IBS and histamine

IBS and histamine

What is IBS?

IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome which is a common condition that affects the digestive system. There are three different types of IBS:
  • IBS-C – this is where constipation is the dominant factor
  • IBS-D – this is where diarrhoea is the dominant feature
  • IBS-A – this is where bowel movements can vary between constipation and diarrhoea
Other symptoms often associated with IBS include:
  • Bloating
  • Cramps or pain
  • Flatulence
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Feelings of incomplete bowel movements
Currently, the exact cause of IBS is unknown, however factors such as stress, family history, slow transit time, oversensitive nerves in the digestive system or changes in the microbiome can all play a part.

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How can histamine intolerance play a role?

Mast cells, which are responsible for releasing histamine in response to an allergen or injury, are found throughout the body but individuals with IBS appear to have more mast cells in their digestive system than those who don’t have. As a result, those with IBS often have higher gut levels of histamine, especially in IBS-C , and this may increase pain or what is known as visceral hypersensitivity.

Stress is another possible trigger for IBS in some individuals, and stress can also increase mast cell activation which in turn can increase histamine levels in the digestive system. As well as this, stress is inflammatory to the gut and can affect both the gut lining and the gut microbiome, both of which can influence histamine levels but also decrease levels of the DAO enzyme which is needed to help metabolise and remove histamine from the body.

If you have IBS and also don’t have enough DAO, then this can result in a histamine intolerance.

Common symptoms of histamine intolerance

These are some of the more common symptoms of a histamine intolerance in people with IBS

  • Nausea
  • Reflux
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rashes or hives
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose or eyes
  • Headaches

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