Are You Sick or Thirsty? Histamines and Hydration

April 29, 2014  |  Blog, Histamine Intolerance

Dr. Batmangehlidj was controversial. His theory is that it is not the medication that makes you better but the glass of water that you drink.

Whilst his position may be a little extreme he has a point. Water is the most fundamental macro-nutrient in our body, so dehydration can profoundly impact on our health, leading to fatigue, headaches, confusion, and even uticaria.

Body's Water Content

So, is there a Histamine Connection?

Controversially, Dr. Batmangehlidj also believed that water is the “only natural process for the regulation and inhibition of histamine’s over-production and release” and that increased water intake may counter-act symptoms brought-on by diseases linked to histamine action.

But could water really be a cure to histamine intolerance? Well no. There is no evidence that water can regulate histamine levels in our body but there is evidence that dehydration results in the release of histamines in the brain.

Simplistically, the subfornical region of the brain, monitors water levels and signals thirst to the body. Histamine is then released by the brain rather than the body, which then signals to vasopressin to retain water. Our cells then hold on to water and our urine turns dark.

One implication of this for those of us that take anti-histamines, is that by blocking the histamine receptors, anti-histamines may mask the signal of thirst to the body, making it important for us to consciously drink water.

So, how much should you drink?

Bio-individuality applies to the amount of water our bodies need to function properly. On average, men should ingest about 3 litres (13 cups) and women about 2.2 litres (9 cups) of water each day.

Whats more, water intake should be increased in the following situations; hot or humid temperature, high altitude (above 8,200 feet), high exercise levels, illness of fever, diarrhea, vomiting, infections of the bladder or urinary tract, pregnancy/breast feeding, and increased coffee, tea, soda, alcohol and energy drink consumption.

So, what type of water should you drink?

There are many types of water including tap, bottled, filtered, distilled, alkaline ionised, and spring water. Consumption generally depends on cost and availability, as not everybody has access to the best sources of water.

Simplistically the best water to drink is the one you do. I believe that the key to drinking water is to find water that you like to drink and just drink it. Water does not have a taste but can take on the flavour of its container so that it can taste unpleasant. If you don’t like tap water, try bottled water. If you don’t like bottled water, buy a filter or buy spring water, and drink from glass. If you find yourself stuck here are some options:

  • Tap water, although the most readily available, may not always be the safest option. Some cities have very good purification systems, while others leave traces of chlorination by-products, lead, and sometimes bacteria. Research your city’s Consumer Confidence Report to see if additional home purification is warranted. It is also possible to have your own water tested.
  • Water filters can help to remove contaminants when environmental toxins pose a threat to water systems. It is important to know which contaminants are present in your water and ensure that the filter is tested for that contaminant.
  • Distillation, a process consisting of boiling water, has also been found to remove impurities and toxins. However, some believe the naturally occurring minerals in non-distilled water are un beneficial to health.
  • Bottled water has become a popular option for individuals without access to safe tap water; however, there are growing concerns about chemicals from the plastic seeping into the water, such that glass bottles are preferred, as well as the effects that the increasing number of bottles is having on the environment.
  • Water ionizers are gaining more recognition for their ability to create alkaline ionised water through electrolysis, which may have certain health benefits.
  • Spring water may be available direct from the source so that it is shipped in and stored in a tank. It is important to ensure that the water has been tested at the source.

So, how can you add flavour to water?

Good quality water has no taste but can take on the taste of its container. If you want to add some excitement then here are some healthy ideas. healthy water ideas

Finally, What Are Three Things I have Done?

Many of us struggle to remain hydrated and I am no exception. The three small steps that have made the biggest difference to my hydration levels are:

  • Buying a decorative water dispenser which is in full view in my sitting room – and acts as a prompt. I bought one like this one here.
  • Buying a glass water bottle that I can carry with me (but keep in the car). I bought one like this one here.
  • Trying to drink 1 to 2 litres of water first thing in the morning – to set me up all day.

Histamine intolerance or not, hydration is extremely important to our health, and anything that helps us to remain hydrated is important. I hope that some of these suggestions will encourage you to drink more water. At the end of the day you need to find something that works for you and your lifestyle. These are just some of the things that have worked for me.


Additional Reading Neurotransmitter Histamine: An Alternative Viewpoint, Dr. Batmanghelidj, M.D.

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  • Good article , especially first. Sometimes we forget to have fun.

    • thanks Mark. It never ceases to amaze me how many of my clients are deydrated…Enjoy!

