Index of posts

I wanted to have a index of what I think are my most important posts.

This is the one I think everyone should read first:
I think I’m histamine intolerant so what do I do now?

The following posts are about olive oil and omegas, as well as adrenal fatigue and inflammation:

The final theory on why I’ve healed is an in depth discussion on what I’ve learned over the last few months and what has worked for me to lower my histamine levels and reduce inflammation in my body.

Omegas is the discussion on why I think an imbalance of omega 6/ omega 3 was causing a big part of my problem with inflammation.

Olive oil, cortisol, and adrenal fatigue is where I started to really have an understanding as to how olive oil could positively affect adrenal fatigue.

Olive oil, polyphenols, and healing is the post where I first started to really make an argument for how olive oil was helping me get onto the healing path.

More on why olive oil might help heal is about how olive oil might help with intolerance because it has the ability to help the intestines produce DAO, the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine.

Adrenal fatigue, menopause, and histamine intolerance talks about the possible link between adrenal fatigue and histamine intolerance.

Do women really need to suffer? talks about whether women who are menopausal or peri menopausal need to suffer the “typical” symptoms, or can my findings make a difference to them too?

These posts are about the other issues you might not think of but can be causing you trouble, such as hot showers and razor burn.

Remember it’s not just food talks about how using products around your house that might trigger a reaction.

Give up the razor Shaving using a razor caused itchy legs for hours after.

Does your shower make you itch Hot showers can be a major hive trigger!

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Posted in olive oil, omega 3, polyphenols

The final theory on why I’ve healed

I feel like I’ve been putting a jigsaw puzzle together for the last three months. Everyday I snapped in another piece, until yesterday I finally put all the pieces together, stepped back and saw the whole picture.

Menopause triggered my histamine intolerance, but why and how?

As I said in my previous post, I think my histamine intolerance was triggered by the hormonal fluctuations of menopause. I now believe it happened because I already had an over-abundance of omega 6 in my diet and by supplementing with Evening Primrose Oil, thus creating a deficiency in omega 3. This caused my cortisol levels to rise and my DHEA levels to diminish. (The hormones released by the adrenal glands)

I believe my body was dealing with an inflammatory situation before menopause began.The drop in estrogen and progesterone basically unveiled the problem and had a direct affect on insufficient DHEA and cortisol levels produced by the adrenals, and the ensuing inflammatory response.The link between cortisol production and DHEA is an important one because, with long periods of chronically high cortisol levels, the ability to produce DHEA diminishes and your immune system becomes compromised. It’s that compromised immune system that then wreaks havoc with inflammation, and thus causes histamine intolerance.

In other words, one of the most significant effects of restoring DHEA seems to be the restoration of the normal balance between DHEA and cortisol. As DHEA levels increase, the propensity to overproduce cortisol is dampened—along with the spiral of symptoms induced by high cortisol.

In my earlier posts I thought it was the cortisol levels that were the direct issue, but now I believe ultimately it’s the production of DHEA. This has a lot to do with what olive oil has contributed to the big picture. The reason my body has begun to really heal is not due to the quercetin and other vitamin supplements, but is due to the omega 3 supplementation and the use of olive oil on my body and in my diet. Eliminating the Evening Primrose Oil, eating a low histamine diet, and the taking the other supplements managed my histamine intolerance, but I really believe the omega 3 and olive oil healed it.

What’s the olive oil connection? DHEA is the body’s natural cortisol antagonist and prevents many of the negative effects of cortisol. It is believed that olive oil helps the body absorb DHEA. Additionally, some researchers also suggest olive oil builds more healthy omega 3/omega 6 balance by displacing omega 6 acids.

I had stopped taking EPO and started taking omega 3 for about two months before I started using olive oil on my skin and adding it heavily into my diet. (I’ve always used olive oil but I started adding a tablespoon into my morning smoothie and taking a teaspoon before bed) My intolerance had been slowly improving, but once I started with the olive oil, it was within two weeks I became basically itch free. I also do not suffer from hot flashes or mood swings. Basically, I do not suffer from any of the “typical” menopausal symptoms right now.

I have to state one more time for the record that I am not in medicine and I am not dispensing medical advise. I am sharing a theory I have developed based on the results of eating a low histamine diet and my supplementation regimen, the research I’ve done, and how my body has reacted and ultimately healed from histamine intolerance.

I still maintain a low histamine diet and will continue to do so for quite some time. I also have added a list of “unsafe” foods based on their omega 6 content and their high inflammatory nature. I will also continue to supplement using my regimen of vitamins and other nutrients for at least the next three months. I consider myself healing, rather than completely healed and know that there are still some hurdles to jump. I probably won’t drink beer again or eat chocolate anytime soon, and still have not tried some of my biggest triggers like balsamic vinegar, tomato sauce, or spinach. I also threw out all of my razors and will only use my electric razor and will only take baths. It seems too risky to change anything right now since everything is working so well for me. It is early into what I consider a healing body and I am wary about tilting the balance backwards.

I have quoted a few things from each of the following sites. If you want an in depth knowledge on the importance of DHEA on overall health, look here. If you’d like to read about cortisol deficiency, take a look at this site.

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Posted in olive oil, omega 3, polyphenols


I’ve been wanting to write about Omega 3 supplementation for a while. It’s a really important subject when it comes to inflammation in the body. If you have too little omega 3 in your body and too much omega 6, you might have a myriad of health problems because your hormonal system, and therefore your immune system can be compromised.

