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How to Reduce Histamine Levels: Dealing with Histamine Sensitivity 

Could histamine sensitivity be to blame for your weird food reactions or immune system dysregulation? If you suspect you have a histamine problem, here’s how to reduce histamine levels in your body. 

I felt really overwhelmed when I realized that my bizarre allergy-like symptoms were actually being caused by histamine sensitivity (aka histamine intolerance.)

The most overwhelming part of it was looking at high and low-histamine food lists and realizing how limited my diet would need to be

I was relieved when I found out that a low histamine diet is only one part of addressing histamine issues.


You see, eating a low histamine diet is not a healthy way to eat long-term because you’re missing too many vital nutrients. While eating low histamine may be helpful in the short term to discern if histamine is your issue (and while you’re working to calm down your immune system), it is essential to employ non-food ways to reduce histamine levels while simultaneously addressing your root cause(s). In other words, think of reducing histamine as a type of elimination diet with the goal of reintroducing much of it. 

My hope is that your biggest takeaway from this article is that if you are Looking at how to reduce histamine levels, you need to be looking at what factors have caused your body to start reacting to histamine in the first place

If you need a refresher, you can read about histamine sensitivity symptoms and root causes in my last guest post here.  

Remember, histamine is a good thing in your body and ideally you should be able to tolerate moderate amounts of it in food. 

In this post, I’ll cover the free ways that you can work on reducing your histamine levels and what else you can explore under the guidance of proper medical supervision. But first, here’s a helpful way to think about histamine levels. 

Reducing Your Histamine Level Bathtub

Because histamine is a good thing in your body, there’s no such thing as a histamine-free diet or no histamine lifestyle.

I once heard a doctor on one of those health talk summits use the imagery of histamine as a bathtub. If your drain gets clogged, sometimes your body can use a backup drain so that the tub doesn’t overflow. However, if your main histamine pathways get clogged as well as your backup pathways, you’ll have to find ways to lower your total histamine load until you can clear out those clogs. 

overflowing bathtub

In other words, it’s about finding a balance between how much histamine you consume along with what else is going on in your environment to keep it at a moderate level. 

If you’re working on untangling complex health issues, you might consider keeping a food diary or a lifestyle journal to record when you have reactions. The tricky thing about histamine is that sometimes it’s an immediate response, sometimes it’s 30 minutes, and sometimes it’s four or five days delayed. While some histamine symptoms mimic allergic reactions, you might have delayed symptoms like diarrhea, headaches, and gut discomfort, or even blood pressure variations. 

Beyond eating a low histamine diet, here is what else you’ll want to explore as you address your histamine issues… and get those clogs removed and those bathtub drains working again! 

How to Reduce Histamine Levels in Foods

The amount of histamine In foods is not black and white like an item being gluten-free or having gluten. 

Here are some of the variables to consider when sourcing foods to keep them as low histamine as possible. 

Freshly Picked Foods 

Shop at your local farmers market or health food stores to find the freshest fruits and vegetables possible

However, I know that isn’t always feasible. Here are some other tips and tricks.

Buy produce that isn’t wrapped in plastic. I also try to avoid this anyway because the excess packaging is not great for the environment


One trick is to only buy fresh vegetables if they have their leafy tops. Examples of this are: 

  • Carrots 
  • Radishes 
  • Beets 
  • Celery 

With the leafy tops cut off, they can last for months on the shelf. 

In other cases, the ripeness affects the level of histamine. A green banana has much lower histamine than a brown-speckled one. Likewise, a firm avocado has less histamine than a mushy one. You may want to reduce the amount of overripe fruits you consume while you’re lowering the level of histamine in your bathtub. 

In the same way, you also want to avoid or limit aged meats. Most beef is aged for a week, if not two. 

Smoked and cured meats are also slowly done like:

  • Bacon
  • Hot dogs
  • Pepperoni
  • Salami
  • Sausage

But instead of buying meat “fresh,” you’ll want to find frozen meat to keep your histamine levels low

Frozen Foods 

While you want to get fruits and vegetables as fresh as possible, frozen meats are actually lower histamine than refrigerated ones.

It’s even better if you can find meats that are flash-frozen immediately upon slaughter. 

I shared in my last post that I was only tolerating Butcher Box meat even though I was trying other local pasture-raised meats that were only refrigerated. I suspect this is why. 

