The Histamine Migraine Connection

Mary is a 35 year old career minded mother of two.

She likes to come home from work, take care of the kids and have a nice glass of wine to relax into the evening.

She loves cheese and chocolate but has a feeling the headaches she’s been getting lately could be because of them.

She used to only get mild headaches but they’ve recently(since giving birth) started blowing up into migraines that are just getting worse.

An advil used to give her the needed clarity to be with her family but now even triptans are having a tough time putting up a fight.

But on saturday it was different.

She woke up with one…

And it roared.

There was no stopping it…

The only thing she could do was ask her husband Daniel to cover for her.

She tried everything but it destroyed her day.


Sunday was much better with only a bit of a daze and some fatigue.

But why her?

Histamine has been known to be a migraine trigger for a long time.

A recent study found that 73.3%(33/45) of patients that suffered from food/wine sensitivity and chronic headaches had significant improvement and 8 total remission of their symptoms when going on a low histamine diet.

But it’s not the only one.

In Spain they frequently use DAO(Diamine oxidase) supplementation to reduce histamines in those suffering from migraine.

Studies have also found lower levels of DAO in patients suffering from migraines.

There was also a study that found histamine infusion caused migraine type headaches in patients.

Common signs and symptoms of histamine issues(look familiar?)

  • flushing, profuse sweating, headache

  • rapid heart beat

  • migraine

  • seasonal allergies, food allergies

  • urticaria

  • prickly heat

  • large swollen mosquito bites

  • runny nose, bloody nose

  • car sick, sea-sickness or motion sickness in general

  • itchy

  • irritable

  • nausea, vomiting

  • higher sex drive

  • asthma, exercise-induced asthma

  • stomach ache

  • menstrual cramps

  • chest tightness

  • loose stools

  • skin issues (eczema, psoriasis)

  • insomnia

DAO (Diamine Oxidase)

DAO is the body’s primary enzyme for breaking down histamine before it can become a problem in our blood.

Some of the most common foods we find on migraine diet lists include wine, cheese and chocolate which all contain histamine or block DAO from working.

There is a connection here.

Here is an amazing article on DAO.

The problem is that, as we know, gut health is integral to brain and migraine health.

But a compromised gut means much of our digestion is damaged, and this means enzymes too.

With a lack of enzymes, especially DAO and MAO(monoamine oxidase), there can be an uncontrolled influx of not just hist”amine” but also other “amines” such as tyramine.

What can cause(or contribute to) histamine issues?

– Allergies

– Low DAO levels

– Mast cell activation disorder

– High estrogen and low progesterone

– Genetics: Defective MTHFR gene + more

Let’s break down a few of these into what science already knows and then end off tying it all together.


At the base of our understanding, histamine is an absolutely necessary compound and our body uses it all throughout for the histaminergic system which deals with wakefulness, focus, sleep and stomach acid secretion among many other things.

But it is most commonly known as a huge mediator in allergic reactions.

This study found the same people that had migraines, had allergic rhinitis which is a tell tale sign of histamine issues.

The allergic rhinitis group actually had a four times higher rate of migraine than the control.

This is huge and it makes sense when we compare it with studies(12) done on migraineurs that used food elimination diets that had upwards of 85% improvement.

Food is a huge source of allergens and triggers.

This makes it a huge source of histamine release.


This is a tricky one because testing for it is still inaccurate so the best way to know is through taking a DAO supplement that provides DAO enzymes or one that supports DAO production by the body.(Second from doing a low histamine diet)

There are also two other enzymes called MAO and HNMT that play parts in histamine issues but at a lesser extent. If you have tyramine or MAO issues you can check out the article here.

Some people find relief by taking antihistamines like Benadryl but there are 4 different histamine receptors and they are all on different areas of the body.

Antihistamines work by binding up the receptors before the histamine can but this becomes a problem because antihistamines only block some of the different kinds of receptors.

If you want to fix the enzymes in your gut, you need to clean out and support gut function through proper nutrition, lifestyle and health hygiene.

One of the simplest things to do is remove high histamine and tyramine foods such as:

Mast Cell Activation Disorder

Mast cells are present in every tissue of our bodies and deal with many inflammatory and allergic reactions.

They release lots of histamine when activated.

The problem is when we develop things like heavy metal toxicity, parasitic, fungal or viral infections, chronic inflammatory conditions and gut dysbiosis.

Some of the symptoms of these can include mast cells being activated constantly and creating huge histamine issues leading to disorder.

Treatments for mast cell disorder would include:

– Low histamine diet and elimination diet

– Retraining circadian rhythms

– Using nutrients and foods known to stabilize mast cells

– Reducing stress

More can be found about mast cell activation disorder in the article here

High Estrogen and Low Progesterone

Studies often find(not always) that migraines will lessen the farther we are into pregnancy.

There is also a strong correlation between migraines mostly triggering during our actual period(or day before) or ovulation, but not the period between ovulation and the end.

So what’s happening here with our hormones?

Well as we get further into pregnancy, our progesterone and estrogen levels start to skyrocket and there is a balance between them.

Here’s a graph showing our pregnancy levels of progesterone and estrogen.

Did you know? The placenta makes a huge amount of DAO, which is why histamine intolerance and food sensitivities often improve during pregnancy.

But throughout our cycle, there is a different mixture but we still find that when there is enough progesterone, we feel okay.

