Menopause and Histamine: The Connection
Not bleeding every month anymore may sound like a perk. Yet, most women are not looking forward to menopause. Fatigue, hot flashes, brain fog, and other symptoms can be quite distressing.
What if I told you that you didn’t have to struggle with menopause symptoms? You’ve heard it right. There is a lesser-known connection between menopause and histamine intolerance that can make your symptoms worse. If you address histamine intolerance, you can also reduce your menopausal symptoms.
In this article, you will learn what menopause is. You will learn about the most common symptoms of menopause. I will explain the connection between menopause and histamine intolerance. I will also offer some solutions to improve your menopause symptoms naturally.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause marks the end of an era. It is the end of your menstrual years. Most women go through menopause in their 40s or 50s, with the average age being 51.
Menopause is preceded by perimenopause, a menopause transition phase. During perimenopause, your ovaries will gradually start to create less and less estrogen. Perimenopause usually starts in your 40s, but in some women, it can start in their 30s or earlier.
Perimenopause can last for several years, with an average of 4 years. Perimenopause ends when you enter menopause when your ovaries stop releasing eggs completely. Menopause is diagnosed after you’ve gone without a period for 12 months.
Perimenopause and menopause can be difficult times for many women. They can come with an array of physical and emotional symptoms, including fatigue, poor sleep, moodiness, and hot flashes. Fortunately, dietary and lifestyle changes can help to reduce your symptoms and make these years much easier (1).
Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause may lead to a long list of uncomfortable symptoms. You may experience only some, but you may experience all of them during your perimenopausal and menopausal years. Symptoms of menopause may include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
- Trouble focusing and concentrating
- Lack of motivation
- Insomnia and poor sleep
- Breast tenderness
- Digestive issues
- Weight gain
- Belly fat gain
- Irregular periods then loss of period
- Low or loss of libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary pain
- Urgency to urinate
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
- Facial hair
- Burning mouth
- Dry eyes
- Clammy feeling
- Decreased confidence
What Is Histamine Intolerance?
You’ve probably known the word histamine because of anti-histamine medications for allergies and histamine intolerance. You may even think that histamine is bad because of the ‘anti’ part in anti-histamine. But histamine is not bad. It’s an absolutely essential part of your body.
Histamine is an important chemical that helps your body get rid of allergens as part of your immune response. It supports your digestion by releasing hydrochloric acid to break down food and bacteria. It also supports your brain health by serving as a chemical messenger between your brain and the rest of your body.
Histamine only becomes a problem if there is too much of it. If your body is releasing too much histamine and your body is unable to break down all the excess histamine, histamine build-up occurs.
Histamine intolerance means that there is too much histamine in your body. Under normal circumstances, your body sends enzymes to break down excess histamine and prevent build-up. However, if you have too much histamine, it won’t be able to break everything down, which can lead to histamine intolerance. Histamine intolerance can affect your entire body, including your gut, brain, lungs, and cardiovascular system (2).
Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance
Since histamine intolerance can affect your entire body, it may not surprise you that it can cause many symptoms that can become widespread across your body. Symptoms may differ from person to person. You may only experience a few symptoms, or you may experience most of them. Your symptoms may be anywhere between mild to severe.
As you may notice, some of the symptoms of histamine intolerance are similar to symptoms of menopause. I will get into the connection between histamine intolerance and menopause in the next section. But first, let’s look at the symptoms of histamine intolerance.
Symptoms of histamine intolerance include the following:
- Itchy skin, eyes, ears, and nose
- Eczema or other types of dermatitis
- Red eyes
- Facial swelling
- Crawling sensation on the skin or the scalp
- Tightness in the throat
- Difficulty regulating body temperature
- Sudden drop in blood pressure when standing up
- Low blood pressure
- Fast heart rate
- Heart palpitations
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Difficulty falling asleep or sleep issues
- Brain fog
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Congestion or runny nose
- Seasonal allergies
- Migraines and headaches
- Acid reflux
- Abnormal menstrual cycle
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Menopause and Histamine Intolerance
To understand the connection between menopause and histamine intolerance, we have to talk about estrogen dominance and histamine intolerance. This hormonal imbalance can increase your risk of histamine intolerance and, consequently, symptoms of menopause.
Histamine Intolerance and Estrogen Dominance
Did you know that women tend to have more histamine than men? It’s because women have more estrogen.
I’ve written about the histamine-estrogen connection in this article. Histamine, estrogen, and progesterone are closely linked in your boy and need to be perfectly balanced for ideal health and function.
