Histamines are present in many foods, especially those that have been aged. Foods with the highest histamine levels are aged cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, meats, salami, bacon, wine, sauerkraut, pickles, soy sauce, and vinegar. However, they are also found in some fresh fruits and vegetables like spinach, tomatoes, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, eggplant, and citrus fruits. They can also form in meats that have been ground, cyovac’d, canned, smoked, frozen, and stored in the refrigerator after being cooked.
Some people – like myself – have histamine intolerance, and ingesting even the smallest amount can produce a wide variety of unpleasant and disabling symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
- Pruritus (itching of the skin, eyes, ears, and nose)
- Urticaria (hives)
- Angioedema (swelling of the face, mouth, and throat)
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Tachycardia (racing heart rate)
- Chest pain
- Panic attack
- Asthma attack
- Nasal constriction
- Flushing of the face and skin
- Nasal mucus production
- Conjunctivitis (irritated and watery eyes)
- Migraines and other types of headaches
- Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Vertigo (dizziness)
- Balance problems
- Irritability and impatience
- Digestive upset
- Heartburn or gastro-esophageal reflux
- Nausea and vomiting
The cause of histamine intolerance may be multifaceted. One of the most likely causes is a deficiency of one or both of the enzymes responsible for breaking down and eliminating histamines from the body. As Maintz and Novak explain in their comprehensive review article,
“Histamine intolerance results from a disequilibrium of accumulated histamine and the capacity for histamine degradation. Histamine is a biogenic amine that occurs to various degrees in many foods. In healthy persons, dietary histamine can be rapidly detoxified by amine oxidases, whereas persons with low amine oxidase activity are at risk of histamine toxicity. Diamine oxidase (DAO) is the main enzyme for the metabolism of ingested histamine. It has been proposed that DAO, when functioning as a secretory protein, may be responsible for scavenging extracellular histamine after mediator release. Conversely, histamine N-methyltransferase, the other important enzyme inactivating histamine, is a cytosolic protein that can convert histamine only in the intracellular space of cells.”
Many things can potentially interfere with the production of Diamine oxidase and N-methyltransferase. According to Dr. Amy Meyers in her blog post on this subject, these including Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, Inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut, gastointestinal infections, genetic mutations, mitochondrial dysfunction, and a wide variety of medications such as pain relievers, antidepressants, immune modulators, and even certain antihistamines.
The most powerful thing someone with histamine intolerance can do is to simply avoid foods that are known to be high in histamines. However, this can be a real challenge for someone who wants to do a low carb ketogenic diet or even a zero carb diet, as high-histamine foods often play a central role in low-to-no carb diets. And, if you are unaware that you are histamine intolerant, following the food recommendations espoused by most of the low and zero carb advocates can leave you feeling down right awful. When I first embarked upon a low carb ketogenic diet and then a more restricted zero carb approach, this is precisely what happened to me because almost everything I ate was high very in histamines. The only thing that did not make me feel too bad was raw egg yolks and heavy cream! I knew and felt that what my body really wanted was red meat, but every time I tried it I got a terrible migraine, severe digestive upset, and lots of mucus.
Fortunately, I did not have to flounder around in the dark for to long. Amber, a Zero Carb blogger with food sensitivities similar to mine referred me to an excellent article on histamine intolerance by Dr. Georgia Ede who – incidentally – also has a long history of bizarre reactions to a great many foods herself and eats a mostly meat diet as a result. I could not believe what I was reading! I had practically every symptom on the list. It was an incredible relief to finally understand why I was reacting badly to so many foods, but it was also stunning to me that no doctor I have consulted during the past 20 years every suggested histamine intolerance (or salicylate intolerance) as a possible cause of all my problems.
Now, the only thing I needed to do was find a source of unaged meat. However, that is easier said than done. It took me a few weeks, but I finally found a small local butcher shop that carries fresh-frozen, unaged, grassfed veal. It is likely that there are still some histamines present in this meat, as histamines continue to form even while meat sits passively in frozen storage. But the level must be considerably less because I respond to it way better than any of the other meats I tried previously. Discovering that I am histamine intolerant is just as huge as discovering that I am salicylate intolerant. It has provided me with enormous clarity regarding the path I need to follow, and I can finally move forward with confidence.
It may be possible to restore one’s ability to properly metabolize histamines, but the process is complex and may take years to accomplish. Nevertheless, if you feel that you may have histamine intolerance, I encourage you to read Joseph Cohen’s comprehensive blog post outlining the possible avenues for investigation. One of the easiest things you can do is a trial run with DAO enzymes to see if they make any difference in how you feel. I am planning to experiment with this myself in the near future. But for now, I am simply going to seek out and eat only those meats that have not been subjected to any intentional aging process. It is possible that my gut will heal on this diet, and one day I will be able to eat a wider variety of meats. Time will tell.
“Histamine, tyramine, cadaverine, spermine, spermidine, putrescine, tryptamine, and agmatine are considered to be the most important biogenic amines occurring in foods ”
true… but even joe cohen is clueless WHY this happens, WHAT is deranging the intricate and complex regulatory system
I have found that jawbone cavitations are most of the time the root cause of histamine hypersensitivity. I have my patients remove all root.canals teeth (always badly infected with huge production and download of the abovementioned poisons) and have all the extraction sites, wisdoms on top, re-opened and curetted, ozonated and finally neuraltherapy (procaine) applied to the clean bone to restore cellular and meridians function..
after this job is done (by a specifically trained neurofocal dentist, like this one, http://naturaldentistry.us/holistic-dentistry/meridian-tooth-chart-from-encinitas-dentist/
stay away from others!!) , ,ALL ALLERGIES usually disappear within weeks or months, having freed the body from its toxic, metabolic burden that is “SHORTING” up a gazillion of enzymatic patways, histamine included..
few NAET treatments with histamine vial and sensitive food groups might help to speed up the process .
i have seen hundreds of cases, with pretty awesome results when the job, diet and dental work is managed properly.. being already on a zero carb diet is the best starting point!!
