Low Histamine Probiotics--Can Probiotics Be BAD for You?

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.

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

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.  Another great option is Pure Formulas.

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.

Following are a bunch of options that will fit the bill......

Low-Histamine Probiotic Single Strains

Following are 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 achieve that goal.

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.

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 Block.

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.

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

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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308 Comments

  1. Hi Adrienne,

    Thanks for this article. I have been having. an exaggerated histamine response since having COVID so I am working on decreasing any reactions to it if possible. I would like to take a soil-based. probiotic and wondered how they factor into the picture above since they aren't really mentioned other than the coagulans. I recently purchased the Just Thrive brand and I am waiting for them to arrive. Appreciate any insight you may have.

    Thank You,
    Julie

    1. Hi Julie - you are so welcome!
      Mostly what I am reading is that soil-based probiotics should help with histamine issues but some are concerned about them for other reasons--over population and causing infection. It seems to me that it depends on which one as well and that you need to look at whatever type you want to take and go from there. There's one blend, Enterogermina, that has been proven to help with histamines.

      There is thinking on both sides of the aisle about these---one trusted source says that SBOs are not natively in the human gut--so why would we want them there. It's a complicated topic for sure.

  2. Hello,
    Interesting article!!
    Have your tried Ortho Biotic by Ortho Molecular ?
    I am overwhelmed on what to try and do not want to make myself sick.
    Thanks

    1. Hi there! You are so welcome. I found it to be interesting as well.
      I have not tried that. What are your issues that you want to address?

      1. Hi Adrienne,
        I am having issues of being itchy and any new supplements I try thru my doctor have not agreed with me. The last Item I tried was the above probiotic and I did not feel well on that at all. I go itchy and stomach issues from it.
        I am looking for a probiotic that agrees with me and I am just starting the
        AIP diet (elimination) to see what I am having issues with.
        Thanks!

        1. Hi again. I understand. Are you using a natural minded practitioner, I assume?
          I just went over the ingredients for that and they shouldn't be an issue for the most part re: histamines but everyone is different.
          There are so many things involved when dealing with the body and how it reacts to things. One thing is hyper reactivity where one just reacts to so many things....needing the whole body to calm down.
          One idea might be to check out this post and the supplements at the bottom - and the exercises in the post as well.
          https://wholenewmom.com/gut-brain-axis/

          I have other thoughts and would be happy to help via email, but one nice thing is that they have a 1 year guarantee so if you have a problem you can return it and try something else.
          The whole system is meant to work on the gut / brain axis to help your whole body work better and that axis is about restoring calm. So it's possibly a good option. It's one of the foundations of what I am using now after years of searching.

          One of the hardest things of being chronically ill is all the money you spend at practitioners' offices and you can't return any of it. I was just going through bottles of stuff we purchased for me and my oldest, wondering what I can do with them. Sigh!

          I'm at adrienne@wholenewmom.com if you'd like to connect there. Here is fine too of course. Hang in there. There are typically answers to everything--it just can take a little trial and error. My husband said that to me over and over on my journey. It's not all on my site yet but I was sick for 10 years. So much has changed for my son and I. He had autism and 5+ life threatening food allergies and now he's on the Dean's List and is losing his allergies. We're pretty certain one is gone. Hugs.

  3. Thank you! What do you think about iHerb's HealthyBiom Feminine Support Probiotics? It has alot of the histamine reducing probiotic strains listed here while non of the histamine raising kinds.

    1. Hi there. You're welcome. I have never tried it so I can't speak to that. I have a friend who tells me that one of the only probiotics that survives the gut is this one. I haven't looked into the claims but it's worth checking out for sure. Code wholenewmom gets 15% off if you'd like to try it. Thanks for reading and sorry for the delay in responding :).

  4. Hi, you mentioned iHerb has histamine friendly probiotic but never said what they were, could you please let me know which ones to buy that are.
    Many thanks ?

    1. Hi there. There are links to Iherb and other companies in the post where I list ones that I found / have tried. I am likely going to add one more to the list. I'm looking up the strains but I think they are all coming out promising. I just started using it.

        1. Hi there. I'm glad you commented! I stopped using it b/c I wasn't sure about the company and they have wax in it. So there are other good options in the post now including a quadbiotic. I'm looking into the Fundamental set that the company puts out but I do like it. I just removed that link from the comment - thanks again!

    2. Iherb has kyo-dophilus 9. The company also make one with just 3 strains and both are histamine friendly.

  5. Adrienne, When I clicked on your GutPro link I get to Smidge Sensitive Probiotic. When I looked closer this is the new name for Gut Pro! You may want to update this!

    1. Hi there. I sooo appreciate you mentioning this. That was supposed to be changed but I had my son working on it and he must have missed that. Thank you!!

    2. Hi again - it should all be taken care of now. Thanks again for reading and for taking the time to let me know about that!

    1. Hi there. Sorry do you mean that you are asking if there's a contraindication to taking a low histamine probiotic after having COVID?

      1. Hi,
        Thanks for this informative post. I wonder if you have any information regarding the strain lactobacillus crispatus and histamine? I've read it's a very good probiotic strain for women to take as it adheres to the vaginal wall very well. However, I can't find any information if it's safe for histamine sensitivity. Any ideas?

          1. Oh that's really good information, thank you! At least I know it isn't making histamine issues worse. Thanks so much.

            1. You are so welcome. I can't say for sure but logically if it's helping to address allergy issues, it shouldn't be causing histamine issues. Best wishes and hope to see you around again!

              1. Hi again, a quick question regarding using probiotics for making homemade yoghurt. Yoghurt is normally off the menu with histamine intolerance but if you use histamine friendly strains for your starter culture, I assume it's perfectly fine to eat this yoghurt even though it's fermented as it won't produce histamine? Thoughts? Thanks!

                1. Hi there. Good question. From what I understand, the probiotics used to make the ferments are not the issue w/ the ferments--it's the ferment itself. So you need another workaround.

                  1. Thanks for your reply. The only thing I've seen about this is a couple of histamine food lists (I don't remember which ones but I'll try to track them down) which stated that yoghurt consumption was strain dependent. So by that logic I thought yoghurt made with non histamine producing bacteria would make histamine friendly yoghurt. But I'm not sure if the fermentation process itself produces histamine or only if histamine producing bacterial strains are used. Curious...but I would love to eat some yoghurt again!! Thanks.

                  2. You are so welcome. If you could please find that, that would be a huge help. I think it makes sense - but might not be accurate. I'm going to reach out in a few places as well.

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