Quercetin

Quercetin for Histamine Intolerance


Quercetin, a type of plant-based chemical or phytochemical known as a flavonoid, is highly beneficial for histamine intolerance sufferers. Quercetin reduces the release of histamine, the substance that triggers allergies. Histamine is produced by mast cells.

In allergic rhinitis, mast cells in the nasal area increase in number and are thought to play an important role in the nasal symptoms that occur during seasonal allergies. In one study, researchers triggered histamine release in nasal scrapings from seasonal allergy patients exposed to mite antigen. When the nasal scrapings were exposed to quercetin, histamine release was inhibited 46 percent to 96 percent.[6] In another study of rat mast cells exposed to an allergen, quercetin inhibited histamine release by 95 percent and 97 percent. [7]

Other Health Benefits

Quercetin has been linked to a number of other health benefits. Scientific research proves that not only does it possess potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties [1], it also exerts a cognitive enhancing effect on the brains of Parkinson’s Disease patients [2] and protects against cadmium-induced oxidative toxicity and therefore may ameliorate autism symptoms [3].

‘Particularly notable was a study conducted by researchers at the Institute of Food Research and published in the journal Atheroscleroisis in 2008, which addresses concerns that, while quercetin has been shown to be highly effective in laboratory experiments on cell lines, the antioxidant quickly breaks down in the stomach and intestines when ingested as part of the diet. Quercetin skeptics had suggested that, because of this quick breakdown, quercetin naturally consumed in foods such as apples would have little or no health benefit.

‘The 2008 study showed, however, that both quercetin and the metabolites produced when it breaks down in the digestive system act as anti-inflammatories on the cells of human blood vessels. This suggests that dietary quercetin would indeed have the heart and blood pressure-promoting health benefits that had been observed in laboratory studies.

‘Another study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that a high dietary intake of flavanols decreases the risk of pancreatic cancer by 25 percent in non-smokers and by more than 50 percent in smokers. When the researchers examined dietary intake of quercetin in isolation, rather than intake of flavanols in general, they still found a reduction in the risk of pancreatic cancer.’ [3]

One clinical study of people with a strong inherited tendency to develop colorectal cancer found that the combination of quercetin and curcumin supplements decreased the number and size of precancerous rectal tumors. [4] No other clinical trials testing quercetin’s ability to prevent or treat cancer have been reported in the medical literature. Clinical trials are needed to further clarify quercetin’s possible benefits. In addition to cancer prevention and treatment, preliminary studies have also suggested potential value for quercetin in prostatitis (inflamed prostate) and heart disease. Further studies are needed before any recommendations can be made. [5]

Food Sources of Quercetin

Good sources for HIT sufferers include apples (particularly apple skin), onions, broccoli, green beans, leafy green vegetables such as lettuce; celery, chives, coriander and dill. One tree ripened apple, for example, contains 50 mg of quercetin. Quercetin is also available as a dietary supplement.

Quercetin is not destroyed by most cooking methods, including frying and baking. It is however lost by boiling food in water. ‘The boiling of onion leads to about 30% loss of quercetin glycosides, which transfers to the boiling water.’ [8]

Further reading

Wellness Resources

References

[1]‘Quercetin-induced cardioprotection against doxorubicin cytotoxicity.’
Jing-Yi Chen, Ren-Yu Hu and Hsiu-Chuan Chou
Department of Applied Science, National Hsinchu University of Education, Hsinchu, Taiwan
Journal of Biomedical Science 2013, 20:95 doi:10.1186/1423-0127-20-95

[2] Napatr Sriraksa, Jintanaporn Wattanathorn, Supaporn Muchimapura, Somsak Tiamkao, Kamoltip Brown, and Kowit Chaisiwamongkol, “Cognitive-Enhancing Effect of Quercetin in a Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease Induced by 6-Hydroxydopamine,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 823206, 9 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/823206

[3] Quercetin protects against cadmium-induced oxidative toxicity
Sunday, October 20, 2013 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer, Natural News
‘The common antioxidant quercetin may counter the toxic effects of cadmium on the body, according to a study conducted by researchers from Zhejiang University in China and published in the journal Anatomical Record in 2010. Cadmium is a highly dangerous and widespread heavy metal that has been linked to cancer, impaired brain function and development and damage to organs including the lungs, kidneys and bones. According to a groundbreaking study by Arizona State University researchers that was published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research earlier this year, high blood levels of cadmium are one of the single strongest factors linked to the severity of autism symptoms. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists cadmium as number seven among the 275 most hazardous substances.’