I suggest reading
cr. munro hall book : Toxic dentistry exposed
below: dr. adler about wisdoms, the worst offenders… when still in or when taken out as video above…
Thanks for your comments and links, Ricky. In my case, I believe is started with a GI infection I acquired in India at age 16. That, coupled with a vegan diet high in wheat, lead to the expression of Celiac disease. I have no root canals and very few fillings (no more Mercury). I do have a friend who has severe mastocytosis and many of the same issues as me who had extensive work done for jaw bone cavitations where his wisdom teeth had been removed. It helped for a while, but the benefits did not last more than about a year. He then had more surgery, but experienced no benefits this time. As far as NAET is concerned, I did that for 8 months without any benefit. But they are all issues worth exploring.
yes… as a NAET therapist i can now state that without ruling out all the dental issues, such technique is often useless.
once cavitations and wisdoms are out , neuraltherapy has been applied to jump-start teeth meridians, works like magic! :-O
sadly, I am probably one of the few that made the connection… most others abandon naet after a while, as I almost did.
i now use it only AFTER dental job, (if needed) or in the (very rare) cases non needing dental care.
if your friend did not follow cavitation with neuraltherapy , no results, sorry… missing the last crucial step often times is fatal for missing the finish line…
do you still have wisdoms in your mouth? even if apparently “normal”, they affect heavily metabolism, small intestine, blood count, circulation.
My wisdom teeth never came in. They are still small buds underneath the gum.
bingo……you just described the “impacted third molar scenario” …the worst kind.
the trigeminal nerve AND 4 meridians (hearth, small intestine, large intestine and lungs) are literally soaked (hence disrupted ) by the inflammatory mediators and metabolites produced by the impacted peiodontal ligament. such inflammatory mediators serve the (often fruitless) purpose to have the wisdoms erupt, in such case condemning the bearer to a lifelong string of health issues.
the material below might bring you a bit more clarity….
Thank you for the link, I will read up on this and check into it.
Really fascinating. I’m a medical student who has mast cell activation syndrome and a history of teeth extraction, retractive headgear and impacted wisdom teeth.
I would love to speak to you, do you have a website?
For what it’s worth, I also wore headgear for about 4 years prior to getting braces and I, too, have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. My wisdom teeth never came in and I have never had them removed because they cause no observable problem… but who knows?
I hope you still get these messages here. I have huge issues with my histamine intolerance. I almost ruled out all foods that causes problems (for over a year now) but still I have daily issues. I think it´s not the main cause that my body reacts so violently.
My wisdom teeth have been removed when I was younger (around the age of 12). I´m 28 right now. In addition to that, four more teeth in the front has been removed to make place for the teeth to grow. Do you think it has something to do with the histamine intolerance I´m suffering from for 2-3 years now ?
I agree. Also contracted Hep A during war in Bosnia and since have histamine inrolerance plus allergies. No root canals.
Have you (or anyone else reading) looked into Ehlers Danlos Syndrome? Mcas, mastocytosis and General hyper-response to allergens is common. There are many types so not all symptoms listed are for each, with wide variance. Im only brimging it up as it may be beneficial to someone here with no connection in dots. Often comes with migraine, tmj, hypermobility, soft translucent skin, autoimmune diseases are common, anxiety disorders, adhd and sensory issues, digestive issues.. There’s a whole list if you google rccx theory and disease overlaps. There’s a good wikepedia article on the theory. I have a suspected cerebrospinal fluid leak amd coffee drinking helps so ive always wondered if enemas would benefit..however prolaps of organs is also common and id hate to encouraye a lazy bowel; unfortunately everyone is prine to that with long term disruption of naturally emptying bowel movements plus with my personal risk. I dont know if Im notified of replies but Im always willing to discuss these issues with anyone as ive found more lost EDSers on chat forums without them knowing it! Sending love and health xo
Yes, I’ve looked into it and don’t have the symptoms. I do have autoimmune “something” going one per recent tests, but my rheumatologist says I don’t fit neatly into any box at this point. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Dana…I have Histamine issues and many of the symptoms of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome but have not been tested for it. I don’t think I have full blown but I and my children are hyper-mobile and have many of the other symptoms. I am registered with Gene Chat ( https://community.gene.chat/ ) and get some interesting information there. Just got a link to this MCAD + forum that is chock full of info.
and includes a Food compatibility lists for the histamine elimination diet like I’ve never seen before. This site is really comprehensive. I just got it today and will have to take some time to review it. There is also a discussion on Ehlers Danlos.
Ricky, I am hoping you are still active on this site. I am going through this very thing. I have had 2 operations so far and have 2 to go. I have been following up with ozone injections weekly into the cavitation sites and am starting the procaine this week. Apparently my dentist does the procaine into acupunture meridians from the jaw down through the neck. everything I eat makes my throat raw and ear plug up. I feel like I have strep throat and an ear infection24/7. On top of that every single time I eat I feel sick. I have started the all meat diet with the tiniest bit of relief. Is there any advise you can give to push things along a little quicker. This has been going on about ten years and has gotten really bad the last three. Thanks in advance
PS. My problems all started from an accident where I broke several back teeth had root canals that became infected.
Wow! That sound like quite an ordeal. I hope the surgeries help you.
I am not a doctor but do have no root canals, no wisdom teeth and a vast majority of the symptoms listed. Any insult in the body can cause mastocytosis like symptoms, if you have a Mast Cell Disorder, like MCAS.
Often, higher doses of anti-Histamine, healing histamine diets, and supplements like Quercetin can help.
I only learned about Mastocytosis and MCAS last year. I have read Dr. Lawrence Afrin’s book. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the underlying cause of all my food intolerance issues. Thank you for your input.
For future readers, check out MTHFR.net, histamine intolerance is usually caused by MTHFR and Dao genetic mutations leading to a lack of ability to digest or clear histamine from the body. Not your dental work.
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There seems to be a lot of contributing factors. Chronic jaw infections can certainly play a role also.
Thank you for this amazing website and all your hard work to make it happen.
As with yours, my own health is very sensitive to histamines. I have been looking for a local butcher who has recently slaughtered meat. Thus far, none.
Once I find one, I might need to buy in bulk and freeze most of it. I am wondering if putting meat in the freezer will slow down the growth of histamines.
Also, I wonder if freezing meat causes its quality to be degraded somehow.
Might you have any insights into these things?
Again, thank you very much,
Hi Todd, yes freezing slows histamine production considerably. I buy my meat two days after slaughter and freeze it immediately. I have not had any problems with this. There probably is some loss of quality to the meat once it is frozen, but for me the histamine issue is much more important. If you live liver, you could always try to get your hands on some fresh grassfed liver and eat it for extra nutrition. Thanks for your questions.