Estrogen has many roles in your body. One of its functions includes stimulating mast cells in your body to make more histamine. This can, of course, increase the chances of a histamine response and histamine intolerance.
A 2012 study published in Frontiers in Immunology has demonstrated how estradiol, a form of estrogen, can affect mast cells and trigger asthma (3). A 2013 study published in Current Opinions in Allergy and Clinical Immunology has found that estrogen can increase the risk of allergies and asthma, which can, of course, be triggered by a histamine response or histamine intolerance (4).
Since women tend to have more estrogen than men, it’s not surprising now that they have a higher risk of histamine intolerance as well. (Note to my male readers: Men can also develop both estrogen dominance and histamine intolerance, your risks are simply somewhat lower.)
If you have healthy levels of estrogen and living a healthy lifestyle keeping histamine levels normal, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you are already struggling with histamine intolerance and/or estrogen dominance, this can become a vicious cycle.
Estrogen will prompt your mast cells to release histamine. Increased histamine levels will lead to more estrogen. As a response, all that extra estrogen will trigger your mast cells to make even more histamine, which will lead to more estrogen. And the cycle continues leading to more and more symptoms.
This also explains why you may be experiencing more histamine-related issues during specific times of your cycle. When your estrogen levels are higher than your progesterone levels, you will be more likely to experience certain histamine intolerance symptoms.
Estrogen dominance can also trigger histamine intolerance and symptoms. Estrogen dominance means that there is a hormonal imbalance in your body because you have more estrogen than progesterone. Even if your estrogen levels are closer to normal or low, you can still have estrogen dominance if you have even less progesterone and there is an imbalance.
Histamine Intolerance and Menopause
This brings me to the issue of histamine intolerance and menopause. Since estrogen levels drop during menopause, you may wonder how histamine intolerance can be connected to your menopausal symptoms.
Here is the thing, you can still have estrogen dominance, even if you are in perimenopause or menopause. During menopause, both your estrogen and progesterone levels drop. This means that as long as your progesterone levels are lower than your estrogen levels and there is an imbalance, you can still have estrogen dominance and related symptoms. Even in menopause. Since progesterone levels tend to drop quicker, there is an increased chance for estrogen dominance in menopause even if you didn’t have estrogen dominance before.
Besides triggering your mast cells to release more histamine, estrogen can also decrease your diamine oxide (DAO) enzyme levels. The DAO enzyme is responsible for cleaning up excess histamine. If you don’t have enough DAO enzymes, the risk of histamine build-up and histamine intolerance is high. So estrogen dominance not only causes excess histamine release, but it can prevent your body from efficiently cleaning up this excess.
You may think that balancing your hormones through hormone replacement may be the answer. Wrong. It turns out that hormone replacement therapy can possibly make histamine intolerance even worse. Synthetic hormone replacement can be really hard on your mast cells, trigger histamine release, and lead to symptoms. A 2012 study published in Frontiers in Immunology has found that post-menopausal women who receive hormone replacement therapy are more likely to experience new-onset asthma because these hormones affect their mast cells and trigger symptoms (3).
While bioidentical hormones can work better with fewer risks, it’s important that you always do your homework before taking them. I also recommend checking out this article, where I discuss estrogen dominance and the problem with hormone replacement.
Solutions for Menopause and Histamine Intolerance
Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life. It doesn’t mean that you have to deal with severe menopause symptoms. If you address underlying estrogen dominance and histamine intolerance, you don’t have to deal with uncomfortable symptoms anymore. You can take control of your health through simple natural methods. Here is what I recommend:
Xenoestrogens are artificial compounds that have estrogenic effects but are different from naturally occurring estrogen. They are hormone-mimicking compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen and contribute to estrogen excess or prevent the beneficial effects of natural estrogen in your body. They can increase estrogen dominance and related issues, including histamine intolerance and menopausal symptoms. Remove xenoestrogen-containing products, including conventional cleaning, body, and beauty products, and choose natural and organic alternatives.
Avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy and hormonal medications can increase estrogen dominance, histamine intolerance, and related symptoms. Consult your doctor about getting off or reducing hormone replacement therapy, hormonal contraceptives, and other hormone-based prescription medications.
Lower Your Histamine
Estrogen dominance and estrogen imbalance can both lead to histamine intolerance and, as a result, increase your symptoms of menopause. I recommend that you work with a functional health practitioner, like myself, to check for histamine intolerance. If you are dealing with symptoms of histamine intolerance, I recommend that you follow my 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan outlined in my book, The 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan: Getting to the Root of Migraines, Eczema, Vertigo, Allergies and More.