[4] Cruz-Correa M, Shoskes DA, Sanchez P, et al. Combination treatment with curcumin and quercetin of adenomas in familial adenomatous polyposis. Clinical Gastroenterology & Hepatology.2006;4:1035-1038.

[5] American Cancer Society ‘Quercetin’ Online article accessed 30/06/14

[6] Otsuka H, Inaba M, Fujikura T, Kunitomo M. Histochemical and functional characteristics of metachromatic cells in the nasal epithelium in allergic rhinitis: studies of nasal scrapings and their dispersed cells. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1995, Oct;96(4):528-36.

[7] Haggag EG, Abou-Moustafa MA, Boucher W, Theoharides TC. The effect of a herbal water-extract on histamine release from mast cells and on allergic asthma.J Herb Pharmacother 2003;3(4):41-54.

[8] J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2001 Feb;47(1):78-83.
Various cooking methods and the flavonoid content in onion.
Ioku K1, Aoyama Y, Tokuno A, Terao J, Nakatani N, Takei Y.

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The importance of Methylcobalamin

Histamine and Heartburn

Many people with histamine intolerance regularly take medications to control heartburn.

Histamine acts to increase hydrochloric acid secretion by cells in the stomach lining. An overload of histamine can cause the production of excess stomach acid, which is why one of the treatments for heartburn is the H2 antagonist Rani-tidine (TM)*.

Panto-prazole* is another drug for heartburn patients that decreases the amount of acid produced in the stomach. The problem is, long-term treatment with panto-prazole* may also decrease the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B-12, resulting in a deficiency of this vitamin.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is an essential vitamin, required for DNA synthesis (and ultimately cell division) and for maintaining nerve myelin integrity.

Symptoms of a vitamin B-12 deficiency may develop slowly and include pale skin, weakness, tired feeling, shortness of breath, and a fast heart rate. Vitamin B12 deficiency can potentially cause severe and irreversible damage, especially to the brain and nervous system. When levels of B12 are only slightly lower than normal, they can lead to a range of symptoms including fatigue, depression and memory loss.

Foods richest in Vitamin B12 may cause problems

Foods richest in Vitamin B12 include shellfish, liver, fish, crustaceans, fortified soy products, fortified cereals, red meat, milk, cheese and eggs. Most of these foods are also high in histamine, and are best avoided by people with histamine intolerance. Fortified cereals are processed foods with B12 (not methyl B12) added to them by the manufacturer.

Problems with Vitamin B12 absorption

Furthermore, not everyone is able to absorb Vitamin B12, even if they eat foods that contain it. The human physiology of vitamin B12 is complex, and therefore may go awry, leading to B12 deficiency.

Health conditions that may lead to poor B12 absorption include:
Atrophic gastritis (thinning of the stomach lining)
Pernicious anemia
Surgery that removed part of the stomach or small intestine, including weight loss surgery
Conditions affecting the small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite
Heavy drinking
Immune system disorders, such as Graves’ disease or lupus
Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs, e.g. Panto-prazole*
A strictly vegan diet
A vegetarian diet that does not include enough eggs or dairy products to meet vitamin B12 needs
Advanced age

Cyanocobalamin is synthesized using cyanide

One way to combat Vitamin B12 deficiency is to take supplements. However, most Vitamin B12 supplements are in the form of cyanocobalamin rather than methylcobalamin.
Cyanocobalamin is artificially synthesized in laboratories. One of the main ingredients is potassium cyanide – yes, you read it right – cyanide, the well-known poison. Cyanocobalamin is the form used in most pharmaceutical preparations because adding cyanide stabilizes the molecule.
When we ingest cyanocobalamin, we are being exposed to small amounts of cyanide.

Methylcobalamin is more easily absorbed

Furthermore, cyanocobalamin is harder for our bodies to metabolize than methylcobalamin. Many people with histamine intolerance are, without being aware of it, ‘undermethylators’. Undermethylation, or ‘histadelia’, is an inherited condition characterized by elevated blood levels of histamine.
If our bodies cannot properly methylate vitamin B12, they cannot adequately absorb it. Methylcobalamin is already methylated, and thus more easily assimilated into the body.

If you are histamine intolerant – or even if you’re not – the optimum way to make sure you’re not Vitamin B12 deficient is to take methylcobalamin. It is available from pharmacies as pleasantly-flavored pills or drops, to be dissolved slowly under the tongue.