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I just found a local butcher who has freshly slaughtered meat. It is from lamb. The fattiest selection they had was shoulder. I bought five pounds to try it out.
Unfortunately, it was an un-chewable tangle of tendons and bones. Also, it was not nearly as fat as, say, a rib eye from beef.
I wonder if you might share which low histamine cuts work best for you?
Thank you again for trying this zero plant food approach, as well as for all your hard work to share your discoveries with us!
Hi Todd, I have found a butcher who gets fresh pork in once a week. They are able to grind it and put it in the freezer within two days of the animal being slaughtered. They portion it into 1 lb. packages for easy use. I have not been reacting to this meat. I thaw a package in warm water just before use. I add butter to my meat for extra fat because that seem to work better for me. Nest time, maybe you could have your butcher take all the toughest parts and grind them for you and package in meal size portions for you. Your other option would be to buy lamb shoulder chops and pan fry them. The main thing is to not cook more than you think you will eat because any left overs will become high in histamines by the next day. Also, the meat needs to go in the freezer as you bring it home unless you plan to eat it immediately. Long slow cooking, like in a crock pot, will also create more histamines. Ground meat creates histamines really fast too, so if you are buying meat from a fresh lamb, don’t buy ground meat that has been sitting in the case. Have the butcher grind it for you fresh, and then get it in the freezer as quickly as possible. I hope this helps. Esmee
Hi Esmee, thanks for such a useful article and blog in general. One thing I don’t quite understand is why grinding or mincing results in higher rates of histamine production – can you point to some other articles or research papers dealing with this? Does it make a really big difference? I’ve tried searching around elsewhere for information but haven’t found much. Thanks, Joe.
It causes a lot more surface area exposure to oxygen and bacteria. Histamines are created by bacteria on the surface of the meat. So mincing and grinding creates more surface area for bacteria to reach. If you buy meat from a market that is already ground, it has a sour taste. But if you buy a whole piece of chuck roast from the market and grind it fresh yourself just before eating, it has no sour taste. Plus, butchers often make ground beef out of many scraps which are smaller and have also been exposed to more oxygen and bacteria, and thus have more histamines before even going into the grinder.
Thanks very much. I have noticed that sour taste of pre-minced raw meat, even when the butchers have said it was only minced a day ago.
If the bacteria only exist on the surface, surely storage in an antibacterial liquid would prevent histamine formation? And when large chunks of meat are aged and the outer layer is scraped off, would that not remove almost all of the histamine? Do the amines diffuse into the meat or are they only present on the surface?
Cutting off a thin outer layer of the whole piece of meat does reduce histamines. Sometimes washing it is sufficient. I would never eat anything soaked in an antibacterial solution though.
Nor would I eat meat soaked in an antibacterial solution. Butchers usually do trim the outer layer off aged meat I think. It seems the histamine-producing enzymes can diffuse deeper into the meat from the surface bacteria.
Cooking is supposed to destroy the enzymes but it seems the rate of histamine formation is even higher afterwards compared with raw meat. Thanks, Joe.
Yes, this is my personal experience.
Do you know if pure fat, eg. suet, contains significant levels of histamines? Same rules apply regarding ageing and mincing? (I eat a lot of raw minced suet.) Thanks, Joe.
Suet is specifically fat that is around the kidneys. It is unique in texture, very dry, dense, and hard. I have tried to grind it in my own grinder with leaner cuts and it clogs up the machine and shuts it down. It has a bit of a gamey taste like the kidneys themselves. I have tried it and do not do well with it. Organ meats are high in histamines and I believe suet may be also simply due to its proximity to them. Tallow is cooked, rendered beef fat and it is very high in histamines in my experience. Raw beef fat from beef muscle meat, if fresh, seems to be fairly low in histamines. It all depends on how long the meat was aged.
Yes, suet has a distinct taste and texture. It is hard but less rubbery and so very easy to chew, similar consistency to cheese. I’ve found eating body fat really causes digestive problems and usually unpallatable, although the muscle fat that comes with steaks is fine. However the steaks I get are not nearly fatty enough to provide enough energy so I eat them with suet in a roughly 1:1 ratio. The taste of suet takes some getting used to but after a while you can eat large amounts raw. It is unfortunately pre-minced by butcher which may mean high rates of histamine production, but only stored for around 2 days at cool (not freezing) temperatures. I had assumed all fat would be low in histamines because there is less protein available to convert to histamine but perhaps this is mistaken. Why are organ meats high in histamines? I was under the belief that all animal products (whether meat, fat, internal organs etc.) had virtually no histamines when fresh and the levels depended on storage time and temperature, and processing.
I don’t really know where I would get sufficient amounts of fat aside from suet, so am a bit stuck.
If you are eating suet and feeling good, then I see no reason why you should discontinue doing so. I wish it worked for me! I find there is a big difference in the digestability of CHOICE vs. PRIME grade with the New York Strip Loin I buy from Costco. The fat is different between these two grades even though it is exactly the same cut of meat. I have no idea why, but the PRIME feels softer and gentler from top to bottom as it travels through my digestive tract.
I’ll reply to your comment here since I don’t seem to be able to directly. I find I can eat quite a bit of suet but it can cause serious digestive and bowel problems. I’m trying to find find steaks that are high in fat but not the really popular, expensive cuts like rib-eye steak. After searching online it seems that any rib steak is high in fat (eg. short ribs) so I will be trying to get some more of that. Tongue seems to be another high fat, inexpensive cut. Chuck steaks seem to have moderate fat content while loin and rump / round is moderate to low in fat. There are no choice or prime distinctions where I live, but it’s all from a grass-fed local supplier.
If you buy the whole New York Strip Loin in bulk from Costco, it will be untrimmed and have all the fat that normally comes with it.
Unfortunately I don’t live in the US so no Costco here, nor anything called New York Strip Loin.
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Another part of the histamine puzzle may be this:
How long will it take to heal histamine intolerance and how long will it take before
fermented veggies can be introduced? Are there any specific supplements you suggest
to help with this intolerance?
