Histamine Lowering Probiotics for People with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
Some probiotics are great for those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
But some can make Mast Cell Activation and Histamine levels worse!
I would get so itchy when I first started taking probiotics. My sleep got worse. My nose would run more.
I was taking a probiotic blend. It was rated to be really good! And it probably was great for people without the health issues I had. But it wasn’t good for me.
I remember one probiotic I took. It had over 20 strains. And I thought – the more strains the better, right??
Well – it turned out to be wrong for me! My gut has always been a weak point for me. And with that 20-strain probiotic, I was having so much gas and bloating. I felt awful!
So, I started to think that probiotics weren’t for me. I thought maybe they were all bad.
But finally, I realized that those probiotics had histamine-raising strains. Yikes! This is why I was reacting.
And learning which strains can be helpful for Mast Cell Activation and Histamine Intolerance made a huge difference for me.
There is so much out there about probiotics. So, I wanted to help you cut through all the confusion. And get clear information about probiotics for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
This is what I want to share with you in the post:
- First things to know about Probiotics if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
- Why Probiotics can be helpful if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
- Which Probiotic strains to avoid if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
- Which Probiotic strains may be helpful if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
- Which Probiotic strains to avoid if you have SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
- Which Probiotic strains may be more helpful if you have SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Let’s jump in!
First things to know about Probiotics if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
So, first things first. What are probiotics? The word “probiotic” comes from a combination of Latin and Greek: Latin “pro-” meaning “for” and the Greek word “biotikos,” meaning “life.”
So, probiotics are pro-life or life-promoting. Probiotics are bacteria that are supportive of life and health.
Probiotics have many benefits for the body. They can help balance the immune system and lower inflammation. They can bind viruses and fight bad bacteria and mold.
They can also promote good digestion by speeding up or slowing down the transit time. They can even help heal leaky gut and skin conditions.
Probiotics do have both pros and cons, though…Let’s look at those.
- Probiotics, overall, are usually very safe. Most probiotics are safe for most people. Those with Mast Cell Activation and Histamine Intolerance need to pay attention to the strains below.
- Probiotics can make a very positive impact on health issues. Study after study demonstrates their ability to improve a variety of acute and chronic health conditions.
- Probiotics improve digestion and nutrient absorption. They can even help the body to produce certain vitamins, such as B12, folate, and vitamin K.
- Some probiotics (but not all) can produce histamine. For that reason, it’s important to know which probiotic strains are histamine-producing and which probiotic strains are histamine-reducing.
- If you take the wrong strain of a particular probiotic, you can worsen your condition or symptoms, rather than improving it. That’s why it’s important to know your strain.
- There is not a ton of research on the effects of different strains on any given condition. There are so many strains of bacteria that it’s difficult to know all their effects.
Probiotics with the same genus and species can have different effects, depending on the specific strain.
This is called “strain specificity.” Let’s look at what that means.
Not All Probiotics Are The Same for people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
We need to look at 4 major factors with probiotics:
- The different strains of probiotics.
- Histamine lowering and raising strains.
- The type of capsule used.
- Mast cell triggering fillers and additives.
Let’s look at what the Probiotic Strain means first.
Usually, you’ll see probiotics listed as two words, for example:
Lactobacillus rhamnosus (abbreviated as L. rhamnosus)
- Lactobacillus is the genus
- rhamnosus is the species
In this example, we know the name of the Probiotic. But we don’t know what strain it is.
The strain will be shown with a third word tacked on the end. Or with some letters, some numbers, or a combination of letters and numbers.
Here’s an example:
The most studied and therefore also popular strain of L. rhamnosus is GG. It’s the strain sold under the brand Culturelle®.
You’ll see it listed as L. rhamnosus GG or as LGG®. It’s named after scientists Gorbach and Goldin, who first isolated it from the human digestive tract.
This particular strain, L. rhamnosus GG, has been shown to have several health benefits – for diarrhea, for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), for viral gastroenteritis, and for keeping ulcerative colitis under control.
There are other probiotics with the L. rhamnosus strains. But if it isn’t L. rhamnosus GG, it won’t necessarily have the same effects.
In fact, in a comparison study between L. rhamnosus GG and L. rhamnosus Lactophilus, the LGG® was FAR more effective in reducing diarrhea than the Lactophilus strain.
On day 2, only 19% of patients in the L. rhamnosus LGG group had diarrhea versus 64% in the L. rhamnosus Lactophilus group.
Histamine Raising and Histamine Lowering Probiotics
Another important thing to know about probiotics is that there are histamine-producing strains and histamine-reducing strains.
If you have a probiotic supplement that is a blend of several strains of bacteria, pay attention. You’ll want to make sure none of them are histamine-producing. Otherwise, you could flare up your symptoms.
If the supplement lists only the genus and species (and not the strain), call the company and find out the strain.
