Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Chronic Urticaria and Low Histamine

I have played with a low histamine diet for James, as it is a fairly common on-line (read: not doctor) recommendation for those with chronic urticaria. And then, last week there was this article:

"A Popular myth – low-histamine diet improves chronic spontaneous urticaria – fact or fiction?"

The points I felt most significant were:

1) they were on the diet for 3 weeks (which truly, is a very short time)
2) 75% of the participants had some improvement
3) 61% reached the endpoint goal of the study

The specific diet they used in the study is not mentioned in the abstract. I would love to see it. Part of my halfheartedness in using a low histamine diet exclusively is that there is so much on-line information, and a lot of it does not agree.

The other issue I have had in completely embracing low histamine is the mental effects. For an already food restricted teen, having to lose more food for a more nebulous health reason (that is, more nebulous than a clear food allergy) is distressing.

Here is how I have handled it:

1) No leftovers. I am trying to adhere to this as strictly as I can. I was a huge leftovers fan. With only three of us, it was easy to cook a meal and then use whatever was leftover in a meal later in the week. James had what we think was a histamine type reaction (leftover tuna, spinach, and blue cheese in a salad) and Dr. Li specifically advised against leftovers (and limiting blue cheese, which we have been fairly successful with).

2) Emphasizing the foods he can eat, trying to add in more of those foods which are low histamine rather than eliminating all the high histamine ones. My thought with this is that if he is full of low histamine foods, he will be not eat as many high histamine ones.

I have been using this list because I like how it is organized. Dr. Bowdish kindly replied on twitter with this option 
It's one I also like because of it's clarity and limited nature (ie. not every food you eat is listed as high histamine).

These two reasonable steps are working for us. If this article had been posted when James had active and severe chronic urticaria, I would have done a stricter version, at least for three weeks to see any results.

At this point in James's life, I try to make any dietary changes or limitations part of teaching him how to eat as an adult, not that far away. In some ways, his diagnosis was the best thing that happened to him, because he had no idea one could eat without, in particular digestive, pain.  He is learning to listen to his body and eat accordingly. And this will serve him much longer in life than if I forced a certain diet.