Uses of Histamine

Histamine not only is an irritating chemical that can cause allergic reactions and prompt you to swallow antihistamine pills; it also plays an essential role in your everyday survival. Histamine serves as a neurotransmitter, transferring neurological information that helps your brain function. Histamine is also important for your digestive and immune systems. Physicians use histamine as a diagnostic tool to evaluate cognitive, digestive and immunological functions.

  1. Neurotransmitter

    • As a neurotransmitter in the brain, histamine helps regulate your sleeping and waking cycles and your ability to concentrate. The sleepy feeling that sometimes accompanies the ingestion of antihistamines results from blocking the normal role of histamine in your body. Medical researchers have used histamine to explore a variety of neurological functions. For example, clinical studies by scientists at Tohoku University School of Medicine in Japan have shown that manipulating the histamine levels in mice causes them to become sluggish and perform poorly on tests measuring intelligence and self-protective aggression.

    Gastric Regulation

    • Histamine helps balance your digestive system by regulating production of gastric acids. The Canadian Medical Association Journal describes the use of histamine in medical tests for patients with gastric distress. Because histamine is essential for proper digestion, doctors can use it for diagnosis by having a patient fast, then delivering a shot of histamine to measure the amount of natural acid produced by the patient. The measurement tells the doctor whether the patient is producing less acid than he needs for optimum gastric health.

    Immunological Responses

    • Although histamine cells are found in the brain and stomach, the majority of histamine cells are produced in the body near sites of potential illness or injury. The body produces histamine as an immunological reaction to fend off perceived threats. As the histamine reacts to repel a perceived invader, it causes blood vessels to expand and smooth muscle tissue to contract. This provides space for fluid to escape, which causes the typical runny nose symptoms of allergic reactions.

      Histamine can also cause rashes and other skin reactions. Although these symptoms may bring irritation and even pain, they enable your immune system to repel dangerous invaders. Physicians can measure the production of histamine in your body to diagnose allergies.

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References

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