It’s especially important to speak to vegans and vegetarians about it because it is a lot harder for vegetarians to get the proper amount of omega 3 if they do not eat any animal products. If you are eating oily fish or taking fish oil capsules, getting omega 3 is probably not a big issue for you. But please read on to understand the link between omegas and some of the oils you might be taking to control your menopausal symptoms. Evening Primrose, Borage, and Black Currant are the oils women take to head off hot flashes and mood swings due to hormones, and they are high in omega 6. Flax oil is known to have a large amount of omega 3, but it’s complex when it comes to how it is synthesized, so if you have a problem with omega 6’s flax might still be a problem.(I personally do not touch flax seeds or the oil. There are many hormonal ramifications to using it. I’ll address that in another post.)

A little backstory first: I’d suffered from PMS, migraines, and mood swings my whole life. Very early on, probably in my late twenties, I went to the local health food store, the place where only old hippies went because alternative healthcare was relatively new, and loaded up on books about herbs and alternative therapies. I started taking tinctures from the the brand Herbs of Light, that were dedicated to women’s issues; I think it was called Female Balance. The tinctures were always a mix of the most popular herbs for adjusting hormone balance: dong quai, black cohosh, vitex…

After years of taking herbs I decided I wanted to get off them and that was right around the time soy was earning a strong reputation as a healthy phytoestrogen. I did well with soy for quite awhile; less mood swings and no cramps, but still suffered migraines.

But then there was a big backlash about soy and I started to get a bit worried that it might not be the healthiest alternative, so I went back to the books and decided on Evening Primrose Oil. That I took for about four years which brings me up to September of last year, when I started to feel like I was occupying someone else’s body.

I was feeling so badly in so many different ways I started to try to figure out if I should be off the Evening Primrose Oil and everything else, or should I find another alternative. I was moody, weepy, and angry. I was fatigued and restless. I was so uncomfortable with myself.

I started reading about whether Evening Primrose was ok to take for years, and many people felt it was fine but a couple questioned whether you suffer a backlash from it, so I determined maybe that was the problem. I tried Vitex next. That herb you’re supposed to take for about three months before it might start to work, but I was feeling worse yet, so I stopped that after two months. I decided to go back to the Evening Primrose oil at the end of November.

About a month later, my period left for good, so far, and the histamine intolerance started almost simultaneously.

So what does this all have to do with Omegas and histamine intolerance? Well, the entire time I was taking Evening Primrose Oil I thought it was a good source of omega 3, but I was completely mistaken. It is a soure of omega 6. (Borage oil and black currant are also high in omega 6) You are supposed to have the right balance of omega 3, 6 and 9 to remain healthy. If you are taking in too much omega 6 in your diet, it is inflammatory. Considering most people who eat a western diet get way too much omega 6 already, supplementing with an omega 6 would not be a good idea.

So I worried that I had really thrown my omega balance off so much that I had caused the histamine intolerance. I stopped the EPO and started to research omega 3 supplements. I found an article by Andrew Weil, whom I really think a lot of, about what vegetarians can take for omega 3 supplementation.

There are relatively new supplements on the market that vegetarians can take. (Non vegetarians can take fish oil or make sure they eat oily fish) If you are vegan or vegetarian, look for an omega 3 that has both DHA and EPA. The Weil article is older and when he wrote it supplements with EPA weren’t available but they are now. (Nordic Naturals makes one and another is called Ovega3.) Also, you need to eat a handful of walnuts to get the third component, ALA.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this little nugget about my precious olive oil:
Some researchers also suggest olive oil builds more healthy omega 3 : omega 6 balance by displacing omega 6 acids. Olive oil is also a very powerful anti-fatigue remedy.

I am not sure whether stopping the Evening Primrose Oil and taking the new Omega 3’s, and olive oil, has helped control my histamine intolerance. It absolutely can be part of why my body seems to be going back to “normal.” I don’t know how long it takes for the EPO to leave the system. But I’m sure my omega balance is much better than what it was so it’s possible my body’s inflammation is lower. I also would have no idea how long it might take to “normalize” the balance after so many years of overindulging in omega 6’s.

My suggestion is to take an omega 3 supplement if you think you might have an imbalance. If you do have an imbalance, that’s only going to exacerbate your inflammation. And that’s not a good thing when you are histamine intolerant. You want to lower any kind of inflammation in the body.

I realize I was taking the EPO for years before I ever had a histamine intolerance problem, but remember, everything about your hormonal system changes so maybe menopause was the trigger when it came to the balance of omegas. This is, of course, just a theory like my adrenal fatigue theory. I am not a doctor. But I have been working on putting all the puzzle pieces together, and I know it’s not just one thing that did it.

Many women are taking those oils to help control the symptoms of menopause. And many women have histamine problems during menopause. It only makes sense that this is one other issue to address when trying to minimize, control and cure histamine intolerance brought on by menopause.

This post probably isn’t written as elegantly as I’d like, but I’ve wanted to get this information up because I think it is really key to some of what we might all be suffering with. Until I update with a link to the information, google omega 3-6-9 to find in depth explanations.


This is a great article on omegas.

I’ve started to plug in the words omega 6 and cortisol into search engines and have come up with some fascinating information. This is another site that has a good explanation of what omegas are, what the balance should be, and what foods should be avoided.

I’m going to add to this list, but take a look at that article. Remember, when researching on the web you always have to take what you find with a grain of salt, so I don’t stop at just one site. And I tend to try to hit the medical sites like Webmd and the Mayo clinic’s site too. I always want to hear from all sides of the arguments. But the above site was pretty succinct and backed up the other things I have read elsewhere. Again, if the site is selling something, I do not have anything to do with it. I am not promoting other’s products or even their sites. I am just trying to disseminate information.