It is very individual how long it takes to heal. Keep testing if you are getting more
tolerant by trying to eat tomato, eggplant or spinach before trying to eat fermented
vegetables. I believe that it is the abnormal gut flora that produces excessive amounts of
histamine and also impairs enzymes which break the histamine down in the body.
This is from the FAQ’s on the site of dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, author of the GAPS program. She advises to use the GAPS dietary protocol to eliminate histamine producing bacteria from the gut. Elswhere in this document she tells that she has a number of patients that are very healthy following a no plant diet.
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Another excellent article. I remember u saying after u fasted u felt u were not as sensitive
Yes, Robyn, and that remained true.
What i deiscover its we break our gut with antinutrient oxolate (veggies) this lead to foods intolerances like histamine. All of this lead to poor enzymes productions. For protein break down you should use digestives enzymes supplements. All the “ase” one with bromelain and betaïne. Do fasting and intermitent fasting to let the body rest and rebuild enzymes
Unfortunately, none of your suggestions worked for me.
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I cannot find any information on the histamine content of beef tallow. I know aged beef has more histamine than some people can tolerate but I am wondering if that is true of beef fat alone. I want to try restricting histamine from my diet but would like to cook lamb in beef tallow if it is suitable as I have a good supply of tallow on hand.
If it is not low in histamine I will use butter instead.
Thanks for all the great information.
Hi Derek, unfortunately I do not know the answer to your question. I have wondered about that myself because I do not personally do well with tallow or any rendered fat. Butter that has been cultured can be very high in histamines as well. It makes me feel really bad. I have never actually tried uncultured butter for comparison. I have just been sticking to rare chuck roast steaks and not adding extra fat. That has been working pretty well for me.
cyovac’d ? I am not sure what this means .I have seen you use it several times .
Cryovac’d is when the meat is wrapped in plastic and the oxygen us removed. Pretty much all meat sold in supermarkets today arrives cryovac’d.
So butter is low in histamines ?
I suspect that cultured butter could be quite high in histamines. I do not do at all well with it. I am not sure about uncultured butter.
something is messing me up. I am trying to figure out if its eggs. I feel like crap for a couple days. I only am eating meat, eggs and water right now. Esmee, should i cut the eggs out and see if that helps?
Yes, I would definitely try that. Eggs can be problematic for reasons beyond histamines as well. Please read: http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/06/whys-behind-autoimmune-protocol-eggs.html
Was reading through past posts in your blog (which is a treasure) and saw your post on the benefits of the raw egg whites. I also have a problem with histamine and must tread carefully. I seem to be doing fine with a raw egg yolk at a meal. My question is, would you recommend adding the raw white? Also, if I met, have you tried to yourself? And with what results?
It’s really individual. You will just have to experiment. I have tried eggs every which way and just don’t feel good on them unfortunately.
I only eat eggs yolk.
Esmee, I tried posting once but the page disappeared. I hope I’m not reposting. Anyway I’m 30 days in and doing quote well except for gerd and histamine issues which are probably responsible for the gerd. Anyway, my question is have you had any relief from this horrible histamine issue. Does broth help? Does fasting help? Will time cure this? I can only find out what it is and can’t find anyone who has actually cured it. Any thoughts?
I did a 16 water fast about 8 months after starting ZC, and it significantly increased my tolerance for histamines. I am now able to eat beef from a regular market without getting a migraine. The GERD mayor may not be related to histamines. Many people have found that they simply do not do well with rendered or overly cooked fats and meats. Dairy can also be a problem for some in this regard. Can you give me more details of what you are eating?
Thank you for the answer. What I am eating exactly is alot of steak with fat (blue rare). I have a fair amount of bacon and sausage sort of a side dish. Occasionally I will have sausage patties for lunch but lately I’ve been intermittent fasting every other day.
I have eliminated all dairy and eggs they make me sick
Sausage and bacon are both very high in histamines. I cannot get near them. The best thing to do is just fresh fatty beef and water for 30 days. This will give you a baseline from which to test other ZC foods.
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Did you ever try a DAO enzyme? I have problems with Histamine intolerance and I want to try this but I’m not sure which brand I should go with. I like to be very selective when it comes to supplements as there are some very unscrupulous companies out there and I’d like to not waste my money on something that either doesn’t work or is filled with junk. Any help would be appreciated.
They seem to help some people but not others. I have not tried them because I never respond well to the fillers used in capsules or tablets.
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Try finding a halal or kosher butcher.
By law, they must sell meat within 24 hours of slaughter.
Any city with large moslem or large Orthodox Jewish communities should have a butcher. Lamb isn’t usually aged, so that’s a safe choice.
But they probably won’t be grass fed, organic. If you live in NYC or Toronto, you might find grass fed kosher meat, but otherwise, you can’t even find it on the West Coast.
I ‘ve found kosher pastured turkey at Sprouts. Not that I’m a big fan of ground turkey, just paasing along the info.
Is there a way to improve your histamine tolerance? I read some people getting better reactions after fasting, is that documented?
Fasting seems to empty my histamine bucket and give me a higher tolerance for a period of time.
sorry if this is a stupid question. I have killer seasonal allergies. completely fine in the winter. spring summer fall, unbarebly itchy throat, sneezing, snotty mess. so im not sure, are you saying that what I eat can help alleviate this too? (been LC 6months/preparing to begin ZC journey!)
Histamines present in aged foods are a different thing than histamines produced in our bodies. But it is possible that by eliminating all plant foods from you diet, your seasonal pollen allergies will become less. Only way to find out is to try it.
I’ve had mysterious health issues since teens, now in my 30s. I’m under the care of several brilliant doctors here in Boston. Most recent theory was systemic mastocytosis after severe reaction (bone pain and CRP of 160) after infection/penicillin/sugary high gluten food combination. (Also have history of aseptic meningitis after sugar/alcohol/sun/antibiotic combination.) I also am responding well to high dose antihistamine (Zyrtec). I react to mastocytosis triggers and have many of the typical reaction symptoms. Bone marrow biopsy was normal and disproved systemic mastocytosis. Young son has same symptoms along with neuromuscular issues since birth, also unknown origin. Does this sound familiar to you who have histamine intolerance? Or does this some more complex/different? We were referred to genetic center at Boston Children’s to look into what genes my son and I have in comparison to other two sons and husband. Any ideas/tips for us? I gained a lot from this post and comments section. Thank you!
