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Stress, Anxiety and Histamine Levels...

Updated: Apr 22

Your eyes are itchy, your nose is running and your throat is sore but what has that got to do with the hormone histamine? Did you know that histamine is a neurotransmitter? They can be found in mast cells which reside in the connective tissue. Histamine hormones are involved with gut, immune and nervous system function and there are four types of receptors.

As a neurotransmitter histamine sends chemical messages alerting our system of the presence of a threat or danger. They signal for reinforcements and the body's immune response is triggered. There are histamine receptors in the cells that trigger allergy and inflammatory responses. In the stomach, these receptors help with the release of gastric acid to aid the digestive process. Histamine receptors are also found in the brain, where they are part of the chemical messenger process, and in our the connective tissue system, eg skin, heart, lungs, adrenals, bloodstream, muscles.

Stress & Anxiety

Our systems are built to be able to deal with stress, we have covered our stress response mechanism relating to work stress, posture, and other people's stress in our health hints blog posts and also in my interview with Kinesiologist Laura Knowles.

The stress response mechanism is there to keep us alert and get us out of danger. It provides energy via the release of adrenaline and cortisol and actives the sympathetic nervous system.

Adrenaline acts in seconds and can take 20-30 minutes to before calm resumes. Adrenaline causes your breathing and heart beat to speed up, your senses may become sharper and your body releases sugar into your bloodstream.

This is followed by a release of the cortisol stress hormone. For short term stress, cortisol acts in minutes, but the effect is more long lasting, causing your body to stay wired and alert so you can respond to the 'danger' - fight or flight. When we become anxious or worried, the stress response mechanism is activated and the sympathetic nervous system responses are heightened.

Once the stressor stimuli or anxiety trigger/event is over, the signalling for the adrenals to STOP producing adrenaline and cortisol occurs. This feedback loop signalling can be interrupted if the stressors continue over long extended periods, in this instance the signal and messaging of the hormone system to stop producing cortisol fails. This is known as HPA Asix dysregulation.

How does this impact histamine levels?

Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone but when there is too much cortisol or the body experiences prolonged exposure to cortisol, this can lead to a resistance or desensitisation to its recognition. Stress can increase the release of histamine. An excess of histamine has also been linked to insomnia, depression and panic attacks. Oestrogen levels also have an impact on histamine levels.

How can I help myself?

  • Balancing blood sugars and reducing your intake of high histamine foods eg. fermented foods, dairy, avocado, peanuts, cashews, almonds can help.

  • Taking a Magnesium supplement helps to calm the nervous system.

  • Understand the external and internal stressors on your body

You can find out more information on what your body can tolerate by having a food test and a balance in a Functional Kinesiology session. You can also find out more about histamine intolerances from histamine intolerance organisation uk.


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