Low Histamine Probiotics–Is Your Probiotic Making You Sick?

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Is it possible that your probiotic could be making you sick?  Sadly, it is! In this post about low-histamine probiotics I’ll share what histamine is and what that has to do with probiotics, and why your probiotics might not be doing you any favors.

Probiotics are something that’s commonly accepted as being good for everyone. Gut health is crucial for overall health and probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help to recolonize the gut to restore balance.  So one would think that taking probiotics is always a good thing.  Right?

Wrong.

bottle of probiotics with healthy foods in front - low histamine probiotics

For some people, taking probiotics could be a completely bad idea.

That is, if they are taking the wrong kind of probiotic.

Histamine intolerance is something that we’ve talked about on the blog before.  In this post we talked about what histamine intolerance is and in this post we talked about how to deal with a histamine intolerance, or histamine allergy.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned, however, is the role that probiotics play in histamine intolerance treatment.

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Yikes–Could I Have Histamine Intolerance?

Around Christmas of this past year, I kind of “fell into” a detox.   Just in case you were wondering, detox isn’t the best idea during the Holiday Season–I don’t recommend it. However, the whole thing led to some very interesting information which I will now pass on to you.

It all started with my taking a heavy-duty liquid fermented superfood probiotic.  I’d taken it years ago and it had clearly done some heavy duty work on my gut.  This time, however, I felt I needed to get out of my current probiotic rut and give that product another go.  It went well for awhile, but then the reactions got a little intense. They subsided, but then resurfaced elsewhere, and I was pretty scared that I was histamine intolerant.

So I plunged into researching histamine intolerance online and was determined to figure out what I could do about it.

One of the recommendations that I found was to get on a low histamine probiotic so as to recolonize the gut without inflaming the already problematic condition.

What Is Histamine?

We covered quite a bit about histamine in this post, but here’s a quick review.

Histamine is a chemical produced by your body that is involved in your immune system, proper digestion, and central nervous system during immune responses.  It sends messages from your body to your brain, and is a component of stomach acid (which helps you digest your food — I’ve talked about stomach acid and rosacea before).  But the role of histamine that is central to our discussion today is how histamine is involved with the immune system.

You mostly like are familiar with the word “histamine” as it being a part of the word “anti-histamine” — those substances that one takes when allergies are being a bother. Histamines are alerting your body of a real (or mistaken) offender and cause an inflammatory response.  And it causes this all over the body.

If your body can’t break down the histamine well or fast enough, you end up with histamine intolerance.

That leads to the problems outlined in this post on histamine intolerance, but basically you can have all kinds of symptoms including things that one would typically associate with allergies, such as:

bottle of probiotics with healthy foods in front - low histamine probiotics

Histamine and Probiotics

Basically, if you have a histamine intolerance issue, the last thing that you want is to be taking probiotics that make more histamine.  If you do that, instead of getting healthier, you could be exacerbating an underlying health issue and well–your probiotics could be making you sick.

And if you are making your own Water Kefir, Homemade Sauerkraut, and more, that may or may not be a good idea depending on your issues with histamine.

Additionally, there are some probiotic strains that have been shown to be helpful in reducing the histamine response.

According to the research that I have done, the following are various probiotic strains and the effect that they have on histamine levels.  Of course that research could change in the future.

Histamine Raising Probiotic Strains

  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • S. thermophilus
  • Lactobacillus delbrueckii
  • B Lichenformis – appears to raise histamine (source)
  • Lactobacillus helveticus (while this does raise histamines, it is known to reduce anxiety and ammonia, and restores cognitive function) (source)

Histamine Lowering Strains

  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Lactobacillus gasseri
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Lactobacillus salivarius
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Bifidobacterium Bifidum – (source)
  • Lactobacillus reuteri**Lactobacillus reuteri is kind of in a class by itself.  Many place it in the “histamine producing” category, but interestingly enough, it doesn’t belong there. Lactobacillus reuteri does, in fact, cause histidine to convert to histamine, but this histamine raises cAMP which actually reduces the inflammatory response.  Fascinating!  I therefore put it in the “histamine reducing” class due to this aspect. (3)

Lactobacillus plantarum does not appear to have an effect on histamine but lowers/inhibits tyramine and putrescine.

