Could High Histamine Food be causing your Headaches, Itchy mouth, Anxiety or Bloating?

What is histamine?

Histamine is a compound that is released from immune cells as a normal part of a healthy functioning immune system. It helps us communicate with the brain, alert the immune system to a potential threat, and launch an inflammatory response.

Histamines can be released in response to environmental triggers such as pollen, animal fur and dust but can also be released in response to the foods and drinks we consume, as well as digestive imbalances, and enzyme deficiency.

What happens if I have too much histamine?

When there is too much circulating histamine we can feel an increase in allergic-like symptoms such as sneezing, itching, watery eyes and nasal congestion, but also symptoms that aren’t as easily identified as being related to histamine – such as migraines, headaches, irregular menstrual cycles, and difficulty regulating temperature, amongst many others.

There are 3 main reasons we can have elevated histamine levels:

  1. We’re eating too many foods high in histamine, and/or
  2. We’re consuming too many histamine liberating foods or drinks and/or
  3. We lack enough of the enzyme that helps us break down and eliminated histamine from the body.

What is Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance can occur when your body is unable to break down the histamine efficiently. One of the ways the body does this is through the Diamine Oxidase (DAO) enzyme which inactivates and metabolises histamine.

If you don’t have enough DAO or its ineffective, histamine can be absorbed through the intestines causing a wide range of symptoms. The symptoms such as those listed below can often occur following the consumption of foods and drinks that contain a large amount of histamine like bananas, avocado’s, spinach, tomato’s, fermented foods, aged cheeses, and alcohol.

Histamine content of foods increases as the food ages. For example, aged cheeses tend to contain higher histamine levels than fresh cheese. A boiled egg left in the fridge for 1 day would have higher histamine than a boiled egg eaten immediately.

We know that fermented foods are extremely beneficial for our gut health but as they are fermented, they may also be high in histamines and therefore not tolerated by some people when their histamine balance is compromised.

What are the Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance?

Because histamine is released into many body tissues its effects are far-reaching. Some of the more common symptoms may include:  

  • Digestive issues like abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea and vomiting 
  • Nervous system issues like fatigue, anxiety, difficulty or light sleeping
  • Vascular issues like headaches and migraines, tissue swelling, vertigo, dizziness, high blood pressure, difficulty regulating temperature, irregular heart rate, or flushing after histamine-containing food and drink – especially wine and beer
  • Immune issues like sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy mouth
  • Skin issues like hives, rashes or itchy skin
  • Reproductive issues like irregular menstrual cycles

How can I find out if I have high histamine or histamine intolerance?

Our Naturopaths at Brisbane Natural Health can take a thorough case and diet history from you, and if appropriate can organise a lab test for histamine and DAO enzyme levels. A high ratio of histamine/DAO signifies that you may be consuming too much histamine and that you may not have enough DAO to break it down.

How can I recover from symptoms of histamine intolerance?

Our Naturopaths at Brisbane Natural Health would look at your Lifestyle and diet factors, aim to boost your enzymes, minimise the histamine load, and regain balance to your body.

Most importantly, working with a Naturopath will enable you to find out what is your root cause for your histamine intolerance, and will be able to design a personalised dietary or supplement protocol to help restore balance to your body and to your symptoms.

If you would like to investigate this area of your health further, please call our Naturopaths at Brisbane Natural Health on 07 3367 0337.

 

Acupuncture for Emotions and Moods

Emotional strain may hamper your ability to lead a normal and active lifestyle, becoming an inhibiting factor in daily life and further perpetuating the likelihood of associated mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Emotional stress is commonly associated with one or more of a combination of the following factors; poor dietary habits, sedentary lifestyle, being an emotional over thinker ( a common stress response), sudden or long-standing emotional trauma, and the link between a deeper and more complex hormonal imbalance.

Pain, stress, anxiety and depression impede, to varying degrees, our ability to connect with ourselves, preventing us from feeling happy.