And I just found this statement on a website about menopause and cortisol levels:
Symptoms of abnormal cortisol levels become more evident in menopause, when the masking effects of estrogen and progesterone diminish.

I’m still very much thinking the connection between menopause and histamine has to do with the adrenals and the amount of cortisol circulating though the body. The supplements I’ve taken helped manage the histamine intolerance, along with the low histamine diet, but the omega 3 and olive oil might just be the things leveling out the cortisol, which would be the underlying issue for menopausal histamine intolerant women, which would mean we don’t have to live with histamine intolerance. It’s fixable.

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Posted in olive oil, omega 3, polyphenols

The hateful itch was back

I started this blog in 2013 when I had just discovered the connection between histamine intolerance and menopause. It was a time when I suffered, among many other symptoms, with an invisible itch that made me scratch my arms until  they got dark and leathery.

Once I got my body under control the itch went away. It was back for the first time since, on Saturday. I cannot begin to tell you how terrifying it was to feel it again.

If you’ve ever had an itch with no hives, you might know what it feels like. It’s almost hard to describe how differently it feels from an ordinary itch. It feels like there is no way to get relief from it even if you scratch it or rub it. It just laughs at you and comes on stronger!

I ran for the ginger and quercetin and managed to get it to go away. It’s not been back since. So why did this thing rear its butt ugly head all of a sudden? I started analyzing the last couple of days before it showed up.

One day last week I remember scratching my leg like the old days of raging intolerance. But I’m not sure why. Then, when I got home from work on Friday I noticed someone had cleaned the condo’s common areas with some kind of very pungent cleaner. It wasn’t bleach, but I think I reacted to it as if it were. Bleach is one of the most triggering things for me to encounter.

I left to go have a snack with a friend and wound up having a large amount of spinach dip washed down with a histamine triggering grapefruit drink. You see where I’m going here?

Let me just say I am not the least bit careful about my eating these days, as I’m sure you can tell. I pretty much can eat anything I want. But my body gave me fair warning. “If you stop paying attention than one day you are going to pay, and pay big!” The dreadful itch was a warning shot across the bow.

I’ve felt fatigued and like I have “fat eyes” since. As I write this I’m thinking wow, I feel awful. And I have parent teacher back to school night tomorrow, so I’m going home early to bathe in ginger and quercetin. Well maybe not bathe in it… But I will be having butternut squash and apple soup tonight. My old standby of high nutrition and low histamine. Got to get in shape to talk to parents about their little darlings.

I’ve always questioned whether I’m cured, healed, or managed. I think these last few days indicate more managed than cured. But honestly I’ve never actually felt cured. I’ve always felt as if I got the intolerance under control but that it’s still something I have. And this weekend really proved that out.

I still think of  myself as histamine intolerant. I’ve never thought I was, as in past tense. I think I am. But it lost its meaning along the way. And now my 83 year old mother is struggling with debilitating hives that the allergist and the dermatologist and the internist can’t figure out. She won’t listen to me. But watching her makes me very aware that I do not want to be suffering with this at 83. I can control it before I ever get to that point.

So here’s the lesson for the day. Don’t fall into the same trap I did thinking it all won’t come back if you just go back to “normal” life without intolerance. You are probably intolerant and always will be. But you can manage it and keep it at bay if you are thoughtful and careful.

Don’t be like me! Live more mindfully than I have been. And always listen to your body. It knows best.

Be well friends,


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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, Women's health

An old new post

I know I’ve been very inconsistent of late posting to this blog. It’s been seven years since I started it and I came to many solid conclusions I think, so I’m never quite sure where else to go with it. I decided to repost something I wrote specifically for the Healing Histamine blog.

I approached Yasmina about working together in the first couple of weeks of starting my blog. She was extremely kind but was like why don’t you get a few posts under your belt first. I was so excited to try to help people with what I had discovered that I thought she would jump at the chance to work with me. But she was right. I wasn’t even close to being ready to work with her and I knew that.

I wrote and posted and worked it big time. Then one day my blog stats boomed and it was because she gave my blog a shout-out on her Facebook page. From that point on I knew I had been validated by the one person out there that mattered to me because of all the amazing work she was doing.

About three years ago Yasmina asked me to write a post for her blog, which I was over the moon to do. I never posted it to my own blog and thought I should now. It tells my complete story, what I found was the link between histamine and menopause, why it happened, and how I dealt with it.

Thanks for supporting me Yasmina…wherever you are!


Before I get started, I’d like to thank Yasmina for the opportunity to write this for her blog. I’ve told her that when I refer to her to my best friend, I call her the Queen of Histamine. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. I know The Low Histamine Chef is a beacon on an ocean of fear about histamine intolerance.

Yasmina’s story is very different than mine however, and that’s what brings me here. My work has been all about the connection between histamine intolerance and menopause. Where Yasmina’s story entails many years of suffering a multitude of symptoms, my story is of a woman who was going along through life without any other problem than itchy legs and monthly migraines brought on by periods.

I went from what felt like normal to crazy in a day. The moment my periods stopped, and I was regular to the day my entire life, I was a mess. The “expected” symptoms, insomnia and hot flashes, pointed to the onset of menopause. But then there were the others; the constant urge to urinate and the invisible itch to name the most debilitating.

It was the itch that really almost put me over the edge. It started as a little itch below my shoulder blade that I could never seem to get to stop, and then it went from there. The worst of it was my arms. No hives, no indication of a problem, just an itch that I could find no relief from. I tried everything to get rid of it.