Histamine Neutral Strains

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus Lactis
  • Lactococcus Lactis

Bacillus Coagulans

It’s possible that other strains might end up have their own special section as well in the future, as more is known about them, but Bacillus Coagulans appears to be a bit unique and I had trouble sorting this strain out.

There is research stating that the B. Coagulans SL5 causes increased histamine, but the B. Coagulans in 2 of the gut health products that I recommend below is MTCC 5856, which is a different strain. In fact, Lactospore (MTCC 5856) is used in some supplements that are made to support those with histamine issues.

Furthermore, there is also this research showing that B. Coagulans is helpful in allergic situations on a number of fronts.

Not Histamine Lowering But….

The following strains aren’t typically referred to as being “histamine lowering” strains, but some research shows that they might support the body in ways that would benefit those struggling with histamine intolerance

  • Saccharomyces-Boulardii.
    There are a number of studies on its effectiveness in treating gastroenteritis (source).  Some researchers have linked this condition to high histamine/mast cell issue (source 1 & source 2).  So possibly this strain could be a good support.
    There are some reports apparently about this yeast causing histamine issues in some people, but it has been used for detoxifying gliotoxin (source) and apparently increases DAO production which means it should help with histamine issues. (source)
  • L. Paracasei has been shown to possibly help with leaky gut or allergies (source)
  • L. Casei Shirota
    Although L. Casei has been shown to raise histamines, L. Casei Shirota has been shown to modulate histamine levels. (source)
  • Lactobacillus Crispatus has been shown to have anti-allergenic effects (source)

How to Sort All of This Information Out

Does this all make you feel like your head is going to burst?

I get it.

Basically, if you are looking to avoid probiotic strains that might make histamine issues (and inflammation) worse, you want to avoid the Histamine-Raising Strains and get probiotics that have the Histamine-Lowering Strains in them and if they have the Histamine-Neutral Strains in them that’s fine too.

Make sense?

So—In order to work on mine and my son’s possible histamine issues, I went a hunt to find probiotics that had the strains that we wanted but didn’t have the problematic strains.

It was quite a job, trying to figure out what to buy with all of those “lacto this” and “bifido that” words popping out at me. I thought I would go a little cross-eyed trying to sort it all out, but I did find some products that were just perfect for what I was looking for.

Where to Buy Low-Histamine Probiotics

I buy my supplements in several places.  One of my favorite places to shop is Iherb.  They have fast service and very very good prices.  

Some of the brands listed below, like Metagenics, claim that their product is fine when not refrigerated during shipping, etc.  If you are concerned about that please take care to buy them either in a store where they are refrigerated or have them shipped in a cold pack.

Low-Histamine Probiotic Single Strains

Here are some individual strains of bacteria that should be helpful for histamine intolerance.

Most natural practitioners who recommend rotating between different kinds of probiotics so as to populate the gut with different strains.  So—purchasing several or all of the above varieties and rotating between them would be a great idea to help you do just that.

Low Histamine Probiotic Blends

Personally, I think a blend is a better option than a single strain since you are getting more beneficial “bugs” into your gut. It’s like facing the bad guys with a multi-faceted assault instead of a single strategy.

1. Smidge (Formerly GutPro)

Recently, our family started using Smidge (formerly GutPro). It’s a probiotic unlike many others in that it’s super concentrated. It’s not cheap, but it lasts a REALLY REALLY long time.

bottle of dietary supplement powder

Just a teensy bit on a teensy spoon is all you need.