Chinese Medicine has a number of modalities that fall under the broader scope of the tradition including; Acupuncture, Tui Na (massage), Chinese Herbal Medicine, dietary and lifestyle therapy, and exercise therapies such as Taichi and Qigong. All of these present each individual client with the necessary tools required to help attain a healthier, happier and more gratuitous state of physical and emotional well-being. And it’s the task of the Chinese Medicine Practitioner to effectively diagnose any imbalance within the body and the mind; while planning and delivering an effective treatment protocol, most suited to each individual, on a case-by-case scenario.

Regular acupuncture treatments enhance the body’s ability to better cope with both physical and emotional stress and strain, allowing the body to more readily relax, release, detoxify and unwind. It does this by stimulating and regulating the hormonal distribution within the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis while calming the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response); inhibiting stress-enhancing chemicals within the body, while reducing inflammation and providing pain management in a drug-free environment.

Acupuncture has also been shown to reduce potential stress-related health risks. It does this by protecting the body’s internal organs from over-strain and over-use, preventing a decline in their natural function, and reducing the likelihood of developing associated diseases such as hypertension and heart disease.

Acupuncture aids in the reduction of stress, while placing emphasis on stress management. Each client is expected to be proactive in their personal efforts toward improving their daily lives; addressing their emotional health through the shedding of any accumulated and unwanted stress and strain.

Undertaking regular weekly Acupuncture treatments, attending regular massage to reduce stress, along with the addition of concurrently taking supplements; aims at addressing the underlying cause of the illness, seeking to positively affect the outcome, being the mood disorder itself. Dietary and lifestyle changes may also be addressed and a nutrition plan was undertaken to complement the individual’s unique constitutional makeup.


To make an appointment with an acupuncturist at Brisbane Natural Health, call us on 07 3186 5676. 

Do you have a Histamine Intolerance?

Do you have a Histamine intolerance?

Do you experience unexplained headaches, migraines or symptoms like a runny nose or itchy mouth? How about hives, abdominal cramps or irregular menstrual cycles? Does your face flush or do you have difficulty regulating your body temperature? Are your symptoms improved after taking anti-histamines like Zyrtec? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you could have a histamine intolerance.

What is histamine?

Histamine is a chemical compound that is involved in the immune system response. It is often associated with seasonal allergies, food allergies, and symptoms like headaches, nasal congestion, sneezing and difficulties with breathing. Sometimes you may experience symptoms that aren’t associated with the environment, such as a runny nose, sneezing, itching after wine or certain foods like bananas, avocados or tomatoes.

Histamine has an important role where it helps the body to communicate with the brain, alert the immune system to a potential threat, and launch an inflammatory response. 

 

What is Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance can occur when the body is unable to break down histamine properly. One of the ways the body deals with histamine is through the Diamine Oxidase (DAO) enzyme which inactivates and metabolises histamine. 

If you don’t have enough DAO or its ineffective, histamine can be absorbed through the intestines causing a wide range of symptoms. The symptoms such as those in the list below can often occur following the consumption of foods and drinks that contain a large amount of histamine. 

Common Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance: 

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches/migraines, Anxiety
  • Difficulty falling asleep/easily woken
  • Sneezing, itching, nasal congestion
  • Abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting
  • Hives, tissue swelling
  • Difficulty breathing, vertigo, dizziness
  • Abnormal menstrual cycle
  • Vertigo/dizziness
  • Hypertension, 
  • Difficulty regulating body temperature
  • Irregular heart rate
 
There can be many reasons that cause an increase of Histamine or difficulty breaking down Histamine. Some of these include allergies, digestive imbalances or damage, enzyme deficiency, or a diet too high in histamine-containing foods. 

Can you test for Histamine Intolerance?

The good news is your Naturopath can organise a lab test for histamine and DAO levels. A high ratio of histamine/DAO signifies that you may be consuming too much histamine and that you may not have enough DAO to break it down.

How do you reduce Histamine Intolerance?

To combat this, your Naturopath would look at your lifestyle and diet factors, aiming to boost your enzymes and minimise the histamine load. 

 

Working with a Naturopath will enable you to find out what the root cause for your histamine intolerance is, and your Naturopath will be able to design a personalised dietary or supplement protocol to help restore balance to your body and to your symptoms.

