Monday, 29 July 2013

AMINES Part 4 - Biogenic Amines in Food (Tyramine)

2. Tyramine

Tyramine is a naturally occurring monoamine compound and trace amine. It is derived from the amino acid called tyrosine.

Tyramine acts as a catecholamine (dopamine), norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and epinephrine (adrenaline) releasing agent.

Because of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) (this means that the circulation of blood from the brain's extracellular fluid (BECF) in the central nervous system is separated), tyramine is unable to cross over, resulting in non-psychoactive peripheral sympathomimetic effects.

For those who are on monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) (to treat depression, Parkinson's or Alzheimer's), [click on LINK] ingestion of large amounts of tyramine can induce a hypertensive crisis.  This is when hypertension (high blood pressure) occurs with acute impairment of one or more organs. This can result in irreversible organ damage.

The Occurrence of Tyramine

Tyramine occurs in plants and animals. It is metabolized by the enzyme called monoamine oxidase. In food, it is often produced by fermentation and spoilage. Tyramine is produced by the decarboxylation of tyrosine during fermentation or decay.

Foods Which Are High in Tyramine

  1. Spoilt meats/fish
  2. Dried/Aged/Smoked/Fermented/Marinated fish and poultry
  3. Pork
  4. Broad bean pods
  5. Tap and unpasteurized beers
  6. Soy products/Tofu/Tempeh
  7. Shrimp paste
  8. Sauerkraut
  9. Sour cream
  10. Teriyaki sauce
  11. Miso soup
  12. Yeast extracts (Bovril, Marmite & Vegemite)/Brewer's yeast/Yeast vitamin supplements
  13. Old liver (not fresh)
  14. Banana peel/Over-riped bananas
  15. Ginseng
The 'Cheese Effect'

Somewhere in the 1960s, a British pharmacist noticed that his wife who was on an anti-depression (MAOI) would develope headaches whenever she consumed cheese. Thus, the 'cheese effect' name came about.

To read more about the monoamine oxidase inhibitor, click on LINK.
To read more about the link between tyramine-rich-food and antidepressants, click on LINK.


  1. MultipleChemicalSurvivor30 July 2013 at 09:27

    Are you saying Tyramine and those foods high in Tyramine can cause problems? If so, what are the symptoms of sensitivity other than headaches?

    1. I guess it can cause problems in sensitive people. I cannot eat pork. I get a reaction whenever I eat pork. And pork is supposed to be negligible where salicylate is concerned. I guess I reacted to the amines in the pork. I have to read up more on tyramine as I have not read on any other symptoms other than the headaches. Mostly tyramine causes problems for people who are on anti-depressants.

    2. Really!? Interesting. Do they warn people on anti-depressants not to eat those foods?

      What kind of reaction do you get when you eat pork? Anaphylactic or headache?

      I've been told I'm high histamine and should eat foods high in histamine. I tried it once, but I couldn't tell a difference.

    3. There was a time where doctors did not know that people on anti-depressants were supposed to control their tyramine intake. People started dropping dead! They then discovered that the patients had to monitor their intake of tyramine if they are on antidepressants. I guess the patients are warned nowadays... I hope!

      I get severe migraines when I eat pork. I even had near-anaphylaxis attacks back then. I have not touched pork for about 2 to 3 years now.