Harmful brain chemical causes memory loss; this fixes it

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Harmful brain chemical causes memory loss; this fixes it

Few people are aware that the brain naturally has histamine.

It is considered a main neurotransmitter.

Like dopamine and serotonin, its distribution is centralized.

Most brain histamine is produced in one area – the tuberomammillary nucleus.

And, like serotonin, the histamine brain region sends projections throughout.

Brain histamine levels can matter a great deal, since histamine has been consistently shown to decrease memory formation.

Histamine can rightly be considered of the inimical neurotransmitters, probably worse than excessive serotonin

Because you actually do need some serotonin.

The minimum level of histamine we need has never been determined…

But only positive results are noticed from reducing it – noticed all the way down to half its original value and beyond.

This wouldn’t matter so much on a practical level if there was nothing we could do about it – but there is.

Histamine can be increased by eating certain foods…

So avoiding those foods can keep our minds in a saner, less emotional, and more discerning mode.

Here is some of the evidence that histamine decreases learning:

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In this study, Iranian researchers used a few chemicals.

They gave rats given either histamine or cimetidine (the classic histamine antagonist).

They also gave them either acetylcholine, nicotine, and scopolamine.

These chemicals interact with a separate brain system known to increase thought speed and learning.

Both acetylcholine and nicotine are well‐known to facilitate learning… And scopolamine blocks these agents.

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They had no surprises from the scopolamine results.

This drug has been shown before to reduce acetylcholine activity, memory formation, memory recall, and reaction time.

But the effects of histamine were even more profound than those of scopolamine, even at the same dose.

And, since scopolamine is considered a powerful drug, brain histamine (being stronger) should not be underestimated.

“Further analysis showed that post-training injections of histamine attenuated, while acetylcholine or nicotine potentiated memory retention. Histamine reduced acetylcholine or nicotine-induced enhancements.” 

This study also demonstrated the powerful effects that nicotine and acetylcholine have on memory.

It also showed the same effect in another way, by testing histamine antagonists:

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The results of this study are conclusive and unambiguous: Cimetidine (histamine antagonist) increases memory formation, while histamine decreases it.

This same effect has been shown in other ways besides.

The following study used a different approach and arrived at the same conclusion:

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This Japanese study made use of an inhibitor that prevented the formation of histamine.

Histamines are formed in the brain from the amino acid histidine. This is done by an enzyme called histidine decarboxylase.

The enzyme inhibition shown here lowered brain histamine concentrations by roughly 50% in most brain regions:

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(With a slight increase in glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter.)

But before they measured this, they tested the rats for memory.

And, besides using a different way to examine histamine (by depleting it with an enzyme inhibitor), this study used a more elaborate memory test…

And the memory test used was the (hopefully fun) radial arm maze.

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This was a one‐time injection of the histamine inhibitor drug (FMH).

And the performance of the two groups of rats tended towards equality as the histamine inhibitor wore off.

In other words, the sharper, low‐histamine rats were getting some of their histamine back over time – which can be seen as a liability.

The values in the table above were measured on the sixth day after FMH injection.

“FMH-treated rats showed significant decreases in the brain histamine level and significant increases in glutamate and glycine levels in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus…”

And, if that’s not enough evidence, there’s even another radically different way to test the effect of histamine.

Researchers destroyed the tuberomammillary nucleus directly, lowering histamine that way:

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This is brain surgery.

This technique has become a somewhat standard procedure and is often used to destroy the raphe nucleus to radically lower serotonin levels.

In this study, they applied the technique to the histamine-producing region of the brain: the tuberomammillary nucleus (TM nucleus).

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This study noted the same result. (That’s saying a lot, when actual brain surgery improves learning.)

Despite having had their skulls opened, the low-histamine rats were still smart enough to outdo the less traumatized control rats.

“The TM nucleus in the rat brain…sends efferents to almost all parts of the brain by way of ascending fibers in the medial forebrain bundle and the ventral surface of the hypothalamus, and descending fibers in the central gray of the mesencephalon and dorsal part of the rhombencephalon.”