5 Home remedies to beat the cold weather and change of season blues

1 – Essential Oil antiseptic blend – for cold, flu, sinus congestion, stuffy nose and headache.

Add to water :

Eucalyptus oil 5 drops

Lavender oil 5 drops

Peppermint oil 3 drops

Tea Tree Oil 3 drops

*Use to inhale over a bowl of steaming hot water: Place oils into a litre of boiling hot water. Being careful not to tip it on yourself, place a towel over your head and the bowl to create a steam chamber for you to inhale the essential oil vapours and clear a stuffy head.  

*In a diffuser or oil burner to imbue the home or office with cleansing, refreshing, smells. Place the oils into the water chamber as directed by your choice of diffuser.

2 – Chesty night – time cough relief – suitable for infants through to adults.

You will need:

4 slices of fresh onion

A couple of drops of olive oil

Cling film/plastic wrap

Thick socks

A willingness for your bedroom to smell like soup in the morning. (A small price to pay for cough relief during the night)

Before bed, rub a small amount of oil on the soles of the feet. Careful place the sliced onion rings on the soles of the feet and hold in place with the cling film.  Pull your socks over the top and hop into bed. The sulfur compounds in the onions will infuse through the blood-stream into the lungs and help relieve mucous congestion and cough. Works great on kids. A jump-suit or one-piece outfit is recommended to prevent babies and toddlers distributing the onions all through the room/house.

3 – Home – made cough syrup

You will need:

1 large red onion

1 small chilli (optional)

Approximately ½-1 cup raw honey

Slice the onion into rings and dice the chilli. Place into a wide mouthed glass jar.  Cover with honey and allow to steep in a cool place for 1-3 days. To relieve a dry or raspy incessant cough or scratchy throat, take a teaspoon full of the mixture as required.

4 – Sniffle Tea – A brew for your stuffy nose…

You will need:

1 lemon, washed well.

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8th teaspoon cayenne

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons raw honey

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

600ml boiling filtered water.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a tea pot or coffee plunger. Drop the skins in there as well.  Add the remaining ingredients and allow to brew for 10 minutes before drinking. Great for hayfever, sinus and sore throat. If you’re super keen you can also add a clove of fresh raw garlic crushed for extra antibacterial punch!

5 – Circulation Boosters – help keep your hands and feet warm in the cold weather.

As you know exercise, and a hot bath do wonders for improving circulation, but you can also include certain foods in your diet to keep your blood circulating happily:

Try:

Cayenne Pepper – Take a pinch of cayenne pepper in a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of black strap molasses. Drink 1-2 cups daily.

Turmeric & Ginger – Replace your morning coffee with a hot turmeric latte. Spice it up with some ground ginger, cardammon, cinnamon and raw honey.

Make soups, curries and casseroles with extra chilli, garlic, rosemary and turmeric to help keep your blood thin and metabolism on the go.

Snack on some almonds, walnuts, macadamias and your favourite nuts and seeds as a good source of the circulation boosting vitamin E.

5 ways to combat cold & flu season

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we believe our bodies have a type of Qi, or energy called “Wei Qi”. Wei Qi is our protective Qi and is located on the surface of the body. You can think of Wei Qi as the immune system – its job is to keep out invaders such as harmful viruses and bacteria.

As an acupuncturist, I’m always being asked by patients how they can increase their immunity at this time of the year. While most people know the importance of washing their hands there are a number of other ways you can help keep those bugs away. In addition to Acupuncture here are a few simple things you can do to help improve your immune system.

Exercise

The New York Times recently ran an article about a study which examined the relationship between regular exercise and healthy immune response.  Although mice, not humans were used in the study, it showed that mice who exercised regularly were better able to fight off infections. While exercise is important, there have been studies showing that over-exercising can actually harm your immunity, so remember that moderation is key.

 

Wear A Scarf

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the nape of the neck is believed to be particularly susceptible to invasion by the wind element, which means colds and flu. Therefore, covering your neck is important, especially on cold, windy days or when you are sitting close to an air conditioning vent or fan.

