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.

50 thoughts on “Natural Sources of DAO

  1. I am interested in DAO producing foods and how to use them. Bean and pea sprouts are good but can I cook or freeze them and still keep the DAO properties? My wife has systemic mastocytosis and the sprouts are good to keep her DAO level up.

  2. Hello, does the DAO from sprouts survive stomach acid to reach the intestines where it’s needed? The capsules in DAO supplements are designed to do this.

    The paper which has lead to this discussion refers to in vitro histamine degradation not in vivo.(
    with a potential for supplementation i.e. via lyophilisation (freeze-drying) and presumable inserting into capsules to survive stomach acid.

    Enzymes that are sensitive to pH will be permanently denatured by stomach acid. Various enzyme studies have found the pH optimum of DAO from pig kidney is 6.0-7.0. As plants do not sprout in an acidic environment I would expect the plant DAO to be pH sensitive.

  3. Hi, I found this article and have started a low histamine diet. I purchased speckled pea sprouts seeds and started soaking them today.

    I am curious if there is active research on DAO sources and levels? How do we know that pea sprouts are the highest DAO source?

    My homeopathic ENT doctor suggested the low histamine diet for my battle with incessant tinnitus which might be a spectrum of Ménière’s disease.

    Would love any updates available in the medical research field.

  4. Hello!! I just ordered a sprouting bag and some organic pea seeds to start this process. My question is can I just start eating the pea spouts daily to begin to increase my DAO levels and not have to do the heavy histamine restrictive diet? I will stop eating gelatin which is how I found out that my histamines are out of whack – I started to eat it daily and the migraines that came on were horrific so I researched and found out above gelatin! Also we drink beef bone and chicken broth and so we were just adding to our histamine load! When we first started the gelatin, my husband also got a cold sore out of the blue!! So.. due to an already restrictive eating regime because of SIBO, a hernia and gastroparesis, which I’m working with a Gastro Doc on, I really don’t to have to do more restricting. So I’d love to just start eating these pea sprouts and helping my body build up the DAO. I hope to hear from you soon!!! Thank you for this article. I wish that the European Pea Sprout DAO supplement was available in the USA!!!

  5. One cup of the sprouts – daily?

    And at the end it says “Another natural source of diamine oxidase is kidneys.” Kidney beans or animal kidneys?

  6. Do lentil sprouts work too? Lentils are super inexpensive and easy to sprout. I am having a histamine reaction to dry needling and realize I haven’t grown any sprouts in a few months. I need to get back to that. I will try it and see if it makes a difference.

  7. Do you have any information regarding the temperature at which the DAO enzyme gets destroyed? The reason I’m asking is that I spotted a blog where they grew the pea sprouts and then put them in the dehydrator, on a very low setting, and then ground them up into a powder, and wondered if the DAO would be affected by this. I have a dehydrator at home and this might make it easier for travel etc, than carrying sprouts around. Thanks!

    • SW, Purple hull is a variation of black-eyed, and although people call them peas they are actually beans. They are not the same as garden peas. Garden peas are in the genus Pisum – their botanical name is Pisum sativum. On the other hand, black-eyed “peas” and purple hull are in the genus Vigna. That said, DAO is found in mung bean sprouts, which are also in the genus Vigna. It’s just that we don’t have reliable data on the DAO content of any Vigna species other than mung beans.
      As mentioned in another comment, for a natural source of DAO you can also try sprouting lentils and chickpeas (garbanzo).

  8. How long should I eat the peas for ? I’ve been following the diet for almost two months and still very reactive and to the things I thought were safe , I have tried to implement new things and that sent me back two days now 🙁 I don’t want to rely on supplements and stuff I would rather get my nutrients through food and I keep getting the rash on my face , I’m going to see a functional dr to find the root cause and try to heal my gut as I think that is where the problem is , I’ve gone completely vegan and gluten free and still having hives every day on my face .. I have also lost so much weight to my already tiny body it’s scary for me if anyone can give me advise or anything I would so appreciate it

    • Hi Frederick,
      We cannot give a definitive answer to your question, however, Diamine oxidase (DAO) is an enzyme and freezing slows down, but does not destroy, enzymes in fruits and vegetables.
      It would seem to follow that DAO may not be destroyed by freezing.

    • Nancy, please refer your question to a qualified health professional. We provide information about histamine intolerance, but you really need to see your doctor with any lupus-related questions.

    • It is only alfalfa sprouts that contain something in them that are not proven to interfere with Lupus but suspected to interfere.

    • Yes Skip, you’re right. Heating deactivates the diamine oxidase enzyme. That’s why we recommend the pea spouts – they are more appealing than raw organ meats!

        • This is a good question, Paul. At this point, we don’t know of any.
          We are aware of a commercially available sprouted pea “protein powder”, but this is refined, and may not contain DAO.