RELATED: Katie’s Butcher Box Review

frozen meat

Additionally, I try to find frozen salmon, tuna, and shellfish instead of eating canned meats.

Fruits and vegetables and fruits are often immediately frozen while they’re still in the field to preserve freshness. This also keeps histamine levels low, but there is debate on the nutrient density.

Unaged Dairy 

In general, you’ll want to find dairy products that aren’t aged. For example, mozzarella is one of the lower histamine cheeses. (I don’t say low histamine but it is lower compared to aged cheeses.) 

I’ve also heard of people getting raw milk fresh directly from farmers to keep histamine levels low. 

Mold Free Foods 

Mold is one of the biggest triggers of histamine in the body

Even though there are legal limits on how many mold toxins can be in certain foods, if you’re dealing with histamine, you might be more sensitive to the mycotoxin parts per billion than the general population.

Depending on where you live, there are some foods you might be able to get fresh. For example, you might find that you can only tolerate corn on the cob from the farmer’s market, but you’re not able to eat canned corn or even cobbed corn from the grocery store.

Note: I suspect I felt better on the grain-free diet because of mold contamination. 

Because of the issues with mold in our foods, some companies will share their lab testing results on mycotoxin levels in foods.

For example, in the Midwest, I’m not able to get fresh coffee here. So I buy Purity Coffee that doesn’t have mold toxins.

Consider any of the foods you buy that spend time in bulk bins like legumes and grains. That’s the time when they’re most likely to get contaminated with mold. I’ve seen some places advertise mold-free peanuts. 

RELATED: Could you be suffering from mold poisoning?

bulk grains

Lower Histamine Substitutions 

Even though I’m not giving you a comprehensive low-histamine food list, I want to share some of my favorite low-histamine swaps

  • Coconut aminos – This is a great soy sauce alternative. I found that I am able to tolerate processed foods that come from coconut. I suspect that the antibacterial properties in coconuts keep histamine levels at bay.
  • Coconut milk – If you’re not tolerating dairy or other boxed nut milk like almond milk, coconut milk seems to be the most well-tolerated for the same reason as above. 
  • Fresh herbs and spices – Growing fresh herbs instead of using dried herbs is a simple swap to keep your histamine levels low (and reduce the risk of mold.)
  • Monk fruit sweetener – This dried powder doesn’t raise your blood sugar as much as other sugar alternatives. 
  • Herbal teas – Drinking lower histamine plants like red raspberry lead or tulsi instead of green or black tea can help you manage your levels. 
  • Carbonated water – I like Pellegrino in place of alcohol to get that satisfying fizzy taste. 
  • Whole meat cuts – In lieu of ground meats or processed meats like sausage and bacon, opt for whole cuts. 

RELATED: Navigating Food Loss and Restrictive Diets 

In addition to the food you consume, you’ll also want to consider the supplements you’re ingesting

An Aside on High Histamine Supplements

The two main categories of high histamine supplements are fermented items and probiotics

You’ve probably come across a fermented vitamin C or fermented cod liver oil. 

However, not all companies will tell you if fermentation is part of their process on their labeling. Sometimes you have to call to ask. 

If you’re keeping a food diary and you’ve been unable to tell what you might be reacting to, after ruling out a lot of your foods you may want to explore your supplements

Additionally, some probiotics are simply high in histamine and others may cause your body to release histamine. You’ll need to work closely with your healthcare provider for which strains you need based on your stool sample results. 

In addition to the food itself, you also need to consider how you prepare food to best reduce histamine levels

Need More Baby Steps?

Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

How to Reduce Histamine Levels in Food Preparation Methods

Processes like fermentation and slow cooking raise histamine levels in food. Here’s what you can do instead. 

Cook Meats From Frozen 

I love my Instant Pot because I can cook a whole chicken or a block of ground beef from frozen and it still has a great texture. (See Katie’s Instant Pot resources here.) 

Grilling outside at high temperatures from frozen is another great way to keep histamine levels lower. This works well with frozen patties or thin fish filets. 

For cuts you can’t do that with, here’s how to keep histamine levels lower. 

Flash Defrost

If there is meat I want to defrost, the highest histamine way to defrost food is by leaving it on the counter for a few hours. The lesser evil is defrosting food overnight in your fridge until it’s only slightly crunchy with ice.

The ideal way to keep histamine levels low is to flash defrost it in warm or room-temperature water. For small pieces of meat, chicken breast, or fish filets I’ll flash defrost in warm water for about 45 minutes before I throw it in the oven.


