The Connection Between Migraine and Histamine Intolerance

The Connection Between Migraine and Histamine Intolerance

Introduction to Migraine and Histamine Intolerance

Migraine is a neurological disorder characterized by recurring headaches, often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and aura. On the other hand, histamine intolerance is a condition where the body has trouble processing histamine, a chemical involved in various bodily functions.

Understanding Histamine Intolerance

Histamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating several bodily processes, including digestion, immune response, and sleep-wake cycles. Histamine intolerance occurs when there is an excess or inability to break down histamine in the body, leading to various symptoms.

There are several causes and triggers of histamine intolerance, including:

  • Enzyme deficiency: DAO (diamine oxidase) and HNMT (histamine-N-methyltransferase) are enzymes responsible for breaking down histamine. Deficiencies in these enzymes can contribute to histamine intolerance.
  • High histamine foods: Certain foods, such as aged cheeses, fermented products, and processed meats, contain high levels of histamine. Consuming these foods can lead to symptoms in individuals with histamine intolerance.
  • Medications and supplements: Some medications and supplements, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and vitamins like vitamin C, can release histamine or interfere with its breakdown.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle or hormonal therapies can impact the body’s ability to process histamine.
  • Stress and emotional factors: Stress and emotional factors can trigger the release of histamine and worsen symptoms in individuals with histamine intolerance.

Symptoms Overlap between Migraine and Histamine Intolerance

Both migraine attacks and histamine intolerance share common symptoms. Typically, migraine attacks are characterized by severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances (known as aura). Similarly, individuals with histamine intolerance may experience headache, nausea, digestive issues, fatigue, brain fog, allergic-like reactions, and flushing of the skin.

The Role of Histamine in Migraine Attacks

Histamine can trigger or worsen migraine attacks through several mechanisms:

  • Vasodilation and blood vessel changes: Histamine can cause blood vessels in the brain to dilate, leading to migraine headaches.
  • Activation of pain receptors: Histamine can stimulate pain receptors in the brain and contribute to migraine pain.
  • Inflammation and immune system response: Histamine is involved in the inflammatory response, which can contribute to the development and persistence of migraine attacks.

Additionally, certain foods and factors that trigger migraine attacks may also affect histamine levels in the body. For example, alcohol, tyramine-rich foods (such as aged cheese and cured meats), and stress/anxiety can all lead to histamine release and potentially trigger migraine attacks in susceptible individuals.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Diagnosing histamine intolerance involves a comprehensive assessment of symptoms and triggers. This may include tracking symptoms, eliminating high histamine foods from the diet and reintroducing them to observe reactions, and conducting medical tests to evaluate enzyme levels and histamine levels in the body.

Treatment approaches for histamine intolerance include adopting a low histamine diet, which involves avoiding or limiting foods high in histamine. Antihistamine medications may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms. Additionally, some individuals find relief with natural remedies and supplements that support histamine breakdown.

Managing Migraine Attacks with Histamine Intolerance

Identifying and managing histamine intolerance is important for individuals with migraine attacks as it can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. Lifestyle changes that can help reduce histamine levels and triggers include:

  • Dietary modifications: Following a low histamine diet and identifying trigger foods can help minimize the impact of histamine on migraine attacks. For example, one should avoid foods high in histamine such as aged cheeses, fermented products, and processed meats.
  • Stress management techniques: Practicing stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises, can help mitigate the release of histamine and reduce migraine triggers.
  • Improved sleep habits: Prioritizing good sleep hygiene can help regulate histamine levels and improve the overall management of migraine attacks.

It’s important for migraine patients with histamine intolerance to consider the potential histamine release of their chosen medications for symptom relief. Working closely with a healthcare provider can help strike a balance between managing migraine symptoms and histamine intolerance.

Future Research and Advances

Current research is ongoing to further understand the connection between migraine and histamine intolerance. Future advancements may include the development of new migraine medications that target histamine pathways, improved diagnostic tests for histamine intolerance, and individualized treatment approaches based on genetic factors.


The connection between migraine attacks and histamine intolerance highlights the importance of considering histamine levels and triggers in the management of migraine attacks. Understanding histamine intolerance and its impact on migraine attacks can help individuals make informed dietary and lifestyle choices, as well as explore appropriate treatment options for both conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can histamine intolerance cause migraine attacks?

Histamine intolerance itself may not directly cause migraine attacks, but it can trigger or worsen migraine attacks in individuals who are susceptible to both conditions.

2. Is histamine intolerance a common condition?

Histamine intolerance is relatively rare, but it can significantly impact the quality of life for those affected.

3. Are there any specific tests for diagnosing histamine intolerance?

Currently, there are no definitive tests for diagnosing histamine intolerance. Diagnosis is usually based on a comprehensive assessment of symptoms, dietary changes, and response to treatment.

4. Can histamine intolerance be cured?

While histamine intolerance cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed through dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, and appropriate medication or supplement interventions.

5. Should I completely avoid high histamine foods if I have histamine intolerance?

Avoiding or limiting high histamine foods can be helpful for individuals with histamine intolerance. However, the degree of restriction may vary from person to person, and it is best to work with a healthcare provider or dietitian to establish an individualized plan.

6. Can stress management techniques improve symptoms of histamine intolerance?

Yes, stress management techniques can help reduce symptoms of histamine intolerance. Stress has been shown to release histamine in the body, so managing stress can help minimize histamine-related symptoms.

7. Are there any natural remedies that can help with histamine intolerance?

Some individuals find relief from histamine intolerance symptoms with natural remedies such as quercetin, vitamin C, and probiotics. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before trying any natural remedies.

8. Can histamine intolerance develop later in life?

Yes, histamine intolerance can develop at any age and may be triggered by various factors, including hormonal changes or underlying health conditions.

9. Can histamine intolerance be genetic?

While the exact cause of histamine intolerance is not fully understood, there may be a genetic component in some cases. Genetic factors can influence the activity of enzymes involved in histamine breakdown.

10. How long does it take to see improvements in histamine intolerance symptoms with dietary modifications?

The time it takes to see improvements in histamine intolerance symptoms with dietary modifications can vary. Some individuals may experience relief soon after making dietary changes, while others may require several weeks or months to notice a significant difference.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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