        • Hi Paul,
          Check out NATURDAO Legumactive 60 Tab. 1,000,000 HDU DAO enzyme. $39.00. All vegan clean and manufactured in Spain in an FDA registered facility. I just found this myself and I am waiting for it to arrive. So I have not tried it yet. Its new to the market. If I remember right since summer 2021. Found it on Amazon. Hoping for all of us who cannot tolerate the kidney DAO that this will help. But I just started sprouting green peas one day ago. Found a fabulous 3 tier all stainless sprouting set up with 2 screens and a top with a bottom water catcher. It keeps them dark and they are sprouting fast!. Also on Amazon for $40 + . I am totally vegan and haven’t been able to eat meat, dairy, eggs, olive oil or gluten. Its been hell and back. Also all the other foods regularly seen on most of the legitimate lists. Yeah I’ve gotten super skinny too. I’m praying these things will allow me to at least get more protein. My muscles have suffered the most. Too painful to get much exercise. Good luck out there to everybody. I pray this helps somebody out there struggling like me 🙂

    • Yes Ivana, you can try sprouting other legumes such as lentils and chickpeas. Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) are in an entirely different genus from peas (Pisum sativum), despite their common name. Chickpeas are also known as gram, or garbanzo beans.

      • Any legume sprouts sprouted in the dark. Harvested best 5 to 10 days. Mung are the the best flavor and easy to eat. Alfalfa and clover are also easy to eat. Know someone using these and they work but she does not have really bad symptoms

  9. Another informative article. I’m new on this journey and keen to find foods to increase my DAO to see if that helps relieve symptoms. I’m a little confused as in this article it says the pea sprouts can be juiced but further down it states that they can be blended but don’t sieve them as the whole plant needs to be consumed. Which is correct as juicing would eliminate the pulp. Thank you!

    • Hi Julia,
      Juicing only eliminates the pulp if you use one of those juicing machines that filters it out. Juicing machines that leave the fibrous matter in the juice are available to buy – they are just not as common as the others.

  10. My question is, when is the best time to harvest the pea sprouts to get the maximum amount of DAO, 4 – 5 days, 11 days ?. ALSO, what parts of the sprout do you eat, the whole thing or just certain parts of the plant ?. I’ve been growing the seedlings in a 7 tier seed/pea sprouter, in a dark room, away from natural light, using just water 3 times a day, NO SOIL. I want to add the sprouts to my low histamine diet. About a year and 1/2 ago I developed a severe rash all over my body except for my head and groin area. The rash has improved by 90% since I’ve been on the diet, but would like to add the pea sprouts to it. Thanks much, and best regards. Ray Hafer

    • Hi Raymond,
      Thank you for your comment. We’re very happy to hear how well you are doing on the Strictly Low Histamine Diet. Allergy and nutrition specialist Dr Janice Joneja says that the optimum time for DAO to develop in pea sprouts is about 10-12 days. You eat the entire seed and sprout together.
      Best wishes for good health,
      The SLH Team.

        • Raymond, ask at your local health food shop for dried whole peas, or search online for “pea seeds for sprouting”. Never use pea seeds that are sold for sowing, such as in nurseries and garden centers, because they have been treated with fungicides to give them a longer shelf-life.

    • Hello,
      Will you please give guidance about the diet that gave you relief. What are the foods you avoiding and list of what you are taking.

    • Diane, animal organ meats include non-muscle-meat components, such as kidneys.
      Diamine oxidase (DAO), being an enzyme, is a protein. When food is subjected to heat, some of its proteins become denatured and lose its valuable active characteristics. Most people would not wish to eat uncooked animal organ meats and placentas, which is why we recommend the pea sprouts.

    • Jimish, we recommend that you try the Strictly Low Histamine Diet for a few weeks. If you obtain relief from your symptoms, gradually begin to re-introduce other foods into your diet, one by one, leaving a few days between each new food. This is so that you can find out whether you tolerate them. You don’t have to follow the diet for the rest of your life – only until your symptoms go away.

    • Kitty, thanks for your good question. The best peas to use are garden peas (Pisum sativum). Make sure you use only peas that are meant to be eaten. Don’t use peas that are sold to be sown, because they have usually been treated with fungicides.

    • Hi Anne-Marie,

      If you suffer from histamine intolerance then getting a boost of DAO by eating sprouts (as described in the blog) with each meal can help ease your symptoms.
      As to the quantity to be eaten, that would be different fro each individual.
      In the home kitchen, people generally do not have the specialized equipment to test each batch of sprouts to find out exactly how much DAO they contain.
      Additionally, each person’s histamine level is different, and so each person will need a different dose.
      We suggest trying a small amount to begin with, then increasing the amount until you start to feel better.
      Be sure to combine DAO supplementation with the low histamine diet for best results.

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