First of all, what is histamine?

Histamine is a neurotransmitter involved in the immune system and nervous system as well as a component of stomach acid crucial for proper digestion. Histamine also triggers the inflammatory response to attack infection and illness and dilates blood vessels and sends white blood cells to the site of inflammation.

Normally, histamine is present at safe levels in the body, but some people may have histamine intolerance or sensitivity. This occurs when there is a build-up of histamine and the body is unable to fully break it down, which can cause allergy symptoms.

What is the link between caffeine and histamine?

Coffee is actually high in histamine and can result in an allergic reaction but it is different to a typical allergy mechanism.

With caffeine, the histamine contained in the coffee causes an inflammatory reaction that can be affect some people with caffeine and histamine intolerances.

In more scientific terms, the caffeine results in the body releasing more glutamate in the posterior hypothalamus (PH) and this results in an increased in activity of wake-active histamine neurons.

Does decaffeinated coffee have less histamine?

Because decaffeinated coffee contains almost no caffeine, it should not have the effect that caffeinated coffee does on histamine levels in those who suffer from allergic symptoms.

For example, Swiss Water Decaf coffee is certified 99.9% caffeine-free.

As with all things, for those who suffer from histamine allergies, it is sensible to consult your medical practitioner and to trial decaffeinated coffee gradually as all people and their symptoms are different.

Are there any other common foods or beverages, besides coffee, that are high in histamine which individuals with histamine intolerance should be cautious about?

For individuals concerned about histamine intolerance, it's important to note that several foods and beverages other than coffee are known to be high in histamine.

These include aged cheeses, fermented products like sauerkraut and soy sauce, alcoholic beverages, particularly wine and beer, and processed meats such as salami and ham.

How does one get diagnosed with histamine intolerance or sensitivity, and are there any tests to measure the histamine levels in the body or its ability to break down histamine?

Diagnosing histamine intolerance typically involves a combination of dietary elimination and symptom tracking.

A healthcare professional might recommend removing high-histamine foods from the diet for a period to see if symptoms improve, followed by a gradual reintroduction to pinpoint the cause.

While there are tests to measure the levels of enzymes responsible for breaking down histamine, such as diamine oxidase, these tests are not widely available and their reliability can vary. Therefore, diagnosis often relies heavily on patient history and dietary response.

Being mindful of these foods and monitoring symptoms can help manage histamine intolerance.

Besides caffeine, are there specific compounds in decaffeinated coffee that could still trigger a histamine response or contribute to symptoms in individuals with histamine intolerance?

Regarding decaffeinated coffee, while the removal of caffeine can reduce the risk of triggering histamine release associated with caffeine's effect on the body, it's possible that other compounds in decaffeinated coffee could still play a role in histamine activity.

Decaffeinated coffee still contains various compounds present in regular coffee, which might influence histamine metabolism or trigger symptoms in sensitive individuals.

However, the specific impact of these compounds on histamine intolerance is less clear and may vary from person to person. It's advisable for those with histamine intolerance to approach decaffeinated coffee cautiously and observe any changes in symptoms.

IMPORTANT: This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. Nothing in the content or products should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs.


September 26, 2020 — Guy Wilmot


Roxane Kersey said:

Hi, I would like to know what kind of reaction one would get if they have a histamine intolerance and drank caffeinated coffee? Can it be a delayed reaction, or does it happen immediately? Could it cause a headrush followed by tachycardia, or just a feeling of not being well and a headache/migraine? Can the symptoms change over time? Could a histamine intolerance be brought on by giving birth/hormone changes? Sorry for all the questions, I’m trying to figure out what’s going on with my body, since I can’t find doctors in real life that will help me. Thank you for your help.( I am aware that you are not giving medical advice that I should follow and I need to follow up with my PD.):)

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