I have tried so many probiotics over the years, and with many of them, I feel NOTHING. But with Smidge?  Gurgle gurgle gurgle…..something is happening for sure!

Important: make sure to get the teensy stainless spoons that Organic3 has if you get this product because you are going to need them!

Depending on how you use the probiotics, you might want to order two sets of spoons so if one is dirty you have another set at the ready. You absolutely must not use the spoons for these probiotics if they are damp at all, as that will compromise the bacteria. Wet bacteria, in this case, is dead bacteria.

2. Seeking Health Probiota HistaminX

This blend was created for the express purpose of having a blend for those with histamine intolerance. Some have said that this probiotic blend has really helped with their histamine issues, both with probiotics and to other foods. The company has a great Subscribe and Save program so you can save money. Some people use this product alongside the company’s Histamine Digest.

Seeking Health ProBiota HistaminX supplement

3. Amare Quadbiotic Low-Histamine Blend with Weight Loss Benefits

This blend of pre, pro, post, and phytobiotics is also low-histamine with the added benefit of it promoting weight loss.

Amare Global's GBX Fit

It contains:

  1. Orange Peel Extract – known to be anti-histamine (source)
  2. Acacia Gum – know to help create a gut environment that’s helpful for those with histamine issues
  3. Lactobacillus plantarum – histamine reducer
  4. Bifidobacterium lactic – histamine reducer

This link, also provided above, gives $10 off.

I notice a clear reduction in bloating and appetite change when using this.

Another good blend that Amare has is their Mentabiotics. While it does have one strain that’s histamine raising, the overall action of it shouldn’t be an issue.

Following are some blends of various strains that should not exacerbate histamine intolerance and might even help heal it.

Can You Recover From Histamine Intolerance?

Good question.

This is a complicated topic, but an important one.

Here are some things that correspond with histamine intolerance:

All of the above can be linked to a gut infection called h pylori. Intersting.

So, my thinking is, if you address the above, the histamine intolerance might just go away.

Basically, instead of avoiding things that are supposed to be good for you long term, find out why your body isn’t tolerating things and address the root cause.

Other Research-based Posts You Might Like

If you like digging into health information, these posts might interest you too.

Is Glycerin Bad for Your Teeth? – and if so, WHY is it in toothpaste?
Does Erythritol Cause Heart Disease? – and if not, what’s going on with that study?
Is Stevia Safe? – or does it cause infertility, DNA damage, and more?

What probiotics do you use–please share in the comments below?

Sources:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18544899

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3042653/

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22384111

4.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3316997/

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312 Comments

  1. Hi Adrienne,
    Thanks you so much for sharing your research. I had giving up on probiotics but then my allergies started getting worse so I googled to find something about low histamine and if probiotics can actually help me on top of a protocol I am following. This protocol is created by Morley Robbins called The root cause protocol. I am getting a bit desperate I have been having palpitations and a heat rash whenever I got on holiday somewhere warm which is very annoying. Do you think histamine intolerance is something that could be reversed by probiotics + diet? I am curious to know your opnion on FMT as well. I bought the Gutpro in capsule form is there any difference than the powder form?

    Thanks

    1. Hello Ligia. I have read some about reversing / addressing histamine intolerance and am looking into it with a practitioner and also homeopathy. I can’t say personally but those are some things that I have heard people talking about. It seems that the body is on overdrive. The powder form is more affordable but you do need to be careful not to get it wet. Otherwise if you get the same formula they will be the same as far as the content goes. Hope that helps!

  2. Hi Adrienne. This looks what I’ve been looking for. I have had to give up on probiotics, but I plan to try some of these. Thanks so much for the great info in this post!

  3. Hi Adrienne,

    I didn’t quite comprehend the part on Possible Histamine Aid, does it lower or increase histamine?

    I have severe eczema and I’m a high risk allergy patient to dust mites, pet dander, dairy, seafood, peanut etc , with my blood ige levels above 15,000

    Would Lactobacillus Paracasei help? Does it increase or lower histamine levels?

