Interview with Joanne Kennedy, Naturopath

Joanne Kennedy is a Naturopath and specialist in MTHFR, methylation and histamine intolerance. Through her specialist knowledge of methylation and biochemical pathways, Joanne has helped hundreds of patients with chronic health issues finally heal. Joanne runs a busy clinic in Sydney and sees patients online all over the world.

The content provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended to medically diagnose or prescribe a solution for your condition.

Key Points

There are two enzymes that break down histamine – diamine oxidase (DAO) and histamine methyl transferase enzyme (HNMT). Understanding how to support these two enzymes naturally can reduce your histamine levels and the symptoms of histamine intolerance.

Improper gut health is the root cause of 90-95% of the patients Joanne has treated for histamine intolerance.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a very common condition for people suffering with histamine intolerance. Treatment involves a combination of herbs and supplements to support your digestive enzymes alongside a SIBO diet.

Even if you aren’t showing symptoms of improper gut health, it may still be the underlying cause of your histamine intolerance.

For a full list of recommended supplements, click here.

For the full interview transcript, click here. 

Interview Transcript

0:00 [Jo]: There’s two enzymes that break down histamine, which this really does make things quite easy when we’re looking at actual treatments and it’s pretty exciting. So, the diamine oxidase enzyme predominantly resides in the gut. It does reside in other organs, but it is in the gut. And the diamine oxidase enzyme takes the brunt of the detoxification of histamine. It’s in the large intestine. There’s a lot of it in the small intestine. So that deals with histamine that is released when we have an overgrowth of bacteria in the gut.

So that can be a large bowel dysbiosis – too much bad bacteria compared to good bacteria, or what we call SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and what happens is, all of this bacterial overgrowth causes there to be too much histamine. And then the diamine oxidase enzyme that is meant to deal with histamine is just overloaded with histamine. Okay, so you just can’t get rid of it all. So that’s one way we break it down is with the gut. The diamine oxidase enzyme is how you would break down the histamine in food. Now you’re eating histamine or going to the gut.

Now the other enzyme is called the histamine methyl transferase enzyme (HNMT) and that’s in quite a few different organs in the body. But it really is important when we’re thinking about histamine in the brain because it really does break histamine down in the brain via methylation. So the histamine methyl transferase enzyme is a methyl transferase that needs it, it needs methylation support. So really treating histamine, you need to you need to understand methylation. Estrogen gets into the brain and increases histamine in the brain and how you break it down in the brain is with the histamine methyl transferase enzyme.

It’s really good news to know that you can support these two enzymes to really reduce your history and symptoms and you can do that and that you can do that really Effectively, naturally, okay, so often don’t have to allow medications, which is really exciting.

2:24 [Samia] so if we have stomach symptoms does that mean that it’s probably a diamine oxidase issue vs if we have rhinitis or headaches that means its most likely a methylation issue?

2:44 [Jo] 90-95% of the time is coming from the gut, right? It’s coming from the gut. So it’s very very common to have got issues in our modern world we’ve dressed in hydrochloric acid, you know, having herbicides and pesticides on foods, antibiotics stresses all disrupt our gut microbiome, and then we end up with histamine-releasing bacteria. So really clinically that is a major, major cause of why you’ll have a histamine intolerance in the first place. Now with women, this is massive because how you detoxify your estrogen is in the liver, in the gut and it’s the gut’s not good, you’re not detoxifying aeration.

Really honing in on and looking at SIBO and large bowel dysbiosis. Understanding the signs and symptoms of digestive enzyme insufficiency. If you don’t have enough digestive enzymes, particularly hydrochloric acid, you can’t break down your food properly in the stomach? And what will happen? Go into the small intestine and just rot and ferment in there. That’s histamine.

And what happens is the diamine oxidase enzyme is actually made in the cells of the small intestine or the intestine make the diamine oxidase enzyme. When you’ve got inflammation caused by dysbiosis, and poor digestive enzymes, you have a double whammy because you’ve got too much histamine and your ability to make the diamine oxidase enzyme is compromised. Then you will have a cascade of histamine that will get into the brain. The really interesting thing about histamine in the brain is that it stimulates adrenaline from the adrenal glands and that makes you feel terribly anxious.

4:49 [Samia] So if somebody comes to you and says, These are my symptoms, where would you go from there?

4:53 [Jo] So my understanding of how histamine is detoxified in the body is, is really important because you start with the diamine oxidase enzyme that takes the brunt of histamine. So you think about everything that affects the diamine oxidase enzyme. So if you have SIBO, which is very, very common, then you have compromised Dao enzyme activity, right? If you have something going on the large intestine, like an overgrowth of bacteria in the large intestine, that’s going to compromise diamine oxidase enzyme activity. So when people ask me, How do I test for histamine I’m like, you don’t – you test you do a stool test and you do a SIBO test.

[Samia] Is that a breath test?

