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Probiotics and Histamine


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Found this article and thought it was worth passing on. I'm sceptical of the recommended company and diet programs but found the general info on which probiotics raise and lower histamine valuable.


I've copied the bulk of the article but left out the final paragraphs that gets sales-y on some specific products. Click the above link if you want the full article.


For the past 30 years, obesity and autoimmune disease rates have been on a steady rise. At the same time, a little-known condition called histamine intolerance has become much more common. It’s a challenge to figure out the root causes and common denominators for these three seemingly unrelated health trends.


Lots of research shows that an unhealthy gut contributes to obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, autism, depression, and chronic fatigue. The gut biome (intestinal bacteria), your diet, and the gut lining determine gut health. Modern lifestyle factors like the overuse of antibiotics, and diets high in processed, preserved, and histamine producing foods (i.e. most conventional yogurt), all contribute to an unhealthy gut biome. To repair an unhealthy gut and decrease histamine intolerance you need to eat an anti-inflammation diet, minimizing histamine producing bacteria and maximizing histamine degrading bacteria.


This isn’t just science to me – it’s personal. My history of 15 years of heavy antibiotic use for chronic sinus infections as a young man set me up to have a histamine intolerance. Biohacking that problem helped me to discover the histamine connection years ago, but the link to the gut biome was quite elusive.

Why Your Gut Biome has Changed and Why Probiotics Have Become So Important

The human gut biome (microbiome) consists of about 100 trillion bacteria cells – more than 10 times more than there are human cells in your body. You could even start to think of your gut biome as a significant organ in your body, so keeping it healthy and balanced is essential to reduce disease and optimize performance. As we learn more about the makeup of good and bad bacteria in the gut biome, researchers are also doing cutting edge DNA microbiome sequencing to show how people’s gut biomes are changing on a population level.


Gut biomes are becoming imbalanced because there are less good bacteria and more bad bacteria available in modern lifestyles and the standard American diet. When microbiota balance is out of whack, your body develops chronic inflammation, which can become autoimmune disease or other serious health problems. New research even suggests that diabetes may be an autoimmune disease triggered by poor gut health.1


By now, most people know that one contributor to a broken microbiome is overuse of antibiotics. Antibiotics may wipe out whatever bad bacteria you were hoping they would, but they can also clear your system of the really good bacteria that promote a healthy gut. A number of studies show that even a single course of antibiotics can permanently alter the gut flora.2,3


Aside from antibiotics overuse, poor diets and environmental toxins also wreak havoc on the gut by wearing down the protective barriers of the intestinal walls, eventually creating a leaky gut. As I’ve written previously, foods that are heavily processed, preserved, and filled with chemicals and toxins, damage gut health. Common types of these gut-damaging foods include: gluten, processed meats, sugar, most alcohol, mold toxins from coffee and chocolate, and more. These foods increase histamine levels, which in part is due to bad bacteria. I will go into more detail about histamine inducing bacteria in foods later in this post.

One of the reasons I’m such a fan of fresh, organic, local meat and vegetables is that our gut bacteria ultimately are related to our soil bacteria. Soil bacteria are the microbiome of the planet. Industrial agriculture has permanently modified soil organisms – molds and bacteria – so that they produce more toxins than ever before in history. The genes that form those toxins get shared with the bacteria growing in your gut.


Since the advent of antibiotics, scientists have been all over fighting bad bacteria. Now they are beginning to understand the importance of good bacteria and microorganisms in our guts. This “good bacteria” theory led to taking supplemental probiotics as the go-to way to help re-populate our guts after courses of antibiotics or other stressors. Although some probiotics are good for you, sadly (for yogurt companies especially), most manufactured probiotics are only minimally effective at re-populating the gut biome. It is becoming apparent that not all strains of probiotics interact with the gut in the same way.

Histamine Intolerance and Which Bacteria to Avoid

Disturbance in gut biome also plays a significant role in creating the recent rise in histamine intolerance. Histamine intolerance is the result of an imbalance between the breakdown of histamine and its buildup in the gut. This is generally caused by a deficiency in the DAO enzymes (found in intestinal mucosa) that helps metabolize and breakdown dietary sources of histamine.


A histamine overload leads to increased inflammation and many other symptoms including: skin irritation, hives, throat tightening, increased heart rate, nasal congestion, migraines, fatigue, heartburn, reflux, and weight gain.4 Unlike other food allergies and sensitivities, the response from histamine intolerance is cumulative and not always immediate, so it is harder to pin point right away. 5,6

This is personal – I’m histamine intolerant but have been able to reduce my intolerance dramatically following the advice I’m sharing in this post.


**Sneak peak into a future post: Histamine is not the only bioactive substance that can lead to histamine intolerance. Biogenic amines also interact with DAO enzymes in the gut.**


Although there are some genetic causes for a decrease in the production of DAO enzymes, the change in people’s gut biome is also responsible for histamine intolerance. Even if someone has a normal production of DAO enzymes, the levels may still be insufficient when placed against high concentrations of histamine-rich foods and histamine producing bacteria.