 

Try A Saline Nasal Spray and/or a humidifier

When the heat is on inside your home or office, your nasal passages can become very dry. This is a problem because your natural nasal secretions are one of the body’s primary defences against viruses and bacteria. By using a basic, inexpensive saline nasal spray several times daily and a humidifier at your home and office, you can decrease the likelihood of viruses entering your sinuses and leading to a cold or flu. Using a saline nasal spray also helps flush out viruses that are already within your nasal passages.

 

Sleep

Your body produces substances called Cytokines during sleep. Certain types of cytokines play a role in immune functions, so it makes sense that the less sleep you get, the fewer cytokines are produced. Studies show that people who don’t get 7-8 hours of sleep per night are more likely to catch a cold and take longer to recover from colds.

 

Take a Chinese Herbal Formula

There are Chinese Herbal combinations which are very helpful for people who experience recurrent colds and respiratory infections. You must always see a trained herbalist, since there is no one herb which is good for everyone’s situation. It must be individually tailored to your health history and constitution. Herbs can also be helpful if you do come down with a cold or the flu.

Written by Angela Marshall – Acupuncturist at Brisbane Natural Health

5 scientifically proven ways to reduce the risk of your children developing allergies

We are often told that allergies and allergic asthma are inherited disorders and that there is probably nothing that can be done about our children developing them as they grow up. Well, the more we learn about genetics, the more we are coming to realise that genes can be switched on or off due to environmental triggers. When your baby is in utero their DNA is very susceptible to environmental signals, which is why it is so important that you understand how your choices will affect your children’s health down the track. 5 recent scientific studies looked at links between maternal food intake and environment and infant/child outcomes for asthma and allergies

 

  1. Taking the right probiotics – Probiotics such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and L. rhamnosus HN001 have both been studied and found to reduce the incidence of eczema in children born to supplemented mothers. L. Rhamnosus HN001 was also effective in reducing allergic disease (diagnosed by skin prick test) in children born to supplemented mothers. Probiotics are bacteria that when consumed send healthy signals to the immune system – discouraging a ‘rampant response’ like we see in allergic conditions. It is likely through this action that probiotic consumption by mums helps reduce allergic issues in children. Mum’s are advised to start with these specific probiotics at least 3 months prior to birth and continue through breastfeeding[i].
  2. Keep your sugar intake to a minimum – high maternal sugar intake is associated with an increased risk of allergy and allergic asthma. Children of mothers who consumed the highest amount of ‘free sugar’ (sugar added to cooked foods, honey, syrups and fruit juice), compared with the lowest amount had a 38% increased risk of allergy and 101% increased risk of allergic asthma[ii]. Women in the lowest group consumed 1.6-34.0 g sugar per day vs women in the highest group who consumed 82.4 – 345.1 g sugar per day.
  3. Avoid plastics – in mothers who’s urine was examined for phthalates, the concentration of phthalate found directly correlated to occurrence of allergic asthma in their children. Researchers think that the plastic chemicals switch off genes required for regulating the immune system and this might be how plastic exposure is linked to allergic asthma[iii].
  4. Get dad healthy before you start trying – Fathers who have been smokers have 3 times higher risk of having children with early-onset asthma than those who have never smoked. In this article, the authors suggest that the amount of time the father have quit for prior to conception does not necessarily influence the risk of the outcome for the child, but we do know that we can positively influence gene expression with a super healthy diet, lots of nutrients and stress reduction. This same article noted that paternal exposure to welding also increased the risk of asthma[iv]. Make sure that you have both of you on a comprehensive preconception program for 3-6 months before getting started with baby making.
  5. Eating nuts – research shows that eating peanuts (so long as you don’t have an allergy to them) during pregnancy may reduce the risk of nut allergies in your children[v]

So keep in mind that you do have an influence over your children’s health outcomes. We certainly do not know everything that will have a positive or negative effect on our babies, but we can use the information that we do have to make informed decisions to get the best possible outcomes for our little bundles of joys.