For the next month I suffered, all of a sudden it seemed,  from having insomnia, itching, six to ten hot flashes and the need to pee four and five times a night. I was a mess. I was in agony from the symptoms and completely sleep deprived.

It was after drinking a beer, with a growing awareness that food was causing my symptoms, that I finally stumbled over histamine intolerance. I erupted in an uncontrollable itch after the first sip of that beer, went home and Googled what’s in beer, and took a good look at the ingredients. Histamine. I thought “What the hell is histamine?”

The next day, armed with my new theory and lists of histamine-rich foods I started my food diary. It took me only until that afternoon to be completely certain this was the answer. Within minutes of eating an avocado my arm itch came roaring back. And there it was: cause and effect. It would take me another day to type in the words menopause histamine. It had taken me that long to finally put all the pieces together in my head.

And now I come to the really important part of the story. The reason I have a blog and my ultimate mission in life. Women do not have to suffer through menopause. Most of those famous 34 symptoms of menopause can be controlled with a high nutrient anti-inflammatory diet. I know this to be true and I really want to get the word out.

My research over the last two years indicates there is a clear connection between histamine intolerance and the hormonal fluctuations of perimenopause and menopause. I’ve been through many theories on my blog as to why this happens. I am not a scientist or a doctor, but I can see the relationships clearly as I study the physiology of our bodies. It’s only now, two years after I theorized the link between hormones and histamine, that I read in the papers and see in the news that studies are being done on the effects of estrogen and allergic reactions in women. But it is not just understanding estrogen’s role alone.

I knew it was hormonal, but where would I start? It was logical to start at the point when I thought I might have helped cause my own problem. I had been taking Evening Primrose Oil for about three months to control my PMS symptoms and felt that there was a connection between that and the itching. The timing of it made me go back to that over and over again. When I read that Evening Primrose was a powerful Omega 6, I realized I had the first thread in the tapestry. Inflammation.

I already had an over-abundance of omega 6 in my diet as most Americans do,  and by supplementing with Evening Primrose Oil I helped create a deficiency in Omega 3. This caused my cortisol levels to rise and my DHEA levels to diminish. This imbalance lead to a compromised immune system that led to the inflammation that caused the  histamine intolerance.

DHEA is the body’s natural cortisol antagonist. It prevents many of the negative effects of cortisol. Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands and is considered the “stress hormone.” It’s involved in several functions in the body including immune function and inflammatory response. DHEA is also secreted by the adrenals. One of its major functions, other than working with cortisol, is that it is a precursor to estrogen. (Precursors are substances that are converted by the body into hormones)

Much of the new research is that a rise in estrogen causes allergies to become worse. Women with asthma know this well, as their hormones fluctuate with their periods, their asthma might worsen. But with menopause, estrogen drops away. So wouldn’t that protect us from something like histamine intolerance? I believe focusing on estrogen alone is a big mistake. It’s just not that simple. And because we know DHEA is a precursor to estrogen, it makes sense to me that low DHEA is a key player in the mix. Low DHEA, low estrogen, high cortisol.

Ultimately, I believe my body was dealing with an inflammatory situation before menopause began.The drop in estrogen and progesterone basically unveiled the problem and had a direct affect on insufficient DHEA and high cortisol levels produced by the adrenals, and the ensuing inflammatory response.The link between cortisol production and DHEA is an important one because, with long periods of chronically high cortisol levels, the ability to produce DHEA diminishes and your immune system becomes compromised. It’s that compromised immune system that then wreaks havoc with inflammation, and thus causes histamine intolerance. To read all my findings please read my post on the final theory on why healed.

I need to stop here for a second and address one thing. What I’ve researched and believe is really happening could fall under what some naturopaths call adrenal fatigue. If you do not have full blown Addisons disease or its opposite, Cushing’s disease, many allopathic doctors will tell you nothing is really wrong with your adrenals and its all fake. I do not believe it is an either or thing; either you have a major disease or not. Why is it impossible for the allopathic world of medicine to understand that hormone fluctuations can affect many parts of the endocrine system subtly?

Let’s even go so far as to say adrenal fatigue is not a proper term. The facts don’t change. Even aside from the Omega 3/6 balance issue, estrogen drops during menopause. It fluctuates as early as a woman’s late thirties or early forties. DHEA is the estrogen precursor. It’s logical that DHEA fluctuates and drops too. DHEA is a cortisol antagonist. DHEA drops, estrogen drops, cortisol rises, inflammation rises, histamine intolerance blossoms. So don’t call it adrenal fatigue. But that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

Even though the adrenals release these hormones it is quite possible  the messages the adrenals are getting from the hypothalamus/pituitary//brain axis via the hormone ACTH is the culprit. If the pituitary isn’t producing enough, or too much of this hormone, the adrenals will over or under produce its hormones. The pituitary knows to release the hormones in response to hormones released from the hypothalamus. This is where the B vitamins come in. B1 supports the hypothalamus.

I always say it’s not just one thing that caused the cascading effects of hormonal imbalance. I believe that there are other issues that cause histamine intolerance in perimenopausal woman. An imbalance between Omega 3 and 6 as well as an imbalance in cortisol and DHEA are the major factors that trigger the intolerance. Additionally, a lack of B vitamins plays a large role.

When most of my symptoms abated, I was left with one that really tortured me: hot flashes. (Or flushes for the gals across the pond) When I was on a completely restricted diet in the beginning, just trying to get a handle on everything, I was mercifully free of hot flashes. After I started reintroducing foods, the flashes came back with a vengeance.