      • Kelly

        I’m always super-dehydrated when I wake up in the morning. But if I drink more later in the day or before bed, then I have to get up a couple times at night to go to the bathroom.

        It seems kind of like a catch-22: Histamine may be causing the frequent urination, but then one needs water to help counter high histamine levels?

        Did you find after adding more water that you eventually needed less?

        • Kelly

          p.s. I’m really grateful for your blog as well. Lots of information for a ‘newbie’. 🙂

        • most people (histamine intolerant or otherwise) IMO are chronically dehydrated. I find drinking 1 – 2 litres in the morning first thing sets me up, and I stop drinking, by mid afternoon. Hope that helps!

          • Kelly

            Thank you, that helps. I’ll give it a try and let you know. 🙂

  • healingjourneygirl

    Alison. I recently had bad histamine attacks that lasted a week after flying. I developed a bad forehead headache on the plane…it was still there after the flight and I almost fainted and then vomited shortly afterwards (even though I was trying to keep up with my water intake). I spent most of the day trying to recover from that flight and could only nibble on foods for lunch and dinner. The flight back home was okay. However, the next day I didn’t feel so great (dizziness, feeling like I was unable to regulate body temperature, hot prickly skin, mind fog, nausea…a very unstable feeling). It makes me scared to fly again. I didn’t get these symptoms on a big plane going overseas earlier in the year. It seems to happen on the domestic flights that use smaller planes. I may of had such a bad reaction to flying this particular time, as I had not slept well for a few nights and had a good two stressful weeks. I can never underestimate how all these stressors add up and tip me over the edge into not being able to function for a good few days to a week. Also, what do you think about high-rise apartments for people with histamine intolerance? There is not much choice about where I can live right now. One option is to live in an old apartment with floorboards on level 20 of an older apartment building. The other option is to live on the ground level in a brand new apartment that has a strong chemical / new smell due to the carpet and plywood cabinets, paints, etc. = toxic VOCS). I chose the older apartment (even though it is on level 20 and I prefer to live on the ground), as I feel that is better than breathing in all those chemicals.

    • Hello healing journey girl! Firstly with regard to plains I used to get that all the time (it is part of the physical pressure cluster that affects mast-cells). I do not believe the same issue would be relevant to high-rises. Are you able to find a way to test the theory with you. One thing to always check is mould with old buildings. New buildings may always be an issue with chemicals It is difficult to comment specifically as I dont know your situation. All of this has been resolved for me by addressing the route cause; and getting my histamine load down. I do hope this helps.

      • healingjourneygirl

        Alison. I am also SO sensitive to mould. Recently, when I was looking for a new place to live, I moved into a place that has mould in the ceiling (I didn’t know it at the time). However, upon noticing it (smelling it before seeing it), I contacted the real estate ASAP to tell them I couldn’t live in the place. I can’t stand to be in the room that has the mould for one minute. Did you know you can leave / move out and a cancel a lease with no penalty if you find mould in your property (otherwise you can arrange to have it cleaned up and stay…no thanks…the mould where I moved to seems set in the ceiling that it is in). Thankfully that law exists to protect tenants. I very carefully inspected the next place I am going to move into. Also, I have been following my methylation and supplement protocol (1 Thorne Deproloft and 1 Thorne Methylguard per day) but I get this very wide awake feeling. I constantly have to taper off my dose and stop taking both of those supplements (otherwise, I just take 1 Methylguard per day). Also, what are your thoughts on bioidentical micronized progesterone to help with histamine intolerance? Do you think this has a place in helping people with histamine intolerance? This was recommended to me (50mg per day at night)…not only for the histamine intolerance but because I have low DHEA (I take fish oil for this) and low progesterone. This is the only thing I haven’t added into my supplement regime. I also have high copper, low iron and mild adrenal fatigue. I have just started to be able to tolerate my iron supplement (iron bisglycinate). I am going to wait until my iron levels improve before I add in anything else, as I had to introduce all of my supplements slowly. Also, iron (as well as zinc, which I have no problems taking) helps to balance copper. Sometimes I wonder if I am going to get better.

        • Hello it is difficult for me to give advice without a comprehensive history. I also am not a huge fan of treating individual aspects of any neuro-endocrine issue. It is my experience that you need to look at the whole adrenal/hormonal system and not just stablise one hormone. Its because its part of a cascade. I do hope that helps..

  • boatnerj

    Do you think dehydration can make it more likely/easier for mast cells throughout the body to de-granulate to various triggers?

    • as we are predominantly water dehydration can cause significant symptoms. Being dehydrated with or without mast-cell activation is not a good idea. I dont believe it is necessary to overthink it.