I only learned about Mast Cell Disorders last year. I read Dr. Lawrence Afrin’s book and an now 100% convinced that I have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. I am still not officially diagnosed, but it is the only thing that makes any sense to me after 30 years of reacting to pretty much all foods on the planet.
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Do you have histamine problems with raw meat? I mean some people cured their histamine intolerance with amino acid histidine – if you eat raw meat you should be getting a lot of histidine unless you don’t digest meat well even raw – not very likely. So histamine should not be a problem with raw meat and raw fish also.
BTW when you write about raw beef do you mean every time only beef or also use the word beef for veal meat?
Histadine turns into histamines, so more is not better from my understanding. And I don’t see how it would be higher in raw meat versus cooked meat? Its an amino acid and should not increase or decrease upon cooking. That being said, i have eaten only raw beef for a almost 2 years that i grind fresh just prior to eating and it has made no difference in my ability to tolerate higher levels of histamines in my diet. I do not eat veal.
Joe Cohen’s link no longer works. He has significantly changed his site and the services he offers (no more podcast) at Self-hacked. Too bad. I can’t even locate Histamine Intolerance information on his site anywhere. If anyone else knows where it is…I’d appreciate it. I was half-way through the information when it disappeared. Thanks
I’m trying to find a recommended DAO supplement. Like Esmee I have problems with the fillers, but I would like to know if my issue is low DAO…I do have SNP’S. Dr. Janice Joneja said, “Currently the only food grade DAO supplement is from Umbrellux and can be purchased directly from them (or Amazon). I checked it out and it too has fillers – lots of them. It cost $65 for 60 – dose is 1 – 15minutes before meals. Dr. Joneja is considered an authority on Histamine Intolerance. She is from Canada and has a very basic book to educate the lay public. “The Beginner’s Guide to Histamine Intolerance.” Very basic. Her website: http://www.allergynutrition.com
I have never tried any DAO supplements for this reason.
I finally broke down and ordered the DIEM Labs Umbrellux Dao 10,000 Hdu 60 Veg Caps. I could not afford to take these on a regular basis, and do not know how the additional ingredients will affect me…but I thought it would give me some diagnostic information from which to proceed…and if it works (I will take one and eat a high histamine food) I will use them for special occasions and then go back to my normal diet. Right now, like you, I am eating grass-fed-ground beef mostly raw. I put one or two raw “egg yolk only” on top. I seem to do well on that. I also have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which complicates diagnosis because when my levels are low, I have additional problems. I am in the process of adjusting right now. Something causes them to go off on a very regular basis.
I will let you know if I have any success with the DAO. Thank you for all you do.
I was pretty excited when I got the Umbrellex DAO supplements and tried supplementing and eating 2 strips of bacon. I had the usual symptoms of belching and acid reflux. I don’t remember what I ate next but I took two Umbrellex instead of the 1. I had a very severe and familiar reaction which I would attribute to the fillers. I recognized the symptoms which included pain and involved more than my digestive system. I do not think DAO will work for me. Either because of the fillers, of which there are many, or because my problem is NOT a deficiency of DAO. Not enough information to know. I know when I used to have a Vodka and Seltzer, I had pretty serious reactions. My understanding is Alcohol interferes with the creation of DAO. Stopping that one drink a day helped tremendously. Right now…I am willing to eat and drink restrictively to feel better after having felt so badly for most of my life…but it does get boring. Thankful I have a community so I do not feel like a freak. 🙂
Hello ! I’m a seasonal zerocarber and I discovered that aged beef could be a problem to me.
This was the third year I was entering into spring being on ZC and the third year with a very, very high hay fever despite all antihistaminics I could take. When I switched to keto / LCHF my hay fever dropped in two or three days.
Everytime I eat beef it seems to grow again.
Either I turned allergic to beef meat (nooooo!!!) or I eat it too aged. In France we don’t like very fresh beef meat and the best and most expensive meat is aged for 30-40 days or even more. Very fresh meat comes generally from intensive farming (poor quality, poor taste) and good meat is at least aged 10 days.
Another problem, mainly with beef but also with butter : stomach burning or reflux. Probably in gastric acid production in excess because the anti-reflux medication I take (in french : “inhibiteur de la pompe à protons”) helps a lot. At first it would happen only after a very big or very fat meal of meat (adding butter to the meat when it is too lean – it is often the case, “fat cuts” of beef don’t exist here unless you buy Kobe beef meat), later after a coffee (but not after a decaffeinated coffee), and more recently after every food or coffee intake (even decaffeinated). This is not a problem I had in the past, before keto and ZC diets. It started after some months in ZC.
I do much better with conventional beef that has been cryovac’d (vacuum sealed in plastic without air) soon after slaughter, than I do grassfed beef that is hung and dry aged for even a week. I also cannot eat butter. Most butter is cultured which makes it high in histamines. I also don’t do well with too much cooked or rendered fat. I eat only raw ground beef or very light seared “blue rare” steak.
Thank you for your reply. I always eat my beef blue rare. I have found cryovac’d meat only once in my long life :-).
This is not something that can be found in France, excepting for lamb imported from New Zealand… and ground beef. It’s possible to order beef from farmers, who send it cryovac’d… but probably aged before being cryovac’d.
Maybe I should try with raw ground beef (cryovac’d). I love it raw or with 30 sec cooking on each side.
Did you hear about last “discovery” ? The said “carcinogenicity” of red meat could be due to heme iron in excess.
There is no evidence that fresh meat causes cancer.
Hello! I am histamine intolerant as well, and have successfully eaten only raw meat after reading your article. I am feeling much better physically and mentally.
Curious, have you noticed a difference in histamine formation based on how you store your meat? Do you freeze your NY roast after purchasing it from Costco, or slice it as you go from the refrigerator?
I have done it both ways. If I slice as I go, then I start to react after about 4 days. If you have someone else to share it with and you gonthrough a while roast fairly quickly, then you might get away with it. Be sure to keep as much air away from it as possible. It the oxygen that allows the bacteria to proliferate on the surface of the meat and it’s the bacteria that produce the histamines.
Hi . I began zc 8 months ago mainly due to psoriasis. I had it for 10 years.
