The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #62 - Dr. Becky Campbell
Dr. Becky Campbell is a board-certified doctor of natural medicine who was initially introduced to functional medicine as a patient. She struggled with many of the issues her patients struggle with today, and she has made it her mission to help patients all around the world with her virtual practice. Dr. Becky Campbell is the founder of DrBeckyCampbell.com and author of The 30-Day Thyroid Reset Plan and The 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan She has been featured on multiple online publications like Mindbodygreen, Bustle, Popsugar and more. She has been a guest on the Balanced Bites Podcast, Harder to Kill Radio and many others as a thyroid health & Histamine Intolerance expert. Dr. Campbell specializes in Thyroid disease, Autoimmune disease and Histamine Intolerance and hopes to help others regain their life as functional medicine helped her regain hers.
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1:45 - FOOD SENSE GUIDE: Get Melanie's App To Tackle Your Food Sensitivities! Food Sense Includes A Searchable Catalogue Of 300+ Foods, Revealing Their Gluten, FODMAP, Lectin, Histamine, Amine, Glutamate, Oxalate, Salicylate, Sulfite, And Thiol Status. Food Sense Also Includes Compound Overviews, Reactions To Look For, Lists Of Foods High And Low In Them, The Ability To Create Your Own Personal Lists, And More!
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6:00 - Dr. Becky's Story
10:00 - What Is Histamine: Enzymes And Receptors
13:00 - Histamine Symptoms, Causes, And The Bucket Theory
14:15 - Do You need to be on A Low Histamine diet forever?
14:35 - Is Histamine Sensitivity Real? Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
16:15 - Should You Test For Histamine?
17:30 - Histamine Tolerance Levels
18:00 - Addressing histamine And underlying causes
19:00 - Histamine In Food Vs Histamine Liberators
20:35 - How caffeine affects histamine
21:05 - BUTCHERBOX: Grass-Fed Beef, Organic Chicken, Heritage Pork, And More, All Raised Sustainably The Way Nature Intended! Butcher Box Provides Access To Nutrient Rich, Affordable Meat And Seafood Shipped Straight To Your Door! Go To Butcherbox.Com/Melanieavalon And Use The Code Melanieavalon For 2 Free Filet Mignon and 2 free lobster tails!
23:15 - DAO inhibitors
23:30 - The Different foods to Eat
24:50 - Becoming More Sensitivities
25:30 - The Spectrum Of Histamine In Food
26:40 - aged foods
27:35 - Frozen vs. heating meat, storing and cooking food to reduce histamine
28:45 - Instant Pot Recipes
29:30 - Histamine In Seafood
30:50 - BUTCHERBOX: Grass-Fed Beef, Organic Chicken, Heritage Pork, And More, All Raised Sustainably The Way Nature Intended! Butcher Box Provides Access To Nutrient Rich, Affordable Meat And Seafood Shipped Straight To Your Door! Go To Butcherbox.Com/Melanieavalon And Use The Code Melanieavalon For $20 Off Your Order, And Free Grassfed Fed Ground Beef For Life!
33:00 - Poison Ivy Study: The Role Of The Stress Reaction
34:50 - The Importance Of Visualizations
42:30 - Pharmaceutical Antihistamines
37:30 - Quercetin
39:00 - Histamine Self Test
39:30 - Histamine Symptoms
44:05 - BiOptimizers: A company whose mission is to fix your digestion! They make a range of awesome supplements, including digestive and proteolytic enzymes, gluten support, HCL, and more! Shop At Bioptimizers.com/Melanie With The Code Melanie10 for 10% Off!
47:00 - How pervasive Are histamine issues?
Melanie Avalon: Hi friends, welcome back to the show. I have been eagerly awaiting this episode for so long and I know my audience it has as well. It is about a topic that I think so many people personally struggle with, have questions about, want to know more about. And that is histamine. All things histamine. I was looking to find the perfect person to talk to about it. I got introduced actually by our mutual friend, Noelle Tarr, to the fabulous Dr. Becky Campbell. She actually has a book all on the topic. And her book, The 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan, friends, listeners, I'm so excited because I got the book. I read it. I told you this, Becky, but it's a beautiful book. It's just really gorgeous, looked through the pictures and everything. But it really does an amazing job of diving deep into histamine intolerance on a level that I hadn't really read in any other source prior to that, while still being super accessible, super understandable. And then, obviously very practical and implementable for those looking to have a histamine reset, and address all of that. So, Dr. Campbell.
