

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