Let’s say the species is one that is thought to be histamine-promoting, like S. thermophilus. If you don’t know the strain and its effects, it’s better to stay on the safe side and avoid it altogether.
Probiotic Capsule Differences
Most probiotics come in just regular gelatin or cellulose capsules. Or sometimes they are available as a powder. This is a problem, though!
Probiotics that are not spore-based will die in the stomach acid. This is a waste of money!
This is why probiotics need to be in a delayed-release capsule. The reason for this is that you want it to get through the stomach acid intact.
You know it is a delayed-release capsule if it says the capsule is hydroxypropyl methylcellulose or hypromellose. (Just FYI, the methylcellulose isn’t really a problem with overmethylation.)
It needs to make it to the intestines before the capsule dissolves. Because the intestines are where the probiotic can work its magic.
Fillers and Additives
That said, be sure to look at the inactive ingredients in any probiotic supplement. There may be allergens or triggering ingredients hidden in there.
Watch for things like:
- wheat starch
- guar gum
- titanium dioxide
Now that you know the basics, let’s look at why probiotics might be helpful.
Why Probiotics can be helpful if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Certain probiotics can be helpful if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance.
We know that those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance tend to have immune system imbalances.
That can mean an underactive immune system, where you catch everything that comes along.
Certain probiotics have also been shown to have mast cell/histamine supporting properties. For example, L. rhamnosus HN001 helps reduce eczema. And it also helps lower histamine.
Additionally, with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance, inflammation levels are through the roof.
A number of probiotic strains are helpful for supporting normal inflammation levels. This can help people feel much better.
A strain called Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, for example, has been shown to have a strong anti-inflammatory effect without triggering mast cells.
You’ll learn about the histamine and mast cell-safe strains mentioned below.
But first, let’s look at those popular probiotic foods…
Probiotic Foods to avoid if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
People dealing with most types of chronic illness are usually encouraged to consume fermented foods. For healing the gut, it’s often recommended that people eat sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and other fermented foods.
Unfortunately, people with Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome usually don’t do well getting their good bacteria from ferments. This is because those foods are usually made with histamine raising strains.
Here are some of the common “Probiotic Foods”:
- Yogurt – Yogurt is fermented using strains of L. bulgaricus and L. lactis (sometimes called L. delbrueckii). Also, yogurt usually has S. thermophilus, L. casei, and L. helveticus. These make the yogurt high histamine.
- Fermented plant foods – Fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi, and other foods tend to have histamine producing strained like L. casei. Some strains of L. casei have a tendency to raise histamine.
These histamine-raising strains can also be in fermented plant foods:
- Leuconostoc mesenteroides
- Pediococcus pentosaceus
- Aged cheeses – L. casei, L. bulgaricus (reclassified as L. delbrueckii), L. helveticus, and S. thermophilus are all species you’ll find in cheeses. In fact, helveticus actually comes from the name of the land that is now Switzerland and is used in Swiss cheese. These can raise histamine levels.
You can learn more about high and low histamine foods here.
Which Probiotic strains to avoid if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Here’s a list of the top probiotic strains to potentially avoid if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance:
- L. casei – may produce histamine and tyramine
- L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus (TISTR 895) (formerly L. bulgaricus) – Increases histamine.
- L. helveticus – May increase histamine, depending on the strain. Not a lot of evidence on this, though.
- S. thermophilus – May increase histamine, depending on the strain. Not a lot of evidence yet, though.
- B. Licheniformis – Appears to raise histamine.
- B. Coagulans SL5 – Caused increased histamine in research, (but the B. Coagulans MTCC 5856 (branded as LactoSpore®) seems to lower histamine).
These species are commonly found in the fermented foods listed above.
Now, let’s look at which probiotic strains may be more helpful if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance.
Which Probiotic species and strains may be helpful if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
There are several probiotic species that may be helpful if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance. However, it still depends on the strain.
Look for the individual strain and do some research on these species:
- Bifidobacterium infantis – suppresses histamine
- Bifidobacterium longum – suppresses histamine
- Lactobacillus plantarum – several strains reduce histamine, including Lactobacillus plantarum K-1 and L. plantarum LP299v.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus – several strains reduce histamine, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG®) and L. rhamnosus Lc705
- Lactobacillus gasseri – Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 suppresses inflammation
- Lactobacillus salivarius – shown to help mast cells by balancing Th1/Th2
- Bifidobacterium bifidum – Bifidobacterium bifidum BGN4 doesn’t produce histamine and suppresses allergic symptoms and inflammation.
- Bifidobacterium breve – Bifidobacterium breve BR03 suppresses histamine.
Another study found that several different strains of Lactobacillus plantarum reduced histamines and other biogenic amines found in wine. The most beneficial strains for lowering histamine content were Lactobacillus plantarum NDT 03, followed by Lactobacillus plantarum NDT 16 and Lactobacillus plantarum NDT 21.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus has been shown to lower histamine levels. And it was shown to downregulate the genes associated with mast cell activity.