*Note: Our web host, WordPress, appears to block certain brand names and drug names such as Rani-tidine(TM) and panto-prazole, unless they are hyphenated.

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Can a low histamine diet promote longevity?

High-protein diets shorten lifespan, two studies say

People on high-protein diets are likely to lose years of life along with the weight they shed, according to two studies.
It’s nearly as bad as smoking, says Dr Valter Longo, co-author of a study in the journal Cell Metabolism.

The most healthy mix is a high-carbohydrate, low protein diet, say Australian scientists who have published a study in the same journal.

This leads to increased body fat, but a longer lifespan, say the scientists from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre. They tested 25 different diet combinations on 900 mice to see what happened to their appetite, metabolic health, ageing and lifespan.

Calories aren’t all the same, says Professor Steve Simpson, academic director at the centre.

“We need to look at where the calories come from and how they interact.” Although the mice on a high-protein diet ate less and were slimmer, they also had a reduced lifespan and poor heart and overall health.

Those on a high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet ate more and got fat, but lived longest.

The mice that ate a high-fat, low-protein diet died quickest. “It is an enormous leap in our understanding of the impact of diet quality and diet balance on food intake, health, ageing and longevity,” Prof Simpson says.

Co-author Professor David Le Couteur says the study is an important step towards understanding what constitutes a healthy balanced diet.

It indicates it might be beneficial for people to eat the right diet in the right proportions and let the body dictate the correct amount of food.

“If people want to live long, healthy lives they can look at their diet and exercise. That will do more good than taking all the pills in the world.” He says the healthiest mice had the lowest levels of the branched-chain amino acids derived from animal protein and often used by body builders The results are entirely parallel with the US study.

They found meat, fish and dairy products are probably causing harm.

“We provide convincing evidence that a high-protein diet, particularly if the proteins are derived from animals, is nearly as bad as smoking,” says the University of Southern California’s Dr Longo.

His study analysed the diet of 6831 middle-aged and older adults.

Those who derived more than 20 per cent of their calories from protein were four times more likely to die of cancer or diabetes than other people.

AAP

Source: The Australian

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Pastured eggs are better for you

Pastured eggs contain more nutrients

Hens allowed to roam free in grassy pastures filled with weeds and wildflowers have access to an extensive range of nutrients. Numerous insects, worms and beetles thrive in green meadows. Thus, in addition to the valuable plant materials available to the hens, they can also feed on mini-beasts which are naturally rich sources of protein, vitamins, enzymes and minerals.

Pastured eggs are lower in stress hormones

Caged hens are constantly under stress. Some become so distraught and anxious due to their imprisonment that they pluck out their own feathers. The ‘stress hormone’ cortisol has been linked with obesity, decreased immune function and osteoporosis. The low levels of stress in free-roaming, contented hens means fewer stress hormones – such as cortisol – pass into the eggs and thence into our bodies.

Pastured eggs are better for you

A study looking at the Vitamins A, E and fatty acid composition of the eggs of caged hens and pastured hens found that:
‘Compared to eggs of the caged hens, pastured hens’ eggs had twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, 2.5-fold more total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids (P<0.0001). Vitamin A concentration was 38% higher (P<0.05) in the pastured hens’ eggs than in the caged hens’ eggs…’

This is why pastured eggs are better for you!

H.D. Karsten, P.H. Patterson, R. Stout and G. Crews,
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems / Volume 25 / Special Issue 01 / March 2010, pp 45-54
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1742170509990214,
Published online: 12 January 2010

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Extra supplements for Histamine Intolerance sufferers

Histamine Intolerance Supplements

supplementsIf your histamine intolerance symptoms are extremely severe, then in addition to adhering to the Strictly Low Histamine Diet you may wish to take some additional supplements. Here are some suggestions.

* Low-acid Vitamin C  1000 mg twice daily.
Note: Standard Vitamin C supplements work well too, but but if you are taking high doses you may experience a burning or irritating sensation in the urinary tract. People with certain conditions such as interstitial cystitis, prostatitis and stomach ulcers often have a hard time tolerating high-acid vitamin C supplements.

* Vitamin B6 100 mg once daily.
Note: never exceed the recommended dose.

