Hives (also known by the medical term urticaria) are red, swollen, itchy bumps that form on the skin and are a symptom of inflammation. It’s possible for hives to become a consistent problem once they appear unless you reduce the factors that cause them. Stress, skin irritants, food additives and preservatives, pesticides, chemicals in detergents and cleaning products, personal-care products, alcohol, nicotine, drugs, strenuous exercise, hot water, chlorinated pools, and most important, food allergens can cause hives to flare. Using a food journal to determine whether food allergies are playing a role is one of the best ways to determine which foods have an effect on you. and try to remove as many of these harmful factors from your life as possible. Here’s my story on my journey with Hives and also my thoughts on understanding body hives and some tips to helping symptoms.
Certain foods can cause hives, yet they don’t trigger a classic allergic reaction involving the immune system. In a classic allergic reaction, a substance such as a protein triggers immune system cells that can eventually stimulate the release of histamine from mast cells. Histamine causes much of the common symptoms of allergy such as congestion, fatigue, and swelling.
You may also like my article: 9 Ways To Help Your Body Relax, Heal And Restore Well Being Today
What Are Biogenic Amines?
However, some foods contain compounds called biogenic amines, which include histamine, that can create all the symptoms of an allergic reaction without involving immune system cells such as macrophages and mast cells. A sensitive person who consumes bio-genic amine containing foods can experience symptoms like hives, a runny nose, and dilation of blood vessels.
These foods I’ve listed below contain amines that can trigger allergy-like symptoms, such as food-induced hives.Try to avoid eating more than one of these foods at any given meal and limit the amount you consume if you are prone to developing hives.
Amine Containing Foods
- Beta-phenylethylamine: Chocolate, colas, and fermented foods
- Histamine: Berries, eggplant, fermented foods (including alcohol and especially wine, cheeses, fermented soy products, sauerkraut, vinegar, and yeast extract), improperly refrigerated fish, spinach and sweet melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon)
- Octopamine: Fresh fruits (citrus has the highest amount)
- Tyramine: Baked foods such as bread and cake, chicken liver, eggs, fermented/pickled/marinated foods (alcohol, pickled tables and fish, sauerkraut, vinegar, and yeast extract), nuts, peanut butter, pork, and prepared or cured meats; smaller amounts present in avocado, banana, eggplant, fig, red plum, and tomato
- Hydroxytryptamine: Avocado and banana
Other Foods That Can Trigger Hives
Other potential hive triggers that aren’t amine related include spicy foods such as chili, cayenne pepper, and black pepper; aspirin codeine; MSG (soup-stock cubes and bouillon cubes; condiments such as barbecue sauce and salad dressing; canned, frozen, or dried prep food; snack foods such as flavored jerky and potato and tortilla chilli, nitrates found in hotdogs, bacon, deli meats, sausages, processed meat and soy-meat alternatives.
Sulfite-treated dried fruit, salad bar foods, balsamic vinegar, and wine; xanthines and related compounds such caffeine (coffee and colas) and theobromine (tea and cocoa); and food coloring, especially tartrazine (FD&C yellow number 5) and allura red AC (FD&C red number 40). Avoid all alcoholic beverages if possible.
Stress Is A Major Factor
I strongly recommend you counteract stress with the techniques to relax and reduce stress. These can be a simple as stopping for 15 minutes per day to do nothing and let your body completely relax. I like using a little short 15-20 minute meditation to help me relax as I actually find it very hard to slow down. My mind is to busy!!
You could also use a breath focused exercise to help your mind and body slow down. Interestingly, when you do these exercises and tune in to your body do you realize just how tight your muscles may be, tension held in your stomach or shoulders, mind racing on overdrive.
I find I hold my breath unconsciously and often I don’t realize until I stop for that time period and listen to my body.
Here is a link to some inspiring ideas o help you slow down and get back in tune with your body. Hives or no hives, we live an unnaturally fast paced life these days. Hives is one way of our body crying out for us to take notice.
Also, use perfume-free, 100 percent natural soap or detergent for your hands, body, and clothes to avoid skin irritants.
What Is Histamine?
Histamine plays an important role as a neurotransmitter, which is type of naturally produced chemical involved in the communication cells. Neurotransmitters can be synthesized and released a variety of cells, but they are most commonly produced by cells, including those of the brain.
Some neurotransmitters are produced only by specific cells and act upon a specialized region in body, whereas other neurotransmitters are produced by various cells in different areas of the body.
Histamine is one such neurotransmitter, it is manufactured and is active in the brain as well as in other tissues throughout the body. Even during orgasm, histamine is released and connections have been made between histamine and the ” sex flush” that appears on women.
