From the Encyclopedia of Natural Healing: Hives


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Hives also known as nettle-rash or urticaria, are patches of white welts against a red skin surface. Hives usually develop quite suddenly. They tend to burn at first, later they itch tremendously.

Hives can appear locally as a reaction to an external cause, such as an insect bite or sting, as well as to temperature extremes, emotional pressure and scratching. More frequently, hives occur as a response to the ingestion of certain foods, especially shellfish and food additives or medications, particularly penicillin or aspirin.


Because hives are often caused by the release of histamine from mast cells as a result of eating certain foods, changes in diet can help. Likely allergens are milk, fish, meat, eggs, beans, nuts and peanuts. Eliminate these from the diet, then reintroduce them one by one. Also avoid food additives, cured meats, alcoholic beverages, processed cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits and shellfish. These foods contain vasoactive amines which increase intestine permeability, allowing irritants into the body.

Nutritional Supplements

Although overall health should be improved by supporting the immune system and avoiding the source of the problem wherever possible, internal supplements can help tame allergic symptoms and prevent recurrences. Vitamin C and B12 are the main vitamins for treating hives. Beta-carotene is particularly effective for hives caused by the sun. Vitamin B12 is best taken by dissolving it under the tongue. The essential fatty acids are required in long-term treatment, as they build prostaglandins which are needed throughout the body for overall immune system function, as well as for healthy skin. Evening primrose oil is an excellent source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid.

Daily Dosages

Vitamin C, with bioflavonoids, 1,000 mg three to five times daily

Vitamin B12, sublingual tablet, 100 mcg

Evening primrose oil, two 500 mg capsules three times daily

Quercetin, 500 mg three times daily

Pycnogenol, 300 mg Curcumin, 500 mg three times daily

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies can help reduce the symptoms of hives without producing the side effects.

Juice of stinging nettle leaves will in most cases cure the rash in a short while. Take one tablespoon three times daily.

Some biological preparations, such as arnica and camomile, could cause hives in sensitive people

Horsetail, valerian, birch leaves, St John's wort, lemon balm and peppermint reduce inflammation and pain. Combine as a tea and take three cups daily.


In the case of an emergency, where hives cause difficulty breathing, use Apis in the 30c potency, repeating every fifteen minutes until help arrives. In all other cases, choose one of the below in the 6c strength, repeating every 10 minutes for three doses, then three times daily for up to one week if necessary. One dose is two tablets dissolved under the tongue.

Apis, made from the sting of a bee, is particularly useful for hives where swelling and heat are pronounced. The rash is hot and sensitive to heat, very itchy and may burn or sting. The face, eyelids and lips can be swollen.

Unica urens is another common remedy to consider, especially if the hives are triggered by eating shellfish, overheating or engaging in intense exercise. The skin is very sensitive and burns or stings. The itching is terrible.

Rhus toxicodendron should be used if small patches of blisters form. The itching typically causes great restlessness. Heat or hot water helps. Cold, damp weather or getting wet can aggravate or bring on the rash.

External/Physical Therapies

Wash skin several times a day with vinegar water: one-quarter litre apple cider vinegar to two litres water

Cool clay packs or fresh-crushed cabbage leaf compresses greatly help relieve the burning and itching.

Place a slice of raw onion on the affected part.

Apply a cream made by mixing quark, yogurt and honey. Let cream soak in for one hour.

Rub skin with a vitamin E salve.

For the complete entry on hives, consult the Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.

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