[Jo] There’s a breath test. And there’s a poo test – a stool test. And doing that will give me a real understanding of how much bacteria is releasing histamine in the large intestine. These stool tests, they’re called comprehensive digestive stool analysis, and they also look at your digestive enzyme capacity. So it will show us oh you’ve got low hydrochloric acid function, you’ve got low pancreatic enzymes, so you’re not breaking down your food properly. So what’s that gonna do, that’s gonna sit and rot and ferment in your gut that’s gonna inflame your gut and co production in DAO enzyme activity. I do a lot of treatment around gut health. So, you know, treating SIBO, which is a combination of herbs to get rid of the bacteria. You need to really support your digestive enzymes with hydrochloric acid and pancreatic enzymes sometimes need people might need bile acids if you get a lot of diarrhea that can be a sign of bile acid insufficiency. And then the diet for SIBO, which starts off the bacteria is a combination, low starch and what we call a FODMAP diet.

What helps histamine intolerance naturally?

7:00 [Samia]: I think what people usually read about histamine intolerance, go with a low histamine diet and then probiotic

7:20 [Jo]: Clinically, probiotics do next to nothing. Quercetin does next to nothing does nothing. It does nothing. You got to start at the top like you spend your money on digestive enzymes like hydrochloric acid, pancreatic enzymes. Sometimes people need the brush border enzyme. So in the small intestine, when you’ve got inflammation in the small intestine, that’s where the diamine oxidase enzyme leaves but the brush border enzymes also leak in there and they really take over. After you’re used to pancreatic enzymes, they start digesting carbohydrates and starch, and if you do that you reduce inflammation in the small intestine, you, you reduce your histamine. And it’s so interesting.

When I first started with histamine and five years ago, everyone was in a low histamine diet, but they’re not most of them aren’t anymore, most of them are now on a SIBO diet. And if they’re really bad, like for instance, if they’re getting a migraine every day, it’s really debilitating. Then we’ll pull the histamine foods for like two weeks that sometimes I don’t even reduce his histamine foods. Look, yes, I’ll reduce the fermented things, you know, the super high things fermented vegetables or bone broth, but often, if you can just support digestive enzyme function and reduce the SIBO bacteria and free up the diamine oxidase enzyme you can see really good results quickly.

8:39 [Samia] What if you’re sort of inflamed and your histamine bucket is overflowing and you’re having all sorts of, you know, really difficult symptoms would you tell people to be on a low histamine diet for a short period during that time to sort of lower it?

8:52 [Jo] I will often do a combination, it’s SIBO and low histamine diet for a couple of weeks. People that have been on a lot of antihistamines for a long time or have been chronically unwell with something like Lyme disease and they’ve had to take extraordinary amounts of antibiotics. Those people will need to supplement with the diamine oxidase enzyme. You can take the diamine oxidase enzyme long term. Just because of, the cost of all the things and just trying to like weigh out what a person needs. I don’t always give a diamine oxidase enzyme to someone. If their histamine cup is kind of like a little bit over and I think you’ve definitely got SIBO is what’s really going on two weeks on low histamines and then fix the SIBO and they’ll be good. Some people, they’ve taken antibiotics from, you know, 10 years and chronic antibiotics use. You’re going to need to take the diamine oxidase you’re going to need to take diamine oxidase enzyme and that will be your friend like you’ll probably need to take it pretty much maybe even in some cases long term forever. It really, really, really helps their symptoms.

Treating SIBO

10:14 [Samia] What about the SIBO part of things that some of the things that you would use to treat SIBO are those, those enzymes that you were referring to? Are those natural do they need prescriptions for that?

10:26 [Jo]: In Australia, the digestive enzymes that I prescribe, they are practitioners only we have really strict pharmaceutical-grade manufacturing about supplements in Australia. So you need to be a naturopath to prescribe those. But in the US that’s not the case. So I’ll prescribe my paid my supplements to patients in the US if they can just get them from i-herb. But I kind of know the ones that I like and trust, because there’s a whole range of different things that you can get.

11:08 [Samia] do you mean the brands or the actual supplements?

11:09 [ Jo] Yeah, so I mean, Did you want me to tell you about some brands that would be useful?

11:12 [ Samia] When you hear about histamine intolerance, the three things you hear about is the diamine oxidase enzyme, which is actually quite expensive. People want to avoid taking that for the rest of their life to the extent that they can. Quercetin is another one, that’s what my doctor prescribed high dose vitamin C, and then some of the cofactors involved in sort of methylation and whatnot. Zinc, magnesium, B complex B12, B2, B3, those are the only ones as well as low, you know, probiotics that don’t really exist. Those are the ones I’ve heard about the ones that you have mentioned, I’ve never heard of that.

11:49 [Jo] Those other things are not treating the cause. They’re not treating the cause. So, if you are not digesting your food properly, right, then if you don’t have good hydrochloric acid, then you can’t extract from your protein, your B12. Right, you can’t extract it.

For the full interview transcript, click here.

For the full list of histamine intolerance and SIBO supplements, click here

More information on Joanne Kennedy

For more information on Joanne Kennedy, please visit her website.

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The content provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended to medically diagnose or prescribe a solution for your condition.