After blood test we discover I have low dao, so histamines are a problem. Along this years I ve tried everything from vegan to supllements, to paleo to zc. try daosin for a while.
now I quit coffee and cheeses (seems to redness my skin) and also bone broth.
i just take water, beef and green tea. seems to feel better. also pork and chicken seems to give me probelms.
my illness seems a complicate one. now I BUY beef as fresh as posible, but i don´t know when it was cut it.
also I don´t know if butter or olive oil are good. or maybe just put in on the grill?
any advice is welcome since I am very sensible.
Do you have access to Costco? If you can buy beef in bulk cryovac’d packages, rather than pre-cut steaks, you may do better with it. The PRIME grade New York Strip and Ribeye both have a lot of fat because the bulk packages are untrimmed. You can open the packages at home, cut into steaks, then repackage individually with a vacuum sealer, and freeze. That will reduce histamine formation.
no I live in spain. no costco here. we have aldi, and they sell steaks/ ribeye in cryovac, but I don’t know if its the same.
when I go to the butcher they cut me the steaks but I don’t know how much histamine is in there.
sometimes I scary of everything. now quitting the few spices and tea that I use. I’ll try to use the grease of beef to cook. I don’t know what else can I do.
also what do you think about chicken?
Chicken is often much lower in histamines because it is not aged and can be purchased soon after slaughter. However, it is low in fat and not nearly as satisfying as red meat.
Hi ! I met a local butcher, sells beef which are packaged in 3-4 days, in big bulk packages. this will be ok for no histamines?
That sounds promising, but the only way to know is to try it.
Hello Esmée, thanks for all your info and advice. Much appreciated. I am a month into the carnivorous diet and unfortunately I think I may have a histamine issue. Throughout the month I’d have headaches come and go but these last few days have been very stressful. I don’t see other options besides doing this diet. I’m thinking that bone broth could be the culprit. Is there a definitive way to know If I have DAO deficiency or I’d have to know the root cause of my gut issues? I’ve also read that a lot of meat just causes an increase in histamines in the body. I eat 2 + pounds of meat a day. Rib eyes and chuck steaks cooked rare in butter. Occasional bacon and eggs. Early on in the month certain ground beef would give me these terrible headaches and I figured it was just adapting to more fat. Again, it’s weird to think this diet isn’t for me because there have been some positive things. I did notice that packaged not fresh ground beef gave me the worse headaches but is this diet just not for me? That would be very troublesome. My sleep hasn’t been great either and that is a symptom of histamine intolerance. Headaches and sleep disturbance are my only symptoms. Is there a basic way to test for dao deficiency? I will probably cut out the bone broth in the mornings. Are there any dangers to this diet if I keep getting these headaches? I get my steaks at Ralph’s in California as I can’t afford elsewhere. But do you have any recommendations? DAO supplements? Sorry to throw all this at you, I’m just really trying to find answers. Thanks so much
Ground beef is often wuite high in histamines. I’ve found two local markets that make it fresh daily from from beef and I can eat that without too much trouble. But in general, I don’t do well with ground beef. Additionally, beef is aged and can be high in histamines, even as steak. I do okay with the whole cryovac’d New York Strip Loin or Ribeye PRIME grade. I buy it, open package, cut into steaks, vacuum seal individually, and freeze. Cryovacing removes oxygen and prevwnts bacterial growth. Bacteria create the histamines. There’s no test for histamine intolerance other than uour reactions to foods that are known to be high in histamines. Some seem to benefit from DAO supplements. I’ve never tried them because they all have fillers I react to.
Is it dangerous if I continue to eat and have headaches or will I adapt and possibly produce more DAO if that is the issue? Have you heard of people restoring their DAO production? In your experience does healing the gut restore the capacity to tolerate more meat? In my case I feel like I have a constant headache and my sleep has been off? Does that sound like a histamine intolerance or just part of adaptation even though it has been a month. You’ve had luck with fasting. Do you think shorter fasts could be beneficial as well? Thanks again
Headaches can also be caused by too little fat. What mix of ground beef ate you eating? Do you eat the fat that cooks out of the meat? If it’s a histamine problem, i have not seen histamine tolerance improve in myself or others on ZC. The only thing that helps me is fasting because it empties my histamine “bucket” and stabilizes mast cells (which degranulate and release histamines endogenously), this giving me the ability to tolerate more histamines for a time.
I dont think your headaches are dangerous in anf of themselves, but I do think they are telling you that something is not right:
Long-term histamine sufferer. Just wanted to share my XP.
At early age (around 7-8) I had terrible problems with eczema on both feet. It was so severe, I couldn’t put my socks on. Did skin pick tests, had lots of positive results, but do not remember which ones. Nevertheless, even avoiding the respective allergens, I had almost no improvement. Eventually I was reffered to a retired doctor, who was probably around his 80s. What he did was talk to me for 5 minutes and scratch my wrist with a tooth pick. After 10mins he looked at the scratch ant told me to stop the following foods for 6 months: milk (not yogurt), goat and sheep products, citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, sea food. That was it. The following summer I started having some of those foods and had no problems whatsoever, meanwhile my eczema was gone.
Now, 20+ years later I am going in the same direction, having had sinus issues and sporadic eczema problems for the last 3-4 years. I’ve been managing the symptoms through vitamin D at first (started 3-4 years ago, especially in the winter, I am going for 5000 IU twice a day). I had a blood test and prior to this and my vit D results were in the very low range. Looking back, I think the low D might be due to gut issues, since the gut lining is heavily depending on D, so maybe continuous gut problems drain the D. I’ve had huge improvement with it. I know the recommended dose is much lower, but read lots of studies where this was disproved and for people with low D and especially for those who work out heavily, it is great to have 5-10 000 IU’s per day. Nevertheless, I’ve had some small eczema patches reappear (one on the same place on the foot as 20 years ago). I’ve not been very consistent taking vitamin D lately, which might be the reason. Meanwhile, reading a lot about the histamines and observing that I have terrible reactions to the aforementioned foods, I found out that high doses of vit C help greatly with all issues. Taking 2g in the morning and 2g in the afternoon keeps my sinus problems in check and all the rashes have disappeared. One clarification, though. Not all vit C helps. I’ve tried different brands and one specific brand (local in Bulgaria) with prolonged realease is the only one that removes all my symptoms.
