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Are Benzos Drugs That Cause Histamine Intolerance And Withdrawal Allergies?

NatureDAOA supplement that has helped people with the symptoms of histamine intolerance.

Can an allergic reaction be one of the withdrawal symptoms caused by tapering or quitting benzodiazepine drugs?

Have you heard of benzodiazepine withdrawal histamine sensitivity? Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs used to treat anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.

Benzos work on benzodiazepine receptors, which are associated with GABA receptors in the brain, such as the GABA A receptor. The benzodiazepine class includes sleeping pills and a variety of tranquilizers. In the US, each benzo drug is a controlled prescription medication, considered to have abuse potential.

While benzos are used to treat alcohol withdrawal, and sometimes in the detox phase of addiction treatment, they are best restricted to short-term use. However, mental health professionals have been known to treat mental illness with an antipsychotic medication, such as Seroquel, combined with a benzodiazepine, for long-term treatment.

Benzodiazepine use has been associated with memory loss, brain cell toxicity, and significant physical dependence. While the sedative effect of a benzo, such as clonazepam, may be comforting for the symptom relief that it provides in the short-term, the long-term effects can be devastating.

Additionally, combining benzodiazepine use with alcohol use can lead to respiratory depression, blackouts, and other serious adverse reactions. Similar dangers of drug interaction exist when combining benzos with opioids or other CNS depressants.

Unfortunately, when a benzodiazepine dependent person decides to quit benzos, they will likely go through drug withdrawal. Even with a gradual taper, there is a risk of insomnia and worsening anxiety symptoms. In some cases, people who taper from benzodiazepines will experience additional side effects, including benzo belly.

Histamine sensitivity is a symptom that may occur during benzodiazepine withdrawal.

In addition to these common benzo withdrawal side effects, there are some less common, unusual side effects. One rare, but concerning and uncomfortable complications of benzodiazepine withdrawal is histamine intolerance.

This side effect, which is related to the histamine receptor, histamine levels, and changes in the body caused by benzo withdrawal, is experienced as a new environmental allergy. Patients describe symptoms such as eye irritation, scratchy throat, skin rash, itching, and irritation, and other allergy-like symptoms.

In addition to allergy-like symptoms, histamine sensitivity can cause other symptoms as well. These may include headaches, upset stomach, gas, constipation, bloating, muscle aches, dizziness, and generalized pain.

Since there are many symptoms of histamine sensitivity that are similar to other benzo withdrawal symptoms, it is worth considering the possibility that benzo withdrawal histamine intolerance is a contributing factor. This is true, even if the symptoms do not include allergy symptoms.

The symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal have been connected to an imbalance in the amino acid neurotransmitters, Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate. Some experts have theorized that drugs that increase adenosine levels may help to stabilize the relationship of GABA and glutamate.

While there have been studies and papers regarding adenosine-promoting drugs helping with PTSD, it remains to be seen if this mechanism will be helpful with benzo withdrawal symptoms, such as histamine intolerance. Researchers continue to look at the GABA receptor and relationships of various neurotransmitters to see what can be done to help improve the withdrawal experience for the patient.

In the meantime, the medical advice that doctors provide to patients regarding histamine intolerance is to treat it like an environmental allergy, or food allergy. It is important to identify what may be contributing most to the reaction.

Additionally, it is important to reassure the patient that allergy-like symptoms related to benzodiazepine withdrawal are temporary. Symptom relief will occur naturally over time.

Do antihistamines help to improve allergy symptoms related to benzodiazepine withdrawal histamine sensitivity?

Unfortunately, antihistamines may not help much to alleviate these symptoms, though it may be worth trying a low dose of an antihistamine, in accordance with medical direction from a treating physician. Antihistamines, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec may be helpful to treat this adverse effect.

Doctors and patients must be aware that benzodiazepine withdrawal can increase sensitivity to any prescription medication, so the side effects of a seemingly harmless antihistamine may be more pronounced. Generally, medications are best avoided whenever possible, when it comes to treating benzodiazepine withdrawal.

One antihistamine, hydroxyzine, used for treating anxiety and motion sickness, may be prescribed to treat multiple symptoms of benzo withdrawal, including histamine reactions. In some cases, hydroxyzine may be helpful.

Another antihistamine, meclizine, sold as the brand, Antivert, is used to treat dizziness, which may be due to benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Vertigo may also be a benzodiazepine withdrawal symptom, so meclizine is another antihistamine option that a doctor may try to help with multiple symptoms.

What is the best approach to treating histamine intolerance related to benzodiazepine tapering and benzodiazepine withdrawal?

A very sensible approach is to identify foods and things in the patient’s environment which may be contributing to the allergic sensitivity. It is important for the patient to understand that this is related to benzo withdrawal, and it is temporary.

It does not matter if the patient has not had allergies in the past. Every possible allergen in the environment must be considered, even if it has never been a problem in the past.

It will be helpful to first focus on the basics, such as clean air, and a clean sleeping area. A dirty air conditioner filter may be an issue.

