Are hot flashes allergy-like reactions?

It’s been two weeks since I stopped drinking green tea and two weeks since I’ve had a hot flash. When I say I haven’t had a hot flash, I mean not one. Not after eating spicy food, not during or after working out, not after getting frustrated, and not even sitting on the couch reading. Those were all the times I would have one. (It got so I would not sit on my own couch anymore and it is my favorite reading spot.)

Last night I indulged in salad with blue cheese dressing and a pizza with my folks. I thought I was getting a little warm. I thought ok, here it comes…but nothing.

I’ve investigated the differences between white tea, which I can drink with abandon, and green tea and have come up with very few. They are the same plant, although white tea is often the bud of the plant rather than the leaves. And green tea is fermented. Other than that the chemical make-up is virtually the same. Green tea has a bit more caffeine, and white tea has a bit more polyphenols. So it must be the fermentation process. I guess…

Whatever it is or isn’t, the whole thing brings me to these questions:

Do (peri)menopausal women with histamine intolerance have hot flashes because of an allergic-like response to an external source?

Do (peri)menopausal women without histamine intolerance have hot flashes?

Notice I did not put the word all in, as in “do all (peri)menopausal women.” The minute you say all, someone will come along and blow the entire theory out of the water.

Unfortunately, I am only a little blogger sitting at a computer tapping out my thoughts and have no idea how to prove or disprove my theory. But I do believe, based on all I know now and what I’ve been through, that peri-menopause and menopause is directly related to histamine intolerance which in turn is directly related to hot flashes.

If this seems to you like I’ve had an epiphany, it does to me too. Although when I read back all the way to my first post in my mission statement, I write that hot flashes are linked to histamine intolerance. The only one who didn’t believe that statement along the way seems to be me, which now makes no sense to me how I lost that thread in this big hormonal histamine tapestry when I look back at my journey through intolerance.

When I was at my very worst, when my last period departed in December 2012, I was tormented by itching (without hives), insomnia, hot flashes (at least 6 or more a night), and an urge to pee about 5 times a night. If you haven’t had that or never realized before, the bladder is a muscle greatly effected by histamine intolerance.

When I finally figured out what was wrong with me and I was eating a very restricted diet and using the supplements that worked for me, I was completely hot flash free. The hot flashes didn’t come back again until about September which would be right around the time I added more restricted foods back into my diet. Green tea was one of them. And then the hot flashes were off and running again.

I did question many times if they were related to the intolerance. I think I even thought that my flashes might be the first sign of my histamine rising. But I never got any other symptoms. The itching never really came back, although I still have triggers and need to be careful. So for the longest time, I just didn’t really remember that I suffered with six of them a night when I was acutely intolerant.

Another thing was in play in my head, and I know you’ll be able to relate. When you research menopause, hot flashes are always on the lists. It’s almost expected that you get them. Like it’s a natural thing and no surprise to anyone.

Because of my memory lapse and the expectation that everyone gets flashes so this must be normal and not related to histamine intolerance, I’ve spent long hours over the last eight months researching how to get rid of them. Once I got the itching under control, they were the only thing that really bedeviled me. And I looked everywhere didn’t I?

Then I realized the other day, at the end of my last post, After all that was it the green tea my advise to you about getting rid of hot flashes was an identical match to what I’ve been saying all along about controlling your histamine intolerance. The vitamins and supplements I suggested, the way to eat; it is all the same.

Every road I went down to get control of my hot flashes I’d already been down to get a hold of my histamine intolerance. The only differences were in the information I gathered about the physiology of the brain and body and the supporting reasons for taking a supplement or eating, or not eating, a food. For example, I still maintain we need to support our hypothalamus because that’s where your body’s thermostat resides. Another example, the acid/alkaline body, is still a smart way to eat.

So after a year and a half of research and reading and writing is this it? Can I just go ahead and tell the world? This is what I’d say…

In its simplest terms, your body got all off kilter because your hormones are fluctuating which brought on histamine intolerance which means you might itch, have hives, get hot flashes, have insomnia, and suffer from one to thirty four different menopausal symptoms, but if you work diligently and keep a food diary and eliminate all the foods that are causing an allergy-like response in your body you can completely control and eliminate all those said symptoms of menopause.

