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Health Condition

Hives

  • Iron

    Among those with chronic hives and low iron levels, supplementation with iron resulted in improvement in the hives in most cases.

    Dose:

    If blood iron levels are low; take only under medical supervision.
    Iron
    ×
    Approximately two-thirds of people with chronic hives (hives present for more than 6 weeks) have low blood levels of iron. Among those with low iron levels, supplementation with iron for 1 to 2 months resulted in marked improvement in the hives in most cases.1 Iron supplementation has the potential to cause side effects, which in some case can be severe. For that reason, iron should not be taken without supervision by a healthcare professional.
  • Betaine Hydrochloride

    Lack of hydrochloric acid (HCl) secretion by the stomach may contribute to chronic hives related to food allergies. Supplementing with betaine HCI, which contains hydrochloric acid, may help.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Betaine Hydrochloride
    ×
     

    According to preliminary studies from many years ago, lack of hydrochloric acid (HCl) secretion by the stomach was associated with chronic hives, presumably as a result of increasing the likelihood of developing food allergies. In one such study, 31% were diagnosed as having achlorhydria (no gastric acid output), and 53% were shown to be hypochlorhydric (having low gastric acid output).2 In a related study, treatment with an HCl supplement and a vitamin B-complex supplement helped to treat people with hives.3Betaine HCl is the most common hydrochloric acid-containing supplement; it comes in tablets or capsules measured in grains or milligrams. One or more tablets or capsules, each containing 5–10 grains (325–650 mg) are typically taken with a meal that contains protein. Diagnosis of a deficiency of HCl and supplementation with HCl should be supervised by a doctor.

  • Green Tea

    Two components of green tea, the polyphenols epigallocatechin (EGC) and epicatechin gallate (ECG), are reported to have an antihistamine effect.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Green Tea
    ×
     

    Two components of green tea, the polyphenols epigallocatechin (EGC) and epicatechin gallate (ECG),4 are reported to have an antihistamine effect. Some doctors recommend approximately 3 cups of green tea per day or about 3 grams of soluble components providing roughly 240 to 320 mg of polyphenols, although no human trials have studied the effects of green tea in people with hives.

  • Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B12 injections have been reported to reduce the severity of acute hives and the frequency and severity of outbreaks in chronic cases.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Vitamin B12
    ×
     

    Vitamin B12 has been reported to reduce the severity of acute hives as well as to reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks in chronic cases.5,6 The amount used in these reported case studies was 1,000 mcg by injection per week. Whether taking B12 supplements orally would have these effects remains unknown. On rare occasions, vitamin B12 injections cause hives in susceptible people.7 Whether such reactions are actually triggered by exposure to large amounts of vitamin B12 or to preservatives and other substances found in most vitamin B12 injections remains unclear.

  • Vitamin B-Complex

    In one study, treatment with a hydrochloric acid supplement and a vitamin B-complex supplement helped to treat people with hives.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Vitamin B-Complex
    ×
     

    According to preliminary studies from many years ago, lack of hydrochloric acid (HCl) secretion by the stomach was associated with chronic hives, presumably as a result of increasing the likelihood of developing food allergies. In one such study, 31% were diagnosed as having achlorhydria (no gastric acid output), and 53% were shown to be hypochlorhydric (having low gastric acid output).8 In a related study, treatment with an HCl supplement and a vitamin B-complex supplement helped to treat people with hives.9Betaine HCl is the most common hydrochloric acid-containing supplement; it comes in tablets or capsules measured in grains or milligrams. One or more tablets or capsules, each containing 5–10 grains (325–650 mg) are typically taken with a meal that contains protein. Diagnosis of a deficiency of HCl and supplementation with HCl should be supervised by a doctor.

  • Vitamin C

    High amounts of vitamin C might help people with hives by lowering histamine levels.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Vitamin C
    ×
     

    In theory, high amounts of vitamin C might help people with hives by lowering histamine levels.10 Amounts of at least 2,000 mg daily appear necessary to produce these effects.10 No research trials have yet explored the clinical effects of vitamin C supplementation in people with hives.

