By

Testing if Your DAO Level is Low

Yes, there’s a test that measures diamine oxidase (DAO) levels in the blood. No, it’s probably not worth your time or money to get it done. (Wondering what DAO is? Start reading here and follow the links at the bottom of that post for more information.)

There are two issues. The first is there’s no well-established range of DAO levels. There’s speculation and you’ll find ranges listed, but they aren’t yet backed by solid science. Also, it’s not known whether the amount of DAO in your blood is indicative of how much is in your gut, which is where it really matters.

Genetic testing can show if you have mutations in the genes related to DAO production, but not how much you actually produce. While the test confirmed that I probably make insufficient amounts of DAO, dietary research, an elimination diet and testing DAO supplements were more informative.

The best way to find out if you’re low in DAO is to try taking the supplement. You can get small a bottle of the highest strength DAO for about $30. If you’re going for a high dose, use Histamine Block rather than Histame. (The Amazon link defaults to the more expensive 60 capsule bottle. Click on “30 Easy-To-Swallow Vegetarian Capsules” in the box below the “in stock” notice to choose the less expensive bottle).

It took about a month of playing with the amount of DAO I took and how long before meals to take it before I hit on the right set up for me. The label recommends taking two no more than 15 minutes before every meal. I’ve found each capsule covers about 400 calories, though I take more if I’m eating a high-histamine food, like fish. I currently take it about 8 minutes before eating (or even drinking coffee or herbal tea) and am sure to finish eating within 45 minutes. As you’ve read, the change was drastic once I hit on the right combination.

This was while eating a low-histamine diet, which I recommend trying. Even if you don’t, read the list of high-histamine foods and take extra DAO when you eat them. (Some of those foods are also high in tyramine, which has long thought to be a migraine trigger. DAO does not help process tyramine and there is no digestive enzyme that claims to.)

The capsules are expensive (about $1 each), so I initially felt a lot of pressure to take no more than I absolutely needed. For the sake of dietary variety, I’ve relaxed a bit and now err on the side of too much with foods I’m uncertain about. Other than pocketbook pain, I have no noticeable side effects. I thought heartburn was an issue for a while, but that has resolved (it was likely due to reintroducing fat after going so many months on a very low fat diet). I’ve been reassured that DAO is safe and that any that’s unused gets flushed right out. That’s why you have to take it before every time you eat — it doesn’t stick around.

I know many of you are hoping that DAO will help you as much as it has me. If you do decide to try it, play around with dosing and when you take it. If you get any relief from it, it might be another addition to your treatment plan. Every little bit adds up.

Still have questions? Please ask them in the comments or email me at kerrie[at]thedailyheadache[dot]com and I’ll try to answer them.

Related posts:

By

Which is correct, “migraine” or “migraines”?

Ever wonder why migraine sometimes has an S on the end sometimes and sometimes doesn’t? Migraine or Migraines?, my latest Migraine.com post, explains why this is and when each one is correct. Here’s an excerpt:

Which word is correct, migraine or migraines? The answer is both, though the two words have different meanings. Migraine without an S means the underlying neurological disorder. With an S on the end, migraines refer to the individual attacks that a person who has migraine experiences. A parallel without the confusing verbiage is epilepsy and seizures — a person who has epilepsy has seizures, a person who has migraine has migraines.

By

Book Your AHMA Conference Hotel Room Today; Rates Increase Sunday

Planning on attending the American Headache & Migraine Association patient conference in Scottsdale, AZ on Nov. 24 and haven’t booked your hotel room yet? The Hampton Inn’s special rate of $85 (plus tax) per night is only available through tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 2. Rooms include two double beds, a refrigerator and microwave, plus complimentary breakfast, a free shuttle within a three-mile radius, and transportation to and from the conference on Sunday.

This is a great rate for a nice hotel in a convenient part of town — tons of great restaurants and shopping are nearby, and there are even a few grocery stores within walking distance. Be sure to book today (or tomorrow) to secure this rate.

Looking to share a room with other conference attendees? Check the members-only AHMA forum to find roommates. Members are also planning outings while in Arizona, like a trip to the Grand Canyon — check the forum to join up.

By

AHMA Patient Conference Travel Scholarships Available

The American Headache & Migraine Association’s first patient conference is just a month away, on Sunday, Nov. 24, in beautiful Scottsdale, AZ. Attendees will hear presentations from top headache specialists, learn about treatments and coping methods, and meet other patients and advocates. If you’d like to attend, but can’t afford the travel costs, AHMA is offering eight $500 scholarships to help cover transportation, lodging, and meals. Hurry, though — this Friday, Oct. 25 is the scholarship application deadline!

Wondering how to make $500 stretch to cover your costs? The hotel’s group rate is $85 a night for a room with two double beds and there’s a thread on the AHMA forum to arrange for room-sharing. In addition to providing a free breakfast, the hotel has refrigerators and microwaves in each room so you can store snacks procured at the nearby Trader Joe’s, Fry’s grocery, or Whole Foods. Lunch is included in the $25 conference registration fee. The hotel also offers a free shuttle within a 3-mile radius, free transportation to and from the conference, and an airport shuttle for $10 per room. Other than airfare, it’s possible to make this trip on a shoestring and still have a great time!

Learn more about the conference and the scholarships on AHMA’s website:

By

Wearing Sunglasses Indoors Can Worsen Light Sensitivity

“Wearing sunglasses indoors actually worsens your photophobia,” my headache specialist warned me when I wore my polarized sunglasses to my appointment. The effect is not unlike medication overuse headache — you use a product because it helps, but by using it too often (or indoors instead of out), you actually became more susceptible to the problem you were trying to solve. That appointment was the last time I wore sunglasses indoors or after dark. Now, whenever I see migraineurs recommend wearing sunglasses to deal with fluorescent lights, computer monitors, TV screens, or any other bright light (like here and here), I want to yell, “Please, please don’t wear your sunglasses indoors or after dark! It can make you even more sensitive to light!”

But I can’t because I’m a co-owner of TheraSpecs, so anything I say makes readers think I’m trying to market my product. In a way, I guess I am, but only because the tint on TheraSpecs provides a better alternative to sunglasses indoors and won’t increase a person’s light sensitivity. The same neurologist who warned me against wearing sunglasses indoors or after dark is the one who told me about the precision tint that filters out the painful wavelengths of light. He has no financial ties to a company that sells glasses with this tint, he just knows it’s a better alternative than wearing sunglasses indoors. Because his suggestion helped me so much, Hart and I decided to make light-blocking frames with this special tint readily available to anyone with light sensitivity.

Now I’m in this bind of wanting to share the information that I have — information that could help migraineurs avoid exacerbating a major symptom and potential trigger — while being silenced because some people may think it’s marketing. Yes, TheraSpecs makes great products that help a lot of people, but that’s beside the point. Migraineurs are potentially worsening their photophobia by wearing sunglasses indoors and are encouraging others to do the same — and because of my affiliation with TheraSpecs, I can’t warn them of this risk. It’s so frustrating!

sunglassesindoors