How Histamine Intolerance Affects Your Brain

Histamine intolerance affects your entire body. It may be the root cause of your migraines, headaches, allergies, sinus issues, digestion troubles, eczema, acne, and so on. It’s not surprising that histamine plays a critical role in your brain function as well. Histamine intolerance can compromise your cognition, concentration, mood, and overall brain function.

In this article, I will explain what histamine intolerance is and how it affects your brain. I will also offer some simple natural solutions for histamine intolerance and brain health issues.

What Is Histamine Intolerance

Histamine is responsible for a variety of important bodily functions, including communicating with your brain, fighting off allergens as part of your immune response, and promoting stomach acid release to aid digestion. While histamine is absolutely essential for your health, too much histamine is not healthy. Histamine intolerance means that you have too much histamine which can result in various symptoms and health issues, including brain health problems (1)

Histamine Intolerance and Your Brain

Your brain is a complex yet fascinating organ. When it receives signals from your environment, it doesn’t just process everything through the same channel. Your brain has four systems, called the aminergic system, which makes sure that everything gets processed through the correct channel.

One of the four aminergic systems is called the histaminergic system. You’ve guessed it right. The histaminergic system involves a histamine-mediated process to ensure healthy processing and function. Histamine helps your brain to achieve homeostasis or balance. It helps to regulate stimuli related to the following important brain-related activities (2):

  • The sleep-wake cycle
  • Stress response
  • Pain perception
  • Neurotransmitter regulation
  • Satiety, taste perception, and feeding behaviors
  • Addictive behaviors
  • Memory formation
  • Motivation and goal-setting behaviors

But how exactly histamine affects these things? Histamine in your brain can come from either mast cells or neurons. However, since there aren’t many mast cells in your brain, most of them come from histamine-releasing neurons in your hypothalamus. From there, histamine can travel to other areas and affect your entire brain. Histamine can attach to different receptors in a variety of other regions of your brain. This can lead to over-stimulation and histamine intolerance all over your brain (3, 4).

In other parts of your body, the diamine oxidase (DAO) enzyme is responsible for breaking down excess histamine. In your brain, however, the histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT) enzyme is responsible for breaking down histamine. It first forms t-type methylhistamine, which gets broken down by monoamine oxidase B (MAOB) and aldehyde dehydrogenase. If histamine doesn’t get broken down properly, it can increase histamine intolerance and related symptoms (5).

Brain Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance

Now that you understand how histamine functions in your brain, let’s take a deeper look at how histamine intolerance may affect various brain-related functions and activities.

The Sleep-Wake Cycle

Did you know that over half of the over-the-counter medications that promote sleep contain a histamine blocker agent? This is not surprising. Histamine intolerance can increase your risk of sleeplessness, insomnia, and other sleeping disorders. Healthy histamine levels on the other hand promote healthy sleep and energy during the day (6).

Stress Response

One of the most well-known allergic and histamine reactions is itching, which is your body’s stress response to an allergen. When your body encounters an allergen, it will increase stress in your body to trigger histamine production and produce symptoms to signal a problem. Reducing histamine, however, may decrease this stress response and as a result, lower symptoms as well. This is the reason why allergy medications have anti-histamine effects (7).

Pain Perception

Histamine intolerance can increase inflammation, pain, and various symptoms in your body. However, your brain is responsible for how you perceive and interpret pain. If there is an imbalance in your brain due to histamine intolerance, you may end up perceiving pain stronger than under normal circumstances (8).

Neurotransmitter Regulation

Histamine is a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger, that affects the function of other neurotransmitters. Therefore, histamine plays a key role in neurotransmitter regulation. Histamine intolerance may increase the risk or amplify the symptoms of neuropsychiatric conditions, including depression, ADHD, and schizophrenia (9).

Satiety, Taste Perception, and Feeding Behaviors

Hunger is important for our survival. It triggers food-seeking behaviors to increase energy, help metabolic function, and support our health. However, histamine intolerance can interfere with our normal feeding cycle. It may increase your appetite and cravings for unhealthy foods. It may also alter your feeding behavior, and may increase binging, emotional eating, unhealthy snacking, and disordered eating habits (10).

Addictive behaviors

Histamine may play a role in addictive behaviors. Research studies on rats found that higher brain histamine levels may influence alcohol dependence. Blocking brain histamine receptors, however, helped recovery from alcohol addiction. While more research is needed, addressing histamine intolerance may play an important role in the treatment of alcohol addictions and possibly other addictive behaviors (11).

Memory Formation

While histamine intolerance can certainly compromise your memory and cognition, low histamine levels are also a problem. Higher brain histamine levels within the healthy range may help your memory and help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (12).

