Trauma and Histamine Intolerance

Trauma and Histamine Intolerance

Look online for that underlying cause of your histamine intolerance and you’re most likely to find a bunch of reasons that involve:

  • The blocking of the histamine degrading enzyme, diamine oxidase (DAO)
  • Disruptions in gut function, including inflammation and imbalances in the gut microbiome
  • Eating high histamine foods when your body is also producing too many histamines
  • Conditions such as viral or bacterial infections that trigger the mast cells to release too many histamines

What if I told you that this is all good and well, and that these factors certainly need to be taken into account when you’re dealing with histamine intolerance, but that there may be a far deeper cause to consider, namely one that has to do with post traumatic stress disorder or "PTSD".

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and health issues

Trauma and traumatic events throughout one’s life has been increasingly researched as a trigger for multiple health issues that include (1,2,3):

  • Lung disease
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Obesity 
  • Diabetes 
  • Chronic pain
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Depression 

Now, you can add histamine intolerance to the list...


Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and histamine intolerance

You’re likely already aware that your symptoms seem to flare during higher stress periods, and there is a clear link between stress and histamine intolerance.

When it comes to PTSD, however, we look more at a long term driver of histamine imbalances, rather than an acute response that we may have during a stressful event.

When we look at this history of trauma, and typically unresolved traumatic experiences that work on one’s psyche - even if it’s on a subconscious level - we have evidence that these experiences have stirred up histamine release over a period of time.

The symptoms you now begin to experience are a result of your histamine load increasing, and your body’s inability to break them down. 

You see, your body is great at compensating for imbalances… to a point, that is.

When the compensatory mechanisms of the body are taxed, and resources are no longer there, imbalances start to show up as symptoms. In other words, histamines were being managed to a degree, but then the body ran out of ways to cope and so those histamine levels began to rise, triggering all of those receptors across the body surface, leading to your symptoms, and causing them to become worse and worse. 

The way I can easily describe this or draw a comparison is through the development of any disorder or disease. The reality is that disease doesn't happen overnight. Aside from infectious issues, when it comes to disease, the body isn't perfectly healthy one day and suddenly has a disease the next. 

It may feel this way due to the symptoms finally appearing, but the lead-up to these symptoms meant the disease was already brewing in the body through a series of imbalances occurring over a long period of time, which finally spilled over into symptoms.

Although histamine intolerance is a disorder, rather than a full-blown disease, the concept is the same - things were brewing before there was an awareness of symptoms ever existing.

In today's article, we're specifically discussing the contribution of trauma and how this can lead to histamine intolerance - and, in this case, it has to do with how traumatic experiences aggravate mast cells. 

Trauma and the mast cell connection 

Mast cells, to recap, are cells that are involved in the allergic, immune and inflammatory responses. Typically they are present in many of the body’s tissues that are exposed to the outside environment, which is true of the digestive and respiratory system, for example. They are also found in tissues that are essential to function and life, and that undergo frequent cell repair, again, a fact which is true of the digestive and respiratory systems, but will include nerve cells, muscle tissue, hair follicles, fatty tissue and even connective tissues (4). 

When it comes to brain injuries, which includes neuropsychiatric disorders, stress, inflammation and neurodegeneration, mast cells have been shown to play a significant role in the progression of the conditions. 

When mast cells are activated in the brain during a traumatic event, they not only release inflammatory chemicals and histamines, but they cause the usually tightly controlled blood brain barrier to become more permeable, or leaky, which causes more inflammatory and immune cells to be recruited to the area (5). 

Because PTSD is a chronic type of prolonged stress, you can imagine why this can be so detrimental and lead to the development of histamine intolerance and all of its symptoms. It quite simply keeps mast cells switched on, neuroinflammatory triggers activated and the brain finding it increasingly difficult to cope or manage any form of balance.

Additionally, as neuroinflammation continues, so too does inflammation across the rest of the body. Along with it the activation of mast cells in the other tissues mentioned above. 

Then, if you have a tendency to have a lower tolerance to histamines to begin with (genetics, and reduced production of histamine degrading enzymes, for example), your histamine bucket fills up and overflows, leading to symptoms that affect you all over. 


Trauma as a root cause of histamine intolerance 

PTSD is only likely to become a problem when the initial trauma or experience is not dealt with in an appropriate way. 

The subsequent stress, depression, anxiety and anger that stems from a suppressed traumatic experience drives the inflammation and puts pressure on the brain and its ability to cope. 

