Suffering from hot flushes, night sweats, a puffy face and headaches? While these can be common symptoms of perimenopause, there’s another culprit that might be at play: histamine.

What is histamine?

While you might find its effects pesky, histamine is an essential substance for the human body! It’s an excitatory brain chemical, meaning that it ramps up the nervous system (compared to the more calming brain chemicals such as GABA).

Histamine also plays a role in processes such as immune function and inflammation. But like anything, the key is moderation. The right amount helps to keep us healthy and protected from illness and injury. But too much can tip us over into experiencing symptoms.

This is why you’ll often hear about a histamine bucket. Your body can tolerate a certain level of histamine before the bucket overflows and you suffer the consequences.

What symptoms can it cause?

Some of the signs of elevated histamine in the body include:

  • Blood vessel dilation
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes and/or skin
  • Hives
  • Puffy face
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Diarrhoea
  • Hot flushes
  • Increased sweating

As you’ll notice, some of these overlap with common perimenopause complaints. Sometimes, histamine is the main problem. But as we’ll talk about shortly, it’s often a case where both are playing a role.

Why would I have high histamine?

There are many factors that can trigger the production of histamine in the body, along with others that reduce its clearance. So you might be overproducing it, or it’s getting stuck in your system, or often both at the same time!

Some of the most common contributors include:

  • Allergies and intolerances (particularly if they are still unidentified or not managed properly!)
  • Bacterial overgrowth in the gut (SIBO and dysbiosis)
  • Increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and reduced gut function
  • Stress – including physical, mental and environmental (your nervous system can’t tell the difference!)
  • Genetics – some people have genes that mean they don’t clear histamine from the body as quickly as others
  • Factors that block your body’s histamine-processing enzyme including tea, cola drinks, energy drinks and some medications
  • Fermented foods such as cheese, sauerkraut, kombucha, yoghurt
  • Most alcoholic drinks including red wine and beer (the more aged, the higher the histamine!)
  • Ingredients & food compounds that can trigger histamine release such as MSG, glutamate, lectins and many additives

Keep in mind the bucket analogy here. If you already have borderline levels due to factors such as genetics and high stress, it’s easy for one small thing like a glass of wine to overflow the bucket.

The link to perimenopause

If you’ve been around here for a while, you won’t be surprised to hear that this whole process also ties into perimenopause! And as always, oestrogen is the trigger.

Rollercoasting oestrogen levels will trigger histamine release. And unfortunately, high histamine can also increase your oestrogen! This is a vicious cycle, and it won’t stop until you step in and correct one (or both).

This is why you might find yourself with far more perimenopausal symptoms after a high-histamine meal or drink. If you notice hot flushes, sweats or headaches always seem to pop up after you’ve had some red wine or a cheesy pasta? Perimenopause isn’t the only factor.

What can I do about my histamine symptoms?

So you think this is why you’re all sniffily and sweaty – but what can you do? Here are some simple tips to get you started:

Identify your triggers! This is always the best place to start, because your ‘bucket’ contributors will be unique to you. Track your food and drink for a week or so and note down when your symptoms are worse. This is also handy if you see a practitioner, as we can help you to spot patterns!

Don’t drink all of your alcohol in one sitting – you’re better off drinking one glass a few nights a week compared to having an entire bottle on Friday night (hello, bucket overflow!)

Switch your booze of choice – red wine and beer are higher in histamine, so try clear spirits like vodka and gin instead

Manage your stress – this helps with everything, including your histamine load, your liver and of course your perimenopausal symptoms!

Eat more foods that are high in vitamin C and quercetin – these two compounds help your body to clear excess histamine.  Fresh fruit, red, green and purple veg, and cruciferous veg like cabbage, kale and cauliflower are your best choices!

Get onto some gut TLC – but don’t just reach for probiotics, as some of them will trigger more histamine release! Instead, go back to the basics of having plenty of fresh filtered water, a good serving of fibre-rich foods, and ditch the junk food with ingredients that your tummy doesn’t love

Get help with choosing supplements! Before you start prescribing all sorts of weird and wonderful supplements from the health food store or chemist, get some tailored help from a qualified professional. We will look at your specific histamine bucket (and your overall health as well!) and recommend supplements that are effective and give the biggest bang for your buck!

Ready to ditch the runny nose, hives and sweats for good?

If you are ready to feel cool (physically AND mentally!), calm, less stressed and able to put yourself first, book in for a free discovery call today. Together, we can explore how I can help you to support a healthy hormone balance and smooth the transition through perimenopause.