Nevertheless, my main issue is that if I stop taking vit C (or vit D), the problems reappear. Which can stem from two things. Either there is an underlying problem that needs fixing, or it is an enzime (DAO) or gene (MTHFR) issue, that will be present forever and needs constant support.
At the moment I am doing zero carb, always going for fresh meat (mainly pork and beef) with ocassional hamburgers or pizza when going out. I feel pretty well although I am supporting with vit C here and there. Yet, there is the feeling that it is an immune/autonomous nervous system problem that was present 20 years ago. I am trying to eliminate everything that was eliminated back then, but these days there are much more histamine-aggravating elements everywhere – nuts and seeds in everything, cooking with soy sauce (I’ve got critical reactions to it), balsamico, vinegar, strong odors/chemicals in every market, etc. Hopefully I will manage to get at least 3-4 months without aggravation so that the immune system/ANS resets.
Thank you for your comments. Very interesting stuff. The scratch test your doctor did is one of the ones they do to diagnose Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS). Most people with MCAS, like me, have lots of trouble with foods high in histamines. Low vitamin D is definitely linked to MCAS. I cannot personally take vitamin D supplements because they all give me migraines, but I certainly would if I could. Your dosage is spot on from what I have read. Vitamin C in small amounts have also helped MCAS folks. Another supplement I keep hearing good things about for this problem is quercetin. Again, I have not tried it myself due to my poor reactions to every supplement I have tried. But you might give it a whirl. May God bless you on your journey!
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I’m going through this and its scary. I don’t know what to eat any more.
Yes, it’s a real and difficult problem. Let me know if I can help you.
Been on ZC (beef and lamb) for 10 days and have histamine intolerance – I cook fresh meat in the evenings, freeze it and defrost in the microwave when needed (transport to work in coolbag and place in freezer too).
-Is this a good approach?
-I have a pressure pot but dont know how to make beef or lamb tasty in it – any decent recipes?
-this diet is not practical – has anyone healed their stomach with histamine intolerance on ZC?
Hi Alex – yes, that is a good approach to cook and freeze immediately. I have never used a pressure cooker for anything except to make clbroth from whole chicken or turkey parts during my first year of ZC. I stopped making it because I think it was too high in histamines. However, you could probably cook chicken legs in a pressure cooker with a little water and just eat them. I find chicken tastes fine plain, but I cannot eat salt or spices. Chuck roast might be another good meat to cook in a pressure cooker. If it’s fatty enough, it should taste good plain. I personally feel best on raw beef, but it must be super fresh to be low enough in histamines for me. I have not experienced any impact in my histamine intolerance on this diet. I have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and react to every single food on the planet. I have not found anything that will heal this. I eat a zero carb diet because I do better with meat than I so any other food. It’s very practical for people who do not have histamine intolerance. But if histamines are a problem for you, them it requires a lot more work to obtain the meat you can tolerate and prepare in a way that does not allow more histamines to form. It’s just the reality of the situation. If you feel better eating other foods, then perhaps an all meat diet is not your best choice.
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Hello, I am sorry to bother you again but if you can answer me would be a great help.
You mentioned that you had good success with Costco Prime NY steak and Prime ribeyes in cryovack bags. But,if it is Prime grade : is it not dry aged?
My understanding that Prime grade can be either dry aged or just heavy fat marbled without dry aging.
I bought Prime top sirloin from HEB . HEB assured me that it is Prime grade because it has fat marbles, not dry aged. But I had very bad migraine and had to take medication, so I know it was dry aged.
1.So, how do you know if Costco Prime NY and Prime ribeye are not dry aged?
2.Also, would you be willing to share what meat are you buying in regular store or any other stores that are safe for you?
Thank you so much for sharing your experience!
None of the meat at Costco is dry aged to my knowledge, unless it is specifically stated. It costs money to dry age beef and the price is much higher than dor wet aged beef. If it’s cryovac’d, it’s wet aged. Just because you had a migraine from the beef you ate does not automatically mean it was dry aged. It was certainly too high in histamines, but histamines will form even during wet aging. I have had some wet aged beef that was very high in histamines because it was just too old, or it might have been hung for a week before being cryovac’d. There are a lot of variables unfortunately. You really need to know the date of slaughter and the date of packing into cryovac’d bag. Also, your own natural body changes, especially hormones in women, can make you more or less tolerant of histamines. You might do fine with a source of meat during one part of the month, but react to it at another part of the month. Or, you may experience a lot of emotional stress on a certain day and this can reduce your tolerance for histamines. I hope this helps.
Thank you for your reply!
I appreciate your help. I am trying to learn as much as I can why I started having allergic reactions to meat.
I am of the opinion that something in our environment – I strongly suspect glyphosate (i.e. Roundup) – is seriously messing up our gut bacteria. There are a lot of us now who are reacting to just about everything. It’s a growing phenomenon and very disturbing to experience and witness. May God help us!
Thanks so much for all your efforts in spreading what you have learned on your journey. Latley I find myself thinking alike thoughts about glyphoaste. Who knows, it seems to have lots of correlation with autism rates as well.
Best of luck on your journey!
I am considering trying DAO supplements to reduce my histamine intolerance symptoms. Have you tried DAO supplements?
If so, did you see positive results?
I have not tried them due to the fillers they contain. I react bad to pretty much every supplement I have tried. They are worth trying though if that is not an issue for you. They seem to help some people.
For me, all my surreal food intolerances started shortly after I got bitten by a tick and got infected with Lyme at the age of 12… I am 36 and my life has been hell pretty much… I’m gonna try carnivorism now, but I’m sure I’, gonna be allergic to most of it too… If only one could live off air, huh.. ☺
I’m so sorry. 😕 Please let me know how you do. The struggle is real.
Esmée, I discovered something! I did so accidentally a few days ago… I had restarted the carnivore diet a week ago, and as per usual, I was struggling terribly with all sorts of animal foods, particularly beef.. I never saw what tick bit me, but I assume a Lone Star one, since among all the food intolerances I developed, the strongest one was to red meat ( it’s called alpha gal syndrome I think?).. So as I was eating my meat, the reactions got really bad within 2 days already.. the agony started right after my meal, lasted for half a day..till my next meal basically.. It all happened the same when a tried a carnivore diet for 4 months a few years back: constant agony that instead of going away, only got worse… So I quit back then..and I was already getting depressed last week again after just a few days as the same thing happened again.. ( and people kept telling me to keep trying just beef and water, but truly, it’s unbearable because Lyme really causes horrible allergic reactions that don’t go away … I guess its called MCAS? Well, Lyme is known to contually activate mast cells with possibly any food, hence the universal allergy to all foods)..
