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Migraine & Histamine link

I just wanted to share this link to a webpage about migraine

The part that really interested me was learning about the importance of histamine. When MAV started for me I was suffering badly from hayfever. It was April 2009 and pollen was high. I took antihistamines which had been ok previously but felt strange after taking one this time. Then a few weeks later took another and the next day I felt dizzy and have been ever since. When it all started I was always telling the doctors about the hayfever/antihistamine link to my weird symptoms. I thought at first the medication had affected me/drugged me. I kept banging on about it but in the end all the doctors said it was a coincidence and irrelevent to my dizziness. I never took another anithistamine since. I noticed that every pollen season my MAV symptoms get worse but until a few months ago, I thought I had labs/VN so could not find any link to histamine and my symptoms. Then I discovered I have MAV and I find the link between migraine and histamine.

It’s also interesting that the foods that are off-limit on the migraine diet are off-limit because they are HIGH HISTAMINE foods!

I have a list of high histamine foods typed out. One day I had a pile of spinach for dinner and within the hour had a really severe vertigo attack. Usually my bad vertigo attacks started up in the morning around 4 am so this was odd, I checked out spinach and it was very high histamine so I havent eaten it since.

Oh I have just read the link, how interesting. I had a glucose tolerance test done at the hospital and it showed I have reactive hypoglycemia. My blood sugar levels go down below the base level soon after I eat, if I eat the wrong things. I also did saliva cortisol (4 x day) tests, several of them in the past, and it showed very low cortisol at lunchtime and other times of the day.

It seems that I have all of the problems on that link, no wonder I have so much trouble controlling my migraine and dizziness.


I too have wondered many times about the histamine link. I’ve read lots too. And like you Christine I made a list of histamine foods. I still can’t quite put my finger on it though. I also have to watch my blood sugar levels and I own and have read James Wilson’s book on adrenal fatigue and have been down that route at some length. Still I find myself with certain allergies, which I’m sure have a link to MAV and obviously histamine but again I can never come up with definitive answers that serve me in a consistent fashion.

BTW Christine, do you react to opioids in food, like those in wheat and milk? I do and I was surprised to learn after a reaction to eating spinach that it too has an opioid peptide in it, rubiscolin.

Thanks for the link Jem. I shall read it again and digest it more carefully. I always like to poke around a bit and get behind the scenes of these reports. Interesting though.


Christine and Brenda thanks for your comments. I am sure this info will apply to quite a few of us here. I remember a lady on another forum who thought she had labs/VN but she had been suffering for 5 years or more and always talked about her allergies making things worse.

Yes I too have noticed the link between feeling worse and blood sugar levels and also I had considered the adrenaline/cortisol thing many years ago before I knew anything about migraine. It’s so interesting to me that all these little things we notice and links we spot which the doctors usually don’t think are relevant are actually relevant and are all clues as to what is really the matter with us x

Brenda, I read a load of stuff on “adrenal fatigue” too, quite a while ago, I fit all the symptoms on the list, and I certainly have had a lot of stress in my life, more than most of my friends have. I had not heard of the opiods in wheat and milk, I will need to do some more reading. How do you react to those? Do you take codeine in tablets?
I do notice feeling nauseous and dizzy after just a half tablet of codiene. I was very dizzy following a day of eating 4 or 5 crackers which were in a tin we had been given for Xmas. I usually eat one to one and half slices bread a day and thats it, that doesnt seem to affect me, but I went on the slippery slope after eating a large quantity of the cadburys chcolate range at Xmas.

It is strange, when I get myself stable, keep to the migraine diet, I just have this dizziness start up every morning but I cant get control of it until I have a tiny quarter of one tablet of veganin (its barely nothing) but enough to get my head straight, That tablets contains codeine and caffeine but its a very small portion in what I take. I cant get off that or I go downhill. When I tried to cut out caffeine (as I havent drunk caffeinated drinks for years and dont generally eat chocolate) but have this small amount in the tablets, so I went to paracetamol and codeine but had to consume more to get control, then the codeine made me ill.

I never drank cows milk for over 10 years until recently, I drank Rice milk, but I have not noticed a difference with the cows milk. I have always had small pieces of cheddar cheese. I think wheat is worse for me than the milk. I will have to see if there are any other foods with the opiods in to see if I know if I react to them.


Hiya Christine, sorry to have taken so long to get back to you. I came across the opioid idea when I was looking into why I reacted to wheat and dairy. I gave both of those up right at the start upon the recommendation of a friend and I kept off them too when taking up the headache diet. Every time I tried either, it affected my measure of dizziness. I can tolerate a teeny bit now but mostly I really don’t bother any more, not worth it.