Freeze Leftovers

You might remember in my last post that I was reacting to refrigerated leftovers. No need to fear if you prefer batch cooking! 

All you need to do is freeze your leftovers before you eat the rest of the meal. Reducing the time out at room temperature tends to keep the histamine levels lower. 

As much as possible I prioritize freezing food in glass so I’ll stick it in the freezer without a lid. Set the lid out on the counter so that after the food has cooled somewhat, I can put the plastic lid on top of the glassware or mason jar.

I do this because putting a plastic lid on hot food can mobilize microplastics to come out of the lid and leach into the water and steam that condensates and drips it back into your food.

I was thrilled to find some metal mason jar lids that had a silicone removable liner that avoided plastic. I’m still cautious with silicone and heat even though it doesn’t appear to be as bad as some plastics. 

Food Timing

Every time you eat, you’re going to release histamine as part of your food digestion. For some people, intermittent fasting is a really helpful tool to only eat within a specific window of time. 

However, women have to be really careful about overdoing intermittent fasting because if we don’t eat soon enough in the morning it can cause us to release excess stress hormones and can put us into a state of adrenal distress.

So I find that most days I like to keep my eating window to 12 hours or less. The most important factor is to not eat within three hours before you go to bed

You’ll need to work with your medical provider to discern your hormone levels and if you can handle not eating in the mornings before 11 am or 1 pm. 

I like to eat my first meal of the day around 10 am and I’m usually done with dinner before 6 pm.

However, around my menstrual cycle, I tend to get more food cravings. So I will let myself eat as early as 8 or 9 am. I tried to prioritize intuitive eating over militant intermittent fasting.

All of that to say, if you’re the kind of person who eats six small meals over 15 hours, you might inadvertently increase your histamine load. The timing of your food is an area to make small changes and record your results with how you feel under the expertise of a healthcare provider. 

A Note on Menstrual Cycle Timing

A pattern that emerged for me is that I struggled with my histamine levels while I was PMSing and on my menstrual cycle. This is likely from the extra estrogen in my body during that week or so. 

For this reason, I try to emphasize quercetin-rich foods like onion that can manage histamine when I’m close to or on my cycle. 

Now that we’ve covered the food factors that relate to histamine, let’s look at other parts of your body and how they’re affected by histamine in your environment. 

How to Reduce Histamine Levels in Your Environment

Did you know that stuff other than food can add to your histamine load? Here’s what you need to know. 

Preservative Free Products 

Some people react to high levels of histamine in natural skin care products. You see, when products don’t use chemical preservatives, histamine grows a lot faster. 

While the preservatives are not great for our skin’s microbiome, I decided to buy items like mascara, eyeshadow, and face masks in smaller bottles so that I could use them up before the histamine levels got too high. That helped me avoid both toxic chemicals and histamine levels. 

Applying beauty products to hands

Toxic Chemicals 

Using personal care products with toxic chemicals can cause your skin to release histamine. I try to stay at a 3 or below on the EWG’s standards. (You can read more about that on their site here.) 

For example, while I was working on reducing my histamine levels, I ended up having to give up nail polish in its entirety. Even some of the so-called non-toxic nail polishes would immediately cause tingling in my hands and sometimes hives. 

Fermented Products 

When cleaning with vinegar, I use gloves and wear long sleeves because getting it on my skin is irritating. I suspect this is because vinegar is fermented, and therefore, high histamine

As part of my Thrive Market membership, I once got a fermented seaweed face mask as a free gift. I had no idea that was a thing. But it’s something to be aware of

Endocrine Disruptors

Estrogen and histamine can get into an excitatory loop where excess estrogen in the body like those caused by estrogen mimicking chemicals can cause your body to release more histamine. 

And in the same way excess histamine can cause more estrogen release. (This is why I tended to react the worst to histamine on my period.) 

Katie has already covered a lot about how to reduce hormone disruptors in your environment. (Read about removing endocrine disruptors in personal care products, cookware, sunscreen, mattresses, and plastics.) But if you’ve ever broken out in hives or gotten a headache after using a new product, this could have been why.

hands pressing on a mattress

The best antihistamine that you can consume is staying hydrated with purified water. I also use an AquaTru water filter like Katie does. Your tap water likely contains endocrine disruptors and other toxic chemicals that can spark histamine release. 

