Should you be concerned about the effects of probiotics on histamine levels? It’s a question that we have been getting a lot at Natren and for good reason – studies show there may be a correlation. We are in the business of science, so we do our best to keep current on the latest industry information and the most recent scientific data. What we have found is that strain matters when it comes to histamines. Different strains of the same genus and species of bacteria lead to different effects.
What Natren has discovered by researching this topic is that the relationship between histamines and probiotics is strain by strain. In biology, organisms are identified by taxonomic ranks:
Strains are the lowest rank in this hierarchy and important information for consumers to have when considering probiotic products. A strain is a subtype or genetic variant of a species. For example, in the bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus is the genus and bulgaricus is the species but the strain is not listed. Strains are the true identifying factors when it comes to microorganisms like bacteria, for instances:
These names represent two different strains of the Lactobacillus bulgaricus. The studies done on the subject of histamines and probiotics are generally specific to the strain. One research article states that the Lactobacillus casei strain TISTR-3879 produces histamines. A second study looked at a different strain of the same bacteria species and got different results. L. casei strains 4a and 5b lead to high degradation rates of histamines.
The question many health conscious consumers will have is why histamines matter. Histamines are one of five establish biogenic amine neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers. When a person is exposed to a real or perceived threat, the body uses histamines to trigger an immune system response to fight it off. They are at the heart of allergic reactions. A person who is allergic to nuts will produce histamines designed to trigger a response that usually includes inflammation.
The study also suggests that producing this type of neurotransmitter is circumstance-dependent, meaning that many different factors may be at play in the production or degradation of histamines despite the use of probiotics.
One of the most important takeaways from these studies is that different strains lead to different reactions. One strain of bacteria might cause a rise in histamines levels while another might actively reduce them. At Natren, we rely on specific strains in our probiotic products and we believe in full transparency with our buyers. We are honest about the fact that we have not done histamine-specific testing on our strains to state decisively if they lead to histamine production or degradation. Therefore, we don’t know what effect these strains have on histamines. It’s possible they have no effect at all, as well. We just don’t know.
Natren wants its buyers to know that we care about emerging concepts such as histamines. We recommend that anyone that has trouble tolerating probiotics try the Natren Life Start line of products. They feature the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium infantis NLS strain. Third party groups that focus on maintaining low histamine levels like Healing Histamine or Fix Your Gut recommend it despite that fact that we have no research data regarding this strains effect on histamines.
At this point, we know for sure that there is no straightforward answer to the histamine dilemma. Odds are that different people will have different experiences. Healing the gut may also influence histamine levels, making them more tolerable over time as your gut health improves.
Life Start is a very well received probiotic, one that we use in infants and adults with severe G.I. sensitivities, that comes in a variety of formulas, allowing you to find the one that is the best fit for your body and circumstances; we offer it in three different formulas:
You can get the Life Start 2 product in easy to take capsule format and the other two come in convenient to mix powder formulas.
The Role of B. infantis
Our bodies can respond to the array of foreign molecules that we expose it to in a number of ways, one is in the form of protection from pathogens and another is what we call tolerance of non-pathogens. For most people, histamine is a non-pathogen, but for those with histamine sensitivities it is perceived as a foreign molecule that the immune system must respond to.
Numerous studies are now indicating that colonization with the right microbes in early life is a key to developing appropriate immune tolerance. The bacteria most well known for its role in infant gut health is Bifidobacterium infants, or B. infantis. B. infantis is considered the infant gut bacteria because of its unique ability to break down human breast milk components. Unfortunately, many infants miss out on receiving this important bacteria, or don’t receive enough of it. One of the key ways that infants establish their gut microbiota is during delivery, but the microbes passed from Mom to baby differ in a premature delivery, Cesarean section or in a standard vaginal birth when the Mom has been preexposed to antibiotics.
Researchers have also noted that this beneficial bacteria seems to be declining in industrialized countries. Now more than ever, we may need to be supplementing our infants and ourselves with the appropriate beneficial bacteria to set them up for a lifetime of better immune responses.