|Can probiotics help a histamine intolerance?|
|As part of our on-going histamine Q & A, Dr Janice Joneja was asked whether taking probiotics could help a histamine intolerance.|
Dr Janice Joneja, a world expert on histamine intolerance, has created an easy-to-read guide to help you understand whether you might be histamine intolerant, and, if so, what you can do about it.
I was wondering if taking certain types of probiotics would help with histamine intolerance. I saw that your article seems to draw a possible connection between bacteria in the intestines that may be the type that make histamine.
If probiotics would help, which type would be most effective?
Dr Joneja says:
Since the early 1990s foods containing probiotic cultures have become established as a method of introducing new strains of microorganisms into the body in the management of an ever-increasing number of conditions. The aim is to displace unwanted organisms by introducing beneficial strains together with a source of nutrients to aid in their establishment in the new environment.
Microorganisms capable of converting histidine from residual proteins in the digestive tract into histamine occur naturally as part of the normal microflora of many people. These strains synthesise (produce) the enzyme histidine decarboxylase (HDC). When these organisms are present in large numbers it is probable that this is a contributory cause of histamine excess or sensitivity.
As you will learn from my various publications (see Dr Joneja’s articles here, all of which have links to her books), histamine is broken down by enzymes, especially diamine oxidase (DAO) and removed from the body. Some strains of microorganisms can synthesise DAO. Unfortunately, currently we do not have any research that has definitively established the effectiveness and safety of these strains within the body.
Clearly, if we could displace microorganisms producing HDC and histamine with those capable of producing DAO it would be of great benefit to the histamine-sensitive individual. We need to identify precisely which strains of microorganisms synthesise histidine decarboxylase and which produce diamine oxidase. By eliminating the former and promoting the establishment of the latter we might expect to greatly aid histamine reduction in the digestive tract, and possibly within the body as well. I submitted proposals for this research 15 years ago, but unfortunately was unable to obtain funding because governments and universities could not provide the support required and the drug and food companies who would have funds available could not see the profit in the proposal; I had to shelve it for lack of backing and facilities in which to conduct the research.
At the present time we have the situation in which an attempt to introduce DAO-producing strains into the histamine intolerant individual carries the risk of also introducing bacteria capable of producing histidine decarboxylase, and thereby actually increasing the level of histamine entering the patient’s circulation. Until we have much more information on the strains capable of producing DAO at an effective level within the body, and how to introduce them safely, while suppressing those synthesizing HDC, the use of probiotics as a management strategy for histamine intolerance is a hit and miss situation with a rather uncertain outcome.
For readers who have a particular interest, I will provide summary lists of the microorganisms which produce HDC and those that synthesize DAO. It is important to understand that these lists include known strains of HDC- and DAO-producers, but makes absolutely no claim as to their safety in humans, nor their ability to produce sufficient DAO to reduce histamine in vivo, and thus their suitability as probiotics. That research remains to be carried out.
If you found this article interesting you can find a number of other articles on histamine intolerance both by Dr Joneja and others here, reports on histamine research here and a Q & A section on histamine with Dr Joneja here.
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Dr Janice Joneja, Ph.D., RDDr. Janice Joneja is a researcher, educator, author, and clinical counsellor with over thirty years of experience in the area of biochemical and immunological reactions involved in food allergy and intolerances. Dr. Joneja holds a Ph.D. in medical microbiology and immunology and is a registered dietitian (RD).