We’re told no one really knows why illnesses happen or where they begin. We’re told we need more research, more money invested into studies and pharmaceuticals. We’re told there are no cures for diseases. None of this is true. I know because I healed my Hashimoto’s disease and scoliosis with natural remedies. And I have given my clients information to help them do the same for themselves. There is a true monopoly on your health and care and unless you’re willing to seek new information that your doctor may not be familiar with, you’ll stay sick.
Over the years, I’ve primarily worked with clients with various forms of thyroid disease. And no matter which form of thyroid malfunction you have, there’s a good chance you could be suffering from thyroid nodules.
Thyroid nodules, that is, lumps that form in or around the thyroid gland, are a fairly common occurrence, affecting somewhere around 25-75% of Americans. Nodules affect both those who have been diagnosed with thyroid disease and those who are not hormonally affected.
In some cases, thyroid nodules are caused by nutrient deficiencies (such as iodine). In other cases, nodules are benign pockets filled with fluid. Still others are “hot spots” emitting too much thyroid hormone.
Or perhaps you have been diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, a serious form of autoimmune hyperthyroidism. If you do have nodules or Graves’, here’s what no one had likely told you before: while there can be many causes for both of these conditions, thyroid nodules and Graves’ Disease are commonly histamine intolerance symptoms.
Histamine is a neurotransmitter that is both formed intrinsically in your body as well as found in large amounts in certain foods. Histamine intolerance food lists have flooded the internet, but please know, many are flawed and contain not so great information.
Foods like mushrooms, spinach, legumes, pork, tomatoes, strawberries, bananas, and fermented or cured foods are classically high in histamine. Other foods known as “histamine liberators” (such as tea or other caffeine sources and egg whites) are exactly what they sound like and tell your body to release more.
Common symptoms of H.I. can include everything from seasonal allergies to hives, G.I. distress, mood disorders, flushing, trouble breathing, throat or thyroid swelling, and more.
There are several causes of histamine intolerance. Gene mutations (HNMT and DAO) are a common cause, as well as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Kidney and adrenal dysfunction are also causes as DAO (the enzyme your body makes to degrade histamine) is produced by the kidneys (as well as other areas of the body), and the stress that causes adrenal dysregulation can induce high histamine.
I have anecdotally observed in my work with clients over the years is that histamine intolerance can not only cause or contribute to Graves’ disease but also thyroid nodules.
Here are two case studies:
One client I worked with was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease and had one large nodule on the right lobe of her thyroid gland. She had been eating gluten and dairy-free for quite some time because she knew those foods bothered her. From time to time, the nodule would seem to swell and make it difficult for her to speak and sing (which was a problem as she was a professional singer). Her main symptoms were mood issues that included anxiety and depression, random constipation, and she had serious insomnia problems, sometimes only sleeping two hours per night.
Though she didn’t have “classic” histamine intolerance symptoms such as flushing or hives, I suspected she did indeed have a histamine intolerance that was contributing to the nodule swelling. We put her on a low histamine diet (which excluded all high histamine foods) for 4 weeks. The swelling stopped and her mood and sleep regulated.
Then one day, while at a gig, she ended up hungry with no food options other than pizza someone else had ordered. About an hour afterward eating the pizza, the nodule began to feel swollen and her voice was affected. This happened every time she reintroduced a high histamine food.
In another example, I worked with a Korean woman who was living in the U.S. and had been diagnosed with Graves’ disease. She had been on thyroid medication for well over a year and was already eating a gluten and dairy-free diet when she came to me. Because of her roots, she enjoyed cooking with soy products, fermented vegetables, eggs, pork and broths daily. Her main symptoms were anxiety, seasonal allergies, fatigue, and eye swelling and sinus drainage in the mornings.
Again, I suspected she had an underlying histamine intolerance. We put her on a low histamine diet for 4 weeks, as well as added in natural anti-histamine remedies. Her symptoms improved during the month, and once we had her add back in high histamine foods, her symptoms returned. Within four months on the low-histamine diet, her doctor was able to take her off of her medication completely.
I have seen this over and over again in my work.
If you suspect you have a histamine intolerance, there is plenty you can do to improve your thyroid nodules or Graves’:
- Get a Lactulose breath test to see if you have SIBO. Ideally you would get a methane and hydrogen test to determine which type of bacteria is affecting you. Some people just get one test or the other but this won’t give you a full picture of the issues.
- If you test positive for SIBO (or display the symptoms), use natural remedies to kill the bad bacteria.
- Reinoculate the gut with soil-based probiotics (not traditional acidophilus-based probiotics because some strains can make histamine intolerance worse).
- Make sure you are producing enough bile to break down fats. Fat malabsorption is a leading cause of SIBO, which can therefore cause histamine intolerance.
- Work on your liver and gallbladder health.
- Use natural anti-histamines to help you degrade histamine (such as DAO, nettles, quercetin and rutin — just be sure these last two aren’t derived from citrus).
- Add in natural anti-histamine teas, herbs, and fruits and vegetables into your diet.
- Be sure you’re getting enough cholesterol in your diet as a high plant-based saturated fat diet and low cholesterol diet (as we often see in Paleo or vegan diets) is another contributor to histamine intolerance.
- Heal your leaky gut. You need healthy gut function to stop immune reactions.
- Work on your methylation. Again, gene mutations can be at play so make sure you are taking in the correct forms of vitamins (such as methylated B vitamins if you take them, instead of synthetics).
- Heal your adrenals and find ways to destress.
- Balance your blood sugar in order to help your adrenal health.
- Go on a low histamine diet for at least 4 weeks then reintroduce high histamine foods gradually. I do suggest having DAO (or perhaps Benadryl) on hand if needed in case you get a serious reaction to the reintroduction. And please be under the care of your healthcare provider in case any troubling symptoms should pop up.
As always, speak with your healthcare provider before making any changes.