Here’s something important about PMS or PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder): At least some of the time it’s caused or worsened by histamine or mast cell activation
Histamine can cause allergy-type symptoms such as hives and nasal congestion. Or it can cause anxiety, headaches, fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, and breast tenderness, the typical symptoms of PMS.
How histamine causes premenstrual symptoms
It makes sense that histamine can cause premenstrual symptoms. After all, histamine is pro-inflammatory, and there’s growing evidence that PMS is fundamentally an inflammatory condition.
Also, histamine rises and falls with estrogen, so it’s high just before ovulation and then again during the premenstrual time. The tight link between histamine and estrogen is not all that surprising when you consider that histamine plays a key role in ovulation and female reproduction. Read The Curious Link Between Estrogen and Mast Cells and Histamine.
Finally, histamine is a neurotransmitter that can have a profoundly negative effect on mood. Drug manufacturers have long understood the link between histamine and premenstrual mood symptoms. That’s why they put antihistamines in PMS medications “to soothe tension and irritability.”
👉 Tip: Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) is when mast cells are stimulated to make histamine.
Is histamine playing a role in your PMDD?
If histamine is the main driver of your PMS or PMDD, then you’ll likely have one or more of the following signs and symptoms (in addition to the classic PMS symptoms):
- Anxiety and other mood symptoms around the time of ovulation (when histamine is high).
- Headaches or migraines that are relieved by antihistamines.
- Dermatographia, which is the appearance of raised, reddish marks after light scratching of the skin.
- Breast pain (because histamine and mast cells are directly involved in breast pain and fibrocystic breast disease).
- Period pain (because histamine causes pain).
Progesterone and the brain
The other cause of PMDD is an abnormal response to progesterone and its neurosteroid metabolite allopregnanolone. Read Is Progesterone Good or Bad for Mood? (And How to Treat PMDD).
How to lower histamine and relieve PMS
- Reduce mast cell-stimulating foods such as cow’s dairy and alcohol. Read What Dairy Does to Periods.
- Reduce histamine-containing foods such as red wine, cheese, avocado, tomato, bone broth, and fermented foods (i.e. the sauerkraut and kombucha that you’ve been trying to eat more of).
- Consider taking histamine-reducing supplements such as quercetin, magnesium, SAMe, and vitamin B6.
- Take natural progesterone because it up-regulates the DAO enzyme that clears histamine. Progesterone capsules can also overcome the progesterone sensitivity associated with PMDD.
👉 Tip: Histamine reduction is a big part of why magnesium, vitamin B6 and natural progesterone work so well for PMS and other women’s health conditions.
What is your experience with PMS and PMDD?