HISTAMINE REACTIONS FROM FOODS

Leading off a program section called "various sensitivities," Beatrice Trum Hunter, NOHA Honorary Member, food editor of Consumer Research Magazine, author of fourteen books, and recipient of the Jonathan Forman gold medal for contributions to clinical ecology, spoke on histamine reactions from foods. Overproduction by our immune systems of the biochemical histamine causes many of the unpleasant symptoms of allergy. However, increased histamine in our blood can also be caused by histamine-containing foods, including "fish, yeast extracts, and fermented foods. Lower, but nevertheless significant, levels are present in many fruits." Some vegetables contain the naturally occurring amino acid histidine, which can break down into histamine. Also, alcohol and certain food dyes can promote histamine release.


Scombroid fish poisoning can result from eating fish left warm long enough for bacteria to break down into histamine the histidine found in fish muscle. . . . As histamine is heat-resistant, scombrotoxins cannot be removed by cooking.


Scombroid fish poisoning can result from eating fish left warm long enough for bacteria to break down into histamine the histidine found in fish muscle. Consequently, fish should be kept refrigerated at close to 30F. As histamine is heat-resistant, scombrotoxins cannot be removed by cooking. One should discard fish with a honeycombed look and a sharp, peppery taste. Severe symptoms include headaches, weakness, and bronchospasm; there have been some deaths. When poisonings occur, antihistamines may need to be prescribed. Vitamin C acts as an antihistamine, bioflavonoids can prevent histamine release, and magnesium supplementation may help modulate histamine release. Fish needs to be kept cold from the time it is caught until we cook it.

Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XV, No. 1, Winter 1990, page 2.