Your body needs Vitamin C and vitamin B6 to manufacture the DAO enzyme, which helps break down histamine in the body. Copper is also necessary for DAO production, but too much copper can be toxic. If your diet includes  variety of fresh, unprocessed foods it will already provide you with sufficient copper and you won’t need copper supplements.

* Digestive enzymes, one capsule before each meal. Choose a broad spectrum formula, including digestive enzymes to break down both protein (such as pepsin) and carbohydrates (such as amylase). Those who are histamine intolerant need help digesting protein, so that it does not linger in the gut fermenting and producing bacteria and histamine.

* Vira Stop is an enzyme formula dedicated to breaking down protein.  The recommended dose is 2 capsules daily. Begin gradually, by taking half a capsule per day and build up to 2 capsules over a few weeks. You should take this supplement on an empty stomach – i.e. either one hour before you eat or two hours afterwards. Never swallow probiotics and Vira Stop at the same time because they can interfere with each other.

* Probiotics. There are two species that actually cause histamine to be released in the body and those are Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus bulgaricus. Avoid them. Two very important types for people with histamine intolerance are Bifido infantis and Bifido longum. Take any probiotic supplement that contains both of these.

* Zinc inhibits the release of histamine from mast cells. Take 50mg of zinc per day, with a meal containing starch. This helps your body to absorb the zinc.

Remember that what you leave out of your diet to control histamine levels is probably even more important than what you take in via supplements.
Taking every recommended supplement will have little effect if you are still eating histamine-rich or histamine-triggering foods.  Consult the book for the complete diet.

Health and medical information disclaimer:

The information provided on this website is intended only to aid you in making informed decisions about your health. It is not intended to be a substitute for advice and treatment prescribed by a registered dietitian, nutritionist or doctor. The content of this website may not be used as a basis or means for any form of self-diagnosis. If you suspect that you have a medical problem, we urge you to seek the help of a medical practitioner.

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Should Histamine Intolerance sufferers go gluten free?

Don’t panic about gluten!

Some people believe that if you suffer from histamine intolerance you should go gluten free.

These days, there is a fashion for avoiding gluten-containing foods because ‘gluten free’ is perceived as ‘healthier’. Gluten-containing foods include wheat, barley, rye, triticale, kamut and spelt.

Gluten is a natural plant protein that helps bread rise and gives bread, cakes, pastry, pasta, noodles, and similar foods their elasticity and texture.

The truth is, gluten is only a problem for people who are non-celiac gluten sensitive (NCGS), or who have celiac disease – that is, approximately 1% of the population. (Note: NCGS is a condition that is distinct from celiac disease.)

Foods that happen to contain gluten may also be a problem for people who are sensitive to those particular foods. For example, you may not be celiac or NCGS, but you might have been diagnosed as being sensitive to wheat, for reasons other than its gluten content. People with histamine intolerance should avoid wheat germ, in any case.

If you have celiac disease or NCGS then it is vital to avoid gluten because it can cause intestinal permeability, which is also known as ‘leaky gut’. This can in turn lead to DAO insufficiency and thus to histamine intolerance. Gluten intolerance is also linked with autoimmune  diseases.

However if you are, like the vast majority of the population, perfectly capable of digesting gluten without any problems, gluten-containing foods are actually good for you. They are highly nutritious – packed with vitamins, minerals and beneficial fiber.

“Studies show that whole grain foods, as part of a healthy diet, may help lower risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. A 2005 report from the American Dietetic Association warned that gluten free products tend to be low in a wide range of important nutrients, including B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber. There’s also little point in eliminating just some gluten. For people who are sensitive, even trace amounts can cause damage to the small intestines. So an almost gluten-free diet isn’t going to help if you have a problem.” [Source: WebMD]

In a normal, healthy person gluten will not cause a leaky gut. And the odds are, you are one of the 99% who can digest gluten.

If you think you really might be celiac or have NCGS, ask your doctor for a test. The Celiac Disease Foundation states that there are several blood tests available that screen for celiac disease antibodies. “If test results suggest celiac disease, your physician will recommend a biopsy of your small intestine to confirm the diagnosis.”

Even if your celiac test comes up negative, you could try avoiding all gluten for at least 30 days to see if that makes your health improve. If you do feel better, this might indicate that you have NCGS.

If you really are gluten intolerant you’d have to cut out all gluten, down to the tiniest particle. An ‘almost-gluten-free’ diet will not help at all.