    And what about D-lactic acid? The takeaway here is that a disproportionate increase in certain types of intestinal bacteria is associated with chronic health issues. These types of bacteria are often noted as producing high levels of D-type lactic acid, though many beneficial bacteria also produce it to some degree. This isn’t usually an issue but can become troublesome when these bacteria outnumber L-Lactic acid producers. For example, patients suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have been found to have higher levels of D-Lactic acid in their blood.

    Really appreciate the effort you’ve put into the above informative sharing,

    Thank you

    1. Hello there. So sorry for the delay in responding. I think I outlined this in the post without saying “possible histamine aid” – can you direct me to where I wrote that?

      Paracasei is in the post.

      D lactic acid isn’t a probiotic.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Hi Adrienne,

    I didn’t quite comprehend the part on Possible Histamine Aid, does it lower or increase histamine?

    Thank you

    1. Hi there–thanks for the helpful question. I just updated that section with a title that is more clear–hope that helps! It’s Possible Histamine Intolerance Aid.

  5. Hello, Adrienne.

    Thanks for writing this article, it was very informative.

    I’m taking (2nd day taking one chewable pill) L.Reuteri 100 milion units and something interesting it’s going on. I’m having minor histamine relasing side effects. I feel my ears warm, I have red spots (nothing serious) bellow my eyes and sometimes I feel my face warm too and I also feel kind of bloated in my stomach. It’s not something that worries me, but for precaution I just stop taking this strain of probiotic. By the way is L.Reuteri DSM 17938.

    I don’t know if these was placebo, but I felt pretty good taking L.Reuteri in regards to mood and I’m thinking in buying some histamine degrading strain to see if I can counteract these effects.

    Would love to hear your toughts on these.

    1. Hi there–thanks for reading and for the kind words. L. Reuteri is an interesting strain. You can see the notes on it in the post–that is is complicated about whether it’s a histamine producer or not. Sounds like you are reacting to it. Best wishes!

  6. Great post. I have to say I gave up on probiotics for a while as I found this all so overwhelming. What do you think of the Genesetra “Fit for School”? I think it seems safe but wow, the black hole of researching probiotics can make your brain shut down. Thank you again

    1. Hi there and thanks! I just went through the strains and seems that they are all histamine lowering or neutral – this one is the only oddity: Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis. I see that the Bb12 strain is lowering but I haven’t done enough research to know if that would apply to all strains that have the same name since there appears to be one on the list for which that might not be the case. Hope that helps!

  7. What a wonderful article. I am suffering from some histimine issues, that are causing serious, scarry symptoms. I live in a area where healthcare is not good. We dont have any specialist here. Im not sure if im histimine intolerant, or mast cell. Im literally at the end of my rope. I’ve been to several drs, including a allergist. To no avail. I’m having allergic symptoms, and now carry a epi pen. I went out today and bought a probiotic. Thank God, I got one on your list, yes. It the Renew Life one. Even if it only helps a little I’m thsnkful. I’ve been sick for 5 months now. Thank you so much for writing this. Please pray I get in the hands of a good doctor. Again Thank you

    1. You are so welcome and thank you for the kind words. I’m so sorry you are dealing w/ all of this! I am just starting to work with someone who seems promising. Happy to give you that information if you’d like to email me – wholenewmom {at} gmail {dot} com.

  8. Thanks for all the info! I’ve never used a probiotic powder. How do you use it? Can you put it on anything? Does it matter if it gets hot/cold. I read that the spoon can’t get wet, so how would you use the powder if it can’t get wet?

    1. Hi there! You are so welcome. You can just put it in your mouth and swallow or put in food–basically you make sure that there is no moisture on the spoon when you put it back into the jar. Hope that helps!