[i] Kalliomäki M, Salminen S, Arvilommi Het al. Lancet 2001;357(9262):1076-9.

[ii]  Bedard A, Northstone K, Henderson, JA, Shaheen SO. European Respiratory Journal. 2017:50; 1700073

[iii] Jahreis S, Trump S, Bauer M et al. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2017.

[iv] Svanes , Koplin , Skulstad AM, et al. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2016

[v] Frazier AL, Camargo CA, Maslpeis S, et al. JAMA Pediatrics, 2013

10 ways to get better sleep

Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can be very frustrating and becomes draining over time. Here are some safe, easy and tried and true strategies for getting you the deep, restful slumber that your body so desires:

  1. Avoid stimulating activities at night time – this includes working (!), playing on your phone, watching TV and even vigorous exercise.
  2. Turn off your screens – aside from being mentally stimulating, the wavelength of light coming from your phone and computer screen tells your brain that it is wake time and will inhibit your ability to fall asleep easily
  3. Avoid stimulants later in the day. The magic time to stop drinking tea or coffee is different for everybody, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine after midday. For some people that even means putting the chocolate bar away as these contain caffeine too. Try rooibos tea if you are used to a black tea or dandelion to replace coffee – it’s not the same but it is a great substitute. Also, be sure to limit your overall coffee intake to 1-2 single shots per day
  4. Get some exercise – burning up some energy during the day is a great way to allow your nervous system to relax and help you get into a healthy sleeping habit. For some people, night time exercise can be too stimulating, so getting your walk or run in the morning is probably best.
  5. Write lists of things you need to do tomorrow and leave them at work. Often we cant sleep because we are thinking of all the things we need to do at work (or at home). By writing a list, we are letting ourselves know that we have thought of the things that need doing and by leaving it where is belongs (at work), we don’t have to mentally take work home with us and think about it as we try to fall asleep
  6. Take a nice long bath with Epsom salts an essential oils. I recommend ½ -1 cup Epsom salts and lavender oil to calm the body and the mind
  7. Try some relaxing herbal teas after dinner – favourites are chamomile, valerian, passionflower and lemon balm – these help to calm your nervous system ready for sleep
  8. Switch your phone to flight mode – so that your sleep is not interrupted by text messages or emails and to reduce the electromagnetic frequency (EMF) coming from your phone sitting on your bedside table – EMFs are known to disrupt brain waves and sleep patterns
  9. Turn the lights down – bright lights tell the brain that it is day time and that you should be awake. Have you ever noticed how when you go camping, you fall asleep easily at 9pm even though at home you can stay awake till 11pm no worries? Part of the reason for that is the lack of artificial light when you are camping – try and recreate this effect in your home. After dinner and the clean up, switch off your overhead lights and use lamps or candles instead.
  10. Try some sleep hypnosis – there are hundreds of these on youtube and for use as aps on your phone. I suggest finding a hypnosis with a voice that you like and then downloading it to your phone so that you can listen as you drift off and still have your phone wifi switched off to avoid the EMFs. Hypnosis gives your brain something to focus on so that it can easily drift off into sleep without getting caught up with thoughts that could keep you awake.

5 Possible Signs of Thyroid Trouble

Many people experience symptoms of low thyroid function despite their blood tests showing that everything is normal.  Generally, thyroid screening tests such as TSH will only pick up the more serious cases of thyroid disease, but even mild dysfunction and sub-clinical hypothyroidism can cause debilitating symptoms such as fatigue, low mood and stubborn weight problems. It is possible for your thyroid tests to read normal at the same time as your body making antibodies which attack your thyroid.  Below is a list of possible signs your thyroid could be in trouble.