Many of the histamine-rich foods are found in the red (toxic) areas of the Bulletproof Diet infographic, but some common sources of histamine-producing foods are surprising. The following foods often have higher histamine contents or help release stored histamine:

  • Matured or fermented foods (depending on the bacteria and yeasts that are involved in the process): Sauerkraut, Kombucha, pickles, fermented SOY products, soy sauce, fish sauce, fermented coffee (Upgraded Coffee is safe). Some fermented foods are acceptable as long as it doe not cause a negative reaction.
  • Microbiologically produced foods: Most yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, mature cheese, sauerkraut, wine (especially reds)
  • Processed, smoked, and fermented meats: Lunchmeat, crappy bacon, sausage, pepperoni, salami, etc.
  • Alcohol: Red wine, white wine, champagne, beer
  • Yeasty Foods: breads made with yeast
  • Certain Vegetables, Fruit, and Nuts: tomato, canned vegetables, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, and more.

Different types of bacteria and probiotics also play a part in histamine regulation. Some probiotics are necessary for proper gut function (where histamine lowering enzymes DAO form), but some strains actually raise histamine levels. The different strains of studied probiotics are categorized as (1) histamine producing bacteria, (2) neutral bacteria, or (3) histamine degrading bacteria.7-1

  1. Histamine producing bacteria: Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus (Found in most yogurts and fermented foods).
  2. Neutral bacteria: Streptococcus thermophiles (also in yogurt) and Lactobacillus rhamnosus (shown to down regulate histamine receptors and up-regulate anti-inflammatory agents)
  3. Histamine degrading bacteria: Bifidobacterium infantis (found in breast milk), Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus plantarum, and some soil-based organisms.

Some of these bacteria form histamine when they break down protein in foods, even vegetables, whether the food is in your gut or fermenting in your kitchen. Now you know why I’m skeptical about throwing a bunch of cabbage into a bucket to let it ferment. You just don’t know what you’re getting.

The Probiotic Bulletproof Coffee Failed Experiment

Four months ago, I had a brilliant idea. I’d add a prebiotic (food for probiotics) called fructooligosaccharide to my Bulletproof coffee in the morning, and take a probiotic with it. Over the last decade, I estimate I’ve spent upwards of $25,000 on various strains of probiotics to fix my gut, including the time I took pig whipworm eggs. Anyway, I took an “acidophilus pearl” capsule because those were convenient and I was out of my normal probiotic. The one I took had lactobacillus casei, a histamine producing bacteria in it.

The result? I gained 10 pounds in seven days, with a noticeable inflammation in the gut. I stopped the probiotics and it took 7 days to lose the weight.


Probiotic supplementation is a catch-22 and you should not just grab whatever has the best label on the shelf. If you have histamine intolerance, or you want to avoid developing it, experiment with avoiding histamine producing bacteria and focus on histamine degrading or neutral bacteria.


So just toss out the Lactobaccillus casei from your cupboards and fill your refrigerator with Bifidobacterium longum, right?! Uh… yeah… The good news is there are protocols, diets, and product already developed to help you reduce histamine-rich foods, avoid histamine producing bacteria, and consume more histamine degrading bacteria.

3 Ways to a Healthy Gut Biome and Reduce Histamine Intolerance #1) Follow the Bulletproof Diet to heal your gut:

Eat a low histamine, anti-inflammatory diet like the Bulletproof® Diet as the primary way to protect your gut and reduce histamine intolerance. Eating prebiotic foods that selectively stimulate the growth of good bacteria in your gut is also helpful. Prebiotic foods in the ‘green portions’ of the Bulletproof diet include: Jerusalem artichoke, avocados, and vegetables high in soluble fiber like sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and turnips. Onions are in the yellow zone because of what they do to alpha brain waves, but they also have prebiotics in them.


Self-tracking tools like the Bulletproof Food Sense App help to detect physiological responses to foods you are sensitive too that may be due to excess histamine concentration. Although histamine intolerance can be difficult to diagnose, one of the common symptoms is an elevated heart rate. Using the Food Sense App after meals (as instructed) will use the iPhone’s camera sensor to measure your heart rate and compare it to your baseline heart rate. If there was an increase of more than 16 beats per minute, then this signifies a food sensitivity and helps you zoom in on gut wrecking or histamine-rich foods.

#2) Reduce histamine producing bacteria

Avoid histamine producing bacteria like Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus that are mostly commonly found in the majority of yogurts and fermented foods, especially when they are not balanced by other species. Rampant unbalanced focus on lactobacillus in yogurt has led to this problem.

#3) Increase histamine degrading bacteria

Finding ways to get more histamine degrading bacteria into your diet can be difficult, but is great for gut health and key to reducing histamine intolerance. High phenol foods like blueberries, coffee, and chocolate can feed a type of gut bacteria called firmacutes.