Anyway, I found out from my reading that both wheat and dairy contained opioids and when I looked up what those could possibly cause sensitive individuals to feel I thought “Aha”, that sounds like me. Further clues followed that I might be reacting to opioids: when I left wheat and dairy off I felt SO bad, just like when I was coming off benzos in my twenties. Similar disorientation, weird and dizzy feelings; VERY similar feeling to when I used Feminax in my teens for period pains (contains codeine which I didn’t know back then); when I had morphine during my hysterectomy afterwards as I slept/dozed I could feel how I do just prior to a bad vertigo attack (which never materialised though). The common factor in all of those was opioids of some sort. So it dawned on me gradually that my theory of the opioid connection might be right.

The spinach episode was the clincher. I had no idea why I had reacted to it. But, playing detective as usual, I found out about the rubiscolin. Lightbulb moment again!

I’ve found a few really helpful web sites, one a blog, where folk seem to have the same reactions to opioids as I do and who came to the same conclusions. I don’t think I have kept the links though. But I’ll have a look and if I can find them I’ll post them.

As I said, I do seem to be able to tolerate teeny weeny amounts but with me a cumulative effect seems to be in operation. Like you, I went a bit mad over Xmas, thought I’d got away with it but after fours days (it’s nearly always three or four days, trying to work out why)it hit me bad! I felt ‘out of it’ and totally disorientated, had trouble with lots of things I usually cope with OK now. One thing I have noticed, once I indulge I almost feel addicted and can’t stop wanting to have more and then more still… far and above just being greedy. You used the term ‘slippery slope’, it’s a good description!

Hope this sheds a bit of light on the subject, although only my personal experience,

Best wishes


I have a silly question but I’ve been taking bètahistine for months. Its structure closely resembles that of phenethylamine and histamine.
Could this have made the headaches/migraine/fatigue worse?
Just wondering. I’m slowly quitting now though because it’s not really doing anything for me…


May be an idea to come off it especially if it isn’t really doing much anyway then you can see if you need it or not x

I took betahistine for a while. It didn’t really help at all and when I went to see the audiologist for tests she actually told me it made migraines worse and took me off it. But I think Christine, if I’m recalling correctly, has taken it for a while and thinks it does help her.


Yes, I have taken it for years, it helps me, but it took a while to take effect. It doesnt make my migraines, headaches or dizziness worse, it helps the dizziness. it is supposed to drain fluid away from the ear. I am very sensitive to meds, I tried over 20 preventatives and got side effects from a very small amount but I can tolerate the betahistine. If I stop it, I get worse. We are all different, they thought I had menieres to start with so I might have more involvement with my ears than others.


Thanks for the feedback!
I’m coming off the betahistine. Maybe it IS working for me but I don’t feel it.
Maybe it will be worse I don’t know. I do have a lot of ear problems too, that’s why sometimes I think
I have menière’s, but when I’m on the Meniere forum there is a lot I can relate too and but also many things don’t match.
THE Menière specialist in Belgium ruled it out but didn’t want to say MAV either so…Confused!
The fatigue started after two months taking betahistine…

I’m seeing a doctor this evening regarding food allergies (my last bloodtest showed antibodies for gluten) and he’s helping my friend with her histamine intolerance so I will ask him.

This is SO interesting! I noticed a few years ago that i felt significantly dizzier and light headed (before MAV hit) and that i didn’t feel like this when i didn’t take my hayfever antihistamine. So i realised i just couldn’t take antihistamine! VERY interesting x

Another ‘possible’ cause I tend to return to when having a few off days. I cannot account for is a possible Histamine link. I am unable to activate the link in @jem’s initial post in this thread which is old now but have just rediscovered one I did come across before which I thought others might find interesting. Without becoming obsessional about it, it’s always good to continue looking for a definitive answer.

Reading this article with the Migraine Diet in mind opens ones eyes. Perhaps these migraine diets aren’t as random as they might at first appear. Then to read of the advice to take magnesium shows a further suspected link. Several years ago I read of other people taking Ami for migraine which had stopped working after six years due to histamine intolerances. All fascinating stuff and possibly somebody’s somewhere’s definitive answer. Helen

Go to the Diet page in the support Wiki:

Scroll down to my post and look at the first document. Next to each food it lists whether it contains histamine, tyramine, etc:

Comprehensive Migraine Diet
migraine_elimination_diet_comprehensive.pdf (114.5 KB)


Hi Helen,

I really think you might be on to something here - I have been suffering with chronic VM and just out of interest I decided to decode some of my genetics from an old 23 and me test I had for different reasons - I have both MTHFR gene mutation, but more interestingly, I also seem to have mutation in the ability to make DAO and to break down histamines.

Just out of interest, I decided to take Loradine (not spelled right) in addition to my Pizotifen. I experienced such a change in my symptoms. At least 25% better and feeling nearly ‘normal’ for the first time in 6 months! I am not going to shout from the rooftops because ultimately we all know how unpredictable MAV is. I also realised I had unknowingly been eating many histamine containing foods - cinnamon, olives, dried fruits. I had a banana and got the WORST headache the next day.

