Many people suffer from histamine-induced allergies. This represents a collapse of the catecholamine cascade which results in the person’s system being overwhelmed with histamine. Amino acid therapy may present a novel approach to rebuilding the catecholamine system and restoring balance that can lessen and even eliminate histamine-induced allergies.
People that suffer from histamine-induced allergies can experience a wide variety of symptoms, including rash/urticaria/hives, eczema, wheezing, runny nose, watery eyes, swelling of the face/hands/lips, heartburn (due to increased acid production), itchy skin, headaches/migraines, difficulty falling or staying asleep, hypertension, hypotension (low blood pressure doe to vasodilation caused by histamine), vertigo/dizziness, accelerated heart rate, body temperature fluctuations, anxiety, nausea and/or vomiting, abdominal cramping, flushing, nasal congestion, sneezing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and diarrhea. In some cases, these symptoms can progress and even be life-threatening.
When a person experiences a life-threatening symptom, like severe asthma/difficulty breathing, it results from the person’s system being overwhelmed with histamine. The most effective acute treatment in these cases is an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline), repeated as necessary until symptoms are under control. Other symptoms of histamine-induced allergy may be treated with anti-histamines, such as Allegra, Zyrtec or Benadryl; in these cases, the person’s system is also overwhelmed with histamine but to a lesser degree, and the medications can provide short-term relief.
Epinephrine (adrenaline) is not a histamine antagonist, meaning that epinephrine does not dock with the histamine receptor and block it from firing. Rather, epinephrine is a physioloigic anti-histamine; it antagonizes the action of histamine by acting on the alpha and beta adrenergic receptors in the body, initiating a response that is directly opposite to that of histamine. (The alpha receptors are found on the walls of blood vessels. When adrenaline stimulates these receptors this causes the blood vessels to narrow, which stops the blood pressure from falling too low. It also redirects blood to vital organs like the heart and brain. The beta receptors are found in the heart and lungs. When adrenaline stimulates these receptors this relaxes and opens the airways, making breathing easier. It also stimulates the heart, making it beat faster and stronger. Adrenaline also relieves itching, hives and swelling.) In the short-term, increasing epinephrine levels (often dramatically) can restore stability in a system that is overrun with histamine and can be a life-saving treatment.
Antihistamines actually block one or two histamine receptors (called H1- and/or H2-antagonists), which blocks (or slows down) the action of histamine. Antihistamines, like Zyrtec or Benadryl, work much slower than epinephrine and have little effect on blood pressure; however, they are useful for the itchy skin/rash, water retention, watery eyes and upper respiratory symptoms often associated with histamine-induced reactions.
A Solution to Allergies
Histamine-induced allergy reactions can represent inadequate levels of epinephrine (adrenaline) in the system. Administration of antihistamine medications for histamine-induced responses is akin to putting a band-aid on the problem, as in this case, nothing has been done to correct the underlying imbalance involving inadequate epinephrine in the system. The only known way to substantially raise epinephrine levels in the body is through amino acid therapy.
Epinephrine collapse represents a relative nutritional deficiency of dopamine precursors. In most cases, more support for the catecholamine system (i.e., dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine) than the serotonin system is needed, which means we would use a dopamine-dominant protocol in cases of histamine-induced allergies. L-dopa is metabolized to dopamine, dopamine is then metabolized to norepinephrine and norepinephrine is metabolized to epinephrine. Each step in this process can be thought of as a bucket that needs to be filled up before adequate precursors for the next step are available. Thus, it may take a while before the levels of all neurotransmitters are optimized.
The most common mistake for caregivers using this approach is to not being aggressive enough with dosing dopamine precursors and/or not getting testing done when needed. Many cases of histamine-induced allergies require 12.0 grams to 24.0 grams per day of mucuna standardized to 40% L-dopa. It is rare to see a person with significant histamine-induced allergies to need less than 12.0 grams per day of mucuna standardize to 40% L-dopa. Ideal symptom control will likely involve daily amino acid dosing for life, although we have seen many cases where the daily amount required for optimal symptoms control decreases over time. However, even in these cases, most people need to continue on the original dosing for 9-12 months or longer in order to build up there neurotransmitter stores.
The following case study (presented by Marty Hinz, MD) illustrates how to use and the effectiveness of this approach with histamine-induced allergies:
History of Present Illness: 31-year old male with a long history of headaches, insomnia, and intermittent hallucinations. The patient was formally diagnosed with allergies to eggs, milk, peanuts, and over 20 other substances. The patient noted that headaches were especially severe after eating ice cream.
Management: The patient was started on the dopamine dominant protocol. It took six weeks of weekly visits to get the patient’s daily Mucuna dosing titrated up to 12.0 grams of 40% Mucuna powder daily at which point all symptoms of allergies resolved. The patient reported being able to eat all the foods that had been a problem in the past without symptoms developing. Hallucinations were gone, headaches resolved, and sleep was reported to be excellent. After several months of being allergy-related symptom-free, the patient decreased the daily Mucuna dosing to 9.6 grams/day. Within one week hallucinations returned, sleep deteriorated, and headaches returned. All symptoms resolved again 3 days after increasing the daily Mucuna dosing back to 12.0 grams/day.
Type I (IgE) allergies are potentially life threatening. People with these reactions have an extraordinary need for this approach with its ability to optimize epinephrine concentrations. However, using this approach does not mean these people should throw out their Epi-Pens; on the contrary, it is possible that a person with a severe epinephrine collapse will not achieve optimal epinephrine levels, even using this approach. Therefore, they must always keep their guard up and continue to carry their Epi-Pens should they need them
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