- reuteri is a species that sometimes (but not always) works for people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance. It likely depends on the strain.
For instance, L. reuteri ATCC PTA 6475 can convert the amino acid L-histidine into histamine. This can increase histamine levels for people.
However, this probiotic strain also ultimately suppresses inflammatory molecules.
I usually recommend introducing L. reuteri after someone is starting to get good improvements.
Wondering where to start?
I recommend people start with some gentle, single strains. Like this single strain rhamnosus (always check with your health care practitioner):
Single Strain Rhamnosus
or this one with 3 strains:
If you are tolerating probiotics and ready for a combo probiotic, here are 2 very good ones with histamine lowering strains:
Now, let’s look at a beneficial yeast probiotic.
Saccharomyces boulardii (often abbreviated S. boulardii) is a type of beneficial yeast. It also helps out-compete candida in the gut.
Sometimes, people with mold toxicity don’t tolerate it. But not always. And if you can tolerate it, it can be quite helpful.
In fact, it can actually be helpful for those with mold illness. Animal studies have shown that S. boulardii can work as a mycotoxin binder for Ochratoxin A. It’s also known to be a binder for Gliotoxins.
You have to watch for fillers like guar gum on these. Here is a good quality one:
Another type of probiotic that can be helpful for those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance is spore-based probiotics.
Spore-based probiotics can withstand the acidity of the stomach. So, they don’t have to be in delayed-release capsules like other probiotics. They proceed to the small intestine and help the good bacteria recolonize your gut.
They help balance the immune system, reduce inflammation, improve digestion, help in gut repair, lower cholesterol, reduce pain, and more:
- Bacillus coagulans – Also can help with oxalate digestion.
- Bacillus subtilis – Produces natural antibiotics to keep your gut free of harmful bacteria
Here is a gentle spore-based probiotic that is usually well tolerated with both B. coagulans and B. subtilis:
You can also start with single strain B. coagulans:
Now, of course, be sure to work with your healthcare provider on targeting a probiotic that’s right for you and your particular health issues.
Which Probiotic strains to avoid if you have SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
SIBO may also be a cause or contributing factor of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
SIBO is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.
A faulty Migrating Motor Complex (MMC) may be to blame.
The MMC moves food through the stomach and small intestine. When it isn’t working well, food doesn’t move through the gut like it should.
Then SIBO is more likely to occur.
Most of our gut bacteria are supposed to be in the large intestine/colon. When the sphincter between the two doesn’t close properly, bacteria from the colon can back up into the small intestine.
This is not good. The small intestine is where absorption is supposed to take place. If it’s overrun with bacteria that don’t belong there, absorption isn’t as good. The lining can get compromised. Next thing you know, you’ve got a leaky gut.
This can lead to chronic inflammation, food sensitivities, poor absorption of nutrients, and even autoimmune disease.
If the overgrowth involves a lot of histamine-producing bacteria, that’s going to lead or contribute to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
Because SIBO is already an overgrowth of bacteria, adding additional bacteria from probiotics into the mix could be a problem. But, it depends on which types of probiotic bacteria you are adding.
It is really specific to you. If you have an overgrowth of a particular species or strain, then adding more of that species or strain in a probiotic will likely make you feel worse.
You may want to consider avoiding these two types if you have SIBO, in addition to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance:
- all Lactobacillus
- all Bifidobacteria
These are the main genera that colonize the small and large intestines of humans. There aren’t any strain-specific guidelines of which probiotics to avoid for SIBO. It really depends on what you have going on.
Which Probiotic strains may be more helpful if you have SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
If you have SIBO and you also deal with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, there are certain probiotic strains that you should focus on.
These, in particular, may be more helpful:
- Spore-based probiotics
- Saccharomyces boulardii
Certain spore-based probiotic strains have been shown to normalize hydrogen breath tests, which are used to diagnose SIBO.
Examples of spore-based probiotic supplements include products like BioSpora™. This just has 2 strains, which makes it an easy starting point.
A Saccharomyces boulardii or S. boulardii supplement may also be helpful. As mentioned earlier, it is actually a helpful yeast probiotic that can also work as a mycotoxin binder. And it can out-compete Candida!
Here is a good quality one:
With SIBO, remember to be more careful with these types of probiotics:
There are a lot of probiotic species and strains. Some could raise histamine, some could be neutral, and some could actually lower histamine.
Do your research. And try all new supplements very slowly. You can start with a tiny sprinkle. This is easy to do by emptying a small portion of the powder into 4-6 ounces of water. Or even onto food.
Most people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance do much better increasing very slowly this way. You might give yourself 4-6 weeks to work up to a full capsule.
And as always, make sure to work with your healthcare provider!
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