L-histidine HCl is the hydrochloride salt of L-histidine, an essential amino acid and precursor to l-carnosine and histamine. Scientists originally classified histidine as a semi-essential amino acid, as they initially believed only children needed histidine for tissue repair and normal growth. However, researchers discovered histidine is also essential for adults after conducting longer studies. The body needs histidine to manufacture red blood cells and the myelin sheaths that protect nerves.
The human body compensates for histidine deficiencies at the expense of hemoglobin and carnosine levels. Histidine deficiencies can cause a number of side effects, such as anemia, joint pain, inflammation, and an inability to achieve orgasm in women. Histidine deficiencies also eventually result in a negative nitrogen balance. The body needs a positive nitrogen balance to repair tissues, synthesize proteins, and sustain immunological functions. Prolonged negative nitrogen balances can lead to anemia, lowered immune resistance against infections, increased susceptibility to certain toxins, and more.
Potential Histidine Benefits
Histidine and the Immune System
Histidine supports the immune system by increasing histamine levels. Histamine is an immunomodulator with antioxidant properties. It plays a role in the development and activation of immune system cells and regulates helper cells that target specific antigens and antibody responses. Histamine also forms part of the inflammatory and allergic responses of the immune system. Low histidine levels can cause more severe allergic reactions. Histidine is also a powerful chelating agent that binds to heavy metals to detox and remove them from the body.
Histidine and Skin Health
Histidine is a part of skin barrier proteins called filaggrin. Once released from the filaggrin, histidine acts as a natural moisturizing factor (NMF). NMFs improve skin barrier function, maintain skin moisture, and reduce inflammation. Histidine also protects the skin from damage caused by UV rays. It’s a precursor to urocanic acid, which the body uses as a natural sunscreen to enhance skin barrier function. While it’s not a substitute for sunscreen, it provides an added layer of protection from the sun.
Histidine and Joint Health
Histidine may support joint health due to its antioxidant properties and role in inflammation. Histidine inhibits oxidative damage to joints by scavenging hydroxyl and oxygen free radicals. Research has linked low histidine levels with the onset of joint health problems. Individuals with low histidine levels are also more likely to suffer from inflammation and oxidative stress.
Potential Histidine Side Effects
Histidine is water-soluble, and numerous studies have reported no side effects from standard doses. One study found that excessive doses measuring 20-60 times more than recommended amount caused headaches, nausea, confusion, and poor mood. Such large amounts can also increase zinc absorption in the intestines, which may lead to a deficiency. Some individuals experience gastrointestinal symptoms while taking histidine. However, the addition of hydrochloride acid helps balance histidine’s pH levels to reduce those side effects.
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