Diet, Meds & Supplements, Treatment, Triggers

Diamine Oxidase (DAO) is Why I’m Doing Better

The Amazing Feat of a Normal Life prompted a lot of questions about why I’m feeling so much better. It’s still the digestive enzyme, diamine oxidase (DAO), that I started in January. (To learn more, read The Post I Never Thought I’d Get to Write and follow the links at the end for more details. If you want to try DAO yourself, you can get it through Amazon. Even though it’s called Histamine Block, it isn’t an antihistamine and doesn’t block histamine.)

I continue to follow a restricted diet, though that’s more about wanting to reintroduce foods slowly and methodically rather than any particular food being a problem. As long as I take DAO, I’m doing great with nearly every food I try (even dairy and wheat). I’ve even tried a few high-histamine foods (with a little extra DAO) and have done fine.

The other dietary change is that I’m eating most foods on a rotating schedule, leaving two or three days between each time I eat a particular food. I began this when I developed an intolerance to coconut after eating it multiple times a day for months without a problem. This has been a very effective way to vary my diet.

It’s a slow process, but I’m getting almost complete nutrition from the foods I eat (I’m still a little low on calcium). I eat mostly vegetables, though I have salmon a couple times a week and am currently testing eggs and milk.

That’s it. I’m past the three-month placebo window and continue to feel better than I ever thought possible. I know DAO is an unconventional migraine treatment. I know the science behind it is weak. I also know it’s working better for me than anything else I’ve ever tried.

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30 thoughts on “Diamine Oxidase (DAO) is Why I’m Doing Better”

  1. I have been digging into trying to find out why I stated having migraines after my fourth child was born. I never had headaches as a general rule so I was in a lot of pain. Fast foward 4 yrs and I finally realized two food triggers and that low DAO was responsible. I’ve just found you and so excited to not be alone and to know it’s a real thing and to hopefully find a cure!

  2. Hi,

    I am considering trying Dao for my migraines. I can only find one company that sells just Dao it is called Umbrellux (sp). Where did you get yours recently? How many do you take daily? Are you still using it in 2017? Thanks for your time!

  3. Would the DAO Be safe if you had say a-fib?
    And Have a allergic reaction to estradiol?
    Which Is why I would like to try the DAO or maybe something like benedrill
    Before taking the estradiol.

  4. I need plants that do not cause allergies when eaten or drunk that contain:
    1. Diamine oxidase
    2. Pyribenzamine
    3. Benadryl
    4. Diphenhydramine
    5. Privine
    7. Anthisan
    8. Antistine or Antistin (I am not sure of the spelling)
    9. Neohetramine
    10 .Trimeton
    11. Antergan

  5. Kerrie, thank you for writing about DAO. I have seen countless doctors about my migraines snd none of them have helped me over the years but your blog prompted me to try sourcing a DAO supplement however as im in Malaysia, i couldn’t find any so i tried a digestive enzymes supplement after every meal which has helped me tremendously. I normally get migraine episodes once a year but the episodes occur everyday for one to two months, I always had migraines after or before eating and also, before or after bowel movements. After reading your blog and getting the digestive enzymes, my current migraine period has halted which made me realize the histamine and indigestion were the reasons for my migraines. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart, I wish you all the best!

  6. Impressive blog. Hats off to you to be able to write so much when you have migraines.

    A question regarding histamine intolerance. How did you even suspect about histamine playing a key role in your migraine? I know, you mentioned in the comment above that you have genetic predisposition to that (what gene and mutation is it?), but if this is not a factor that contributed in trying our Cyproheptadine, what other was? I would love to know.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Noel, cyproheptadine is a common migraine preventive that I just happened to try. It’s a old and recommended for kids more than adults, but I’d been through enough preventives that it’s the next one my doctor suggested. Taking it was unconnected to the genetic testing, which I did more than a year after I started cyproheptadine. A reader made the connection to food and I started the exploration in my own diet. According to my naturopath, these are the DAO SNPS: DAO rs2070586, DAO rs2111902, DAO rs3741775. I’m less confident in the genetic testing — my reactions to foods and DAO have given me way more information that the test results did.


  7. I’m a bit late to reply here but I just found your blog.

    I highly suspect my (thank god now irregular) migraines are really caused by histamine. I have had irregular headaches since I was a teenager but only really figured it out about two years ago as it was infrequent enough. I started getting headaches from a finger of scotch like I was having two bottles of sweet wine. Soon after I got a hangover headache from alcohol free beer. Then I remembered taking Zinc pills once and getting really bad migraine headaches. I didnt want to even move my head for an inch, as my brain would feel like being thrown around inside my skull. Turns out the pills had histidine in them, which gets converted to histamine…

    Since then I’ve not had alcohol except to try DAO pills (they seem to work) and some other trials. Whats otherwise really strange is that I can eat other foods that are supposedly high in histamines just fine, like Emmentaler cheese but every now and then I still get a migraine and usually can’t figure out what exactly triggered it. Even when drinking alcohol it usually is all fine the day after but I’ll get a really bad migraine on the second day around noon.

    Obviously the doctors couldn’t figure anything out and my histamine levels were all fine (of course they were, I didnt have a migraine when they took the sample…)

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Alex. It’s interesting that other high-histamine foods aren’t triggers for you. Alcohol can be a migraine trigger for reasons other than histamine, but if the DAO helps, that definitely points to histamine. Figuring out anything related to digestion and migraine is so complicated!