I am trying to find the root cause of this condition for me, and I think this could be a valuable piece of the puzzle! Now on low histamine diet and DAO supplementation. I have tested positive for Mold in my gut and am having other investigations such as Mycotox profile, as mold exposure, although a little bit of a controversial area, can ‘turn on’ the genes through environment as per epigenetic theory!

I looked at Histamine for a while and it certainly plays a role. I looked into genetics also specifically COMT, MAO and NOS3. I didn’t want to get tested though as i don’t want some company pinning a murder on me in the dystopian Minority Report-esque future lol (kidding…but not)

A lot of type A personalities tend to run with high histamine in their systems as its one of many excitation neurotransmitters and what contributes to racing minds etc. Really helpful when we are healthy and highly functional but a real problem when sick as you will easily tip over into anxiety / nervous energy.

There is a genetic predisposition but also environmental - looking at stress (sure) but also diet. I wager a number of us have NAFLD and there is an over burdening on the liver and that’s why there is a delayed response to some of the trigger foods - it builds up. In migraine they talk about thresholds being reduced… your metabolism of chemicals has been compromised. I also tried to find a link to gym goers. Its frequent eating, insulin resistance, high histamine foods also. Spinach, nuts, bananas, tinned tuna etc Before i crashed i had Supermans energy. Waaay too much. My nervous system was lit up like a Christmas tree constantly.

I also take DAOsin if i eat pizza and drink beers and supplement with P5P on the night (as and when). Eat foods that help with histamine intolerance like asparagus, ginger (before eating). Migraine diets are almost identical to an AIP diet. Look at MCAS and Histamine Intolerance symptoms / diet etc.

There is also a link between Histamine and chronic pain state. You will naturally have high amounts of Histamine, Cytokines, Substance P, CGRP (Emgality anyone) etc. floating around your system.

Very interesting you mention insulin issues - I have PCOS which is directly linked with this!

I totally agree RE minority report future - I am a bit annoyed with myself for giving away my DNA so freely.

I also agree RE energy levels - i didnt realise how much energy I have / had before MAV hit me - I am like a duracell bunny or I am crashed out, no steady in between pace. Trying to change that now!

Have looked a lot into MCAS and wonder if I have it - if I try to detox in any way i get super reactive and dark circles - which would go with your theory of an over burdened liver.

I dont really like being on Pizotifen, and I am wondering if the part that was working was its weak antihistamine effect, and if my symptoms could be more controlled by a simple anti histamine. The med has made me gain a load of weight in a short time period, and I want my serotonin back!

Mav’ers struggle to control their blood sugar amongst other things and the liver is linked to this. Say in the morning you may wake up with head pressure and anxiety due to hypoglycemia. Cortisol and adrenaline are released and the liver is used in gluconeogenesis to get that energy to the brain pronto. The energy production pathway seems to be disrupted. Chronic fatigue, wired but tired.

If you don’t like being on Pizotifen i’d recommend you come off it if you have given it a good go. No medication will fix this issue BUT they might buy you a window of time to calm the nervous system whilst implementing life changes with a level head. Depending on how fast and hard you pushed yourself to get into this mess depends on how long it will take to slowly walk out of the woods.

Have a look into SAM-e for OTC serotonin bump BUT DON’T TAKE IT WITH MEDICATION that also raises Serotonin. If your body type is like mine then it could cause anxiety / tachycardia but if not then it works like an antidepressant and… helps out the liver and methylation.

Loratadine maybe you meant?

Strange how you posted this when you did. It’s peak hey fever season here and thus year I have double whammy. Being too near a building site I more than suspect my enhanced dizziness symptoms are because high dust levels are causing much increased symptoms so I have been looking at antihistamines which is usually as far as I get. I don’t seem to do antihistamines which is one reason I avoid Pizotifen. More recently Cetrazine might seem appropriate however having been given Cinnazarine once at hospital for nausea associated with GA where one tablet made me so dizzy I couldn’t stand up (in my pre-MAV days) I can appreciate a migraine/histamine connection but have yet to grasp the link.

For 1.5-2 years or so I took 5mg Cetirizine Hydrochloride daily (Brand name Reactine). I would break the 10mg pills in half to save money. 10mg was too much and made me tired and mentally slow. My Neurologist/Psychiatrist told me that was an impossibly low dose. However, it worked for me. I could spend more time at work, social functions and at the gym. The weird thing is that the migraines/dizziness would return after about 30 days or so. After 30 days I would take a break for a 2-5 days and go back to the regular dosage.

This past winter I thought the 5mg Cetirizine was making me worse so I stopped taking it. I also thought it was contributing to some mood swings and making me mentally slower.

However, now I might go back to it. In the COVID era I seem to be doing worse. Not sure if it is spring allergies, stress or something else but I generally do not feel good. I haven’t worked since mid March. My usual schedule was a paltry 25 hrs a week of work, and I haven’t even worked an hour…