Simply avoiding gluten because you think it’s ‘bad’ for you means cutting a lot of nutritious foods from your diet. You can, of course, do so if you wish, but-

  • it’s more than likely there will be no benefit in it
  • you’d have to cut out a wide range of foods, because if you check the ingredients on labels, there are traces of gluten in most pre-prepared foods
  • commercially available gluten free foods often contain higher amounts of saturated fats, refined sugars and other undesirable ingredients
  • prepared gluten free foods are usually more expensive

The book “Is Food Making You Sick?” contains a large number of gluten free, low histamine recipes. Is Food Making You Sick?

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Eggs and Pumpkin

Are eggs and pumpkin permitted on a low histamine diet?

Eggs – yes (cooked)

Yes, eggs are fine as long as they are cooked.  People with HIT can safely eat egg yolks, and egg white is a histamine liberator only when in its raw state. Histamine intolerance expert Dr Janice Joneja writes: “Eggs in themselves don’t contain histamine, but egg whites are known to be a histamine-releaser.” These facts are supported on the Histamine Intolerance UK website and the Mast Cell Blog. However, if you prefer to go ultra-low-histamine, eliminate egg whites from your diet entirely – even cooked egg whites.

It is important not to confuse food allergies with histamine intolerance. Again, like gluten sensitivity, egg allergies are a different and separate issue. Eggs are a valuable source of nutrients, and just because raw egg whites contain histamine liberators, that is no reason to avoid cooked eggs.

 

Pumpkin – no

Pumpkin’s close relative is winter squash, so the two can be considered jointly. The book ‘Is Food Making You Sick? The Strictly Low Histamine Diet” recommends avoiding pumpkin.

Pumpkin is listed by the Food Intolerance Network as being safe for people with histamine intolerance. They write as follows:
“Foods that have lower histamine levels: Fresh vegetables: lettuce, cabbage, beetroot, pumpkin, onion, radishes, lamb’s lettuce, paprika, carrot, broccoli, potato, cucumber, leek, zucchini (courgettes), sweet corn, asparagus, garlic. Please be aware that, because of any other food intolerances or cross-allergies that may also be present, the low-histamine level of a particular foodstuff alone says nothing definite about whether or not the patient can tolerate it.”

Dr Judy Tsafrir writes, “I believe that many reactions are very individualized. In many cases it is worth eliminating a food that you have reason to view as problematic, and then retrying it and monitoring your symptoms. I did not think that zucchini or yellow squash were problematic for most people. It seems from my research on line that pumpkin is controversial as to whether or not it needs to be avoided on a low histamine diet.”

And Allergy UK states: “Certain foods (even food that is low in histamine) can stimulate the release of histamine from mast cells in your body (a type of immune cell). These foods include: pumpkin.”

In conclusion, we would suggest that if you are battling serious histamine intolerance you should avoid pumpkin.

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Boosting your DAO

boosting your daoAntihistamines

If you find that taking certain antihistamines significantly improves your health, then it’s likely you suffer from HIT (Histamine Intolerance). Some common antihistamine trade names include:

Zyrtec = cetirizine, an antihistamine that works by blocking histamine (H-1) receptors.
Zantac – ranitidine, an antihistamine that works by blocking histamine (H-2) receptors.

Both of these – like any medications – can have unwanted side effects. However, these are generally outweighed by their benefits, at least in the short term. Taking them is a good way to hit your symptoms hard and really get them to settle down. If you wish to follow up the potential side-effects of Zyrtec and Zantac, click on these links: Zantac   Zyrtec

That said, taking Zantac and Zyrtec is not a long-term solution. It’s like putting a bandage over an infected wound – it looks okay from the outside but the problem remains. Besides, over time the body can develop resistance to the meds. Then they gradually lose their efficacy and you go back to ‘square one’.

About Boosting Your DAO

We suggest that HIT sufferers:

