(If you missed it check out my previous post, What Is Histamine Intolerance and what can you do about it HERE)
As I promised in my confessions of a paleo blogger post, I wanted to write more about the health struggles that have come up for me during my ongoing healing journey. While many of my allergies and allergy-like symptoms were a result of my severe intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut) I also have histamine intolerance and have taken more antihistamines as a child, teen and adult than anyone I know in order to keep symptoms at bay and get through the day.
But, antihistamines are not a great idea….
I still keep antihistamines them around and they’ve saved me from the emergency room many times (I’ve been to the ER 3 times with anaphylactic shock so I now know when it’s time to pop a pill and save $3000).
But, that doesn’t really deal with the cause, it deals with the consequence.
Since histamine intolerance is caused by a histamine, it might seem like an antihistamine would solve all of your problems. Yes, an antihistamine can take care of the symptoms. But it doesn’t address the underlying problem, so they are just a temporary Band-Aid. To make matters worse, they are a Band-Aid which causes all sorts of other problems like drowsiness, bone pain, and depression!
Antihistamines don’t actually remove histamine from your body. Rather, they just prevent histamine from binding to histamine H1 and H2 receptors. These are the receptors which trigger digestive and respiratory symptoms. So you will feel better, but the histamine will still be in your body and can bind to the other histamine receptors which are H3 and H4 receptors. Unfortunately that means you’ll still experience symptoms associated with these receptors.
Histamine Receptors and their Functions
- H1: Itching, airway constriction, regulating circadian cycle (i.e. sleep cycle), contracting small intestine, eye contraction
- H2: Gastric acid production, smooth muscle relaxation, blocks antibody synthesis, vasodilation (widens blood vessels), blocks antibody synthesis
- H3: Decreases release of neurotransmitters in central nervous system
- H4: Moves mast cells towards inflammation
These functions of histamine receptors explain the various symptoms of antihistamines. Because antihistamines reduce affects on H1 and H2 receptors, people experience symptoms like drowsiness, blurred vision, and erectile dysfunction (because they prevent blood vessels from dilating).
Because antihistamines do NOT stop histamine from affecting H3 and H4 receptors, people taking them commonly have mood problems like depression. Since H4 receptors are located mostly in bones, people taking antihistamines also commonly experience bone pain.
Keep in mind that people take antihistamines because they have too much histamine (whether because of allergies or histamine intolerance). The antihistamine causes a crazy imbalance where your H1 and H2 receptor functions are blocked while the excess histamine is still causing your H3 and H4 receptor functions to go haywire!
Want a better solution? Treat the actual problem! Read more about what you can do for histamine intolerance here.
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