  1. Weight Changes – Sneaky weight gain or difficulty losing weight despite a good diet and plenty of exercise is the most common complaint among people with an underactive thyroid or sub-clinical hypothyroidism.
  1. Debilitating fatigue, depression and anxiety are some of the most disruptive symptoms of poor thyroid health.
  1. Menstrual Irregularities & Fertility Issues – Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid disease can be a cause for infertility as well as sub-fertility and menstrual problems such as absent or heavy bleeding.  In a recent study, a total of 394 infertile women visiting an infertility clinic for the first time were investigated for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Of 394 infertile women, 23.9% had an underactive thyroid. Int J App Basic Med Res 2012;2:17-9
  1. Hair & Skin changes- if you have started to notice your skin become dry or rough, your hair feeling course, dry, brittle or falling out more than usual, this could be a sign your thyroid needs some help.
  1. Family History – If you have a family history of thyroid problems, you are at a higher risk of having a thyroid condition yourself.   Some older family members may refer to thyroid problems as gland trouble or goiter, or may suggest their weight problems are glandular.

Why should you be concerned?  Low-normal thyroid function is more of a heart attack risk than smoking, cholesterol or hypertension.  Sub-clinical hypothyroidism is linked with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Low-normal thyroid function contributes to 60% of heart attacks!

According to the Australian Prescriber, underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism occurs in 10% of the adult population and 90% of these cases are autoimmune. ie. where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland.  Women are approximately 7 times more likely than men to suffer with hypothyroidism and it commonly occurs 2-12 months after childbirth or around menopause.

Feel more energetic and enthusiastic, lose weight naturally and reduce your risk of ongoing health problems with the professional help of your Naturopath.

Written by: Anne – Marie McDonald B.Nat

All about MATCHA

What’s so great about MATCHA?

Matcha is a fine bright green powdered form of specially grown and processed green tea, Camellia sinensis. Historically this tea was used by Japanese Zen monks in the 8th century, as a ceremonial drink for its calming and clarity inducing properties.

The really great thing about green tea, and particularly Matcha is that it has many health benefits, supported by both historical records and literally thousands of scientific studies.

Green tea has a great reputation for it’s health giving benefits as a result of the compounds chlorophyll, theanine and catachins. Matcha green tea is grown in the shade, enhancing its levels of these valuable compounds significantly. 

Here is a quick approximate comparison of the variation of compounds in green tea compared to Matcha.

Compound Green Tea Matcha – 1 teaspoon powder
EGCG (epigallocatechingallate) 80mg per cup 240mg per cup
Theanine 4mg per cup 20mg per cup
Caffeine 31.8mg per cup 68mg per cup

So what do these fancy pants compounds do?

Mood & Brain Food

A 2017 study showed that match tea intake improved attention, memory and suppression of distraction when compared to control subjects.  This was attributed to the unique balance of green tea phytochemicals L-Theanine and caffeine.  L-Theanine reportedly improving relaxation and calmness and reducing tension. The study found that when compared to using caffeine in the form of coffee, green tea had equal or better alertness and focus benefits than coffee without the associated anxiety or jitteriness.

Healthy Heart & Arteries

In a 2016 study, Matcha was shown to improve HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad guy), reduce blood glucose levels and improve antioxidant levels in rats fed a high saturated fat diet in combination with Matcha. In other words rats eating hamburgers reduced their cardiovascular risk if they had Matcha powder with their meal. This showed good potential for Matcha consumption improving fat metabolism, blood sugars and inflammation. Go green!

Detox

Unfortunately we live in a world laden with all kinds of toxic compounds, many of which we are exposed to constantly without our conscious knowledge. PCB’s or polychlorinated biphenyls are one such class of toxic chemical compounds which are found in electrical equipment, inks, glues, flame retardents (used in our clothes, carpets and furnishings) and paints. The unfortunate thing about this compound is that is volatile, it can be measured in our soils, drinking water and in the air we are breathing. PCB’s accumulate in our tissues and in those of the animals we eat. Matcha to the rescue! A recent Japanese study showed that rats fed a diet of PCB’s along with Matcha were able to excrete up to nine times more PCB’s in their faeces and also showed reduced distribution of PCB’s in their livers as compared to rats who missed out on the Matcha.

There are many more studies supporting the health benefits of matcha and green tea for everything from protection against cancer to the removal of mould toxins from the body. Do yourself a favour and switch out a cup of coffee per day for a nice Matcha latte!