  • Make sure none of your other medications (if any) are DAO (diamine oxidase) blockers, which might have brought on your symptoms in the first place. If possible – and under medical supervision – try to wean off them.
  • Stick to the Strictly Low Histamine Diet and its associated dietary supplements. A low histamine diet with safe, natural supplements has no unwanted side effects and for many people it has provided that ‘miraculous’ relief they have been seeking. It doesn’t take months and months to get a result – only a few weeks.
  • Another essential is dietary fiber. Consuming abundant fiber has been proven, in numerous studies, to decrease inflammation in the body (and the reverse is true of a high fat diet). It can actually improve the binding ability of the histamine H-1 receptor.
  • Stress can be a powerful trigger for Histamine Intolerance too, so it’s important for people with HIT to treat themselves kindly and allow themselves time to relax. For anyone with HIT who is reading this post, we recommend visiting the Helpguide website and looking at their excellent Stress Management Guide.
  • Protect and heal your intestinal mucosa. The body produces DAO in the small intestine, the upper part of the large intestine, and the kidneys. To help protect and heal the mucosal lining of your intestines, include the spice turmeric and brassica vegetables (e.g. cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, )in your diet. Prebiotics and probiotics, too, play an essential role in the healing of the gut.
  • Protect and heal your kidneys. Your kidneys may be perfectly healthy, but there are still things you can do to make sure they stay that way – and to boost their DAO producing capabilities. The Kidney Foundation of Canada recommends that people with kidney disease should ‘control your salt intake and avoid foods with a high sodium content. These include processed foods like “deli” meats, canned foods, convenience and “fast” foods, salty snacks and salty seasonings.’ They also say, ‘Phosphorus is a mineral which normally keeps your bones strong and healthy. However, too much phosphorus may cause itchy skin or painful joints. When the kidneys start to fail, your blood phosphate level will rise. Therefore, you may need to limit certain foods which contain even a moderate amount of phosphorus. These include milk, cheese and other milk products, and protein foods such as meat, fish and poultry.’
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Natural Sources of DAO

Pea sproutsPea Sprouts to boost your DAO

Numerous people have written in asking for more information on natural sources of diamine oxidase (DAO), so we’ve brought forward this post. (The promised recipes for home-made pH balanced shampoos will appear in the following post.)

When our diamine oxidase enzyme levels are low we can suffer from histamine intolerance. A number of legumes contain especially high levels of DAO. According to Dr Janice Joneja, eating these legumes as sprouts can provide us with a natural diamine oxidase boost.

NOTE: It is fine to take DAO by mouth to relieve symptoms in the short-term, but what you should be aiming for is to heal the gut so that you will not need to be taking DAO supplements.  It is wiser to heal your body to the extent that it can manufacture its own DAO, rather than depending on outside sources. The only way to achieve this is by following a Strictly Low Histamine diet for long enough to allow the healing process to take place. This  healing period varies from person to person, and takes longer with severe cases of histamine intolerance. Taking oral DAO supplements is like putting a bandage over a festering wound. It will not fix the problem, merely temporarily mask it.

The new seedlings of all legumes can provide us with DAO, but green pea sprouts are the best sources.  Lentils and chickpeas are also good.

DAO is high in legume seedlings because the diamine oxidase helps the plant to build its structural components, such as its stem, when the baby plant is forming. Diamine oxidase begins to be produced about three days into the development of the seedlings. It increases to its maximum at about 10 days, after which it decreases because the plant no longer requires it.

Highest Possible DAO concentrations

When seeking DAO from natural sources we need to obtain the highest concentrations possible, because the process of digestion itself can destroy the DAO before it works its magic on our histamine levels.
Histamine intolerance specialist Dr Janice Joneja says: ‘The research indicates that up to 4% of the total protein content of the seedlings can be diamine oxidase. Being a protein, it’s also subject to digestion and then of course the diamine oxidase itself will be broken down in the process of protein digestion, so it’s a matter of seeing how much can be absorbed and how much of it is still active. But it is still absorbed in the small intestine, so it doesn’t have the entire length of the digestive tract to be exposed to digestive enzymes.’

Dark-Grown Sprouts

To increase the levels of DAO in your home-sprouted legumes, grow them in darkness. Sprouts that are grown in the dark have a higher level of diamine oxidase. Diamine oxidase is a protective enzyme for both humans and plants. Thus, when plants experience stress, they produce more of it.  When seeds grow in the dark they have to struggle. This struggle produces a much higher level of diamine oxidase. Dark-sprouted pea shoots will appear lank and pale (‘etiolated’. They may not look as vibrant and healthy as green sprouts, but their content of  diamine oxidase will be approximately five times higher than the content of bright green seedlings grown in sunlight. They are therefore better for people with Histamine Intolerance.

About Store-bought Pea Sprouts

You can buy pea sprouts that have been commercially grown and bagged. Eating them may be somewhat beneficial to your health, but they have the following disadvantages:

  • Their DAO levels vary greatly
  • They may have languished on the shelf for a while, and not be super-fresh. Thus their histamine levels may be high.
  • They are generally grown in sunlight or artificial sunlight  – that’s why they are green. Therefore their DAO levels are much lower.