That’s a helluva run-on sentence I must say. But that’s everything. And I’m typing it sitting in a hot Miami sunbeam streaming through my window…without a hot flash. And let me just stress one more time that I was having at least six to ten a day and at least two a night. That’s a big difference don’t you think?

What if it really is that simple a solution? What if women did not have to suffer anymore?

Years ago I had a cat that was sick. I got her from a pet store and I took her to a vet I really didn’t know that well. For months this cat was in and out of that vet’s office. He was doing all kinds of expensive tests and making me buy all kinds of medications. One morning I woke up and looked at the cat and thought that’s it. I called the vet’s office and told them to have her records ready for me to pick up in a half hour. (They balked but I was pretty irate.) I took the records and the cat to my mother’s vet whom she used for years. He gave the cat the once over, gave us a shot and sent us home. The cat was fine the next day.

My point is, it pays to keep someone sick. Where’s the money in advice like “hey, go home, start a food diary, eliminate everything that you think is causing an allergy-like reaction and come back and see me, well, ya know if that works don’t ever come back and see me.” How’s big pharma gonna survive on that?!

Maybe you think I’m being a little cocky today, feeling my oats after actually having slept through the night and not bursting into flames once an hour for the last two weeks…or maybe I’m really onto something. Tell me what you think down in the comments section.

Dale

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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, peri-menopause, Women's health
17 comments on “Are hot flashes allergy-like reactions?
  1. Edwina says:

    Well,I think you’re on to something! This “trial and error”eliminating of various foods is working for me! My bad guys are dairy,grains,nuts,chocolate(noooooooo!) and green tea,well any tea realy. Its worth it though. The disturbed sleep,hotattacks,trips to the loo not to mention the itching! All pretty much under control! Thank you for all your hard work thats pointed me in the right direction!

    • So happy to hear this. I’m always thrilled to know someone else is feeling better and it helps prove I’m not delusional!

      Now when I’m offered something I know will make me suffer later it’s pretty easy to pass it up. I actually don’t even miss chocolate anymore.

      Spread the word. If you’re willing to do the work you’ll be cooler and sleep better!

  2. Julie says:

    The problem is how to determine if a food is causing problems if 1) the food causes symptoms after repeated exposure, and 2) if there is a delayed reaction.
    My histamine response seems different than Dale’s, because I often get anxious (a fight-or-flight feeling) before the flush. I’m still working on the cause. I don’t think it’s food intolerance, because I’ve tried very restrictive elimination diets and have kept a food diary for a year. I can provoke the flight-or-flight feeling by taking supplements (specifically methionine, sam-e, choline)… niacin calms me … so I maybe there’s a methylation problem. But I also think my symptoms worsen from a high fat diet, from foods high in estrogen/phytoestrogen, and possibly from foods with a high omega-6:omega-3 ratio. It’s very confusing. I admit that I’m jealous Dale found her trigger, but it does inspire hope.

    • Well remember that is only one trigger. I limit my Omega 6 intake too. I also do not eat many of the things that made me itch early on and I still use a lot of olive oil both on my body and as a supplement.

      It’s not the only hot flash trigger either. Potatoes are one, liquor, and mint tea are all hot flash triggers.

      And just to put a fine point on it, it’s taken me a year and a half to put that most recent piece of the puzzle together.

      I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that it isn’t easy and it takes time and patience and to please stick with it. It sounds like you actually know quite a lot about what’s going on.

      Do you have a specific food you are questioning? Maybe you can share specifics so we can all be detectives based on what those foods do to us.

      • Julie says:

        I’m sorry, I read your posts, and I knew that you had many triggers. I just got the impression that you could relax your diet for the most part… maybe with the exception of green tea? If you do try it again, I’ll be curious if you can tolerate it in small quantities…so the dose makes the poison, as they say. I find that all tubers from the grocery store cause problems for me – potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, etc. Months ago, I lived on white ‘new’ potatoes from the farmer’s market, and didn’t experience any flushing until I added lard. I can now buy potatoes at the farmer’s market again, so I’ll retest this… w/o the lard this time ;). You asked if I had any specific foods I’m questioning. I found the most delicious nut butter called Artisana raw macadamia butter. Based on the calorie/fat information, I determined that it’s 5oz macadamia + 3oz cashew. I suspect it causes a delayed histamine response, because on days I eat it, I consume over 3k calories. I usually eat about 2000-2300 calories. To make up for the omega6, I’ve been taking a cod liver oil, so the omega6:omega3 ratio is 3:1 and the polyunsaturated fats are <5% of my calories. I love the nut butter with romaine/cucumber, so I'm motivated to resolve if this is a problem.. I'll keep you updated on if you're interested ;). Thanks for your reply, and your well-written blog. I really appreciate it.

