What is histamine?

Histamine is a chemical that naturally forms in protein-containing foods as they age.


What foods are high in histamine?

(Concentration increases with age, so aged foods, especially fermented foods, are the worst)

  • Fish, especially if frozen, smoked, salted, or canned
  • Aged cheeses
  • Fermented/aged meats
  • Fermented vegetables
  • Yeast products
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Champagne
  • Spoiled food/old leftovers

Alcohol is a double-whammy, because it is high in histamine and also inhibits DAO.

Dosage matters with histamine! Some may be able to tolerate small amounts of these foods, but notice symptoms when eaten together or in excess.

For example, eating a large portion of degraded fish that is high in histamine can sometime even mimic an IgE allergy response!


What foods are considered histamine releasers? (1)


What drugs release histamine or inhibit DAO? (2)

  • Some contrast media
  • Some muscle relaxants (pancuronium, alcuronium, D-tubocurarine)
  • Some narcotics (thiopental)
  • Some analgesics (morphine, pethidine, NSAIDs, acetylsalicylic acid, metamizole)
  • Some local anesthetic (prilocaine)
  • Some antihypotonics (dobutamine)
  • Some antihypertensives (verapamil, alprenolol, dihydralazine)
  • Some antiarrhythmics (propafenone)
  • Some diuretics (amiloride)
  • Some gut motility drugs (metoclopramide)
  • Some antibiotics (cefuroxime, cefotiam, isoniazid, pentamidin, clavulanic acid, chloroquine)
  • Some mucolytics (acetylcysteine, ambroxol)
  • Some broncholytics (aminophylline)
  • Some H2-receptor antagonists (cimetidine)
  • Some cytostatics (cyclophosphamide)
  • Some antidepressants (amitriptyline)

What is histamine intolerance?

It is possible for the consumption of histamine or histamine-releasing foods to triggers adverse symptoms. Click here to learn more about histamine intolerance.

Erica Julson Functional Nutrition Library

Erica Julson is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in sunny California. She has over a decade of experience in food writing and recipe development and is the proud founder of four blogs in the food and nutrition space. Erica has also been part of Healthline's Nutrition Team and is an expert at translating research into helpful information for readers.

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