Hives are an allergic skin reaction during which certain cells release histamine and other inflammatory chemicals. These chemicals cause small blood vessels in the area to leak and this causes the raised patches of skin - somewhat circular in shape. There may only be one or there can be many red patches. They last from one to three days. They can be white, pink or red and are itchy. They may also burn or sting. If the allergic reaction involves other systems of the body there may be a wheeze and difficulty in breathing, swollen lips and eyelids and general flushing. This can be a serious allergic situation and medical assistance needs to be sought immediately.
Our bodies are equipped with an immune system that is designed to recognize harmful substances that get into our blood stream or organs. The harmful substance or allergen enters our bodies and the immune system reacts through a system of plasma proteins called immunoglobulins - these search out and destroy the intruder. This is a complex process with many steps involved. During the process the cells release histamine and other chemicals that cause the familiar allergic symptoms - swelling, itching, hives or sneezing and so forth. In the lungs these chemicals can cause muscle spasms, which in turn narrows the air passages making it difficult to breathe.
To have this allergic reaction our systems must first be primed - become sensitive to the allergen. One or more encounters with the allergen are required before the sensitization develops. The first exposure 'programs' our immune system to recognize and react in a certain way when encountering the allergen. Subsequent exposure results in the allergic response.
The factors that trigger an allergic reaction can be varied and may include:
- Grasses and other plants
- Insect bites
- Food additives and certain foods
- Any of an enormous range of chemicals found in the air, water and generally in the environment
- Animal dander
- and so forth
When the body is in good health it can be very tolerant to the invasion of incoming chemicals or foreign proteins. However, if the liver is overloaded with toxic material and the lymphatic system is already congested with unsuccessful attempts to clear waste from the tissue an allergic reaction can manifest. Some people are genetically predisposed to producing large amounts of histamine. Stress will also play its part with most conditions. When the body is in a relaxed state many instances of inflammation in the tissues can be avoided.
What you can do
All of the recommendations for hives and other allergic reactions are aimed at improving overall health and vitality. This is achieved by removing toxins from the body, making sure that a healthy eliminative diet is eaten, that the body has the nutrients that it needs to heal and obtain balance.
However, the first place to start is to eliminate the offending substance from contact or entry into the body. If the allergen problem is food or food additives, for example, it is important that the foods be eliminated from the diet. If the problem is dust or moulds or pollens it is important for these to be eliminated - so that the immune system has a chance to rest and regain its balance.
- Follow safe colon cleansing principles - this means that the whole body - including the lymphatic and immune systems will be cleansed and this is an effect way to assist the body to regain a balanced immune system.
- The diet needs to be based on salads, vegetables, fruit and a moderate level of protein intake. It is particularly important for anything that suppresses the immune system and congests the lymphatic system needs to be removed from the diet. This means all sugars, dairy products, fatty food, all process and refined foods and fatty foods. Eliminating these foods will also provide the body with the opportunity to begin eliminating toxic material. This will begin to allow a rebalancing of the immune system.
- In addition to eating a healthy diet it is important to supplement the nutrients that are eaten so that there are plenty available for the healing process. The nutrients that are needed can be obtained from a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. In particular vitamins C and the B group vitamins are needed.
- It is also important to limit the toxic load that the body has to deal with as much as is possible. This means stop smoking , avoid alcohol, reduce or eliminate the chemicals that are used in and around the house, use organic foods and so forth.
- There are two groups of herbs that will provide assistance. Those cleanse the liver and those that cleanse the lymphatic system. Herbs for cleansing the liver are:
- Milk thistle
- Fringe tree Herbs for cleansing the lymphatic system are:
- Red clover
- Violet leaves In addition to the liver and lymphatic herbs the following can be useful. The following can be made as a tea and then applied as a compress to the affected area.
- Liquorice (licorice) has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties. It acts in similar ways to cortisol - the bodies own anti-inflammatory hormone. As well as using liquorice internally as a tea you can also apply the tea to the affected skin with a clean cloth three or four times per day. Be aware of the issues related to liquorice before you use it internally.
- Chamomile is also an anti-inflammatory that you can take internally as well as applying the tea to the hives three or four times per day. You can also use it in a lukewarm bath. If you are allergic to other members of the daisy family you may also be allergic to chamomile.
- Diluted, distilled witch hazel can be used externally to ease the itching.
The following is a useful formula:
- 4 tablespoons chamomile
- 1 tablespoon licorice
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- 1 teaspoonful turmeric or 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 3 cups water
Place the herbs into a medium saucepan and add the water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and allow to cool. Place on a gauze cloth and apply to the affected area. Refrigerate any left over for later use.
Hives are an allergic skin reaction that cause raised patches of skin. There may only be one or there can be many red patches. They are one of a range of conditions that indicates hypersensitivity of the immune system. The underlying problems that have lead to the hypersensitivity and allergic responses need to be addressed - as well as providing immediate relief from the skin inflammation.By Dr Jenny Tylee