So having lower histamine levels clearly improves learning, no matter what method they used to interfere with it in test mice.

Of course, the flip side of that is that histamine reduces learning.

Moreover, these results are seen both in active avoidance tests and the radial arm maze.

As there is now enough evidence showing that histamine inhibits memory, it’s good to know that we can take steps to reduce it.

And we don’t need brain surgery.

Histamine is formed through immunogenic responses, either to invading microbes or to food proteins. 

A study analyzing histamine release took the white blood cells of patients and added small peptides derived from certain foods.

The results indicated, essentially, that wheat and similar grains released histamine at the highest rate.

Chocolate, soybean, and nuts were also significant – but less so.

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Apples, cheese, coffee, and meat were without much effect – the same foods that are generally considered anti-inflammatory.

More than one-third of patients tested released histamine strongly in response to a food protein.

“The leukocytes from 23 patients (38%) released histamine to food antigens…”

But histamine released from white blood cells is not the only thing to consider.

We’re going to talk about mast cells now…

These are specialized cells that store and then release histamine.

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Mast cells exist in the brain, where they are thought to migrate after eating immunogenic foods:

Most people don’t even know that there is histamine in the brain.

And most people who do know this think that most of it is created by the tuberomammillary nucleus.

But mast cells are significant, and could represent most of the brain’s total histamine – in some cases.

“Mast cells may account for almost all the histamine in the neonatal rat brain and up to 70% of this amine’s content in the adult rat brain.”

Mast cells wouldn’t be expected to deliver a more or less steady rate, like the histaminergic neurons do…

These cells release histamine all at once.

And they can do this in response to cortisol.

Cortisol strongly induces histamine release from mast cells in vitro.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about mast cells in the brain is the great variation, even within the same species.

Some people and animals have essentially no mast cells. And some of them have many.

“…large ranges in cell numbers were encountered. Mast cells within the adult pineal body ranged from only a few to 49,000, while those in the infundibulum ranged from 0 to 7,000.”

Mast cells can be induced by immunogens…

And these cells exist in higher amounts (about threefold) in the intestines of people with wheat allergy.

They can also be induced by radiation, such as X‐rays.

So, besides the free radical damage caused by X‐rays, you have to deal with increased histamine for a few months.

Histamine can best the neurological symptoms associated with immunogenic food proteins.

Schizophrenia has been strongly linked to celiac disease, schizophrenics being 4.75 times more likely to have gluten antibodies.

Histamine can act as a stimulant, initially, but it’s clear that it can reduce learning.

Nicotine and acetylcholine are stimulants that promote learning.

So taking some time away from eating the immunogenic proteins of soybean, wheat, chocolate, and nuts could be a good way to uncover any hidden low‐grade food reactions.

And if you really enjoy eating wheat, then certain digestive enzymes can destroy any immunogenic effect.

Prolyl endopeptidases can break the proline bonds that let the peptides their long, immunogenic chains.

Avoiding certain foods could equate to lowering histamine in the brain, something that can rightly be considered ideal.

And don’t forget to avoid stress, which can increase cortisol – another histamine booster.

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Matt Cook is editor-in-chief of Daily Medical Discoveries. Matt has been a full time health researcher for 26 years. ABC News interviewed Matt on sexual health issues not long ago. Matt is widely quoted on over 1,000,000 websites. He has over 300,000 daily newsletter readers. Daily Medical Discoveries finds hidden, buried or ignored medical studies through the lens of 100 years of proven science. Matt heads up the editorial team of scientists and health researchers. Each discovery is based upon primary studies from peer reviewed science sources following the Daily Medical Discoveries 7 Step Process to ensure accuracy.

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Segura-Torres, Pilar. "Tuberomammillary nucleus lesion facilitates two-way active avoidance retention in rats." Behavioural brain research (1996) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016643289781114X

Wray, David. "Food allergens and basophil histamine release in recurrent aphthous stomatitis." Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology (1982) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/003042208290384X

Strobel, S. "Human intestinal mucosal mast cells: expanded population in untreated coeliac disease." Gut (1983) http://gut.bmj.com/content/24/3/222.abstract