Dr. Becky Campbell: Thank you so much for having me and thanks for putting up with all my reschedules. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: It's all good. It's happening now. It's all that matters. So, for listeners, a little bit about Dr. Becky. She is a board-certified doctor of Natural Medicine and she was initially introduced to functional medicine as a patient. I'll just let you, Becky, tell listeners about your own story that actually led you to that. But you've been published, all over the place, MindBodyGreen, Bustle, PopSugar. She's been on various podcasts. Now, this podcast. Obviously, I said The 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan. She also has The 30-Day Thyroid Reset Plan book as well. But, yeah, to start things off, would you like to tell listeners a little bit about your personal story? What led you to where you are today and in particular, why you have this focus on histamine?
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yeah, as a kid, I didn't feel terrible, but there were certain things that now knowing what I know about histamine intolerance, there were definitely signs. I had migraine headaches, I was very sensitive to the heat, like I would pass out randomly in the heat. I would get random hives. And just I was tired, I was more tired than other friends were. I was dizzy a lot. No doctor really knew anything or thought there was anything wrong. So, I just went through life as that being normal. And then, when I was in college, of course, under an enormous amount of stress with my class schedule, I gained 30 pounds really quickly. I started losing a bunch of hair and got really bad brain fog. So, it was abnormal, I'd already felt off most of my life, but it was definitely worse. There was something wrong.
Fast forward, through many doctors and trying to figure it out, I turned that I had Hashimoto's disease, which is an autoimmune thyroid disease. I started working with natural medicine doctors who helped me a lot with the food and working on my gut health and my hormones and all that. Then, I got that under very good control to the point where I didn't even need thyroid medication. But I did have some lingering symptoms that I would notice really related to food and stress. But I couldn't tell what it was, it's like because food reaction isn't always right away. So, you always think, “Oh, I have a food sensitivity.” And it really wasn't that.
I just so happened to love all high-histamine foods. [laughs] I was eating a lot of fermented foods. I was drinking kombucha every day, dried meats, whatever, like aged meats, [unintelligible [00:04:01] histamine. And I would get very strange symptoms where I would have tingling, weird crawling sensations on my scalp, which led me to get MRIs thinking I had a tumor, all sorts of weird stuff. I was very fatigued. When I would eat, it would be almost like I took a sleeping pill.
Long story short, I started realizing that there was something else going on besides my thyroid issue. Nobody was really talking about histamine intolerance at the time that I knew of. I didn't even know what it was. But I started learning about it just through research, and a friend actually had mentioned it to me. Then, I realized and got tested for and realized that I had mast cell activation syndrome, which we can talk about in a little bit. It's one of the leading causes of histamine intolerance. Then, I learned exactly what to do for it. And that's what led me to work with people the way I do with histamine intolerance and write this book because it really changed my life. I feel great now, for the most part. So, I knew I needed to make this more aware because it's still not talked about nearly enough. And people don't understand what it is. But a lot of people are suffering with it.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Well, first of all, I'm sorry, you had to go through that. But I am super thrilled that you did realize what it was and were able to address it and that now we're able to share this information. I think histamine is so interesting, because obviously, I think a lot of people are familiar, they know antihistamines, but I think it can be really, really vague to a lot of people, especially the foods, it's like, “Okay, well, how much does any one thing really affect things?” It's hard to know, and especially, I think, because the symptoms like you discussed are so broad and could potentially be so many things, and especially the overlap with food sensitivities. So, I guess a foundational question, what is histamine? I always feel so stupid asking such a simple question, but what is histamine?
Dr. Becky Campbell: No, that's a really good question because histamine gets a bad rap, like estrogen and cortisol. They all get a bad rap. But it's something that's so, so needed in our body. Its main role is to help you get rid of allergens, so it dilates your blood vessels whenever it senses a potential pathogen and allows your white blood cells to come in and find and attack those pathogens. So, we absolutely need it. It's also involved in digestion. It's a chemical messenger between the brain and the body. So, it's very important.
The problem with histamine is not histamine. The problem is when we can't break down histamine. Some of us can break it down really easily, and that's what's supposed to happen. After it comes in and does its job, we have these enzymes that come in, it breaks it down, it gets rid of it, we're fine. Everything's normal. But for some people, they don't have enough of that enzyme and there's multiple reasons why. And then, the enzyme can't come in and do its job and break down the histamine. And we have so many histamine receptors in the body, meaning the places in our body that histamine is taken in and used, so if there's all this histamine leftover, the histamine is going to get into those receptors and it's going to cause symptoms throughout the body. And that's why the symptoms are so-- in such various places throughout the body because it's where those receptors are located.
