Histamine excess may affect long Covid sufferers.

Histamine may be a familiar word for seasonal allergy sufferers. Anti-histamine medications may be used during pollen season for those with a itchiness and a runny nose. Others may have a year long sensitivity as the problem can also be genetic, due to less of the enzyme that is needed to breakdown histamine. The diamine oxidase enzyme, (DOE), is available as a supplement that can be taken with meals. (1)

We make our own histamine in response to allergy type sensitivities. Mast cells are part of the immune system that might become overactive and produce more histamine than we want during pollen season – or possibly after having experienced an infection such as COVID19. People experiencing odd symptoms months after seeming to recover from the worst of the respiratory and other symptoms of COVID19 may be experiencing excess histamine and mast cell overactivity. See this video for more information: Nicola Haseler interviewing Dr. Tina Peers regarding histamine and overactive mast cells after COVID19 recovery (LongCovid). (7)

Dr. Bruce Hoffman discusses Mast Cell Activation Syndrome – overactivity of the immune Mast cells in more detail. Lab tests for histamine, or other chemicals involved in the inflammatory response are not necessarily reliable and may require a refrigerated centrifuge, which may not be standard lab equipment. The problem may involve genetic susceptibility but not necessarily, anyone might develop symptoms given a combination of stressors. Emotional or physical stress, lack of sleep, and the foods we eat may over activate mast cells throughout our body or within the mucosal lining of the Gastrointestinal tract (from the mouth, already the way through). Someone with recent bowel illness, may have a short term reduction in the diamine oxidase enzyme needed to break down histamines in food. The enzyme is produced in the lining of the intestinal tract.

…we’re inundated, so to speak, with multiple stresses far more than our capacity to withstand them. Our immune system, it just gets triggered because of multiple stressors. And there are many triggers for mast cell activation. Poor sleep. Stress is one of the biggest triggers. Food, I mean, food is incredible in its ability to trigger the mast cells…” […] “So education is first. Second is to try and identify the triggers that trigger their mast cell activation. And this is one of the greatest challenges because there are many triggers from, you know, hot, too much heat, too much cold, stress, poor sleep, as mentioned. And then we get into the more obvious triggers, chemicals, heavy metals, dietary antigens, and then infections or inflammatory triggers like mold.” – Dr. Bruce Hoffman (8)

Family history may also be a factor, trauma for the person may have left them with an identity of illness; or trauma earlier in the family’s history may have left epigenetic changes. Changing diet and lifestyle, and pursuing health can be a lot of work, and which may even be resisted as the patient improves, (psychoneuroimmunology). Misdiagnosis of the physical problem as a somatization disorder (“it is all in your head”) may also be a problem according to Dr. Hoffman. (8)

The itchiness is not in my head – it is all over my body.

How do you even be a healthy person if you have never known health, nor has your family? What do people do all day? Go for a walk, without sneezing – cook delicious food that doesn’t leave you with a mystery headache later on – so many choices, but change can be difficult.

We also get some from foods that contain histamine naturally. Other foods may have increased content as it ages – fresh is best for people with histamine excess. (4) Freezing a larger batch of food in meal size portions might be a sensible way to prepare fresh foods (that don’t have food additives or seasonings that you need to avoid). Fermented foods such as yogurt, saurkraut and kombucha are popular currently, for the goal of improving intestinal health and the microbiome, (the balance of beneficial bacteria and other microbes within the GI tract). However they may make someone with overactive mast cells worse instead of better. Vitamin C may help. (8)

Avoiding foods that contain histamine or may increase our tendency to make more can help allergy sufferers or the people with the genetic difficulty breaking down the excess. Symptoms can include headaches as well as itchiness and runny nose. Fatigue may also be a problem as well as other odd symptoms or chronic pain. Anxiety and schizophrenia symptoms may worsen with excess histamine. (1, 3, 4)

There is plenty of information on the topic available so I will link to it rather than try to replicate it here. Several of the articles make the point that the problem is additive and histamine is not something you can avoid all together. Small amounts or a taste may be okay, but several foods or beverages over the course of the day may lead to an uncomfortable headache that evening. (3)