For example, if you think about an experience you had some time ago and still have a significant negative emotional response - whether that being witness to or the victim of a crime, an unfaithful partner - or even something that is seemingly small like your favorite toy that was broken by your sibling which still makes you feel anger or deep sadness to this day - these are all examples of unprocessed trauma.

Additionally, if those memories themselves can evoke a negative emotional response, often similar experiences can result in seemingly disproportionate responses from our end, without even realizing that it's tied to our own experience.

For example, if you watch the news and saw a similar crime to what you had witnessed or experienced as a child, perhaps this will trigger a highly emotional negative response compared to the others in the room watching the same news story.

Perhaps if you have had the experience of your sibling breaking your favorite toy as a child and one of your children breaks the toy of your other child, you may feel extremely angry at the child who broke the toy.

Or, a common example we see in our world is someone who was once hurt by a romantic partner and now views romantic relationships negatively or feels upset by seeing happy couples.

Although the connection is often not realized to the initial event, these traumatic events become part of our programming and contribute to how we react to the world.

With this in mind, it becomes clear to see how they would still be creating ongoing stress in your life, whether or not it's realized, by having unresolved trauma, which allows this event to carry a lot of power in our present day lives, even after it is long since over.

Below, I've listed 3 ways to address the mind and body with PTSD as a root cause or contributor to histamine intolerance in mind.


3 steps to address trauma and histamine intolerance

1) First off, seeking therapy or counselling to help you to process the past traumas may be one of the most important steps to take in your healing histamine journey. Learning to manage stress, anxiety and anger, taming those mast cell triggers, can have a profound effect on your ability to manage your histamine intolerance symptoms. 

Therapy is becoming increasingly accessible with websites such as BetterHelp allowing therapy to be done at more affordable costs. Additionally, post-covid, the majority of therapists now offer online sessions so that you can even access therapy from your home or office, if you wish.

Just a note here, I would highly recommend working with someone who is appropriately certified, accredited and trained in the psychology field - dealing with your past and your emotions are very tender topics and, in the wrong hands, they can actually be made worse, so be sure to work with someone who is educated and that you can trust.

Other forms of therapy or emotional release can involve journalling, group classes or sharing circles, or really whatever will help you release the emotions you've been carrying.

I have even known people to use "rage rooms" to release anger - there really is no one-size-fits-all. But, having a therapist or counsellor can certainly help guide you in the right direction and recommend activities that can help you most.

2) Second, it's notable that the psychological issues that can contribute to histamine intolerance can also be worsened by histamine intolerance, making this a cyclical issue.

For this reason, it's important to address the mental and physical sides of health simultaneously.

So, as you move through this healing phase of the mind, it is still important to follow a low histamine diet as a means to reduce the histamine load that the body has to cope with. Click below for the free low histamine diet guide

Get the low histamine diet!


3) Lastly, supplements that aid in histamine breakdown and mast cell stabilization may also help. I've created a list of the top 7 supplements for histamine intolerance here - but, I'd like to mention one specific one.

Having a low level of diamine oxidase enzymes is something that shows up quite commonly and consistently in those experiencing mood issues such as anxiety. Increasing histamine degradation through a diamine oxidase supplement may ease anxiety and mood imbalances on a chemical level to begin with, which following the dietary and psychological strategies above can only build on.

A note before I go, that while it may feel much easier to do steps 2 and 3 listed above, the first step really is important in this case. 

Dietary alterations and adding supplements will certainly help, and experiencing the improvement can be very motivating! However, seeking resolution for a root cause or contributor can really make miles of a difference when it comes to resolving your symptoms for good.

Finding ways to cope with your past and stop these traumas from robbing you of your health now and in the future is something that will feel incredibly difficult, but can do wonders for your overall health.

Remember, the mind and body are connected and we must work on both in order to experience total health!

Put your health in nature's hands.

Anita Tee, Nutritional Scientist



  1. Carpenter LL, et al. (2013). Immune consequences of early life stress: Relationship to chronic pain syndromes [Abstract]. Pain in Women: A Clinical Guide.
  2. Chapman DP, et al. (2011). Adverse childhood experiences and sleep disturbances in adults.
  3. Brown DW, et al. (2010). Adverse childhood experiences are associated with the risk of lung cancer: A prospective cohort study.
  4. Yang HW, Liu XY, Shen ZF, et al. An investigation of the distribution and location of mast cells affected by the stiffness of substrates as a mechanical niche. Int J Biol Sci. 2018;14(9):1142-1152.
  5. Kempuraj D, Selvakumar GP, Thangavel R, et al. Mast Cell Activation in Brain Injury, Stress, and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Alzheimer's Disease Pathogenesis. Front Neurosci. 2017;11:703. 

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