Melanie Avalon: This might be way too technical of a question. The histamine attaches to these receptors and causes these issues because the enzyme that breaks it down, you talk about there's like DAO, also HNMT, to break it down off of the receptor, or is it like histamine is floating around everywhere and it breaks it down?
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yeah, it's floating around in the blood. So, it grabs it, breaks it down, and it basically dissolves it. If it's not broken down, that's when it can get into more receptor sites and it can cause more symptoms, yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Can some people, do they have really epic production of the enzymes that break it down and can really tolerate almost any histamine load and then some people can't tolerate anything?
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yeah. So, the main enzyme is the DAO enzyme and that's produced primarily in our digestive tract. I'm sure at this point, most of your listeners have heard that gut health is a big deal. One of the reasons it's a big deal is because we need to produce this enzyme. So, if you have gut infections and you have issues going on, you're not going to adequately produce it. So, that would be one of the reasons that you would not be able to break down the histamine. If someone has amazing gut health and they don't have any genetic mutations, because you can also have genetic mutations in these enzymes, then that would be a person who would easily break down histamine.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, gotcha. The symptoms that a person might experience from the histamine, does it require reaching some sort of overload point where the symptoms start manifesting? Or can anybody experience symptoms at any time? I know you talked about like the bucket theory of histamine.
Dr. Becky Campbell: I can kind of explain the bucket theory and that will probably be a good place to start. I like to say imagine you have a bucket and you fill it full of stuff that is going to make you less tolerant to histamine. Stress is a huge issue with underlying histamine, leaky gut, gut infections, or histamine-producing bacteria in the gut, vitamin deficiencies, inflammatory diseases like irritable bowel disease, those mutations in our genes, certain medication. So, say you have all that going on or some of it or whatever. And then you go to eat that high histamine food and your bucket is fall. You're going to topple over. You're going to get symptomatic. But my whole purpose of all this is not to put people on a low-histamine diet and keep them on that forever, my purpose is to teach people about the underlying causes of histamine intolerance, get those as good as possible. So, emptying that bucket and then that's when you can tolerate more. You can eat more foods, you can have some alcohol, whatever it is, you can live that normal life that you're looking for and not be symptomatic.
Melanie Avalon: Is there also an actual histamine sensitivity? Or is it really just not having enough enzymes because histamine creates these inflammatory reactions?
Dr. Becky Campbell: It's really about the amount of histamine. Let's dive a little deeper and talk about mast cell activation syndrome, because that is, in my opinion and many others' opinion, the leading cause. Our mast cells are what produce histamine. With mast cell activation syndrome, you're releasing histamine abnormally. Remember, I said histamine’s released in response to a potential pathogen, but with mast cell activation syndrome, it's released in response to other stuff. Remember how I said, I had a poor response to the heat. Heat actually will trigger your mast cells to release more histamine, if you have an issue with mast cell activation syndrome. So, you're producing much more histamine than you should be.
And it's not just histamine, it's all these other inflammatory cytokines. So, your body is going into this inflammatory state. And so that makes you-- our mass cells, we have mast cells all over the body. So, wherever those mast cells are, you're going to produce more histamine. And that's when you become symptomatic. It's either whether you're producing too much histamine, or you're just producing a normal amount of histamine and unable to break it down. Or sometimes you have both things going on.
Melanie Avalon: That makes sense. And mast cell activation syndrome, is that something that you can test for, or is it even worth testing for?
Dr. Becky Campbell: Here's the thing with testing for. There is a list of, and I give in the book, of tests you can do. The problem is that you can get a false negative, and it's all dependent on where you are. Let's say you're having a really good day, you might not have a high-- one of the markers might not be high that day. It's really more of when you're in a reaction that it’s the best time to test. But there are so many tests. One is a 24-hour urine test, so it's not that you can exactly time everything right. I myself have come back positive and negative for mast cell activation syndrome.
I tend to say to people-- I work with people on all different levels. Some people just have histamine intolerance. Let's say they were fine their whole life. Recently, they start reacting to things and it's being driven by their gut. They're easy. We reduced the histamine foods, we fix the gut, they're fine after. But some people who have mast cell activation syndrome, that comes in all levels too. It maybe you have it, but it's not like a gigantic issue. It can be solved the same way that histamine intolerance can be solved, and some people can't tolerate the very treatment they need. They can't take any supplements. They can't tolerate almost any food. They come to me, they're like, “I can eat three foods.” So, there's all different levels of this and I work with all of them, and I've been all of the levels myself. And really is so dependent on the person and all the things that are working together to bring this picture up.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, seems with so many health things, that's the way it is, so individual. Is there really hope though, can anybody take charge of their histamine and get things on the up and up?