What Are Star Ratings
×
Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Holistic Options

Psychological stress is often reported as a triggering factor in people with chronic hives.11 Stress may play an important role by decreasing the effectiveness of immune system mechanisms that would otherwise block allergic reactions. In a small preliminary trial of people with chronic hives, relaxation therapy and hypnosis were shown to provide significant benefit.12 People were given an audio tape and asked to use the relaxation techniques described on the tape at home. At a follow-up examination 5 to 14 months after the initial session, six people were free of hives and an additional seven reported improvement.

References

1. Guarneri F, Guarneri C, Cannavo SP. Oral iron therapy and chronic idiopathic urticaria: sideropenic urticaria? Dermatol Ther 2014;27:223–6.

2. Rawls WB, Ancona VC. Chronic urticaria associated with hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria. Rev Gastroenterol 1951;18:267-71.

3. Allison JR. The relation of hydrochloric acid and vitamin B complex deficiency in certain skin diseases. South Med J 1945;38:235-41.

4. Matsuo N, Yamada K, Shoji K, et al. Effect of tea polyphenols on histamine release from rat basophilic leukemia (RBL-2H3) cells: the structure-inhibitory activity relationship. Allergy 1997;52:58-64.

5. Simon SW. Vitamin B12 therapy in allergy and chronic dermatoses. J Allergy 1951;22:183-5.

6. Simon SW, Edmonds P. Cyanocobalamin (B12): comparison of aqueous and repository preparations in urticaria; possible mode of action. J Am Geriatr Soc 1964;12:79-85.

7. Meyer de Schmid JJ, Zeller J. Urticaria due to vitamin B 12 allergy verified by the lymphoblastic transformation test. Bull Soc Fr Dermatol Syphiligr 1969;76:670-1 [in French].

8. Rawls WB, Ancona VC. Chronic urticaria associated with hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria. Rev Gastroenterol 1951;18:267-71.

9. Allison JR. The relation of hydrochloric acid and vitamin B complex deficiency in certain skin diseases. South Med J 1945;38:235-41.

10. Johnston S, Martin LJ, Cai X. Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis. J Am Coll Nutr 1992;11:172-6.

11. Green G, Koelsche G, Kierland R. Etiology and pathogenesis of chronic urticaria. Ann Allergy 1065;23:30-6. [review].

12. Shertzer CL, Lookingbill DP. Effects of relaxation therapy and hypnotizability in chronic urticaria. Arch Dermatol 1987;123:913-6.

13. Henz BM, Zuberbier T. Most chronic urticaria is food-dependent, not idiopathic. Exp Dermatol 1998;7:139-42. [review].

14. Winkelmann RK. Food sensitivity and urticaria or vasculitis. In: Brostoff J, Challacombe SJ (eds.) Food Allergy and Intolerance. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1987, 602-17. [review].

15. Wraith DG, Merrett J, Roth A, et al. Recognition of food allergic patients and their allergens by the RAST technique and clinical investigation. Clin Allergy 1975;9:25-36.

16. Lewis-Jones MS, Barnes RMR, Macfarlane AW, et al. Frequency and isotype distribution of serum antibodies reactive with dietary proteins in adults with chronic urticaria. Clin Exp Dermatol 1987;12:419-23.

17. Lessof MH. Reactions to food additives. Clin Exp Allergy 1995;25 Suppl 1:27-8. [review].

18. Juhlin L. Additives and chronic urticaria. Ann Allergy 1987;59:119-23. [review].

19. Kulczycki A Jr. Aspartame-induced urticaria. Ann Int Med 1986;104:207-8.

20. Zuberbier T, Chantraine-Hess S, Hartmann K, et al. Pseudoallergen-free diet in the treatment of chronic urticaria. ACTA Dermatologica Venerol (Stockh) 1995;75:484-7.

21. Verschave A, Stevens E, Degreef H. Pseudo-allergen free diet in chronic urticaria. Dermatologica 1983;167:256-9.

22. Gibson A, Clancy R. Management of chronic idiopathic urticaria by the identification and exclusion of dietary factors. Clin Allergy 1980;10:699-704.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.