heavy metal toxicity histamine intolerance aluminum

Heavy Metal Toxicity and Histamine Intolerance

What do heavy metals have to do with histamine intolerance?

In our everyday lives, we’re exposed to a fair number of compounds that enter our body systems through the environment.

In some cases, we’re quite aware of them, for example, in the case of pollution, herbicides, pesticides and even hormones in our meat.

There are, however, other compounds we don't think about as often - and, we may not even know when we are being exposed to them. This is usually the case with heavy metals.

In this article, I’ll dive into one of the most common metals you may be exposed to, where it may be hiding in your everyday life, what it could be doing to your health - particularly when you have histamine intolerance - and, most importantly, what you can do to reduce its impact on you.

What are heavy metals?

Before I discuss the specific heavy metal we'll focus on today, I want to first address the more general question of “what is a heavy metal?".

Let me explain…

Think back to high school science classes for a minute. Do you recall learning about the periodic table?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to make you recite the periodic table and all of its elements, I just want you to recall what it contains. That’s right! All of the metals we have identified that can be obtained from our environment.

Metals actually form a big part of our lives and, with the discovery of many of them, they have changed the way we can live, learn and improve how we go about doing things.

One of the most precious heavy metals we have discovered is platinum - while some of the most useful are aluminum and cadmium, for example.

Other heavy metals provide the body with important minerals we need to survive, for example, iron, magnesium and zinc. Others are well-known for having serious and negative effects on the human body, for example, mercury and lead.

The truth is, even though there are many metals that have been deemed safe - and even necessary - for our bodies, with high levels of exposure, they can still cause serious harm.

Unfortunately, when you have histamine intolerance, it is possible that your exposure to heavy metals may be too high, and it could be contributing to your histamine intolerance symptoms.

One of the most useful metals mentioned above is highly associated with histamine intolerance. It's aluminum. And aluminium is in everything.  


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Aluminum and histamine intolerance

Because of its low density and ability to withstand corrosion, aluminum has been incorporated into may aspects of our lives.

Think about all the places you’d see aluminum being used in your direct environment. What's coming to mind? Are you picturing aluminum foil, cans, and food trays? What about aluminum components in door and window frames, cars, trucks, bicycles and spacecrafts?

What about other sources of aluminium? Did you know aluminum is also used in furniture, cooking utensils, deodorants, cosmetics, toothpaste, sun cream and medicines? It’s also in the food you eat, the water you drink, the air you break and the soil you may come into contact with (1).

You might be quite shocked that aluminium is so rife in our environment. But, like I said before, it really is one of the most useful metals, with application for use in our everyday lives. 

You can also now begin to imagine how much aluminum you’re exposed to on a day to basis because of this. Although the body is well-adapted at eliminating aluminum in the urine and feces, when you’re constantly being exposed to aluminum there is a risk that levels will rise and be stored in the body. Rising aluminium levels is usually associated with a decrease in your ability to detoxify. If the detoxification demand on your liver is already high, your liver may be unable to cope with getting rid of all of the aluminium. It's when there is more aluminium in the body, that symptoms may begin to appear as a result. 

Research into the effects of aluminum and how it may affect humans has not yielded any conclusive results, with data showing that exposure in the majority of the population is small. In most people, their bodies do eliminate aluminium at the appropriate levels, but there are some people - like you - who may not be able to eliminate it as well.

Let’s look at some of the research that suggests aluminum exposure may be more harmful in some.

Allergies increase in those exposed to aluminum-containing treatments

There are a handful of reports suggesting that medication that contains aluminum can increase the risk of allergy, particularly in those who are suffering from hypersensitivity reactions to begin with. Studies show that dermatitis from aluminum-containing treatments worsens, and that these effects appear to be on the rise (2,3).

It is well-known that aluminum can cause an immune reaction, which end up having a stimulatory effect on mast cells. When mast cells are stimulated, they release histamines and other inflammatory mediators (4,5).

One of the most recent studies done on the effects of aluminum on mast cell activation was performed on rats. The results of the study found that when these animals were exposure to aluminum in their food, there was a significant impact on mast cell activation and histamine release (6). 

That’s not all. This particular pathways induced irritable bowel-like symptoms in the rats, after which the authors concluded that it was highly likely that through mast cell activation in the gut, aluminum was able to induce IBS (6).