However, one of the biggest endocrine disruptors in your environment to be aware of is mold. 

Mold Toxins  

Not only are mold toxins harmful to your hormones, but they can also spark all sorts of immune dysfunction

Breathing in mold toxins will spark histamine release in your body because your body is trying to protect you from the harmful mycotoxins

Learn more about how I realized I had mold poisoning symptoms here. 

Stay tuned for a future post where I’ll share the mistakes I made during our remediations. 

While an Ultra HEPA filter can reduce mold spores, like the ones found in Air Doctor. You’ll never get your histamine levels reduced until you are breathing clean indoor air

Now that we’ve covered what can cause histamine release from your environment, let’s look at what you can use to reduce your histamine levels, starting with antihistamines. 

Antihistamines to Reduce Histamine Levels

Here are some of the antihistamine options to discuss with your healthcare provider. 

A low-cost antihistamine some people will use is a pinch of baking soda in their mouth or in their water. I’ve only resorted to using this when I’m having a bad flare or reaction because the base properties can reduce your stomach acid. But it is a relatively cheap remedy. 

You’ll want to talk to your doctor about whether the various forms of over-the-counter H1 and H2 blockers like dye-free Benadryl or prescription medications may be right for you. 


I’ve done well rotating through various herbs that have natural antihistamine compounds that contain ingredients like: 

  • Perilla seed extract
  • Stinging nettle 
  • Quercetin
  • Butterbur 
  • Tulsi aka holy basil 
  • SPMs (specialized pro-resolving mediators derived from fish oil) 

Note: I’ve had to stay away from blends with vitamin c because excess vitamin c can convert to oxalates in the body. You can learn more about what antinutrients are and how to reduce them here. 

In addition to antihistamines, you can also use DAO to reduce histamine levels. 

Diamine Oxidase (DAO) Enzymes 

DAO supplements help break excess histamine down in your body. You’ll need to talk to your healthcare practitioner about the brand and dosing that is right for you. 

For most people with histamine sensitivity, you can’t simply take DAO before a meal and expect no reaction. It doesn’t fully cancel out the results of ingesting high levels of high histamine. 

Nevertheless, the best way to reduce histamine levels is to work to remediate the root cause of your levels. 

Root Causes of Histamine Levels 

You could be doing all of the above correctly, but if you haven’t gotten to the root cause of your histamine issues you may end up staying on a low histamine diet for longer than you need to. You’ll need to work closely with a medical doctor to discern your root cause, but some of the common ones are: 

  • Mold poisoning 
  • Breast implant illness 
  • Histamine pathway inhibiting medications 
  • Trauma and stress – including medical trauma and gaslighting
  • Heavy metals (such as medical devices inside the body) 
  • Processed foods (not usually by itself though) 
  • Bacterial overgrowth like SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) 

In other words, the long-term goal is to address what’s triggering the histamine in the first place so that you can slowly add histamine back into your diet. 

Beyond How to Reduce Histamine Levels 

It feels like our culture is obsessed with restrictive ways of eating. However, I’m learning that the best, most nourishing diet comes from a wide variety of macro and micronutrients–which includes some higher histamine foods. 

An important part of my healing journey has been slowly increasing histamine levels so that I can get biodiversity back into my diet

While I was remediating mold, I ate a low histamine diet. But since we’ve finished the mold removal, I’ve been able to slowly add some histamine-rich foods like fermented vegetables back in like sauerkraut and pickles without issue! 

Have you had to reduce your histamine levels? What tips worked for you? Share in the comments below! 

Learn More about Histamine and Health 


Chung, B. Y., Park, S. Y., Byun, Y. S., Son, J. H., Choi, Y. W., Cho, Y. S., Kim, H. O., & Park, C. W. (2017). Effect of Different Cooking Methods on Histamine Levels in Selected Foods. Annals of dermatology, 29(6), 706–714. 

FAO. (1991). Guidelines for slaughtering, meat cutting and further processing. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS. Retrieved October 29, 2021, from 

Joneja, J.V. & Lawrence, H. (2018). Histamine Intolerance: A Comprehensive Guide for Healthcare Professionals. Berrydales Books. 

Maintz, L., & Novak, N. (2007c). Histamine and histamine intolerance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(5), 1185–1196.  

Office of the Commissioner. (2021, February 9). Are You Storing Food Safely? U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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