Eat an Anti-Inflammatory & Low-Histamine Diet
Remove inflammatory foods, including refined sugar, refined oils, canned and processed meat, artificial ingredients, junk food, and highly processed foods. Eat a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, and low-histamine diet rich in greens, vegetables, herbs, spices, fruits, healthy fats, and organic meat. Try new recipes. I recommend all the low-histamine recipes in The 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan and my new recipe book, Fifty One Low Histamine Air Fryer Recipes.
Move Your Body
Chronic stress can increase the risk of hormonal imbalance and histamine intolerance. Moving your body is a great way to reduce stress, improve detoxification, boost your mood, and support your overall health. Stay active throughout the day by dancing to your favorite songs, taking a stroll in the park, stretching regularly, and playing with your kids or pets. Exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes five days a week and move your body regularly. Mix up strength training workouts, including weight lifting, bodyweight exercises, or TRX, and cardiovascular workouts, such as swimming, cycling, and aerobics classes. Add low impact exercises into your routine as well, such as yoga, pilates, Barre, water aerobics, stretching, and walking.
Reduce Stress and Improve Sleep
Stress and poor sleep are major contributing factors to hormonal imbalance and histamine intolerance. I recommend practicing breathwork, meditation, journaling, yoga, time in nature, and positive affirmations for stress and anxiety reduction. Taking an Epsom salt bath is another great way to relax your muscles, calm your mind, and detoxify your body. Make sure to sleep at least 7 to 9 hours a night.
Improve Your Gut Health
Your gut health affects your entire body. Poor gut flora can lead to histamine intolerance and hormonal imbalance. Along with a gut-friendly anti-inflammatory diet, I recommend working with a functional medicine practitioner (like me) to test your gut and see if opportunistic bacteria, yeast overgrowth, parasites, H. pylori and/or leaky gut can be what is driving your histamine issue.
Try Supplements that Support Estrogen Metabolism
If you are experiencing estrogen dominance but your estrogen metabolism pathways are out, such as having a high 4-OH pathway), I recommend DIM-Evail, a Di-Indole methane (DI) supplement to improve your estrogen levels and estrogen metabolism. DIM is an extract derived from broccoli. It helps your body to neutralize reactive estrogen metabolites, such as estrone and estradiol. It also helps the production of non-reactive estrogen and improves your estrogen balance. However, DIM is not always right if you are in menopause. If your estrogen levels are low, using DIM can be problematic.
If your estrogen levels are low, I recommend sulforaphane instead. Sulforaphane comes from broccoli sprouts. It helps to support estrogen metabolism. It helps to redirect 4-OH estrogen from going down the wrong pathway and reduce the risk of oxidative damage. I recommend BroccoBlend for sulforaphane. The bioavailability of this supplement is not dependent on myrosinase produced by intestinal bacteria, making BroccoBlend especially effective for individuals with GI flora that produce negligible amounts of this enzyme.
If you have trouble metabolizing estrogen in the gut, I recommend Calcium-D-Glucarate. Calcium D-Glucarate is calcium bound tod-glucaric acid, which is a natural compound produced in small amounts by the human body and is abundantly found in various plant foods such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, apples, oranges, and grapefruit. It helps to support the body’s natural elimination of excess steroid hormones and toxins. Calcium-d-glucarate assists in the detoxification process as it forms conjugates with unwanted estrogenic hormones and environmental toxins, which are then eliminated from the body instead of being reabsorbed.
If you are not sure where your issue lies, working with a practitioner is the best way to determine which one of these supplements may work the best for your body. We are always happy to help at our practice.
Most women believe that dealing with perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms is normal. The truth is that you don’t have to deal with menopausal symptoms that seriously impact your everyday life. If you address underlying histamine intolerance, reduce estrogen dominance, and support your hormonal health, you can reduce your symptoms of menopause naturally. I recommend that you follow my tips to support your health through menopause.
If you are dealing with symptoms of menopause, histamine intolerance, or estrogen dominance, I invite you to schedule a consultation with us. We can help identify the root cause of your condition and recommend a personalized treatment plan to repair your body and regain your health and well-being. Schedule your consultation here.
- What is menopause. NIH. Link Here
- Maintz L, Novak N. Histamine and histamine intolerance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1185-96. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/85.5.1185. PMID: 17490952
- Zierau O, Zenclussen AC, Jensen F. Role of female sex hormones, estradiol and progesterone, in mast cell behavior. Front Immunol. 2012 Jun 19;3:169. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2012.00169. PMID: 22723800
- Bonds RS, Midoro-Horiuti T. Estrogen effects in allergy and asthma. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013 Feb;13(1):92-9. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e32835a6dd6. PMID: 23090385