      Take care,

  8. after much reading, here and on other low-histamine sites, i have an appointment with my awesome allergist/plastic surgeon. he is THE most open-minded physician i have ever consulted, and a lovely human being. not-so-tall (arabic origin) dark, handsome, a listener, 🙂 .

    i will ask for a tryptase test and report if it’s abnormal here. my question for today is this: i’ve been having severe leg and foot cramps at night. i used to read that low magnesium was one cause of these, but taking magnesium simply made them worse. (they come and go; for months at a time i don’t have any).

    now i read that low potassium is involved. since i have cut out bananas and oranges as good potassium sources, i find that only broccoli is on the high K side of things i can now eat. and i’m certainly not going to eat broccoli daily. these cramps are really awful, so if anyone has suggestions, i’m all ears. thanks

    1. Kerrie
      Re magnesium. Have you tried magnesium oil mixed with jojoba oil or mixed in with some other non oily oil?
      Apparently magnesium is best taken topically. I use this combo all the time instead of orally and it works like a charm.

      1. Thanks for the suggestion, Julia. I react to many oils applied topically, so this isn’t an option for me right now. I do take epsom salt baths, which sometimes seem to help.

        Take care,

      2. I also had cramps in the legs from time to time. I tried Magnesium in natural form. Same for other minerals and vitamins that are important when having problems with histamines. Natural actually meaning natural here i.e. I ate lots of bananas and oatmeal and other stuff like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, flax seed etc. Much better than all the “natural” vitamin mixes or other crap people just try to sell you for a steep price tag.

  9. Really pleased for you that you are feeling better. Did you test low on this enzyme level? What does your neurologist say about your progress on the supplement? Are you still taking other supplements (magnesium, etc.?)

    1. Thanks! There’s a blood test for DAO, but it is considered unreliable, both because there isn’t a solidly established range and because the amount of DAO in the blood may be very different than that in the gut, where it’s used. My genetic testing did confirm that I very likely have low DAO levels. The easiest way to test whether you may have low DAO production it is to try the supplement and see if it works.

      I saw my neurologist right before I hit on my current dose of DAO. He was interested in seeing what developed, but he doesn’t yet know how much better I’m doing. I’ll see him again in a few weeks.

      I’m still taking 840 mg of magnesium daily and 12 mg of cyproheptadine. I will try dropping the cyproheptadine when my diet is more varied.

      Take care,

      1. Hi Kerrie
        Re: cyproheptadene
        One of the side effects of this drug is blurry vision. Did you get this? I got it when taking this particular drug and now I have cataracts. I’m wondering if the cyproheptadene had something to do with the cataracts. Maybe it initiated it.? There is an article put out in a magzzine called Wise Traditions on drugs and how they can deplete nutrient levels in the body. I believe this is what happens when one gets cataracts after taking certain drugs. Thanks for your wonderful blog

  10. Hi Kerrie — thank you so much for your posts. When we are struggling with the seemingly un-ending battle of figuring out our triggers, you are always there to give us hope and inspiration! I’m really happy that you’ve found something that works for you.

    I’m wondering if your photophobia has changed at all with your success. I have photophobia constantly, even when I may not have a “migraine” for weeks at a time. While I wear my Theraspecs almost every waking minute, I am still not able to read without getting a headache. Has the DAO process you’re going through had any affect on your photophobia?

    1. Thanks for your kind words.

      I haven’t noticed a change, but I haven’t really looked for one because I wear my TheraSpecs all the time.

      A couple thoughts on reading… If you’re using anything with a LED screen, try turning the brightness all the way up, which will stop the pulsing LEDs do to simulate dimming. If that’s too bright, try adjusting the contrast instead of the brightness. You could also try reading large print text — that’s made a huge difference in my ability to read.

      Good luck!


    2. Another thought… Have you seen an ophthalmologist about your photophobia? Something other than migraine could be causing photophobia. Dry eye, for example, is the most common cause of light sensitivity. If you do have another condition, it could be that treating it reduces your photophobia.

      1. Thanks so much for the great suggestions! I do use an LED monitor at work, so I’ve made the suggested changes and will see how I do.

        It just so happens that I have an eye doctor appointment tonight, so I’ll be sure to ask and see if they can identify anything else that may be contributing to the photophobia. I appreciate your thoughtful responses!

    3. Is it photophobia you mean or photosensitivity?
      I think that migrainers have the latter do they not?
      They are not so much afraid of light but they are sensitized to certain types of light, like artificial light.
      I know I have sensitivity to light but I am not afraid of it.

      1. Julia, while the strict definition of photophobia is fear of light, that’s not how it’s used medically. In medicine, photosensitivity means ANY sensitivity to light and is commonly used for people whose skin is hypersensitive to light (often seen in lupus, for example). Photophobia is used to describe a visual reaction to light, usually an aversion caused by light appearing brighter than it actually is. Using the medical definitions, photophobia is what people with migraine have.

        Take care,

        1. With all due respect, photophobia is not caused by dry eyes. Dry eyes can be a symptom of many different issues, including fatty acid deficiencies, vitamin A and zinc deficiencies, etc..

          In fact, photophobia may be in many cases a deficiency of vitamin A, zinc, DHA, and B2 (riboflavin). Riboflavin deficiency in an of itself can be a major cause of photophobia.

          Hope this might be helpful.

          1. Hey, I appreciate that info Kerrie. My bad.

            I guess I would alter my original comment then to suggest that dry eye can be helped with some of the things I mentioned above, plus gamma linolenic acid (GLA) from evening primrose oil and/or borage.

            Thanks again.

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