      • Yes please keep me updated. I always like to hear what’s going on with everybody.

        Maybe you can tolerate the mac nuts but not the cashews. They’re high in histamine.

        You sound extremely motivated and very knowledgable. I’m sure you can figure it out. I was thinking about it in bed last night and it was quite by accident that I figured out the green tea. I really had to sit back and analyze what I had not eaten during those days I was flash free at the start of the whole thing. Herbs and plants were an issue. Nettles, chamomile, mint…but then I read chia is part of the herb family and to this day chai seeds still bother me and that’s when I thought hey, I wonder if it’s the green tea?

        I hope you don’t think you offended me. I was really just trying to stress that it’s been a long road for me too. Mostly wanted to get that message out so everyone knows it’s not easy for anyone and it really can take a lot of time and effort.

        I’m a high school teacher. We’re very bossy and forthright!

  3. veronica says:

    as i sit here covered in hives at 4 am ,im thinking you are the answer to my prayers ,my diet is super high in foods that would trigger it ,and here i thought i was eating healthy

    • One of the hardest things to ever wrap my head around was that my super healthy diet was the problem. I put a cup of spinach in my smoothie every morning and an hour later I was scratching my arms bloody and never knew why.

      And forget trying to explain that to anyone on the planet who hasn’t suffered with it. They can’t understand how you can react to avocados and cauliflower! I had someone tell me cinnamon is really good for allergies. Cinnamon made me want to tear my arms off!

      I hope you start a food diary. You’ll know right away if this is your issue. Good luck and let me know how you’re doing.

  4. sofia says:

    I’m so glad to hear that avoiding the green tea helps! I avoid pretty much all tea except roiboos and I hardly drink that. What you wrote gives me hope. I haven’t had any hot flashes (I’m 43) and I’m hoping that by controlling my histamine levels I never have them. My mother suffered terribly and I’m very sure that she has histamine issues as she has many health problems that, from what I have read, can be linked to histamine but she won’t listen to me so nothing I can do sadly.

    A really bad thing for me is coconut flour! I made some delicious muffins and for 2 days could barely sleep and had restless leg syndrome. It was a nightmare until I remembered that happened to me before.

    One thing that has been bothering me is my ankles and the tops of my feet swelling. The only thing that takes it away is juicing. I juice almost everyday until 9pm and then eat dinner but I can’t exactly figure out what is causing it. Days I think my histamine intake was higher doesn’t always mean swollen ankles so …..not sure what to think at this point. Hormones perhaps?

    • I don’t know about the swollen ankles either. I’m on my feet seven hours a day when I’m teaching and I come home slightly swollen too. I don’t know if that has anything to do with histamine.

      And as a note, my 78 year old mother had hit flashes for years and years after menopause and I am certain she is intolerant. She has always gotten hives and allergic reactions to all sorts of things. And there is other stuff in my family tree that would indicate intolerance lurking around. But she won’t do anything about it either. You can only take care of yourself I guess.

      Sounds like you’re off to a great start to not ever suffer from the frickn’ hot flashes!

  5. Julie says:

    Dale, I read something that reminded me of this blog:
    “Be careful with Green Tea as that, in particular, provokes mast cell degranulation”
    Quoted from:
    http://www.mastocytosis.ca/MSC%20HT%20Restricted%20Diet%20Nov2012.pdf

    I don’t know how reputable that site is… I just started reading it.