  • Amy Myers, MD, provides an overview of the food lists of foods to avoid, or consider eliminating and then adding back to check tolerance, a list of lower histamine foods, symptoms that may be linked to excess histamine, and a list of medications that may be increasing histamine, amymyersmd.com. (1)
  • People with histamine food sensitivities may also be sensitive to lectins, oxalates, and pesticides. Foods more likely to be low or high in histamines are also labeled with a code for lectin (L), oxalate (O), or pesticide residue ![food] on a website by Beth O’Hara, a Functional Naturopath, mastcell360.com. This includes the most extensive food list and includes seasonings and food additives to avoid, or which might be less of a concern to use. (2)
  • Brief list of symptoms that may occur, along with foods to avoid, and a sample day’s menu of lower histamine foods. (3)
  • Extensive list of symptoms or physical traits that may be associated with people with a lifelong sensitivity to histamine is included in this article about histamine. Mood problems of increased anxiety are not uncommon for people with histamine intolerance problems. Sleep problems may also be a concern. (4)
  • Tracking your symptoms and daily food is recommended by this site, histamineintolerance.org.uk; Food List: (5), the Food Diary is a downloadable link from this page: (6).
  • Medications, lab tests for diagnosis, and nutrients or phytonutrients that may help if the individual is not overly sensitive to them already are discussed in detail in the interview with Dr. Hoffman, audio or the transcript or available on Dr. Hedberg’s website: (8) . Dr. Hoffman also makes the very important point that an apparent ‘drug’ sensitivity might really be a reaction to other components of the tablet or capsule, or even contaminants, which is also something to look at on labels for other supplements and over-the-counter medications. Psychoneuroimmunology and the effects of trauma on the brain, and possible cognitive therapy approaches are also discussed in more detail.

Writing down your daily foods, beverages, and symptoms can be a good way to watch for patterns in what seems to make you feel better or worse. Food sensitivities can also vary with how much stress you are experiencing and whether you slept well, or drank enough water. Once you are more familiar with your patterns and know which foods and habits are helpful then recording your daily foods and symptoms may no longer be necessary.

Health is worth it. Happy dining, and good sleep to you!

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Reference List

  1. Amy Myers, MD, Histamine Intolerance: What You Need to Know, amymyersmd.com, https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/histamine-intolerance/
  2. Beth O’Hara, Low-histamine diet: How it can benefit you and what to eat, Low and High Histamine Foods Lists mastcell360.com https://mastcell360.com/low-histamine-foods-list/
  3. How to follow a low-histamine diet. Nov 13, 2018, houseofwellness.com.au, https://www.houseofwellness.com.au/health/conditions/follow-low-histamine-diet
  4. Histamine, histamine-sensitivity.com, https://www.histamine-sensitivity.com/histamine.html
  5. The Food List, histamineintolerance.org.uk, https://www.histamineintolerance.org.uk/about/the-food-diary/the-food-list/
  6. The Food Diary, histamineintolerance.org.uk, https://www.histamineintolerance.org.uk/about/the-food-diary/
  7. Long Covid + Histamine / MCAS – Dr Tina Peers in conversation with journalist Nicola Haseler. Oct. 16, 2020,
    nicola haseler, youtube.com https://youtu.be/vr2bb0b4X14
  8. Mast Cell Activation Syndrome with Dr. Bruce Hoffman, interview by Dr. Nikolas Hedberg, https://drhedberg.com/mast-cell-activation-syndrome-dr-bruce-hoffman/

Zinc deficiency more frequent for severe Covid-19

To recap from recent posts – zinc is needed for thymus gland function, which is needed to make antibodies; zinc is needed for immature T-cells to mature into immune cells that can kill infectious pathogens or infected cells; zinc is needed to make bitter taste receptors which are needed for many functions throughout the body in addition to being on our tongue and sensing the bitter tasting phytonutrients in our foods, or bitter tasting toxins which we need to avoid.