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yeah. Honestly, it's one of the easiest things to work with. If you just have histamine intolerance, it's really one of the quickest things because I don't just work with this. I work with a lot of stuff. But if you just remove the high histamine foods, I can tell you the difference you can see in one or two weeks is amazing. Then, if you start working on the underlying causes of it, and then you can start adding some of those foods back in and it depends. You may be able to eat them some days and some days you can’t. It's just depends on what's going on as far as that bucket goes. But it is one of the easiest things to work with and one of the hardest things to work with, just depending on the severity of the issue, but just histamine intolerance in general without mast cell activation syndrome, is pretty simple to work with.
Melanie Avalon: Okay. I'm glad-- you did talk about what you're eating with this. I have so many questions about histamine and foods. Do you know what the histamine is actually-- Because it's often high in high protein foods. Is the histamine in the food and in animal products, these are the exact same compound that's in us, it's just an exogenous form of it because it was created by that animal?
Dr. Becky Campbell: When food ferments, certain bacteria turn into the amino acid known as histidine and that is what turns into histamine. So, it literally depends on what you're eating and what it's doing. It can be that’s the picture, like the actual food has a lot of histamine in it. Or it can be that there's certain foods that make our own histamine in our bodies, are called histamine-liberating foods. So, they make our own histamine we have, released more. So, that's the difference.
Melanie Avalon: Do you know why that is? Why they liberate histamine in us?
Dr. Becky Campbell: Not really. It's weird, because it's like alcohol is listed under high-histamine foods and histamine-liberating foods. Alcohol’s fermented, so it's the bacteria issue with that. It's hard to say what I think different foods are doing it for different reasons. So, I don't really know per food what's exactly happening with each thing. If you take caffeine, caffeine is getting to histamine because it's activating your sympathetic nervous system. Activating your sympathetic nervous system is going to increase your mast cells. And then, the more mast cells you have, the more histamine is released. So, it's literally so independent of the food, it's like you'd have to go through each food and digest, and really learn about each food and why it's doing it. It's an easy thing to fix, but it's a complicated thing to understand.
Melanie Avalon: I've been so fascinated by histamine. I literally will just read histamine studies in Google Scholar, and they're really fun to read.
Dr. Becky Campbell: And then also some foods are not high in histamine, and they don't liberate our own histamine, but they reduced the DAO enzyme. So, that's why they shouldn't eat those. There's different reasons for each thing. So, that's why in the book, I put a “yes, no, maybe” list together. Because I want people to be able to eat as many foods as they can. I really try not to cause a problem with food here for people. The No list is the list I want people to stay away from the most at first, because it's these foods that are pretty much producing histamine, they're just high histamine foods, because of the bacteria, the way it's broken down. But then some foods that are maybe DOA enzyme-blocking foods, or histamine liberating foods, I put in the Maybe list because you may have no reaction to these, so why would you stay away from a nutrient-dense food that could be healthy for you if it doesn't make you react?
So, I really encourage people to try through the list, eat mostly off the Yes list. And then I definitely want people to journal what they're eating and how they're reacting and how they're responding. With my patients, I look at it and I give them my feedback on it. But even without being my patient, people can see patterns of certain things that may do-- if I would have known that kombucha back in the day was high in histamine, I had a histamine issue, I would have been able to put together that kombucha was always causing me to feel weird. But I was eating so many high-histamine foods at the time, it was hard to differentiate, and I wasn't writing anything down and I wasn't aware of the whole histamine picture. So, it was hard to know.
Melanie Avalon: It's like when all of it's happening, it's really hard to identify any one thing. And then, when you do get the levels down, then things become really telling. I feel that's how people feel after an elimination diet, they feel they're reacting to foods more, which maybe they are, or maybe they're just completely more aware of it.
Dr. Becky Campbell: What I find with that is they finally feel good. They haven't felt that way in so long. So, now when they eat that food that causes them to feel the way they used to feel, they think they're more sensitive, but they're not. They're just feeling the way they used to feel.
Melanie Avalon: Exactly. Some more questions about the actual food. Do you know the spectrum of how much difference histamine can be in any given food? To clarify this, I have mercury toxicity, for example, and when I did a lot of research into it, I realized that if you eat, like a piece of swordfish, it's potentially eating 300 tilapias at one time, mercury-wise. With histamine foods, is the range really large? If you have a really, really high-histamine food, can that be a really, really huge dose? Or is it not as much of a big deal?