I spent many hours and posited many different theories as to why this was happening.  Eventually the search led me to research the hypothalamus itself because it controls the body’s thermostat. While researching the autonomic nervous system in which the hypothalamus is a part of, I stumbled over another very important finding. Homocysteine levels rise when estrogen falls. Homocysteine is a non-protein amino acid. It is involved in the methylation process, something people with mast cell disorders would be familiar with, and high levels of it in your system mimics many of the symptoms of menopause and mast cell degranulation disorders. It can also be a precursor to cardiovascular disease, which is very interesting to me because the drop in estrogen is usually seen as the culprit in menopausal women. That’s why so many doctors want women to go on HRT. What if it’s simply a matter of bringing homocysteine levels back down? Vitamin B9, folic acid, helps balance homocysteine.

If you get enough of the B vitamins in your diet it turns out, you can bring your homocysteine level down, thus bringing your body back into balance. So the B vitamins all play an important role in healing intolerance and bringing the body back to normal. Theoretically you could supplement, if you can’t get enough through your diet, with B9 to lower homocysteine levels, B1 to support hypothalamus function, and B6 to support DAO production. Add in B12 for neurological health and you have a full spectrum of support. You can read my post on all these findings here.

It’s interesting isn’t it? The hypothalamus seem to be an important piece of the puzzle. Even if you disregarded everything else I said about DHEA and cortisone, you could still, theoretically fix your inflammatory condition by supporting your hypothalamus by bringing down your homocysteine level. If you read the symptoms of menopause and you read the symptoms of high homocysteine, they are virtually the same. Fatigue, brain fog…

Now for the last important key to my healing puzzle. I mentioned DAO in an above paragraph. DAO is an enzyme that helps break-down histamine. If you’re lacking this enzyme, which is produced in your intestines, your body doesn’t handle the histamine in foods properly and your histamine bucket tips over. Olive oil, it turns out, was key to helping keep my histamine bucket from filling up, and I stumbled on it quite accidentally.

I needed something to use on my dry legs. I could not use any body products without breaking out into hives. I couldn’t even use a razor on them or take hot showers. So they were dry! I decided that because I could eat olive oil without any reaction, I would use it on my legs. That night, I slept better than I had in months. I thought it was a fluke, but I realized within the next couple of weeks that many of my symptoms were gone. I started to, of course, research olive oil. I found in the studies I’ve linked to in this post olive oil was found to increase intestinal lymph DAO. To put it simply, it is my understanding, after reading quite a few medical abstracts, that if you are low on DAO, olive oil helps make some. (This has been my experience – Yasmina).

The truth is, the proof is the healing. As soon as I eliminated the high histamine culprits in my diet things changed dramatically. I also eliminated processed foods with chemicals. I got rid of body products that irritated my skin and started using olive oil as a moisturizer and in my diet. I started supplementing with Omega 3 because as vegetarian who eats no fish I could not get it otherwise. I also started supplementing with the B vitamins.  Within days the itch stopped. The insomnia went away, the hot flashes stopped and the constant urge to pee ceased. I actually started to sleep through the night.

A month and a half after identifying histamine intolerance as my issue I started introducing foods back into my diet with little problem, and after three months I was virtually back to normal.

Now, I eat a healthy diet, and use only very few supplements. I still put a tablespoon of olive oil in my morning smoothies, I dehydrate and grind my own ginger to fill capsules and take that once a day, I take a vegan Omega 3 supplement made from algae, and I take an olive leaf capsule for its antioxidant properties. (As a note, antioxidants play a large role in healing the body but I have yet to post about them)

I’ve come to realize that my itchy legs and migraines were probably a mild form of intolerance all along, but with the drop in estrogen, the intolerance came to the forefront. There are other health issues lurking in my family tree that would indicate histamine intolerance came down through my mother’s side of the family. It manifested in different family members in different ways, but I can see now that it’s there.

It is truly my belief that women do not have to suffer through perimenopause and menopause. I believe the “typical” symptoms can be completely controlled, if not eliminated, through diet. I am so tired of the idea that there are these 34 symptoms and if you have them, well, that’s normal. It’s not normal. No one is supposed to suffer through life. Your body is not supposed to torture you.

To sum up…the major point to understand… is that when your hormones fluctuate at the onset of perimenopause, your body’s systems become unbalanced and it reacts to foods and other outside stimulants as if it were having an allergic reaction. It can be brought back into balance eating a healthy anti-inflammatory diet. Supplementing with vitamins might be necessary if you, like me, cannot get the nutrients you need through foods because of dietary restrictions. But that’s it. No HRT. No trips to the endocrinologist, allergist, or any other ologist. Just a trip to the whole foods section of your grocery store. Cure your histamine intolerance while eliminating your menopausal symptoms, all with food.

Are all women who have menopausal symptoms histamine intolerant? I do not know the answer to that question definitively. But I do know that when your hormones go on their roller coaster ride through menopause histamine rises. It’s there on the 34 symptoms of menopause!

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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, Women's health

Kefir is not a good choice if you have histamine intolerance

Let’s just start by saying I knew this might not end well. I saw all the signs and read all the material. But like anyone else being told to not do something that will affect you adversely, I decided to do it anyway.

I’ve been feeling really good lately so I decided to wade into the probiotic universe and make myself feel really bad… Actually, I had been having stomach and bloating issues for quite some time until I identified the culprit. I had been eating a few prunes every day thinking that would help keep everything humming along if you know what I mean but actually after some research I realized the prunes were the things making me sick. They are loaded with sorbitol which my body cannot process effectively, so not only was I putting on weight because they are little sugar bombs, I was bloating up like the Goodyear blimp!