Histamine Is Commonly Called The “Allergy Chemical”
Most people think of histamine as “the allergy chemical.” This is because specialized white blood cells, named mast cells, release histamine during an allergic reaction. Histamine is also released during an immune system “attack” on legitimately foreign and harmful pathogens such as viruses, parasites, and bacteria.
However, when the system overreacts to harmless elements in our environment, such as certain foods or plant pollen, then production and release of histamine can become a problem.
Histamine Created Inflammation
When histamine is released by mast cells, it elicits an inflammation response. It increases the permeability of blood vessels to allow white blood cells and other immune substances to flood body tissues that are exposed to the allergen or pathogen. Even though this is an effective and essential part of histamine’s role in protecting the body from harm, excessive and chronic release of histamine can cause the following problems.
Histamine Inflammation Effects
- Swelling of the skin and tongue
- Rhinitis- inflammation of the inner nose tissues, causes a runny nose
- Excess stomach acid production- histamine also acts as a gastric hormone to stimulate the flow of hydrochlroic acid
- Allergic skin disorders
- Tissue damage
- Excess saliva, tears, nasal and bronchial secretions
- Vascular headaches
- Premature ejaculation
When a food allergen is ingested and histamine is released in the gastro intestinal tract, the resulting inflammation and vascular permeability further increases the absorption of undigested proteins and toxins from the intestines.
Continued intake of food allergens prevents the proper healing of intestinal tissues. In severe cases, shock and anaphylaxis can occur. Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe, and life-threatening all reaction involving the entire body, not just the localized region of body that was directly exposed to the allergen.
Histamine also opposes the effects of adrenaline and can therefore cause fatigue, which is why drowsiness and chronic fatigue are common symptoms of a food allergy. It’s important to learn how naturally lower and balance histamine production, stabilize mast cells and minimize histamine-induced inflammation.
Here is an excellent expanded article by Mind Body Green on histamine and how it effects you directly
Big Pharma And The Long Term Side Effects
Pharmaceutical antihistamines have side effects with negative long-term consequences. There are two main types of pharmaceutical antihistamines: the older (sedating) varieties such as chlorphenamine (found in Naphcon, Dimetapp, Drixoral, and Actifed) are more likely to make you feel sleepy, whereas the newer (non-sedating) varieties such as Loratadine (the active ingredient in Claritin) rarely cause drowsiness.
However, many prescription and over-the-counter antihistamines can also affect other tissues of the body that naturally produce or respond to histamine, including the gastrointestinal tract, spleen, thymus, smooth muscle, and nervous system.
Common Side Effects Of Antihistamine Drugs Include:
- Dry mouth
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Topical irritation from creams, lotions and eye drops
- High blood pressure
- Allergic reactions such as swelling, rashes, breathing difficulties
- Disturbed sleep
- Blood and liver disorders
- Palpitations and abnormal heart rhythms
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty in passing urine
Can We Turn To Natural Histamines?
These side effects are reason enough to reduce our allergy load that we can avoid relying on antihistamines. Fortunately, many foods act as natural antihistamines without causing undesirable side effects.
For example, the phytonutrient quercetin, which is a natural antihistamine and powerful antioxidant, is found in capers, apples, grapefruit and some other citrus fruits, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, red grapes, yellow and red onions, leafy vegetables, green tea, evening primrose, squash, blue-green algae, shallots, zucchini, tomato, and broccoli.
Organic Foods Often Contain Higher Quercetin
Organically grown plants generally cone more quercetin (as well as other inflammation-fighting phytonutrients, minerals, and vitamins) than conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.
Many of the foods listed above also contain rich amounts vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant and immune booster. In addition, some studies have shown that high doses of vitamin C can help reduce sensitivity to allergens and reduce inflammation, mucus production and wheezing.
2,000 mg Can Reduce Histamine
Researchers at Arizona State University indicated that taking 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day reduces histamine levels in the blood by up to 4o percent. In order to act as a natural antihistamine, the recommended dose is usually greater than 1,000 mg per day. The easiest way to take Vit C in larger doses is in powder form which is what I use every day in divided doses so my body is continually bathed in Vit C. Buying in bulk is also much cheaper over time!
However, eating fresh whole foods rich in vitamin C provides you with all the other powerful phytonutrients not available in a supplement; these phytonutrients work synergistically to reduce inflammation, support immunity, and nourish tissues.
As you know, hives is not an easy dis-ease to deal with and each person has different triggers. Time, patience, research, pro-activity, intuition, and trying different avenues will help you improve over time. Unfortunately there is no quick fix. I wish you all the best and I sympathize with you 100%!
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