The Hidden Key to Digestive Health:

Stomach Histamine Reactions and How to Stop Them with Essential Oils

By Robert J. Gilbert Ph.D.

Quick Summary

  • Digestive issues are epidemic today; many of these are linked to Histamine Reactions in the digestive tract.
  • Two of the best Anti-Histamine Herbs are Basil and Thyme. However to have their key components in sufficient concentration may require using them as drops of Essential Oil added to food dishes, rather than as dried herbs.
  • You will need to find Essential Oils of Basil and Thyme which specifically state on the label that they can be used internally; unfortunately many brands are not of sufficient purity, and state on the label they are for “external use only”. A notable exception which specifically states these oils can be used internally, is the Young Living brand of Essential Oils.

Public awareness has grown in the last few decades about just how widespread food allergies are, so that today many food labels note whether they contain common allergens. Many people find that removing specific allergens (such as Wheat Gluten, or homogenized Cow’s Milk, etc.) from their diet makes a huge difference in their overall health and happiness.

However even with increasing awareness of food allergies, digestive problems are still virtually epidemic today. I have personally suffered from my share of them, leading to my having done extensive research in various healing and preventative methods for digestive issues.

One vital piece of information that many people are not yet aware of, is how important Histamine is to your digestive health. Most people think of Histamine as a chemical in the body which can cause breathing problems (leading to many antihistamine medications for allergies such as Allegra, Benadryl, etc.), but there is much more to the story.

Histamine is a natural and vital neurotransmitter in the body, which can cause an immediate inflammation response to signal your immune system to attack invaders. Histamine inflammation can cause flushing, itching, and a variety of miserable symptoms. Histamine not only affects breathing, it is also a component of stomach acid so it strongly impacts digestive health. In fact, Histamine travels through your bloodstream so it impacts your whole body in a wide variety of ways.

Once Histamine is created in your body, it is either stored or is broken down by certain enzymes. Histamine in the digestive tract is broken down by Diamine Oxidase (commonly called DAO, or also known as Histaminase), DAO supplements are commercially available, but most are derived from Pig Kidneys and some people have intense allergic reactions to them.

An easy DAO booster in the body is to use high quality Olive Oil in your cooking; Coconut oil also has multiple benefits. However one of the most helpful and concentrated natural DAO sources is sprouted Peas, which are available in some health food stores alongside other sprouts in the refrigerated section, or you can sprout them at home yourself (you can order an easy kit with everything you need for Sprouting Peas at

There are many Histamine Food Lists which you can find on the internet. These are a good way to start educating yourself about which foods are high in Histamine, which are low, and which are natural Anti-Histamines. Unfortunately, many of the lists are fairly general and do not provide details on exactly which herbs etc. are the master Anti-Histamines.


Two wonderful Essential Oils which are master natural Anti-Histamines are BASIL and THYME. In fact, these herbs have a huge range of benefits.

Basil is an incredible Herb with a long history of preventing stomach cramps, internal gas, constipation, etc. It also is a champion general anti-inflammatory. Essential Oil of Basil was reported in the July 2003 Journal of Microbiology Methods to inhibit and kill powerful antibiotic resistant bacteria, including Staphylococcus.

Thyme is a wonderful anti-inflammatory, which is also a very powerful anti-bacterial, lowers blood pressure, is a natural cough remedy, strengthens the immune system, and when placed on the skin even repels mosquitoes.

The February 2004 issue of Food Microbiology published a study showing that washing produce in water with just 1% of Basil or Thyme Essential Oil added, destroyed the infectious bacteria Shigella — below the level where it could even be detected! (This makes a strong argument for adding Basil and/or Thyme essential oil to all Green Leafy salads you eat, to kill potential pathogens.)

However the small amounts of dried up old flakes of the leaves of these plants (which is all most people may add to their cooking) is probably NOT enough to act as an effective Anti-Histamine! I have personally as a test eaten a full organic Basil leaf with a Histamine-producing meal to see if it prevented digestive upset for me — it didn’t.

What has worked beautifully for me is high-quality Essential Oils of Basil and Thyme. For example I put a drop or two of each directly on my scrambled eggs, mix it in, and I get no digestive upset from my breakfast — in fact, the before and after difference of using these oils has been nothing short of miraculous for me.

The challenge I found is that when you go to a health food store to purchase Essential Oils of Basil and Thyme, the oils you see for sale say right on the label “For Topical Application only – Not for Internal Use”! This kind of statement was on literally every brand I found in 5 different health food stores. This is a very disappointing — and calls into question the purity of the oils, as well as the confidence of the manufacturers in their product.

However there is one brand of Essential Oil that puts right on the label of its Basil and Thyme oils (and every other edible oil it sells) the statement that the oil can be used internally as a dietary supplement. This company is Young Living Essential Oils, which set the standard for truly pure essential oils.

To view the Young Living Essential Oils we currently stock, see HERE.

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