After the prune debacle, I waited a few weeks until I decided to try to kill myself with something new. I was feeling good, my stomach was flatter and I thought maybe this is now the time I can try Kefir. I also thought, “hey you feel good so why mess with it?” But the “let’s try kefir” won out and off I went brewing up batch after batch.

For those who don’t know, kefir is an ancient probiotic that is brewed from kefir grains. There is a milk version and a water version. I used the water kefir grains which grow and ferment in sugar water. Every two days you decant the water and then replenish the sugar water mixture to do it all again. The grains actually grow and multiply. It’s like trying to keep a new weird pet alive on the kitchen counter.

Now if you have histamine intolerance, you know, or I hope you know, that fermented products might be a problem. They are already high in histamine. Probiotics can also be a problem depending on the bacteria in them. Kefir luckily is both fermented and a powerhouse of probiotics that are not good for histamine intolerance!

And just to step back a minute, the reason I really wanted to try using it is because so much of our health is linked to our gut health. Also, DAO is produced in the gut and that’s the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine in the gut, so if you have inflammation in your body, your gut biome is the first place to look.

Anyway, the first few days I only took a teaspoon of the kefir to ease myself in. I admittedly had gastro issues right away. Let’s just say the bus was way ahead of schedule. I thought, well good, it’s pushing all the bad bacteria out. I kept going and eventually my system settled down. I managed to ignore a nagging itch that seemed to pop up in a usual place and blamed other things for it because denial is a powerful antidote to common sense. I even thought it might be a Herxheimer Reaction which is when your body throws off toxins and you get gastro issues or feel like a cold or flu is coming on. But then the hot flashes started and that is not a Herx reaction. I thought let me push through. Let’s see if my body adjusts. But this morning I woke with a migraine. Even though that could also be a Herx reaction I’ve decided I’ve had enough. I am throwing in the towel on the kefir experiment. I know it’s all been a histamine thing. I will delude myself no longer!

It will take me a couple of days but I’m sure everything will stop once the kefir is out of my system. The good news is my gut will go back to having it’s own colony of bacteria quickly because without re-inoculating myself the kefir’s bacteria won’t take up permanent residence.

So what did I learn? A few things for sure.

  • I am still histamine intolerant. I can manage it to the point of having no symptoms but when I have an ill conceived idea of what my body can tolerate it will tell me so.
  • Hot flashes are a symptom of my intolerance. I’ve written about this often. I don’t need HRT to be hot flash free, but I do have to be low histamine.
  • Using the wrong probiotics can be a very bad thing if you are histamine intolerant. Based on limited research, there are species of bacteria that might be beneficial. The following are thought to downgrade biogenic amines such as histamine. Much more research needs to be done and I recommend using any with caution: Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus plantarum, and possibly Lactobacillus reuteri. 
  • I can be really dumb sometimes.

I’m still going to research gut health but without using probiotics. I am reading up on prebiotics now. These are foods that help your gut produce its own healthy gut bacteria by feeding the ones that are already there. Chicory and asparagus are just a couple to name. Chicory is one of those things they make coffee substitutes with that I know I can drink without ill effect.

I’m not sorry I took the chance on trying the kefir. A lot of people write in and tell me they are taking probiotics and this whole thing forced me to take a good look at them and why they are not to be dabbled with lightly if you are histamine intolerant. You could be making your situation worse and not even know it because you think you are doing something healthy for yourself.

In the meantime, if anybody knows someone who would like a cup of water kefir grains let me know. I need to find a good home for them.




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Posted in histamine intolerance, Women's health

It wasn’t the butler is was the buckwheat…

I know I owe my readers a post on motivation, neurotransmitters, and dopamine, but I have to tell you, bloggers with low dopamine and a lack of motivation don’t get a lot of posts written!

On the bright side, I have learned recently that quercetin, something a lot of you probably take for your histamine intolerance, also raises dopamine levels. And how did I find this out? Well funny enough not because of all the bad foods I was eating during the holidays but because of the one good thing I thought I was doing myself a favor eating: buckwheat.

And why am I calling out one food when I often do not assign blame to single food culprits? Because it’s one of those foods that a lot of people eat thinking it’s a great replacement grain to eat instead of wheat and other high gluten grains.

Here’s the story in a nutshell. I ate very badly during the last week of school because the kids were giving me gifts of chocolate and baked goods and I was going to more parties than usual and eating all kinds of crazy things. When I was finally off the week of Christmas I decided to clean up my act. I decided to eat cleaner along with limiting wheat products and bread. I started making buckwheat pancakes and flatbreads instead.

I have to tell you I was feeling really badly. Enough so that I bought some quercetin which I hadn’t needed to take in years. (I do still take ginger and olive leaf and use olive oil religiously) I was fatigued and my eyes felt “fat.” I thought maybe it was because I wasn’t getting up at five to run but getting up closer to seven, so  I was feeling almost jet lagged. I also started using my water app to monitor my water intake to make sure I wasn’t dehydrated. But I noticed I was starting to get hot flashes again which put me on high alert. They are definitely linked to high histamine with me, as is foggy brain, and fat eyes; all things I was feeling.

Now we are into my second week off and I am feeling way better, but still battling hot flashes and fat eyes. I started to think it might be the buckwheat and decided to stay away from it for a while. I admittedly was eating it almost every day in some form last week.