Dr. Becky Campbell: No, there is. There's certain foods that are definitely higher in histamine or definitely cause a bigger problem than others. Like alcohol or anything fermented is going to be worse than maybe a banana. It's definitely-- and there's tons of lists out there, it's hard to navigate through the lists because they're all so different. I find that anything aged is a problem, like canned foods, definitely fermented, certain cheeses, definitely certain vegetables, which there luckily are not a lot of vegetables that are an issue. It's like tomatoes, spinach, eggplant. It's really not that big of a deal. And then, there's mushrooms may be an issue, but they may not. They're not as severe as the tomato would be.
So, I think, yes, there's definitely different levels of histamine in the different foods and that’s again why I made that yes, no, maybe list, because I didn't want everyone to cut everything out that could possibly be related to histamine.
Melanie Avalon: Listeners, definitely get this book. It's so helpful. It has, like she said, all of the lists, so easy to reference, has recipes as well. It's really, really a valuable resource. Quick question, you're talking about the aging factor, meat, for example, if meat has been immediately frozen, it's my understanding that stops histamine production?
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yes, so freezing does, heating does not. When you have leftover-- there's certain brands and I'm not going to promote anyone right now on this because there's probably plenty of great companies that they do-- I have called and I know that they do immediately freeze as soon as you possibly can. That would be the best company would want to go with, you would want to get it frozen. You wouldn't want to go buy a steak and leave it in your refrigerator for two days, then cook it, and then leave it in the refrigerator after for a day or two and then eat it. All of that time is collecting histamine.
I like to get frozen, and then I do a quick thaw because the longer it's thawing, the more histamine it's producing. I usually will put it in warm water. But a quick thaw, and then I rinse it because there is a lot of histamine-producing bacteria on the meat. And then I cook it, and I did do a lot of instant pot recipes because it's a quick cooking method. If you cook it for a really long time, like in the crockpot, that's going to be a problem. So, you want it cooked and then you want to eat it. And that's the best possible scenario. And then, if you have leftovers, you just freeze them because if you don't freeze them and they sit in the refrigerator, again, they'll produce more histamine, but if they're sitting in the freezer, they won't.
Melanie Avalon: This is so huge, especially because I think a lot of people, especially at the grocery store, they assume that getting “fresh meat” is fresher. But like you said, if you know that the meat was frozen immediately upon slaughter/processing, that's most likely the way to go.
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yeah. With fish, like seafood, the reason I didn't do any seafood recipes in my book is because seafood-- remember, we're talking some things are worse. Seafood is higher in histamine just in general. It literally would mean you'd need to catch it, cut it, take it home, and eat it. That's how fresh it really needs to be, to be lower in histamine. And you don't find that in most places. It's pretty much hard to find that fresh of seafood. I stayed away from them for the most part when I was acute. I can eat it now, it doesn't bother me, but for people who are very acute, just stay away from it. It's most likely going to be an issue.
Melanie Avalon: It makes me so sad. The mercury, the histamine. I love seafood and fish as a concept. Well, I love the way it tastes, and the health profile of the omegas and the protein and-- [sighs] upsetting.
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yeah. I eat wild salmon all the time because I don't take-- again, I don't take omega-3 fish oil capsules because they are aged. If I do want to get my omegas in, I'm going to have to eat fish but I do make sure I'm researching sources and finding out. I use ButcherBox for my meats. I make sure I can find out. I talk to the companies and find out what their processes. And that's really just what you need to do, that's what they're there for.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I actually called because I adore ButcherBox and I actually emailed them and wanted to know if they knew more about how fast everything was frozen. They couldn't give me a firm answer. But they said that it was done, I guess, as fast as possible.
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yeah, that's what I got too. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: That's more information than I know about a lot of other places. But, yeah, we're the same.
Dr. Becky Campbell: Exactly. [unintelligible [00:25:34] local stores. I mean, you don't know how long that's been sitting there. And I forget the name of the book. There's a book I read, I think it's called Going Wild or something about wild, and it's about vegetables. You think you're getting-- you go to the store and like, “Oh, organic broccoli!” but it's been there probably for a week before they even put it out. It's really hard to know how fresh your food really is depending on where you're getting it from. So, the point of everything I do is so that people don't have to stress so much over this. I try to get them healthy as possible so that they don't have to worry about this so much. But in the beginning, it is a process.