Motivation and Goal-Setting Behaviors

If you have trouble staying motivated to achieve your goals, histamine may play a role in that. Histamine may help to increase goal-seeking behaviors and motivation. However, it is important that your histamine levels don’t end up too high since that can lead to fatigue and low-energy interfering with your ability to achieve these goals (13).

Solutions for Brain Health and Histamine Intolerance 

If you want to improve your brain health, it is important that you address histamine intolerance. Here is what I recommend:

Elimination Diet

To improve your brain health by addressing histamine intolerance, I recommend that you follow a nutrient-dense and low-histamine diet. Remove all histamine foods for one to three months, then slowly re-introduce them one by one following The 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan. To understand each step of this simple yet refined system, I recommend that you read my book, The 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan: Getting to the Root of Migraines, Eczema, Vertigo, Allergies and More where I explain everything about histamine intolerance and each phase of the plan in detail. You will also find my favorite low-histamine recipes to nourish and support your brain. 

Support Your Liver and Hormone Levels

Your liver is a major detoxifying organ that’s critical for your recovery from histamine intolerance. This is why I recommend Optimal Reset Liver Love, a powerful blend of botanical and mushroom extracts and N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC)  for optimal liver function, detoxification, hormonal health, and brain function (14).

Reduce Histamine Intolerance

To improve histamine intolerance and improve your brain, I recommend HistoRelief. It is a synergistic blend of nutrients including Tinofend®, quercetin, nettle leaf, vitamin C, and bicarbonate salts, that provides natural support to balance your immune response, inflammation reduction, and histamine release (15).

Final Thoughts

Histamine intolerance affects your entire body. Your brain is not an exception. Histamine intolerance may lead to poor sleep, increased stress response, increased pain perception, compromised neurotransmitter regulation, unhealthy feeding behaviors, increased, addictive behaviors, poor memory, and low motivation. 

The good news is that reducing histamine intolerance is simple. Follow my natural solutions for histamine intolerance and brain health issues to improve your brain health and overall well-being.

If you are dealing with the brain health issues we’ve discussed or other symptoms of histamine intolerance, I invite you to schedule a consultation with us. I can help to identify the root cause of your problems and recommend a personalized treatment plan to repair your body and regain your health and well-being. Schedule your consultation here.

1. Maintz L, Novak N, Histamine and histamine intolerance, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 85, Issue 5, May 2007, Pages 1185–1196. Link Here
2. Brown, R. E., Stevens, D. R., & Haas, H. L. (2001). The physiology of brain histamine. Progress in Neurobiology, 63(6), 637–672. Link Here
3. Shan L, et al. Interactions of the histamine and hypocretin systems in CNS disorders. Nat Rev Neurol . 2015;11(7):401–413. Link Here
4. Bolam, P., & Ellender, T. Histamine and the striatum. Neuropharmacology. Volume 106, July 2016, Pages 74-84. Link Here
5. Haas HL, et al. Histamine in the nervous system. Physiol Rev . 2008;88(3):1183–1241. Link Here
6. Naganuma F, et al. Histamine N-methyltransferase regulates aggression and the sleep-wake cycle. Sci Rep . 2017;7(1):15899. Link Here
7. Kim, H., et al. How stress triggers itch: a preliminary study of the mechanism of stress‐induced pruritus using fMRI. International Journal of DermatologyVolume 55, Issue 4. 2015. Link Here
8. Rosa AC, Fantozzi R. The role of histamine in neurogenic inflammation. Br J Pharmacol. 2013 Sep;170(1):38-45. doi: 10.1111/bph.12266. PMID: 23734637
9. Sadek, B., et al. Histamine H3 receptor as a potential target for cognitive symptoms in neuropsychiatric diseases. Behavioural Brain Research. Volume 312, 1 October 2016, Pages 415-430. Link Here
10. Provensi G., et al. (2016) Histamine and Appetite. Histamine and Appetite. In: Blandina P., Passani M. (eds) Histamine Receptors. The Receptors, vol 28. Humana Press, Cham. Link Here
11. Panula, P. Histamine, histamine H3 receptor, and alcohol use disorder. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2019. Link Here
12. Zlomuzica, A., et al. 2016. Neuronal histamine and cognitive symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropharmacology. 106, 135e145. Link Here
13. Loy, B. D., & O’Connor, P. J. (2016). The effect of histamine on changes in mental energy and fatigue after a single bout of exercise. Physiology & Behavior, 153, 7–18. Link Here
14. Rodriguez RR. Headache and liver disease: is their relationship more apparent than real? Dig Dis Sci. 2004 Jun;49(6):1016-8. PMID: 15309894 
15. Histamine intolerance. Vickerstaff Health Services. Link Here





Hi, I am Dr. Becky Campbell. I work with men and women who’ve had a health set back and are willing to do whatever it takes to reach optimal health so they can perform their best in their careers and be fully present with their family again.

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