Last night I was making a bean soup and thought let me put some kasha in it, roasted buckwheat, without even thinking about my previous issues. At 57 it’s a miracle I remember anything at all it seems. After I was done eating I had a hot flash that could have warmed a room. And then I got completely congested.

But honestly, that penny didn’t drop until this morning when I woke still congested and thought about researching whether buckwheat is a known allergen. Yes, in case you were still in doubt, it is. And there is something called cross-reactivity that makes you possibly sensitive to other things. For example, if you are allergic to latex, you might also have a problem with buckwheat, avocado, tomatoes…all things I’ve had issue with, although I don’t think I have a problem with latex. But I’m not going to test that out anytime soon.

There are a few things I want to point out about this that might be helpful to you.

  • First, hot flashes are related to histamine intolerance. I’ve written about this before and am the only one who seems to believe this, but I can tell you from experience this is the case. Find your triggers and rid yourself of hot flashes. I am living proof.
  • Second, I am not cured of intolerance but manage it daily. A lot of people ask me this. I can tell you from this latest bout that we probably always have it on some level. It’s just how well we manage it and on what level histamine is on in the bucket.
  • Third, we must always be aware and alert to what we put in our bodies even if we’ve had it before. I had no issue with buckwheat before, but eating a lot of it brought forth a sensitivity to it and the more I indulged the more sensitive I became until last night the warning was bigger and uglier. And as our bodies change our food sensitivities also change.

As a side note, I can tell you quercetin does help with dopamine and motivation. I’m writing this aren’t I?! And I actually looked it up because I could feel the brain fog lift pretty soon after I started taking it.

I know I don’t nearly blog enough. I’d like to do it way more. But I do what I can with the time and energy I have, and I know you understand that because we all feel that way. But when we feel good, we get way more done, so here’s to feeling good in this new year. And buckwheat, I’m kicking you to the curb…

Happy New Year everybody!


PS: I always welcome comments. If you have a buckwheat issue or another food you’d like us to keep an eye on please do share in the comments section.


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Posted in histamine intolerance, Women's health

Goodbye dear friend

I just read the devastating news that The Low Histamine Chef as I will always know her, Yasmina Yekelenstam, passed away Monday.

I know Yasmina was fighting breast cancer more than a year ago and do not know if it recurred. I have no details.

What I can tell you is that although I never met her in person, she was my friend. We worked together to get the message out about histamine intolerance and it was one of my proudest moments to guest write a post for her blog. I wanted her to write for my blog too but we just never got to it. Now we never will.

There is a lot I’d like to share but I can’t put the words together right now so I’ll finish by saying goodbye to my dear friend. I’ll miss you.



I encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comments below. She helped so many people. It would be nice to share. 

Posted in histamine intolerance, Women's health

Stop hitting the snooze button!

I know I owe you all a post on dopamine, motivation, and how to start feeling better and happier, but I just haven’t had time to get it all together. Happily it’s not because I lack motivation but because we went back to school and I’ve been crazy busy!

But I just had to come on here and tell you that I am actually getting up at 5AM to run every morning before school. I can tell you I feel dramatically different than when I used to crawl out of bed at 5:45 and make my way to my car by 6:45. Now I’m actually out of the house and in the car by 6:35 wide awake and ready to go teach the children somethin’.

So what’s changed besides the dose of neurotransmitters blasting through my brain while I run? It’s the not hitting the snooze button thing anymore. I’ve done a lot of reading about sleep and I’ve learned hitting the snooze button is pretty bad for me. It’s probably bad for you too.

Maybe you know this already, but hitting snooze is a really bad thing to do when you want to wake up refreshed. The short explanation is that once you have an alarm set, your body gets used to it and starts to wake up before it goes off. When you hit the snooze button and fall back to sleep, even for just ten minutes, you send yourself into the start of a new sleep cycle. Then when the snooze goes off again you wind up waking up in a part of the sleep cycle you shouldn’t wake up in. If you wake up feeling foggy, now you know why. And that feeling can last up to two hours!

Don’t get me wrong, my running before work, I believe, has made a big difference in my overall mindset too. But that no snooze thing has made the difference as to how easy it is to get out of bed to even get out to run.

So don’t hit snooze! And I promise to post my help for the unmotivated soon!



Post a comment below if you knew about the snooze thing or try it and see a difference in your morning. I always like to hear from my readers.

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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, Women's health

Are you menopause-aly unmotivated? (Part 1)

I was having dinner with one of my kids the other day, and when I say kids I mean an alumnus who I keep in touch with, when we had a conversation about ADHD. She is twenty-five and newly diagnosed as having it. She explained what some of the symptoms were, and as she was talking I thought “my gosh she’s describing me.”

I went home that evening and started to do some research. I know I was thinking it would be great to get a diagnosis like that because it would explain so much. I’ve always been preternaturally lazy among other things, as I’d been told since being a kid, so a diagnosis with a label would be great considering how deeply unmotivated and burnt-out I’ve been. If it were my brain’s lame executive function I would finally have something to blame for my bad habits and seeming irreversible stagnation .

Unfortunately, all the online tests I took basically pointed to a mild problem at best. And really who doesn’t have issues focusing and getting things done? But I’ve had a lot more issues in recent years, so it was game on to figure out if there was really something more to it.

As I began researching in earnest the ADHD jumping off point led me to my research into neurotransmitters, which led me to dopamine, which circled back towards menopause, histamine, and my unmotivated self.

So before I go on, let me ask you: is your peri or post menopausal self lacking in motivation? Or are you unhappy? Or both?

