Natural Antihistamines and their Food Sources

Structure of histamine

Structure of histamine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whether you suffer from hay fever, asthma, hives, or food allergies, histamine is taking a toll on your quality of life. If, in addition, you suffer from a chronic condition, you probably know that conventional medicine very quickly stops the fight. Admittedly, my son’s chronic hives have been characterized as incurable.The only treatment offered is a symptomatic one, in the hope that the body takes over and finds a way to heal itself. Chronic hives can last anywhere between 1 and 40 years (with an average of 5 years) and even when hives disappear, they very often come back later due to stresses or other life events. So what’s a mom to do? You guessed it, find all the scientific references supporting a diet, which will help in the fight against histamine.

What is histamine?

Histamine is a molecule, which triggers the inflammatory response in local immune reactions. It also acts as as a neurotransmitter. Histamine is produced by basophils and mast cells found in connective tissues. Histamine works by increasing the permeability of the capillaries to white blood cells and other proteins, and allows them to fight foreign elements detected in the body.

Natural sources of antihistamine

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid is an essential vitamin. The body can not synthesize it, nor does it store it. It has been shown to have antihistamine properties with doses of 2g/day (which resulted in decrease of 38% of histamine levels).

Vitamin C can be found in almost all fruits and vegetables, but the following have the highest levels. Fruits: Cantaloupe, citrus, such as orange and grapefruit, kiwi, mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, watermelon. Vegetables:  Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, green and red peppers, spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, tomatoes, Winter squash.


Flavonoids are molecules synthesized by plants, which contribute to the color of their fruits.

Quercetin reduces the production of histamine by the mast cells and basophils. It has been shown to be more effective than Cromolyn, a medication against chronic asthma. Good sources of Quercetin include citrus fruits, onions, garlic, apples, parsley, tea, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, legumes, berries, and wine.

Hesperetin inhibits the release of histamine from mast cells.Its activity was found to be comparable to azelastine, a commercially distributed antihistamine. Foods with high levels of hesperetin include citrus fruits, such as lemons, oranges and tangerines.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained from the diet. Studies showed that asthmatic patients benefited from diet supplementation in Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin C and Zinc. Foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids include cold-water fish, such as salmon, nuts and flax seeds.

Good food sources of Zinc are oysters, beef, crab, lobster, pork, baked beans, chicken, yogurt, cashews, chickpeas, cheese, oatmeal, milk, almonds, peas, flounder.

Natural anti inflammatory that help reduce allergic inflammation

The following spices have very interesting anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the general inflammation related to histamine release.

Red ginsengRed ginseng reduces histamine-induced vascular permeability and itching.

Ginger: Ginger has been shown to reduce the expression of markers of inflammation involved in a variety of inflammatory diseases including cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, diabetes, allergy, asthma, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, psoriasis, septic shock, and AIDS.

Turmeric/curcuma: The active ingredient of turmeric, curcumin, has been shown to have anti microbial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. 

With all those fruits, vegetables and spices, I am now on a quest to have my son medication-free (and hives-free) as soon as possible. I will keep you posted on the progress of this strategy.

References used in this article:

Johnston CS, Martin LJ, Cai X., Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis. J Am Coll Nutr. 1992 Apr;11(2):172-6.

Lakhanpal, P., Rai, D.K., Quercetin: A Versatile Flavonoid, Internet Journal of Medical Update, Vol. 2, No. 2, Jul-Dec 2007

Lee N.K. Choi S.H. Park S.H. Park E.K. · Kim D.H. Antiallergic Activity of Hesperidin Is Activated by Intestinal Microflora,Pharmacology 2004 (Aug);71:174–180

Biltagi, M.A., Baset, A.A., Bassiouny, M., Kasrawi, M.A., Attia, M., Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C and Zn supplementation in asthmatic children: a randomized self-controlled study, Acta Paediatrica,  2009 (Apr) 98, 4, 737–742.

Samukawa K, Izumi Y, Shiota M, Nakao T, Osada-Oka M, Miura K, Iwao H., Red ginseng inhibits scratching behavior associated with atopic dermatitis in experimental animal models. J Pharmacol Sci. 2012;118(3):391-400. 

Mashhadi NS, Ghiasvand R, Askari G, Hariri M, Darvishi L, Mofid MR., Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. Int J Prev Med. 2013 Apr;4(Suppl 1):S36-42.

R.S. Ramsewak, R.S., DeWitt, D.L.,Nair, M.G.,Cytotoxicity, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of Curcumins I–III from Curcuma longa, Phytomedicine, 2000 (Jul), 7, 4, 303–308.

Copyright (see copyright page): © “Food, Science and Health” ( by Barbara Cerf-Allen, 2013 All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: I am not advocating any of the above mentioned diets, nor am I making any claim about their usefulness for your specific condition. I am not a medical doctor and I am not giving medical advice. This blog is about sharing scientific information and my personal anecdotal experience,

2 thoughts on “Natural Antihistamines and their Food Sources

  1. I am going to try to incorporate some of the foods you mentioned in my diet, I have been swelling up for a while now, I cut gluten from my diet and it cut the swelling in half, hopefully this will help more.

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