Older adults may need about double the zinc that is the US recommendation (it is the same for all adults) in order to have thymus gland function. (5) Excess zinc can build up to a toxic level but that is more likely to occur in amounts of 50 milligrams/daily or more regularly.

In Covid-19 it has been found that zinc deficiency is more common for patients with more severe symptoms. The author’s words:

  • “Patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) had significantly low zinc levels in comparison to healthy controls.
  • Zinc deficient patients developed more complications (70.4% vs 30.0%, p = 0.009).
  • Zinc deficient COVID-19 patients had a prolonged hospital stay (7.9 vs 5.7 days, p = 0.048).
  • In vitro studies have shown that reduced zinc levels favour the interaction of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein and likewise that increased zinc levels inhibit ACE2 expression resulting in reduced viral interaction.”
  • COVID-19: Poor outcomes in patients with zinc deficiency. (Jothimani et al, 2020) (1)

Zinc deficiency having a role in more severe COVID19 illness was suspected earlier in the outbreak and details about the correlation between the symptoms is available here: (6).

Some good news – early treatment, within four days of symptom onset, using hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), zinc and the antibiotic azithromycin, was found to reduce mortality rate significantly for patients with COVID-19 and no heart problem side effects were experienced by the patients using the experimental protocol (HCQ/zinc/az.). (2)

More good news – there does seem to be T-cell immunity for people who have had other coronavirus infections in the past. (3) T-cell immunity is more flexible than antibody/antigen type of B-cell immunity. T-cell immunity tends to react against a group of similar type pathogens.

Phytonutrient rich foods or some types of phytonutrient supplements, and zinc and other nutrients, can help the body’s immune system to make a beneficial balance of T-cells instead of having more inflammatory types that are less helpful against a direct intracellular infection such as a virus. See this document for more details on foods and supplements that may help the immune T-cell function: (4)

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Reference List

  1. Dinesh Jothimani, Ezhilarasan Kailasam, Silas Danielraj, et al., COVID-19: Poor outcomes in patients with zinc deficiency. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, Vol 100, Nov 2020, Pages 343-349 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S120197122030730X
  2. Roland Derwand, Martin Scholz, Vladimir Zelenko, COVID-19 outpatients – early risk-stratified treatment with zinc plus low dose hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin: a retrospective case series study. Int J of Antimicrobial Agents, Available online 26 October 2020, 106214 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924857920304258
  3. Peter Doshi, Covid-19: Do many people have pre-existing immunity? BMJ 2020;370:m3563 https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3563
  4. Depew J, Foods and phytonutrients that may benefit T cells. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wXIZfyynEWAvTyOhvPX-iI7QJ5jyHbAj8t5yA0p-55Y/edit?usp=sharing
  5. Cabrera ÁJ. Zinc, aging, and immunosenescence: an overview. Pathobiol Aging Age Relat Dis. 2015;5:25592. Published 2015 Feb 5. doi:10.3402/pba.v5.25592 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4321209/
  6. Inga WesselsBenjamin Rolles, Lothar Rink, The Potential Impact of Zinc Supplementation on COVID-19 Pathogenesis. Front. Immunol., 10 July 2020 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.01712 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.01712/full

Cytokine Storm, SIDS, autism and Vitamin C

The over-reaction of the immune system to any infectious stimulant whether an infection or vaccines, may be a cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (1) and the encephalopathy (2) that is a frequent factor in later development of autism. (3)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome may be a toxin overload as success was achieved with mattress covers in Australia that prevented volatile chemicals or mold spores from reaching the baby. Crib mattresses often contain vinyl or fire retardants and a used mattress likely has mold even if not obvious. It can be healthy for infants to sleep on their belly as helps with even muscle development and skull shape. Babies that are held or left in the same position all the time can development flattened areas on the skull and limit muscle development. See previous post1, post2, post3.