    But this information is coming together for me. I mentioned in a previous post that I have a genetic polymorphism (MTHFR A1298c) that reduces the amount of tetrahydrabiopterin (BH4) that my body makes. This leads to reduced levels of neurotransmitters, including seratonin, dopamine, melatonin, etc. Reduced levels of BH4 are associated with mast cell degranulation via nitric oxide. I did a google search, and the first 2 returns are abstracts from publications:

    1) “… alterations in NOS activity via BH4 availability may be critical to the heterogeneous responsiveness of MC.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14514683

    2) “… the expression of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), a NOS cofactor, has stabilizing effects on MC degranulation.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15962092

    Histamine is produced by mast cells, so mast cell degranulation can produce a histamine reaction.

    And to come full circle… “Estrogen therapy replenishes vascular tetrahydrobiopterin and reduces oxidative stress in ovariectomized rats”. http://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2006/13020/Estrogen_therapy_replenishes_vascular.20.aspx

    So are estrogen-deficient (older, slender) women w/ a MTHFR A1298c polymorphism more likely to be histamine intolerant? (I say ‘slender’ since fat cells produce estrogen).

    I know most people haven’t had 23andme genetic testing. Since this BH4 is a precursor to seratonin, then maybe (maybe!) we can judge BH4 status based on what people define as a ‘low-seratonin personality’ – irritable, impatient, pessimistic, and perfectionist. (nice, huh?). There is a (dubious) questionnaire here: https://www.moodcure.com/take_the_mood_type_questionnaire.html.

    Disclaimer: I haven’t read the full studies of the URLs I provided, so I don’t know if the studies are trustworthy.

    Dale, I’m sorry if I hijacked your blog. I’m just pleased for making the connection, but I’m happy to be less obtrusive ;).

    • Wow all great information. I love when people add to the discussion. Don’t ever worry about posting links and info. And I’ve read lots of stuff on that site before. The Low Histamine Chef has interview with the person who’s book they recommend, Janice Joneja. So I think it’s a pretty reputable site. I’d have to look at the others but it certainly sounds like you’re looking in the right places.

      I’ve never had any genetic testing and don’t plan to. I have no idea if I have the mutation. But I am a slim gal. 5-3 and a hundred pounds wet. So that is very interesting to me.

      I admittedly have some of those traits too…but I’m not a pessimist!

      Come back when you discover more and want to share.

  6. Julie says:

    I prefer to myself a ‘realist’, not a ‘pessimist’. When I explain my logic, people are less ‘optimistic’ ;).

  7. Susan says:

    I am 65 and past menopause obviously ( 14 years ) and will still get a reaction of a hot flash to sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Last year my body got out of “whack” when I went off an antihistamine for mysterious hives I developed after weathering the effects of Hurricane Sandy. At that time the excess histamine was causing the most horrible symptoms in my body and I had all kinds of tests that proved healthy. I reacted to shellfish and all of the high histamine foods. I had to go back to a small amount of antihistamine and I am working on regulating my system again. I am learning in time that when our bodies go out of balance, it is a cascading affect and menopause is certainly a big event in our life that can start this disruption. Last summer “the fight or flight response” was one my worst symptoms and I remember eating some lobster one night and had to leave the restaurant. On any given day, you can be off balance from a lot of reasons, but going through menopause is the start of really paying attention to your body and living as healthy as possible. As you get older, even if you are very healthy, it takes less to disrupt your body systems.

    • You’ve made many good points here. And it’s funny, I’ve recently been researching the flight or fight response as it relates to our hormonal system. The parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems are integral to our hormonal health.

      I hope you are doing better now.

  8. In august 2008 I awoke with crippling back and neck pain,stiffness and 3 hot flashes an hour around the clock! Now 6 years later and many health care people including many alternative I have finally figured out histamine intolerance, salicylate intolerance and God knows what else! I am trying to figure all this out and any help would be greatly appreciated! Still quite ill and house bound most days! Thank you!

    • Marie, please click on the Current Thoughts tab at the top of the page and start reading “I think I’m histamine intolerant what do I do now.” Then work your way through the other posts listed on the index of posts. That will get you started.

      I have over a hundred posts and over six hundred comments on this blog so there’s no shortage of information and advice from not only me but lots of other women out there who are trying to lick this problem too.

      So get reading girl! And come back and ask questions. I know we can get you out of that house soon!

      All my best,

      Dale

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