Nature’s Superfoods

Spices for histamine intoleranceNature’s ‘Superfoods’ for People with Histamine Intolerance

Every body is different, so as always when you introduce a new food into your diet, we recommend trying a small quantity at first.

Asafoetida, fenugreek, turmeric, dill and nigella blackseed can be beneficial for people who are histamine intolerant. Scroll down to see some of the reasons why.

Fenugreek seeds

Fenugreek seeds have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The first recorded use of fenugreek is written on an ancient Egyptian papyrus dated to 1500 B.C. Fenugreek seed is a culinary spice; traditionally it was also used medicinally, to treat a variety of health problems including menopausal symptoms and digestive upsets.
A 2011 experiment in which lab researchers exposed the paws of rats to histamine, to make them acutely swell (‘oedema’), showed that an extract of fenugreek seeds “exhibited significant anti-inflammatory activity” in the paws of the rats.

[Trigonella foenum graecum (fenugreek) seeds had remarkable acute and chronic anti-inflammatory and in vitro antioxidant actions in the tested models validating its traditional uses.” [Source: Anti-inflammatory and in vitro antioxidant property of Trigonella foenum graecum seeds. Authors: Subhashini, N.; Nagarajan, G.; Kavimani, S. Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology 2011 Vol. 6 No. 4 pp. 371-380 ISSN 1816-496X DOI 10.3923/jpt.2011.371.380]

 Asafoetida powder

“Ferula assa-foetida (asafoetida) is not only used as a culinary spice but also traditionally used to treat various diseases, including asthma, gastrointestinal disorders, intestinal parasites, etc. This oleo-gum-resin has been known to possess antifungal, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic and antiviral activities.”

[Source: J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Mar 8;134(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.11.067. Epub 2010 Dec 3. Traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of asafoetida (Ferula assa-foetida oleo-gum-resin) – a review. Iranshahy M, Iranshahi M.]

Another study found that asafoetida may have inhibitory properties on the histamine (H1) receptor.

[Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. Received: July 19, 2011; Accepted: Aug 9, 2011. Vol. 2, No. 1, Winter 2012, 10-16 AJP, Vol. 2, No. 1, Winter 2012.  Possible mechanism(s) of the relaxant effect of asafoetida (Ferula assa-foetida) oleo-gum-resin extract on guinea-pig tracheal smooth muscle. Zahra Gholamnezhad, Goltaj Byrami, Mohammad Hossein Boskabady, Mehrdad Iranshahi]

Nigella blackseed

The seeds of Nigella sativa (family: Ranunculaceae), commonly known as Black Seed, Black Cumin, or “Habbatul Barakah”, have long been used in folk medicine in the Arabian Gulf region, Far East Asia, and Europe. (Find out more about traditional uses here.)

“Nigella sativa (blackseed) could partly protect gastric mucosa from acute alcohol-induced mucosal injury, and these gastroprotective effects could be due to (its) antiperoxidative, antioxidant and antihistaminic effects. ”

[Source: ‘The antioxidative and antihistaminic effect of Nigella sativa and its major constituent, thymoquinone on ethanol-induced gastric mucosal damage.’ Arch Toxicol. 2006 Apr;80(4):217-24.  Kanter M1, Coskun O, Uysal H.]


Turmeric (Curcuma longa) contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory, antihistamine  and antioxidant properties.

[Source: Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin Vol. 32 (2009) No. 5 P 842-849 ‘Effects of Benzylidenecyclopentanone Analogues of Curcumin on Histamine Release from Mast Cells’ Agung Endro Nugroho, Zullies Ikawati, Kazutaka Maeyama. ]

Dill seeds

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is rich in quercetin, a substance that “stabilizes mast cells and prevents the release of histamine and other chemicals from these cells.”

[J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1984 Jun;73(6):819-23. Mucosal mast cells. III. Effect of quercetin and other flavonoids on antigen-induced histamine secretion from rat intestinal mast cells. Pearce FL, Befus AD, Bienenstock J.]

” Two flavonoids have been isolated from A. graveolens L. seed, quercetin and isoharmentin, which have antioxidant activity and could counteract free radicals.”

[Source: Pharmacogn Rev. 2010 Jul-Dec; 4(8): 179–184. doi:  10.4103/0973-7847.70915 PMCID: PMC3249919 Anethum graveolens: An Indian traditional medicinal herb and spice. S. Jana and G. S. Shekhawat]


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.’