Additional HEPA filter devices may be placed in the home to improve air quality. Some air filters include an ionizing ozone feature.

It may be best to leave the ionizer switched off, since it can be exacerbating to asthmatics. It is possible that a person experiencing a transient histamine sensitivity may also have a problem with this feature.

In addition to air quality, the cleanliness of the sleeping environment should be addressed.

There are encasement bags that can be used to seal pillows and mattresses to prevent bedbug infestations. If you are concerned about allergic symptoms that are worse when you go to bed, you may want to carefully wash all bedding. Of course, detergents can be an issue as well, so consider getting an organic, chemical-free detergent for washing sheets, pillowcases, and clothing.

Do you have pets in your home? Pets are excellent companions to help you get through the difficulties of benzo withdrawal. There is no better companion than a loving cat or dog to stand by you during difficult times.

Yet, it is important to consider the possibility, if you are having allergy symptoms, that the pet hair and dander may be contributing to your symptoms, even if you have never had a pet allergy in the past.

Hypoallergenic dogs can still cause allergy symptoms. Cat hair often causes allergic reactions, and it gets everywhere, especially if you allow your cat to sleep and lay in your bed.

What about benzodiazepine withdrawal histamine sensitivity and foods?

As it turns out, food should be the major focus of improving possible histamine sensitivity that may occur during benzo withdrawal. There are specific foods that are associated with high histamine levels.

While it may be difficult, or even impossible, to eliminate all food-related histamine, getting below a symptomatic threshold can make all the difference. You may want to take notes regarding your food intake and make small changes to see what helps.

Some foods that are known to increase histamine levels include avocados, bananas, and spinach. While these are healthy, beneficial foods, if you eat them regularly and have allergic symptoms, you may want to consider reducing your intake, at least temporarily.

Other foods to be aware of are eggplant, nuts, mushrooms, chocolate, strawberries, pineapple, soybeans, eggs, oily fish, processed meats, smoked meats, shellfish, dried foods, dairy products, energy drinks, and alcoholic beverages. Keep in mind that dietary restrictions to make benzo withdrawal symptoms more tolerable will most likely not have to be permanent.

According to Healthline, there are foods that are rich in histamine, foods that cause histamine release, and foods that block the enzyme DAO.  Keeping a food log or food diary can be very helpful in identifying potential problematic foods.

Are there supplements that can help with benzo histamine sensitivity?

DAO, which is diamine oxidase, has been recommended by some people to help with histamine sensitivity. DAO is a natural enzyme produced by the body to help break down foods that are high in histamine content.

While DAO may help with the symptoms of histamine intolerance for some people, it is important to discuss this therapy with a healthcare provider first. A doctor can help to determine if DAO is a safe treatment for patients suffering from histamine sensitivity due to benzodiazepine withdrawal.

Additionally, there are foods that act as natural antihistamines, and may be better tolerated compared to pharmaceutical antihistamines. For example, ginger is known to be a natural antihistamine, and it may be helpful with symptoms. Vitamin C is also known to be a natural antihistamine, so foods rich in vitamin C may also be helpful.

Broccoli and peppers are examples of vitamin C rich foods. Other helpful foods may include raw honey, coconut oil, barberry, or Oregon grape. Dr. Steven Buhner has been identified as an expert on naturopathy who has written on the subject of helpful foods.

Additionally, Dr. Ben Sarlin is a naturopathic doctor who has written extensively about healthy eating, weight loss, and natural remedies. Thank you to Dr. Sarlin for some useful information in this article.

Other supplements which have been recommended for helping with histamine issues include quercetin, a supplement that is known to be a mast-cell stabilizer, helping with inflammation and immunity. Low dose lithium, in the form of lithium orotate has also been recommended to help with dysregulation of serotonin and histamine levels.

Low dose lithium may also help with cluster headaches, migraines, and it may improve plaque-related brain issues, including memory loss and poor coordination. Of course, anyone who considers taking this or any other supplement should first consult with a doctor.

What about soothing topical products to treat irritated eyes or skin?

Of course, while working to improve the underlying contributing factors to allergy histamine reactions, you will also want to address your current symptoms. As stated earlier, avoiding internal prescription or over-the-counter medications is best, wherever possible.

For eye dryness, itching, or irritation, there are soothing eye drops that do not contain medication. I recommend avoiding the Visine Red Eye product, which is medicated, and can shrink eye capillaries.

One example of an eye product is Bion Tears, which is a high quality non-medicated, lubricating eye drop that is available without preservatives in single-use dispensers. This eye product is available in the pharmacy section of many stores.

For skin irritation, moisturizing lotions that do not contain excessive plant products or chemicals may help to sooth irritated skin. Some people may also find relief with an oatmeal bath, magnesium bath, or Epsom Salt bath.

As always, with benzodiazepine withdrawal, any medication or product may be irritating to a specific individual, so there is never a one-size-fits-all solution to any issue related to benzo withdrawal symptoms.