Giving infants and children vitamin C prior to vaccines orally with juice may be protective against the harmful excess production of inflammatory cytokines. Giving a larger amount intravenously for adverse reactions may also be protective against the cytokine overreaction from worsening as the larger amount of vitamin C has an inhibitory effect on the production of them as well as helping as an antioxidant to detoxify the ones already made in excess. Giving extra vitamin C before vaccines was found to be protective even in lab animals that genetically can make vitamin C. (4)

Cytokine Storm over-reactions may be more of a risk due to genetic differences in as many as 10-15% of the population. (5) Symptoms of a Cytokine Storm reaction can include: “high fever, enlarged spleen, excessive bleeding, low counts of all types of blood cells (red, white and platelets) and, potentially, multiple organ failures.” (5) Diarrhea is unpleasant and can kill if it continues for long however multiple organ failures is more deadly.

Providing vitamin C as a protection against the risk of an overreaction of the immune system would be low cost and has had a low risk of side effects. Diarrhea occurs if excess is taken by mouth so there is little risk of too much being absorbed in the GI tract, and adverse reactions to higher doses of vitamin C given as intravenous therapy have not been prevalent (1%) in studies using the treatment as an addition to chemotherapy treatments. (6)

Phase I studies of IV C alone & in combination with chemotherapy have reported excellent safety profiles 1–8,33. A survey of providers who used IVC for 9328 patients reported an adverse event rate of 1.0% 68..side effects of IVC…nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, perspiration, & weakness. 6,7” (6)

Giving vitamin C to infants and children would be providing them with a nutrient than most animals can produce for themselves. Humans had a genetic change that caused a loss of the ability. Giving vitamin C to infants and children might also help protect against a potentially fatal or brain damaging over-reaction of the immune system. If 10-15% of the population are genetically more at risk for the excess production of cytokines, (5) , then a government policy that mandates vaccinations would be genetically targeting those individuals for increased risk of an adverse reaction or death – a genocide.

Learning more about the gene differences involved in the increased risk for a Cytokine Storm reaction, and screening the population for the genes would also be helpful so those individuals would know that they have increased risk of death if they have an infection or strong immune reaction to something.

The Committee  to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines that was asked to assess the research on autism and vaccines did not say there was no risk of autism from vaccines – they said there was a lack of evidence – more research was needed.

The committee particularly counsels readers not to interpret a conclusion of inadequate data to accept or reject causation as evidence either that causation is either present or absent. Inadequate data to accept or reject causation means just that—inadequate. It is also important to recognize what our task was not. We were not charged with assessing the benefits of vaccines, with weighing benefits and costs, or with deciding how, when, and to whom vaccines should be administered.

Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines
Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice, Institute of Medicine (7)

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. It is not intended to provide individual guidance. Please seek a health care provider for individualized health care guidance.

Reference List

  1. Siri Hauge Opdal, PhD., Chapter 30: Cytokines, Infection, and Immunity, from the book SIDS Sudden Infant and Early Childhood Death: The Past, the Present and the Future. Duncan JR, Byard RW, editors., Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2018 May. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513388/
  2. Cytokine Storm, ScienceDirect.com, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/cytokine-storm
  3. Kern JK, Geier DA, Homme KG, Geier MR. A ten year longitudinal examination of the incidence rate and age of childhood encephalopathy diagnoses in an autism spectrum disorder diagnosed cohort. Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2020;80(1):66–75. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32214276/
  4. C. Alan B. Clemetson, M.D., Rapid Response: The prevention of vaccine reactions. BMJ 2004;328:51 https://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/10/30/prevention-vaccine-reactions
  5. University of Alabama at Birmingham, Here’s a playbook for stopping deadly cytokine storm syndrome. Nov 11, 2019, theivcenter.net, https://theivcenter.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Vit-C-and-Cancer-Support.pdf
  6. E. Klimant, H. Wright, D. Rubin, et al, Intravenous vitamin C in the supportive care of cancer patients: a review and rational approach. Curr Oncol. 2018 April;25(2):139-148, https://theivcenter.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Vit-C-and-Cancer-Support.pdf
  7. Institute of Medicine (U.S.). Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines.  Adverse effects of vaccines : evidence and causality / Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines, Board on Population Health & Public Health Practice ; Kathleen Stratton … [et al.], eds.  ISBN 978-0-309-21436-0 (PDF)  https://www.nap.edu/read/13164/chapter/1