I’m going to go into more of the science of motivation and happiness in part two of this post. But right now I want to give a little background into my story. I think it helps because it will give my research context and it helps when others see themselves in the story.

As I said before, I can be really lazy and unmotivated. But I’m going to actually put that in perspective. If I have something to do, I am very focused. I have a great work ethic and miss almost no work. I cannot remember the last time I took a day off because I didn’t feel well. I’ll usually take a day here or there for fun reasons like I stayed out late at a concert the night before. I like to have fun and will do anything or go anywhere if it’s something worth while. I get up early every morning to run two miles (which is key to the conversation and will be discussed at length later) and I ride my bike Saturdays and Sundays pretty much without fail.

The flip side is when I have nothing to do, I can lay on the floor and watch Netflix for hours at a time. I had the summer off, (remember I’m a teacher) and waited until last week to get all my big things done. I do tend to beat myself up for not going out to save the world with those few extra weeks I have to actually accomplish something. I have a half written book of poetry waiting for me, and a play I started is shriveling up on the writer’s vine, not to mention all the art that didn’t get made. But moreover, I feel like I just can’t get up and do anything. Like I’m weighted down. It’s not a good feeling.

The logical part of my brain understands that I do work really hard in a profession that chews me up physically and mentally, but I also feel badly that so many projects get back burnered for HBO.

I wrote (on August 2, 2014) about being a struggling artist with a lack of creativity when I was nearing the end of the transition to full menopause, but funny enough I never used the word motivation.  A lot of what I wrote is what I just re-wrote about running and being physically active, but some of the ideas of what the problem might be are different. Or maybe better yet unformed. I blamed my lack of creativity on dropping estrogen. I never did any more research about it.

What changed from four years ago is what I did to change how I feel and where that is leading me in my research. A lot of this is based on my new running regimen.

Now don’t panic. I am not going to suggest everyone must go out and run two miles a day. This is my thing. There are other things that I can suggest to help motivate your stagnant soul. I just want to explain how I’ve gotten to this moment of writing about how to help fix a lack of motivation and maybe, for some, a lack of happiness.

At the end of the school year I was probably more run down than any other year. The Sunday after the last day of school I had a scratchy throat that turned into a cold; one that lingered in some form for a couple of weeks. In that time I had a lot of time to think about what I was doing wrong with my fitness. I always thought I was keeping fit running and riding my bike, but honestly I was hardly running from about April and I was riding only on Sundays at that point. I was exhausted after school every day. It was also way too hot to run in the early evenings. I don’t even know what I was eating anymore. Nothing good I’m sure. I was a big mess with many reasons to not feel good about myself.

While recovering from my cold and getting some much needed rest, I decided that what I really needed to do was run in the mornings. It would be cooler. I can make it a habit. I’ll feel good about myself, and I could do it before school when we go back. Mind you, I’ll have to get up at 5 to do this, but let’s not focus on that detail right now.

Once I put my mind to something and decide than that’s it. I do it. So I started running a mile a day. I have to say from day one I felt great. I remembered that when I was in high school I used to run in the mornings. I guess I forgot how good it feels.

I ran a mile a day for a week and upped it to two. I gotta say, I felt really good. I started getting up earlier and earlier to beat the Miami sun and heat, and I never minded. I just had to go to bed a little earlier.

Now, about two months later, I can say I still feel really good. I look forward to my morning runs. Some mornings I lay in bed and think wow, I’m not sure I can do this, maybe I’ll just run a mile, but when I get out of bed I get ready and dressed and just go. They say once you do something for two weeks it’s a habit.

So how does the ADHD, menopause, lack of motivation, and running all link? It all lead me to research neurotransmitters. Especially dopamine.

See, before I read about ADHD and followed the neurotransmitters down the rabbit hole I thought, like everyone else, runners high was endorphins. But there is much more to it than that. It’s an increase in dopamine that makes you feel good after a run. And when I started to take a good look at dopamine I found it is linked directly to motivation and happiness. I started to then look for a link to menopause and found dopamine drops when estrogen drops. And then I found a link between histamine and dopamine. Mast cells carry dopamine. When mast cells break open they spill histamine and dopamine.

I started suffering from teacher burn-out about three or four years ago. I always thought it was one of the major reasons I became unmotivated across many avenues of my life. But now I’m thinking my teacher burn-out is directly related to menopause, histamine intolerance, and the loss of dopamine.

The good news is I’ve seen a change in myself. I still can spend a day laying around watching Netflix, but hey, who can’t. But the very fact that this is the third post in a month after not writing anything for this blog in an entire year is proof enough. I also have a sketchbook filled with new work. You can follow me on Instagram @theartofbroox. Lastly, teachers go back to school next week and I’m not completely horrified, so that’s a good sign… All in all I see changes in my mood and feel better about a lot of things.

I’m going to end Part 1 here and let you chew on it. Part 2 will be more of the science and the technical results of my research. Until I finish it, if you see yourself in any of this, take a look at dopamine and what you can do to increase it. Besides running there are aromatherapy oils that have real merit (clary sage) and many foods. Or exercise might be an alternative you can exploit. Whatever works for you.

At this point, I hope I’ve given you something to think about. I’ll be working on Part 2 while you’re busy mulling it over. Keep in mind that I spoke a lot about motivation or lack there of, but feeling happy is a big part of dopamine’s job too so if you’re feeling unhappy about things or don’t feel a lot of joy in the things you do maybe you should also be looking to increase your dopamine.

As always, leave a comment below if you’d like. I always like to hear what people are thinking.

Now go make some dopamine!



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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, Women's health

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