Can allergy symptoms due to histamine sensitivity be ignored?

One concern that may arise is fear of anaphylaxis. Could a person experiencing histamine sensitivity due to benzo withdrawal experience their throat closing, with difficulty breathing?

Of course, the anxiety associated with withdrawal can lead a person to ponder many serious consequences, building anxiety even further. Yet, allergy symptoms can be serious, so it is worth noting the possibility.

Anaphylaxis is probably rare in benzo withdrawal histamine sensitivity, yet, a person experiencing allergic reactions should take the symptoms seriously, and work on avoiding foods and products that may make the symptoms worse. It may help anxiety levels to have an EpiPen on hand, just to know it is there if ever needed to treat an anaphylactic reaction.

Generally, it is also a good idea to have a pulse oximeter to monitor blood oxygen levels. Is there a concern with histamine reactions that oxygen levels will drop?

It is unlikely that there will be an issue at all with oxygen saturation, yet it can be reassuring to see that the numbers are normal. And, pulse oximeters have come way down in price in recent years.

A device that might have cost several hundred dollars a decade ago can now be purchased for as low as $15 to $20. For that price, the piece of mind provided by an oxygen monitor to confirm this aspect of physical health is worth having for many people.

Is formal allergy testing recommended?

How do people with allergies get tested? How do they know what they are allergic to and how to avoid the things that can cause allergic symptoms?

When a patient goes to an allergist, they are tested by having a wide variety of allergens injected just under the skin. These allergy test shots are given with a tiny needle and do not hurt much.

The allergy specialist may also draw blood from a vein to send to the lab for further testing. Getting tested for allergies is important for a person who has lived with debilitating allergy symptoms for a long time.

By identifying precisely the things that a person is allergic to, it is then possible to take all precautions to avoid those things. For example, if a person is allergic to pollen, they can avoid going outside when pollen counts are very high.

And, of course, if a person is allergic to peanuts, they must avoid peanuts to prevent a worsening allergic reaction. When someone is allergic, their reaction may worsen over time with each exposure, so repeated exposure should be avoided.

While benzodiazepine withdrawal histamine sensitivity does cause symptoms similar to an allergy, it is not exactly an allergy. Going to an allergist for testing may not provide the answers that the benzo withdrawal patient is looking for.

However, after taking steps to avoid products, additives, chemicals, and foods that exacerbate the withdrawal sensitivity, if nothing seems to be helping, it may then be a good idea to visit an allergist. Ideally, the allergist should be a doctor who is knowledgeable about benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms, including histamine sensitivity.

Are benzodiazepine histamine sensitivity reactions a sign of tapering too quickly?

When a person tapers off of benzodiazepines, they may work with a doctor who has limited tapering experience, or they may choose to follow the Ashton Manual. Some taper plans are too fast, and some are too slow.

Ultimately, tapering should be patient directed, in that if a patient is not feeling well with progressive drops in dosage, the taper should be slowed down. Or, if the patient tolerates a gradual taper with minimal discomfort, they may wish to try going a bit faster.

In some cases, there are experts who believe that the drug being tapered may be toxic to the brain, causing toxic encephalitis. If a doctor has reason to believe that the drug their patient is tapering from is having toxic effects, they may want to consider encouraging a faster taper plan.

Unfortunately, the tapering process of getting someone safely and comfortably off of a drug, such as a benzodiazepine, is an imperfect art and science.

A person tapering from a benzo may second guess themselves, wondering if they are going too quickly, or too slowly. If they experience a particular withdrawal symptom, they may worry that they tapered, and stopped the drug too soon, and now they are suffering with worse withdrawal symptoms than they should have.

Another concern is whether a person should resume benzodiazepines to restart the tapering process at a slower rate. While there are people who have restarted benzodiazepines, in order to taper all over again, this decision may simply delay and prolong the healing process.

When a person experiences histamine sensitivity during the benzo tapering or withdrawal process, does it mean they have tapered too quickly? Should they go back on benzos to feel better, and try the taper again, but more slowly?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to these issues. Each case is different, and must be approached carefully, and thoughtfully.

In some cases, the patient will do best by pushing through, knowing that withdrawal symptoms, no matter how difficult to tolerate, will eventually subside. In other situations, resuming medication, with a plan to gradually reduce dosage over time, may be the best course of action.

Will these allergy symptoms from histamine sensitivity ever go away?

If a symptom is related to benzo withdrawal, it will almost certainly get better within a reasonable amount of time. The human brain has an incredible potential for healing and adjusting.

Over time, symptoms of withdrawal will become less intense and less frequent, until they are gone altogether. Having a positive mindset and outlook will help the brain to heal.

Unfortunately, we cannot rush the process. People will try many therapies to heal faster, but usually the best therapy for benzo healing is time.

Just like a broken bone takes weeks to heal, the brain needs time to heal as well. Sometimes it takes weeks, and sometimes months. Still, we should take comfort in the knowledge that healing is taking place, and benzo withdrawal symptoms will progressively improve with time.