And this is why on my Instagram, I make videos showing you like, “This is what you're going to do. You're going to get ground meat. You're going to put this in it, you're going to make patties, you're going to stick it in this type of bag, you're going to freeze it. This is how you're going to take it out,” because it's hard. And so, I want people to know it can be really much easier. And in the book, I talk about it too. Just little tricks that you can do that can make making fresh foods so much easier because I think that's the biggest challenge people have with this.
Melanie Avalon: Could not agree more. To that point, was it in your book or did I read it somewhere else? I just found this really motivating. As far as mindset surrounding everything, did you talk about the poison ivy study in your book?
Dr. Becky Campbell: No.
Melanie Avalon: Have you read that one?
Dr. Becky Campbell: No.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, well, this is going on a whole another tangent about mindset and everything. But basically, they did a study on people who did or did not have allergies to poison ivy or something. Basically, if they told them-- if the kids did have poison ivy and then they were exposed to something that they thought was poison ivy, they would react, regardless of if it was or was not poison ivy. But if they actually got exposed to poison ivy and didn't think it was poison ivy-- it was a small group, so probably like seven or so. But I think like five or six of them didn't react, because they didn't think it was poison ivy.
Dr. Becky Campbell: Well, it's the stress reaction. Working with people who are on the one end of the spectrum that are very sensitive, I have to talk to them about this all the time and I was the same way. You develop such fear around food and supplements-- And I'm not a big supplement person. I use supplements just for protocols, and then we move on. It's not like I want people on 20 supplements at all, because I personally would never do that myself. But there is this reaction, it's like this thing that you develop, where if you've had a reaction to something and you keep reacting-- let's say your supplements, you're reacting to supplements, you're just going to become terrified to try anything. So, every time you try a new supplement, you have the same reaction. But it's not the supplement, it's your body, it's your sympathetic nervous system causing stress. And then, stress does cause your body to release more histamine. So, it's not that it is actually what's in the supplement that's doing it, it's that you are reacting to stress.
What I really tried to do in the book and on the one of the very last pages, I have a whole thing on visualization. It's a visualization exercise to reduce reactions to food and supplements. It walks you through how to talk to your body about what you're putting in it and then it's not going to hurt you. It's there to help you, it's nutrient-dense, whatever you need to talk to yourself about it. It's basically like meditating. But once you are at the point where you are able to start reintroducing stuff, sometimes you have to prepare yourself for it. If you are one of those people who have been really reactive to things, just like with the poison ivy study, it really is a stress response to it. So, you will create-- your body subconsciously will create the same reaction as the actual thing will. It's really important to understand that. That's why I talk a lot about meditation, a lot about visualization, and trying to get yourself ready mentally, as well as physically for this stuff.
Melanie Avalon: That was one of the other things I loved so much about your book was that, this entire comprehensive picture and I think the meditation and the perspective is so huge. I don't even just think it. Like I said, the studies find this, it's very much a real thing. Because people can think, “Oh, what can that actually do?” but it can actually do a lot. I do have a one quick question on something we didn't touch on. Pharmaceutical antihistamines, how therapeutic are they? Do they actually make things worse in the long run/is there the potential for using them therapeutically-- if somebody wants to do address things short term while they're addressing root causes?
Dr. Becky Campbell: It depends how severe the person is. Let's say someone's super acute, they may have to take something like [unintelligible [00:30:55] which is a pretty strong antihistamine, which would be more of a mast activation syndrome type person who can eat four foods and can't take any supplements. And that would allow them to start doing-- treating their gut, things that they need to do to be able to actually start their body to learn to break down histamine again, and those are okay short term. But long-term antihistamine medication actually reduces the enzyme that breaks histamine down. It really creates histamine intolerance overall.
You can use stuff like quercetin, which is basically the same thing. It's just a natural antihistamine, but it doesn't have the side effect that, say, Zyrtec or whatever does of breaking down that DOA enzyme. And you can also, and I put a list in the book of high-quercetin foods--- you can get in food, but that type of stuff can help you to block those histamine receptors, and allow you to tolerate more foods and more supplements and whatever you need to do to get to the root of the issue.
Melanie Avalon: Have you found with your patients something like quercetin, a difference in the benefits of a quercetin supplement compared to a lot of high-quercetin foods?
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yeah. Honestly, that's just DIM. Like DIM, you could eat a bunch of broccoli, and get the same that estrogen balance that the supplement DIM is made for, but it's so high dose that it's really hard to actually eat the right amount of foods. Someone's really mild, yeah, I would be like, “Why don't you try eating some high quercetin-foods?” But in all honesty, I start every one of my patients off with liver support, and every one of them that has histamine intolerance off with a supplement called HistaRelief that has quercetin and some other antihistamines in that they're natural. I also give them the list of foods and I encourage them to eat those foods. But sometimes eating the foods is not enough.