So anyways, a few nights ago, I was in bed at night, total insomnia and I prayed to God, no cried my eyes out for my misery. .. Life becomes so unbearable at times with all this, I said it’s ok to take mine away.. It’s like God heard me, because shortly after, I remembered reading a comment from someone, years ago, who said that he cured his chronic Lyme within weeks by just drinking salt water.. I had Celtic Sea salt in my kitchen, so in the middle of the night, I drank a glass of water with a teaspoon of Sea salt…and did so again the next morning… That initiated the biggest herx I had experienced so far! But you know what happened next, my head cleared up and the following night, I could eat a big rib-eye and 3 eggs and I had no reaction to it at all! I since then also not feel the actual aversion or fear of watching red meat ( which I strangely had also, maybe because of the horrendous reactions I would always have eating it)..
I have continued drinking two glasses of salt water and I am able to continue eating my food without any agony or allergic reactions.. I have since read that salt is not only a powerful bactericide, but also a powerful anti-histamine… ( I am not sure about this, but I am beginning to think that all these weird immune disorders and allergies may be caused by bacteria or viruses.. so since salt kills it, perhaps that’s why the body no longer reacts so dramatically to histamines.. But these are just my thoughts). I read in an article that previously, people had much more salt into their diet due to the way food was cured or preserved, and since the media started demonizing salt in the 70’s, that’s when all these chronic infectious diseases started to become so prevalent.
I am not sure if these theories are true, but I do know salt water is changing my life. I’m not sure if what you struggle with is Lyme or something else, so I don’t know if this might help you. I thought I’d just share in case it might.
That’s really fascinating. I have never heard that this helps Lyme and histamine reactions. I tested negative on the standard Lyme test, which I know is notoriously inaccurate. I haven’t wanted to pay $650 for the real one. How much water do you add the tsp. of salt to?
Hey esmee! great blog and writes.
Lemme ask you something:
Other ZC’s talk about kidney consuption for DAO and Vit C, that is apparently a co-factor for DAO formation. What’s your experience with these 2?
I have not personally tried either because I react to every supplement I try. I’ve got supplement “fatigue,” Lol. Just tired of trying stuff that only makes me feel worse. But you should try them. Also, there is some evidence that a little extra vitamin C might be very helpful for histamine intolerance also.
esmeelafleur, thank you for the helpful article, and the comment thread is fascinating! A few questions – RE: “The scratch test your doctor did is one of the ones they do to diagnose Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS).” This was the one a doctor did with a toothpick on someone’s wrist (which side?). I can’t find anything about this through a search, can you please explain it?
Leonie Maene’s salt water experience was very interesting! I’ve repeatedly read that most carnivores don’t get enough salt and as a result they can have symptoms, especially fatigue, mood, and headaches.
Regarding the dental work mentioned by your first commenter…. this dental detox s always recommended for healing from chronic conditions, but my feeling is, how many folks can afford the $10-20,000 price tag? As a result it can be discouraging when someone insists nothing can heal without this. The fact is, many people heal in spite of not doing this work. I just wanted to throw this out there.
Has anyone tried homeopathy? After unsuccessfully treating ourselves (with only minor improvements) my husband and I are about to work with a doctor in Bali. The earliest appointment is three months out and it will likely take some time beyond this since this is a “constitutional” issue. But I’m happy to update our progress once we get started if you’re interested.
As far as DAO supplements go – Seeking Health makes a DOA enzyme supplement from pork liver, which I’m sure is synthesized and I would personally avoid for this reason, but it’s cleaner than the other brand mentioned several times that was recommended by a doctor. (Sorry, the brand and the doctor’s name escape me.) Two caps contain: Vitamin C (as ascorbyl palmitate)10 mg, DAO2 porcine kidney extract (Diamine Oxidase Activity 10,000 HDU) 4.2 mg. Other Ingredients: Microcrystalline cellulose, vegetable capsule (hypromellose, water, and gellan gum), and ascorbyl palmitate.
Also, I found two natural products on Amazon with no fillers, just freeze dried beef kidney in capsules, which is high in DAO. You could always empty the capsules into water if necessary.
One brand is Ancestral Supplements, it’s $44/160 caps, the other is One Earth Health, $40/200 caps. Both are New Zealand Grass Fed and Finished Beef Kidney, and 6 caps/3000MG is equivalent to 1 oz of fresh beef kidney.
The reviews are pretty good (if they are to be believed, remember, it’s Amazon, lol!). Here’s one from One Earth Health:
“October 10, 2021
I can now eat soy free corn free chicken and eggs, and beef bacon after starting these supplements after a year of eating only fresh butcher beef. I no longer get hives after eating. They are really helpful and I’m very grateful because I was really suffering before, and even had a few hospital visits due to food allergies. I take 4-6 a day depending on what I’m eating.”
I was wondering, since beef and pork kidney contain naturally occurring DAO has anyone tried eating this? Maybe just a couple of ounces before a meal. Do you think it would be okay to cook it, or is raw necessary to preserve the DAO enzymes?
Thanks again for all your helpful info! I’d love to hear an update since this has been a long journey for you. ❤️ Sending blessings for health and happiness! Leslie
I’m glad you find the article and comments helpful.
For me personally, I haven’t tried any supplements because I react to literally everything. I think they are all worth exploring and trying if you can.
I don’t use salt because it, too, gives me migraines. I have experimented with it many different ways and ultimately decided it was best for me to eliminate it from my own diet. I personally don’t think we need much on a carnivore diet and eating too much salt can throw off the sodium-potassium balance in the body. A carnivore diet does not provide as much potassium as a ketogenic diet that includes plant foods. See my article on salt: https://zerocarbzen.com/salt/
I did find raw quail eggs to be very helpful. I ate them for a year until they became unavailable. They made it possible for me to resume eating beef again after not being able to do so for two years. I ate 60 per day prior to eating my raw ground beef. Even though I no long have access to them, I’m still doing okay with the beef so far. So, their therapeutic value is holding even in their absence. Here is the study that initiated my decision to try them: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6060182/
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