About  Store-bought Pea Sprout Powder

Store-bought pea sprout powder can also be used. It is difficult, however, to estimate exactly how much DAO it contains, which means we cannot know what dosage to take on a daily basis for optimum benefit. Dr Joneja recommends mixing a cupful a day with water and taking that, to see if you get any benefit.

Benefits of Home-grown Pea Sprouts

Growing pea sprouts at home has numerous benefits.

  • Quick – your crop can be ready for harvest in less than ten days.
  • Easy – they can be grown indoors, and need no soil.
  • Cheap – you can sprout dried ‘soup peas’ from the supermarket.
  • Higher DAO – grow them in the dark and their enzyme levels will be far higher.
  • Flexible – grow them anytime.
  • Compact – you can grow them in small spaces.
  • Delicious –  sprouts can be consumed raw in juices.
  • Nutritious – in addition to DAO, pea sprouts are packed with vitamins A and C and folate.

How to Grow Pea Sprouts/Seedlings

Obtain peas that are intended for eating, not for planting. Pea seeds that are sold for planting in gardens may have been dusted with chemicals to inhibit mold or to kill insects. Choose fresh green peas from your greengrocer or dried peas from the grocery section of your supermarket. Do not select dried peas that are salted, frozen, split or processed in any way. Try to find organic peas. Freeze dried peas are fine. (Shop online for them here.)

  • To avoid bacterial contamination, do not grow seedlings in soil.
  • Do not sterilize the pea seeds. If you heat them, you will deactivate the diamine oxidase enzyme.
  • Rinse the peas in clean, cool water.
  • Place the peas in a bowl, and cover them with more clean water.
  • Allow them to soak for 12-24 hours.
  • Place the seeds in a clean seed-sprouting bag or other sprouting equipment (see below) and leave the bag in the dark (such as a drawer or cupboard, or wrapped in a thick towel), for 7-10 days; no later. Do not leave them in the refrigerator – they need to be at room temperature, at least.
  • Two or three times a day, rinse them with clean water to hydrate them. Always tip out all of the water to drain the peas thoroughly. Do not forget to rinse them or they may become moldy. One trick for remembering is to rinse them whenever you clean your teeth.
  • Continue the process for 8-10 days. Pale shoots will emerge from the peas and start to grow.
  • Harvest the sprouts.
  • Juice them raw and consume them straight away. Do not heat them – heating destroys DAO.
  • Mature sprouts have sets of two leaves.
  • Rinse sprouts before for juicing. If you wish, you can wrap them in a lettuce leaf to help the juicing process and make sure the nutrients are extracted.
  • See our sprout juice recipes here.
  • Store leftover sprouts in the refrigerator in a sealed bowl containing a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Use the sprouts within a week.

Note: Sprouts that start to look rather brown in color should be discarded because they are past their use-by date. Over-aged sprouts may also release a yellowish liquid in their container.

Pea-Sprouting Equipment

  • Bags: Seed-sprouting bags are drawstring bags made from a closely-woven, natural fabric (not plastic) such as cotton or hemp. You can make your own or buy them commercially. Seed-sprouting bags are made by stitching together two rectangles of cotton or hemp, with a drawstring opening.
  • Jars: The cheapest seed-sprouting equipment is a clean glass jar. Cover the mouth of the jar with clean stockings or pantyhose, held in place by an elastic band. The pantyhose acts as a strainer when rinsing the peas with water.
  • Commercial: You can also purchase commercial seed-sprouting equipment. In the electrically-powered versions, the water is automatically filtered through.
  • Make sure you position all your sprouting equipment in a pitch dark place while your seeds are growing.

How to use Pea Sprouts/Seedlings

Use your pea sprouts in smoothies, rather than eating them in their unprocessed form. Diamine oxidase enzymes exist to help the plant build the wall of its cells, so they are attached to those cell walls.
Your normal chewing and digestion will not readily break those bonds. By whizzing the sprouts in a blender you will make the DAO  more readily available for your body to absorb. Do not put the juice through a strainer – it’s vital to consume the whole plant, cell walls, fiber and all. See our recipes here.
We recommend taking one cup every day.

Other natural Sources of DAO

Another natural source of diamine oxidase is kidneys. Make sure you buy fresh ones and cook them as soon as possible, or freeze them to stop histamine from developing.

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