  9. Hi, thank you for your article…I knew nothing of a histamine intolerance I just recently found out about it a few days ago reading online… after suffering extreme allergic reaction to this probiotic drinkable yogurt. I only drank about barely a cup and a half within a 3 day period and from that point it has been causing me severe itching for a two week period and I’m still dealing with itching. I am too scared now to try any other probiotic….I was just taking it for health sake and to regulate my stomach upsets. I am allergic to peanuts/ tree nuts too. Would you advise me not to do any probiotics at all?

    1. Hi there – I can’t medically advise but of course it could be something else in there–like to the dairy of course. Dairy can cause lots of issues. If you think it’s the probiotic then I would look at the strains in the product you consumed and be very careful. Could there have been other things in there? I would consult w/ your physician about this and be very careful–maybe you need an epinephrine pen to be on the safe side! Sorry you are dealing with this! Did you have other reactions to probiotics before this?

      1. Thank you….I don’t think its milk, I have done other yogurt probiotics and didn’t get a reaction that I could note. I’m not trying to shoot the name brand down or anything it taste good, its by Siggi’s it says it has 10 billion probioics in it….with that many I would think it has all of them in there that you named and then some. I’ve been to the emergency more than once for severe peanut allergic reaction…they never offered me the epinephrine pen they only gave me steroid injections uggg and those gave me heart palpitations for about a week. I wanted to add also that I do nonfat organic milk or lactose free 1% it seems to work for me anything else bloats me and gives me gastric disturbances.

  10. Fresh, non-histagenic Gut Pro strains acid-resistant so not need enteric-coating. Good price and when I looked capsules cheaper than powder. Powder could be directly implanted by enema. I don’t buy prebiotics enlightened nations ban from baby products feeding bad along with good bacteria (chicory/inulin/erythritol/heavy lectin, like artichoke/gut impacting risk acacia/etc); but I eat deseeded kiwi/pickled not fermented sauerkraut/dairy to feed my probiotics when I dose them.

  11. Great article! I found myself in a mess after New Years and upping my fermented foods, probiotics & I couldn’t sleep at night so I was taking 1/2 Benadryl. After much research I figured out I had a histamine intolerance. What are your thoughts on Thorne Bacillus Coagulans Probiotic? I always tell friend’s probiotics are like your fav workout routine or root volumizer… you can’t keep using the exact same and expect results. Gotta shake it up.

    1. Thanks! I have this in the post: “**I have seen research stating that the B. Coagulans SL5 causes increased histamine, but the B. Coagulans in 2 of the gut health products that I recommend below is MTCC 5856, which is a different strain. In fact, Lactospore (MTCC 5856) is used in some supplements that are made to support those with histamine issues.”

      It is hard to know what to think about this! I guess it’s not the best choice potentially given that information.

      1. Have you – or anyone reading this 🙂 – done the Thryve test and had results? I am tempted to try (along with the dna health tests available now a days) but it’s $299 so I’d love to hear some feed back. I am ordering the Gutpro 3. I am excited and hopeful. Thank you for taking the time to share! Katie Wingo

  12. FYI: I mistyped in my previous comment just now. I just double checked and your link to the Kyodophilus is fine; it’s just the other 2 Metagenics products at Pure Formulas that appear to have expired.
    Best,
    LM

  13. Great article, and such a help with the research! I have been hoping to get clarity like this for a very long time. I did want to let you know that the links for Kyodophilus and the 2 Metagenics products you included have expired as an fyi. I have been dealing with constipation lately and none of my current probiotics seem to be helping.
    Do you happen to know which probiotics are also good for constipation issues? (no diarrhea, just constipation.) I’d like to try the GutPro, but wanted to be sure I’m making the best choice in this regard.
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi again–I can’t medically advise. Sorry about that! I hope something works out for you, however and thanks again for pointing out that problem and again, sorry for the delay. We had a problem here w/ our home and other things and I’m trying to catch up :).