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If anyone has a good source for the bifido probiotics mentioned here, I'd love the link. Hard to find the less common strains. I've been experimenting with butyrate, which is a fermented product, to crowd out yeast. But have to say I don't like what I see. Perhaps it has something to do with increased histamine.

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Great information . . . wish he posted some peer-reviewed studies that back him up.


Okay . . . you might have to hide the box or rip the label off before sharing with spouse or kids, but this one seems to feature the "best" that he mentions, versus the "worst" . . .




We used to use the Renew Life daily (though we relied on the Ultimate Flora 50), but most of their blends seem to feature nearly equal parts of this guy's claimed "goods" as well as claimed "bads."

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I read the article and it seems to me that it applies some conclusions from scientific papers in a rather general fashion. Example, eating cereals depletes you of minerals and vitamins esp. vitamin B. The study on which this claim is based, refers to a cereal only diet, say, in poor parts of India. If you eat only rice, you'll be deficient. BUT Western diet is not like that anymore. It is much more diverse. And so on.

A different question, what is bifido probiotic? I googled it but could not figure out if it is the same creature as acidophilus bifidus. if it is, it should be possible to pickle with it. just a thought.

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Also, I can't seem to find ANY probiotic blend with the histamine degrading bacteria absent at least one of the histamine producing bacteria; lactobacillus casei, in particular, appears to be pretty ubiquitous. And there don't seem to be any absolutely pure strains of anything marketed.


In looking further through this guy's blog, I get a bit concerned that he might be "creating a problem," or at least making more of it, in the interest of advancing a product that features those strains he notes as beneficial versus those that are harmful (case in point, he's pitching something he calls a "Bulletproof Pack," purchasable via his site).


That being said, I feel like he might have a point in terms of the American public in general. Folks not walking a PANDAS or ASD path seem to think that yogurt, acidolpholus, and/or "Pearls" are all that's needed for setting the GI tract straight. And we're collectively contributing to a massive imbalance of the gut biome as a result.


But perhaps one of those blends that features a balance of a variety of the organisms ain't as bad as he's cracking it up to be? Darn it, LLM . . . another area requiring further research! ;-)

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Thanks for the link with the "feminine touch" Nancy! I laughed out loud!

I do agree that the author may have an agenda and I cut out even worse endorsement propoganda he had at the end of his article. But I was intrigued by the premise and did find other sites that listed the same high histamine/low histamine strains, and at least one site referred to Theoharides, the mast cell guru. So i'm interested in hearing what others come up with as to whether this is reliable info.


Our LLMD has ben talking about moving DS toward probiotics that contain a much higher percentage of bifido strains (pr40 - I'm using bifido as a shorthand for Bifidobacterium) - specifically looking for probiotics with high levels of Bifidobacterium infants and Bifidobacterium longum rather than probiotics with high percentages of Lactobacillus strains.


Kirkman has a product called Bifido Complex™ Advanced Formula:

Bifidobacterium bifidum (BB-02) 4.0 billion CFUs
Bifidobacterium lactis (Infantis Bi-07) 4.0 billion CFU’s
Bifidobacterium lactis (BL-04) 3.0 billion CFUs
Bifidobacterium breve (BB-03) 2.0 billion CFU’s
Bifidobacterium longum (BL-05) 2.0 billion CFUs

Total: 15.0 billion CFUs

Bifidobacterium bifidum is the most prominent microorganism strain setting up residence and implanting itself in the lining of the large intestine. B. bifidum is known for producing acetic and lactic acids, which lowers the pH (increases the acidity), of the intestine.

The B. lactis Bi-07 strain (formerly known as B. infantis) of friendly florahas been referred to as the “infant” or “baby” bacteria because it is the primary resident of the intestinal tract of infants following their birth. B. lactis is known to inhabit the intestines of both infants as well as adults although it is found in smaller quantities during the aging process. It is considered a beneficial probiotic strain that can safely and effectively be supplemented with infants, children and adults.

B. lactis (Bl-04) is well recognized as a close relative of the B. bifidum and other B. lactis strains of Bifidobacterium. This strain possesses some of the same functions as the related Bifido strains and fiercely competes for attachment sites on the mucosal membrane helping the colonization of the product.

B. breve stimulates colonization of bifido strains in the large intestine, while repressing the colonization of harmful bacteria. It also stimulates the mucosal immune response.

B. longum is among the first strains to colonize the sterile digestive tract of newborns and predominates in breast-fed infants. Bottle-fed infants have a different micro flora, and this may be related to the higher risk of diarrhea and allergies in these bottle-fed babies. Therefore adding B. longum can help the digestive system to operate smoothly, blocking the growth of harmful bacteria and stimulating the immune system.


I know some probiotics have made DS worse, so I'm grateful for anyone who comes up with research on these or other strains worth investigating. Love you guys for your abiltiy to vett ideas and products!

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