 Now let’s add in what we know about histamines.

Estrogen is highly histamine releasing through stimulating mast cells as well as DAO blocking. But another issue here is that histamine is also estrogen releasing so we hit a vicious cycle.


There is also lots of evidence to show that menstrual symptoms can be alleviated by lowering histamine intake and causation.

So what is this all saying?

Well it shows us that estrogen getting high and things like estrogen dominance can be huge factors in histamine and migraine issues, but it also tells us that we need that precious progesterone to protect us.

You can find more information on progesterones cycle in my free E-book here and a helpful article here.

Big things include:

– Killing stress from all sources

– Removing endocrine disrupting estrogen mimickers from the environment and makeup

We will bring this all together at the end.

Genetics like MTHFR that contribute to higher histamine issues

Here is a summary of genetically alterable issues from a great article here:

  • MAO: a gene which requires B2 as cofactor, is polymorphic, slower in men and reduces tyramines, histamine and catecholamines (stress neurotransmitters). Hmmmm. Riboflavin is great for migraine sufferers….

  • DAO: a gene which requires B6 and copper as cofactors, is polymorphic a LOT and reduces extracellular histamine (bacteria and food).

  • HNMT: a gene which requires SAMe as a cofactor, is polymorphic and reduces intracellular histamine.

  • MTHFR: helps regulate methylation which is needed to reduce intracellular histamine. Uses B2 as cofactor.”


The function of these can be changed by genes and our ability to convert some of the essential nutrients that make them up like B6, B2 and SAMe which coincidentally migraineurs show improvement from supplementing B6 and B2.

But this becomes tricky when we have something like methylation issues because we need forms of the vitamins that have already been converted that our body can put right into action.

A great place to find out about these genetic issues is by going through 

Here is a list of other possible histamine issue contributors:

Other things that can cause histamine issues:

  • Genetic susceptibility (MTHFR, DAO, MAO, HNMT, PEMT…)

  • Pathogens (a number of which produce histamine or block methylation)

  • Nutrient deficiencies (B12, folate, B6, B2, B1, Zn, Cu, C, methionine)

  • Nutrient excesses (histidine, protein excess in general)

  • Medications (antibiotics, antacids and even antihistamines (long term))

  • Nutrient demands (stress, anxiety, lack of sleep)

  • Hormonal insufficiency (adrenal fatigue)

  • Hormonal excess (estrogen)

  • Lifestyle (excessive exercise, alcohol(kills DAO))

  • Diet (fermented foods, high protein intake, aged foods, leftovers, citrus, fish)

  • Environment (high pollen counts, mold, mildew, dust mites, natural gas leaks)

  • Associated conditions (leaky gut, IBD, IBS, SIBO)

Bringing it all together:

With migraines, we need to be careful.

But we also have to make sure we deal with healthcare professionals that don’t separate your organs and send you to a different doctor for each one with a problem.

Your healthcare provider should look at the entire picture and look at ALL the symptoms you have going on and see what’s common.

The reason migraines don’t get fixed is because we just focus on the head or the brain and fail to look at the deeper picture and how connected our entire body is. Our gut health will 100% affect our brain health.

But at the same time, nitpicking chemical reactions can be time-consuming and consume lots of money for laboratory testing and supplements.

This is why we have to go back to the source of all this pain and the master controller of every single one of the trillion reactions a second in our body.

We have to approach our dynamic system with dynamic solutions.

We can always fall back on the foundation of our health and the foundation of the good functioning of all our body’s systems.

The foundation principles to health are thinking, breathing, eating, moving, sleeping and drinking and without having these in order, almost everything else is minor.

But when we have those functioning well we can support ourselves with things like:

– Gut healing herbs, supplements and foods (like peppermint, glutamine and okra) and correcting issues like SIBO

– Taking an extremely high-quality multivitamin like Pure multi

that contains methylated forms of vitamins

– Supplementing with CoQ10, vitamin C and E, fatty acids, probiotics, B12, bioflavonoids, proteolytic enzymes, honey and NF-KappaB inhibitors

– Testing for hormone levels and things like natural progesterone supplementation

– Retraining circadian rhythms through avoiding late night blue light, EMFs in the bedroom and blood sugar spiking

– Supplementing with DAO which you can find through the professional brand supplement dispensary link below

– Removing alcohol

– Removing inflammatory and immune activating foods which is individual to you but casein and gluten are common across the board

– Removing histamine and histidine rich foods the biggest culprits of which are old, aged, smoked, canned, cured, fermented, pickled and packaged and processed foods (good list here)

– Use a product called Purewine in any wine you drink to remove histamines and sulfites

If you’re still confused and want a deeper understanding of histamines and healing the body by dealing with the root cause of what’s making you sick then sign up for our webinar here

Some helpful articles are herehereherehere and here.

See our video on histamine and tyramine diets below

Do you suspect a connection to histamines with your migraines?

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Mark Canadic

Mark Canadic

Holistic Health Practitioner

Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.

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The FREE 5 Most Common Mistakes Of Hormonal Migraines E-Guide teaches you:

– Why hormones are the most important focus around why your migraines and headaches keep triggering

– How PMS is common but NOT normal and why it needs to be addressed to be pain free in the long term

– The 5 most common mistakes why hormones stay broken, why so many women become migraine free with pregnancy and why birth control is not a solution