Melanie Avalon: And then one thing you talk about in your book is how you can do histamine self-test. How can a person do a histamine self-test?
Dr. Becky Campbell: Really easy. People say, “What test do I need to do?” I'm like, “You don't have to spend any money.” This is one of the easiest things to test. I actually have a handout or a PDF that I will give you guys a link to, to do this to yourself. Basically, you know the symptoms, so in this handout or the PDF, you'll see the symptoms, the main maybe 15 symptoms.
Melanie Avalon: What are the basic ones?
Dr. Becky Campbell: Definitely migraines. It doesn't have to be migraines, it can be just headaches. Diarrhea, congestion, runny nose. Some people just randomly are always congested. Eczema, any type of dermatitis because we have a lot of mast cells in our skin, so we can definitely release a lot of histamine there. Hives, but you don't ever have to have had hives to have histamine intolerance. But some people just get random hives. Fatigue, vertigo, flushing, some people we notice that flush easier than others. I do talk a lot about exercise intolerance, this can be really tied to histamine intolerance because when you are exercising or when you are hot, or both, you are producing more histamine. So, if you're not breaking it down, it can make it harder to exercise. If you feel really worn out after you exercise, it can be an adrenal issue or a thyroid issue, but it could also be a histamine intolerance issue. It really just depends on what's going on in your body. A lot of people will notice when they're eating, they'll get a faster heart rate, so tachycardia. That's a really good sign that that food is increasing the histamine in your body.
Melanie Avalon: That's the one I get that's really obvious to me, unless it's something else but I will get that one.
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yep, me too. I was like that too. For me, it was that weird crawling on my head. I'm telling you I thought I was dying. I was like, “I have a tumor. This is it. I'm going to get this MRI and they're going to find this--,” and there was nothing, it was totally normal. And it was the histamine. So, those are the most common symptoms. This is what you want to do, you want to take-- so let's say, the yes, no, maybe list. In the PDF, I give you the highest histamine foods. Let's say you eat a bunch of fermented foods or whatever's on that list for a couple of days or however long it takes, it may take you 5 minutes, 10 hours, it may take you a week. But your current symptoms or you get additional symptoms, so if the current symptoms exacerbate with this or you get additional symptoms, then you remove all those high-histamine foods for about a week. And if you feel better, you have histamine intolerance. That's pretty much almost always the case. I do have a quiz also in the book to help you to figure out if you have histamine intolerance. But it's really not hard to figure out. It's just that a lot of people don't know about it.
Dr. Becky Campbell: For listeners, the show notes for this episode will be at melanieavalon.com/histamine, and I'll put links to everything there. But did you want to also vocalize what that link is to the PDF?
Melanie Avalon: It's a long one. So, I don't-- [crosstalk] [laughs]
Dr. Becky Campbell: I will put it in the show notes. Well, this has been absolutely wonderful. I've been dying to do this episode for so long, so thank you for helping me finally make it happen. I do have one last question that I asked every single guest on this podcast and it's just because-- you're going to appreciate this, it's just because I've realized how incredibly important mindset is surrounding everything. So, what is something that you're grateful for?
Dr. Becky Campbell: I think I'm grateful for the community that has come together to bring us so much information on all of this stuff. And knowing that there are people who specialize in one or two things, and you really know you can go to that person and trust what they're saying. There's so many people in this community, on Instagram or whatever that we all watch and listen to on podcast and [unintelligible [00:37:13]. And I'm just really grateful for them because before this all came about, medicine was a mess, and it still is in certain areas. So, I'm really grateful for the people who have put in so much time and effort to learn about things and to teach me.
I've learned so much from so many people in this community, and I continue to learn every day. Also, the awesome followers are just so great and so appreciative of the hard work. And I'm sure you notice this too, Melanie, I get so many sweet people writing me, DMs or just messages saying how grateful they are for the hard work they know we're putting in. It really makes it all worth it, or people sharing their story with you that they're getting better, it just makes everything worth that.
Melanie Avalon: I love that. I cannot agree more. I agree. My audience, in particular, they're just like the best. Because I love doing all this research and everything and sharing it, and I'm so grateful for practitioners and people like you help me make this all available and then to have people so receptive to the information and so open-minded and so on board with further exploration is just so, so wonderful. That made me think of one really quick question just because you're saying how you're grateful that there are people that specialize in all of these different things. I think for a lot of people, oftentimes they get worried that because people specialize in different things that they're going to diagnose every condition as whatever their specialty is.