Considering the strong link between IBS and histamine intolerance (58% of those with IBS have histamine intolerance to some degree), we can begin to see the link.

How do you know if aluminium is a cause of your histamin intolerance?

As mentioned above, there are many ways for you to be exposed to high levels of environmental aluminium. 

Were your school or work lunches packed in aluminium foil? Have you often eaten out of aluminium food trays? Are you using aluminium cutlery and crockery on a daily basis? Do any of your personal hygiene products such as deodorant, contain aluminium? Do any of the medications you take use aluminium as a base ingredient?

You can see that aluminium exposure can stack up fairly quickly! And, if your liver is already struggling to detoxify other chemicals from your body, your aluminium levels may be on the rise. 

If you have a higher than typical exposure to aluminium (or other heavy metals, for that matter), is it possible that it has induced your histamine intolerance and contributed to your digestive issues that are much like IBS? It’s highly possible.

So, what do you do about it?

How to reduce heavy metal levels for histamine intolerance

Your first step in the process to reducing the impact that metals like aluminum have on your health is to get rid of as many of the factors in your environment that expose you to it (7).

  • Stop using aluminum foil in your home and, in particular, never heat food wrapped in foil or foil containers.
  • Where possible, replace aluminum lined pots and pans.
  • Use aluminum-free cosmetics, toothpaste and deodorant.
  • Ask your doctor whether any of your medications contain aluminum and, where possible request other alternatives.
  • Check the ingredients in the products you use on a regular basis to determine their aluminum content.
  • Avoid exposure to waste water, industrial steel areas, and tobacco smoking.
  • Be sure to reduce your environmental exposure to other metals such as lead, cadmium, bismuth and mercury, as they too have been found to mediate mast cell release of histamines and other inflammatory compounds. 

Natural ways to help your body to get rid of heavy metals involves

  • Eat lots of organic, well washed fruit and vegetables instead of packaged foods.
  • Focus on adding a wide variety of low histamine fruit and vegetables to the diet, which are also rich in nutrients that support the liver and detoxification pathways.
  • Increase your intake of dietary fiber to improve the movement of waste products from the body through stool.
  • For dietary specifics, please download the free low histamine diet guide by clicking below. 

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Overall, the best way to reduce the impact of aluminum and other heavy metals on your health is to minimize your exposure to them, and to optimize your diet in order to best support a healthy body that can adequately detoxify not just heavy metals, but any toxins you may be exposed to.

By dampening the impact of environmental factors such as heavy metals on your histamine intolerance, you can focus on increasing your tolerance to histamine, and healing your whole body!


  1. Klotz, D., et al. The Health Effects of Aluminum Exposure. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2017 Sep; 114(39): 653–659. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5651828/
  2. Lund University. "Allergy treatments containing aluminum may cause new allergy, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2010. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214085545.htm
  3. Kutlu, A., et al. Could aluminum be a new hidden allergen in type 1 hypersensitivity reactions when used as a drug additive? Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2016 Jun; 33(3): 243–245. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4969423/
  4. McKee A., et al. Alum induces innate immune responses through macrophage and mast cell sensors, but these sensors are not required for alum to act as an adjuvant for specific immunity. J Immunol. 2009 Oct 1; 183(7):4403-14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19734227/
  5. Fang, X., & Xiang, Z. Roles and relevance of mast cells in infection and vaccination. J Biomed Res. 2016 Jul; 30(4): 253–263. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4946316/
  6. Esquerre, N., et al. Aluminum Ingestion Promotes Colorectal Hypersensitivity in Rodents. Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2019. 7(1):235-236.
  7. Exley, C. Human exposure to aluminium. Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts. 2013. 15:1807-1816. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2013/em/c3em00374d
    Author Photo

    Anita Tee

    My name is Anita Tee. I'm a nutritional scientist who specializes in histamine intolerance. I hold a Master of Science in Personalized Nutrition and a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and Psychology.

    For the past ten years, I have used my experience in nutritional and medical health sciences to create a scientifically backed, natural approach to healthcare that relies 100% on evidence-based research.

    As I previously suffered from - and overcame - histamine intolerance, my focus is to increase recognition and expand the available resources and protocols available for resolving this particular disorder. To date, I have helped over 4,000 individuals fully resolve or better manage their histamine intolerance symptoms.

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