Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Histamine Allergy
Name: Georgia Van W.
Status: Educator
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: May 2003

One of my students had allergy tests done and the doctor told her she was allergic to histamines. I thought histamines was something your own body produces. How is it possible to be allergic?

It is a both/and situation. Certainly, the body produces histamines as a protective response to certain allergens, and sometimes it over-reacts leading to well known symptoms. In addition, histamine occurs widely in nature. It is produced by some bacteria and yeasts, it is one of the products of the putrification of meat, it is found in some vegetables such as spinach and egg plant, in some fish, cheeses, and red wine. So it is possible to be "allergic" to histamine in the sense that in a "skin" test the student presented an even greater allergic response than would be expected by the low concentration of histamine in the challenge serum. I do not know if it is so, but the presence of histamine may be mistakenly attributed to other food allergens.

Vince Calder

Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory