What Are Histamines

You’ve seen the word histamine before on anti-histamine medications and creams for allergies and allergic reactions. Have you ever wondered what are histamines and what is their role in allergies? 

In this article, I will explain what histamines are and how the allergy response works. You will learn about the role of histamine when it comes to food and insect bites. If you are curious about histamine intolerance, along with a quick explanation, I will direct you to some resources and my 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan to help you regain your health, improve your well-being, and reclaim your happiness.

What Are Histamines?

Histamines are chemicals in your body that are responsible for a variety of functions. They are your personal security guard. When your body encounters an allergen, they get rid of them to protect you. This is one doctor commonly recommend anti-histamines for allergies and allergic reactions.

The thing about allergies is that some things you are allergic to, such as pollen, dust, or pet dander, may seem harmless and are completely harmless to many people. But your personal immune system views them as a threat, gets triggered, and quickly responds with an allergic reaction leading to an array of allergy symptoms.

Histamines trigger the process that gets allergens off your skin or out of your body. Sneezing, redness, tearing up, swelling, or itching is often part of this process. This is how your body’s defense system works. It’s all normal and created for your health and safety (1, 2, 3).

How the Histamine Allergy Response Works

When you encounter an allergen, such as pollen or dust, your immune system gets triggered. To protect you, it launches a serious of events to keep you safe and healthy.

The first step of this reaction is signaling the mast cells in your lungs, nose, skin, mouth, gut, and blood to release histamines immediately. The histamines immediately increase blood flow to the affected area causing acute inflammation to start repair. The inflammation triggers other chemicals from your immune system to help with healing and recovery. The histamines end up at certain receptors in your body and eventually get removed from your system.

These chain of event lead to allergic reactions and symptoms. For example, if you are allergic to pollen, histamines in your body will prompt membranes in your respiratory system to make more mucus leading to a stuffy or runny nose. All the mucus may also cause sneezing, scratchy nose, or coughing. Additionally, histamines may make your eyes and nose itch and your eyes water. If you encounter a skin allergy, the histamine reaction may lead to redness, swelling, or itching (1, 2).

Foods and Histamine

If you have food allergies, you are very familiar with these processes. When you eat or drink food that you are allergic to, histamines will trigger an immediate allergic reaction. Unlike food sensitivities that lead to chronic, gradual, and more subtle symptoms, food allergies trigger an immediate and often serious response, including wheezing, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue, hives, itching, tingling, dizziness, vomiting, or abdominal pain.

Some foods are also naturally high in histamine that causes problems in some people. Some people are simply sensitive to certain histamine-containing foods. Others have histamine intolerance and have to avoid high-histamine foods. 

Histamine Intolerance

Histamine intolerance means that your body has too much histamine and it is unable to properly break down the excess histamine leading to a list of symptoms, including headaches, migraines, fatigue, anxiety, runny nose, eczema, hormonal issues, digestive issues, and more. High-histamine foods include aged cheese, citrus fruit, cured and canned meat, dried fruits, fermented foods, fermented alcohol, soured foods, legumes, cashews, walnuts, avocadoes, eggplants, spinach, tomatoes, smoked fish, anchovies, mackerel, mahi-mahi, sardines, tuna, fish sauces, and vinegar-containing foods. If you have histamine intolerance, you need to avoid high-histamine foods (3).

Histamine Poisoning

You may also experience histamine poisoning if you eat fish that was not kept at a safe temperature and got spoiled before you were served and ate them. There is a higher risk of histamine poisoning with fish that are high in histamines, such as mackerel, sardines, tuna, anchovies, and smoked fish. Histamine poisoning from fish is also called scombrotoxin fish poisoning, or SFP. However, with good food safety practices, you don’t have to worry about SFP (4).

Histamine and Insects

Not only humans but many animals and plants have histamines too. For example, histamine can be found in some insect venom. If you are stung or bitten by certain insects, such as bees, hornets, wasps, yellow-jackets, or fire aunts, your own histamines will get to work as well triggering a histamine response to protect you. As you know, this will lead to swelling, redness, itching, or pain (5).

Final Thoughts

Histamines are chemicals that are part of your immune system. They are there for your protection and play a very important role in your health. 

Problems only arise with histamine, if you have histamine intolerance. Histamine intolerance means that your body has too much histamine, it can’t keep up with it, which results in an array of symptoms. The good news is that through simple natural strategies, you can overcome your symptoms of histamine intolerance and live a healthy life. To learn more about histamine intolerance, read this article.

If you have symptoms of histamine intolerance and want to understand each step of my simple yet refined histamine intolerance recovery 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 your body. 

If you are dealing with symptoms of histamine intolerance, I invite you to schedule a consultation with me. I can help to 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.


1. Histamine defined. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Link Here
2. Histamine: The stuff allergies are made of. MedlinePlus. Link Here
3. 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
4. Histamine poisoning. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, Immunology. Link Here
5. Insect allergies. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. 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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