    2. Great article btw! Very informative. Just heads up to anyone with constipation issues take a lot of vitamin C and/or magnesium. Just keep increasing the dose every 30 min to an hour until you go. Mixing a powder with water is easier than pills as you can adjust the dosage easier but either will work. Much safer and healthier treatment than OTC drugs. I’ve had 2 different Naturopaths recommend that treatment to me and I’ve tried it and it works and now I swear by it. If you have chronic constipation you can take mega doses of vitamin C on a daily basis and you’re boosting your immune system at the same time. Vary the amount until you find what dose works for you. Just wanted to share 🙂

  14. Which iHerb or Pure Formula are non-histagenic? Any enteric-coated protecting from stomach acid, to make it to the colon?

    1. Hi there. The ones in the post are the ones that meet the criteria. I haven’t looked into the enteric coating issue.

      1. Adrienne’s article and swift replies to our comments awesome, thank you, dear!? Yes I checked all your above brands I’ll have to call to learn if not enteric-coated because they developed strains resistant to stomach acid, like UK’s OptiBac, that can be ordered by US.

        If not, then Hyperbiotics sells one non-histagenic probiotic: “Pro Bifido Age 50+” patented-delivery tablet “superior to capsule.”

        And the GutPro Powder, above, could be dropped into empty enteric-coated gelatin capsules pricey via Amazon which protects only 50 minutes and we know digestion can take hours but at least that would improve the odds and be more convenient pre-pared in batches.

        1. Hi there – I contacted Corganic and they said that taking the product with fat is what helps it pass through…but yes, using a capsule might be a good idea. I will mention that to them as well. They said if you use it you should notice it helps. I know that I have heard many testimonials about how good it is.

          1. Great for all to learn taking probiotics with fat helps them survive stomach acid and make it to the colon; and putting probiotics into special enteric-protection gelatin capsules could increase the odds. Bless you and your cutting-edge and readable update and swift research/replies helping us improve our own odds by selecting non-histagenic probiotics! ?

    1. Hi there. Corganic states that GutPro Infant is for those under 2. And GutPro is for those over 3 or those 2-3 who have used the GutPro Infant. Hope that helps and thanks for the kind words!

  15. I had surgery in late Aug. 2018. I was put on 1 Aleve each day for 45 days, along with one Omeprazol. After a couple of days I began to feel bloated. So to combat this feeling I began drinking one Kombucha in the morning and Keifer water with meals. The bloating and constipation were so bad that it caused me to research what the heck could be going on. (I have since found out that NSAIDS like Aleve and medications for your stomach like Omeprazol, and OTC like it make the situation worse). I do have Sjogrens. So I began my search with Sjogrens and Kombucha. And that is the where the rabbit hole of the internet began with me finding out about Histamine Intolerance. I started out with taking large dose of Omega 3. That helped tremendously. This helped with the dryness of the eyes, skin and nails. Then I added Natural D-Hist. This is to help with the DAO you referenced. It has helped with itching/red eyes around the lash area and the inflammation, the headaches and sinus pressure behind the eyes and pressure in my throat. I’ve only used it for a week. With all that being introduced one at a time, I began my search for the probiotics, which lead me here. Thank you for the article. I’ll try the probiotics you recommended!

  16. Hello I have some questions regarding probiotics.
    No matter what probiotic strain or brand I use I get the same reaction. I will get an elevated heart rate, flushing, headache, and an increased body temperature. I originally thought it was because of using probiotics that increase histamine producing bacteria. I know I still obtain a reaction with histamine degrading bacteria. If I am having an adverse reaction to all probiotics are there other solutions for me out there? Would being allergic to yeast/ mold make me have adverse reactions to the probiotics? Any help or suggestions on optimizing gut health without probiotics or a solution to incorporate them without reacting to them would be super helpful.
    Thank you for your time.

    1. Hi there – I have read that probiotic intolerance can be a result of parasites, yeast infections, SIBO, or other bacterial infections. I would recommend seeing your physician for guidance.