- A substance that has many effects in the body. It is released from some types of white blood cells during allergic reactions. It causes small blood vessels to dilate (widen) and become leaky, which can cause tissues to swell. It also causes smooth muscles to contract, gastric acid to be made, and the heart rate to increase. Histamine is used in tests for allergies, asthma, and gastric acid secretion. It is a type of neurotransmitter.