Histamine and Migraines: Exploring the Role of DAO and Dietary Histamine

Histamine and Migraines: Exploring the Role of DAO and Dietary Histamine

Migraine disease can be complex and challenging to diagnose. Between the vast amount of potential triggers and the varying degree of triggers from person to person, it's hard to know exactly what causes them.

In recent years, an emerging area of research has focused on the relationship between histamine and migraine disease. Histamine, a chemical known as biogenic amine, is a naturally occurring compound in our bodies and plays a vital role in various physiological processes. However, for some individuals, elevated levels of histamine and a deficiency in the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) may contribute to the onset and frequency of migraines.

What is Histamine?

Histamine is a chemical compound produced by our body's immune system and plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including the regulation of allergic responses, digestion, and neurotransmission. While histamine is necessary for these processes, an imbalance or excess of histamine can lead to adverse effects, including migraines. There are people who have allergic reactions to histamine, called histamine intolerance, which impacts only about 1% of people according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. However, a far greater number of people have a sensitivity to histamine.

Histamine is a naturally occurring compound that is created in our bodies to fend off allergies. When we eat, our body creates histamine. Additionally, there are foods that are high in histamine and foods that are low in histamine.

The Role of DAO

Diamine oxidase (DAO) is an enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine in our bodies. When DAO levels are insufficient, histamine can accumulate, which can lead to a histamine intolerance. Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to lower DAO production, while others may experience a temporary deficiency due to factors such as medication, alcohol, or gut health issues. Without sufficient DAO to breakdown histamine, people with a tendency for migraine attacks may see increased frequency.

DAO Supplements: Safety and Considerations DAO

There are are some DAO supplements on the market, but at this point, it's unclear on the side effects and risks associated. So check with your doctor before trying DAO supplements to combat migraine disease. These supplements aim to support the breakdown of histamine in the body. While they may offer relief for some individuals, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating DAO supplements into your regimen to ensure safety and appropriateness for your specific needs.

Histamine and Migraines: The Correlation

While scientific evidence regarding the direct link between histamine and migraines is limited, anecdotal reports and individual experiences suggest a potential connection. Many individuals have reported a reduction in migraine frequency and severity after implementing a low-histamine diet or using DAO supplements. While these experiences are promising, it is essential to recognize the need for further scientific research to establish concrete evidence.

Foods High in Histamine

Various foods are known to contain high levels of histamine or act as triggers for its release in the body. Some examples include:

  • Aged cheeses
  • Soybeans
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Fermented foods
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Cured meats
  • Certain fruits (especially citrus fruits), and vegetables such as bananas, avocados, raspberries, spinach.

It is important to note that each person may have a unique sensitivity to specific histamine-rich foods, and an elimination diet can help identify individual triggers.

The Role of an Elimination Diet

An elimination diet involves systematically removing potentially problematic foods from your diet and gradually reintroducing them to identify triggers. This approach can be a valuable tool in determining personal sensitivities to dietary histamine. While it is recommended to work with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for guidance, an elimination diet can provide valuable insights into your individual triggers.

While scientific evidence on the connection between histamine and migraines is still evolving, the experiences and anecdotes of individuals who have found relief through histamine reduction strategies cannot be dismissed. By exploring the role of histamine, understanding the significance of DAO, and being mindful of dietary histamine intake, individuals living with migraines can embark on a personalized journey of discovery and potential relief. It is essential to remember that this blog post does not provide medical advice, and consulting with healthcare professionals and registered dietitians

Back to blog