Dr. Becky Campbell: Like Lyme disease.
Melanie Avalon: Yes, like Lyme. Yeah. So, if you're a Lyme expert, everybody's got Lyme. Or if you're heavy metals, everybody's got heavy metals. But how pervasive do you think histamine intolerance is in people? Out of everybody listening, could everybody benefit to at least do a test and see if that is affecting things, the self-test that you talked about?
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yeah. I think if you're not getting answers, it's a really noninvasive thing to do rather than doing this crazy-- and I'm not saying that there isn't a place for protocols like Lyme disease and heavy metals and stuff, because there is. But let's say, try removing some foods and maybe working on your gut health is a lot less invasive, or even just doing a self-test than starting all these really harsh supplements or chelation or whatever it is, that can really actually make you a lot worse than better. I don't know how many people have this, it hasn't been studied enough. But I can tell you that I'm seeing more and more and more and more people going this is the problem, this is what I have. So, I think it's a fairly easy thing to test out without hurting yourself. You really can't hurt yourself with trying this approach which, unlike some other things, you really can hurt yourself.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I could not agree more. I think with my mercury, I’m pretty sure I did a number of my body with a lot of pharmaceutical chelation that, looking back, I don't know if I would have gone that route.
Dr. Becky Campbell: Really harsh on some people, and especially people who have histamine intolerance, we don't methylate well. We don't push things out easily, and you have to be very conscious of that when you're trying to pull things out. You can't just start taking stuff that's moving things around, you might just end up moving things around, you're not going to get it out of your body. So, it's all a process and it needs to be done very slowly, and especially if you're a very symptomatic person.
Melanie Avalon: Well, could not agree more. And the thing about histamine is, we all have histamine, like every person compared to like Lyme or--
Dr. Becky Campbell: We all need histamine.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. It's a natural thing in our body like you talked about in the beginning. Yeah, we need it. It's pervasive. And then, with all of our stress, and all of our food and everything that we experienced today, I can see how for a lot of people, they could often easily become a problem.
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yeah, it's very rare that I will assume someone has a histamine issue, and try them on a protocol for it, and it doesn't work. It's very rare that they're like, “Nope, that did nothing.” Really, it's really rare because like I said, I work with a lot of stuff. It's not just this. And you can definitely have things where it's like, “Nope, that wasn't it. Let's look at something else.” But with this, it's usually if I think it's this, it's this.
Melanie Avalon: Well, again, thank you so much. This has been so incredible. I'm so excited that we finally got it done. Any other links you'd like to put out there for listeners to follow your work? Are you taking new patients or--?
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yeah, we take patients. I have two really awesome practitioners that start everyone off and with the testing, and then I speak with everybody and go over the results and put together a plan for them. So, I do speak with everyone myself. But we have to work as a team because I had an over a year waiting list at one point, I was like, “I don't want everyone to wait. So, how do I navigate this?” And I found amazing, amazing practitioners to work with. So, we have an awesome team.
Melanie Avalon: Incredible. For listeners, again, I'll put links to everything in the show notes. And thank you so much. This was so wonderful. Hopefully, maybe-- I know you're really busy, but maybe we can bring you back on the future. Do you have any other books in the works?
Dr. Becky Campbell: I'm actually about to work on a third book right now.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness, that's exciting.
Dr. Becky Campbell: It's going to be more histamine stuff, and I think I'm going to be a little bit more gut focused, and I may be doing it with an awesome person. But we're not saying anything yet. So, yes, there is something in the works.
Melanie Avalon: Gotcha. That's exciting. And it's exciting and it's telling the fact that you're still-- histamine, it's not like this is a one and done thing.
Dr. Becky Campbell: There's so much to it that I will probably never change my focus. I will always work with all the things I know of to work with. But I will never probably move to like, “Now, I'm doing a book on Lyme disease,” or whatever because it's really where I find the most relief with people, this and thyroid. I work with, I'd say it's 50/50 in my practice, thyroid and histamine.
Melanie Avalon: Wow. That's incredible to hear. And now, I'm really excited. Really excited. Well, definitely, definitely have to bring you back on then for that when that materializes.
Dr. Becky Campbell: Yes, I would love to.
Melanie Avalon: All right. Well, thank you so much and enjoy the rest of your day.
Dr. Becky Campbell: Well, thanks for having me and thanks everybody for listening.
Melanie Avalon: I know, likewise. Bye.