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Breaking Out in Hives: My Struggle with Urticaria

Have you ever looked in the mirror only to find itchy, raised, pink, red, or skin-colored hives spanning the surface of your skin? If so, you’re not alone! Hives – also called urticaria – are more common than you may think. Nearly 1 in 5 individuals will develop some form of urticaria at least once in their lifetime. The intense itching and swelling associated with the condition arises when a trigger causes the cellular release of a chemical called histamine. While individuals with acute or short-term hives are able to identify the trigger as an allergic reaction to a specific food or medication, those with chronic or long-term hives may have a more challenging time pinpointing the cause of their discomfort. Unlike acute hives, chronic hives may emerge from an internal factor such as an infection or autoimmune disease and worsen from heat or cold exposure, physical pressure, or heightened stress.

My personal struggle with chronic hives just so happened to stem from a bacterial or viral infection I contracted in Mexico City earlier this year. One day, I woke up with terribly itchy welts on my neck, back, and chest that made me want to crawl out of my skin! When I got blood tests done to assess the infection, my physician told me that my antibodies were significantly high. I soon discovered that the hives were partially due to my Hashimoto’s autoimmune condition, which – thankfully – is in remission. Nonetheless, chronic hives are known to last for months or even years and can be very difficult to treat. I knew I needed to find relief, so I spoke with my functional doctor, Dr. Leroy, and a functional allergist who helped me completely get rid of my hives.

How I Overcame Urticaria

In order to block the effects of histamine and alleviate symptoms, urticaria is typically treated with antihistamines. For a solid month, I took Zyrtec and Pepcid to try to relieve the unbearable itching. However, I saw little to no improvement in my symptoms. Therefore, I was prescribed an oral steroid (prednisone), which only seemed to make matters worse due to the uncomfortable side effects. My skin was suffering, and I knew I needed to address the underlying cause to truly heal.

As the largest organ, the skin is intimately connected to the other tissues and systems within the body. Therefore, changes in the skin are more than skin-deep. In fact, surface-level skin problems – such as hives – are often overlooked indicators of internal organ health and overall well-being. So, I knew I needed to get to the root of the issue instead of simply treating the outer symptoms. After working with my functional doctor and allergist, I found that detoxifying my liver was the solution!

Here are the four fantastic supplements that helped me detox and overcome chronic urticaria:

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle is a wonderful medicinal herb that has been used for centuries to support and protect the liver. Extracted from the seeds of this purple flowering plant, silymarin and silybin are strong, active compounds that have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. These compounds have been shown to increase the liver’s production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that detoxifies foreign substances. They also strengthen liver cell membranes when exposed to harmful chemicals. When I take milk thistle, I personally like to use the supplement by Gaia.

Bovine Liver

Organ meats, such as bovine liver, are nutritional powerhouses! They are packed with essential nutrients, including protein, minerals, and vitamins. Specifically, bovine liver is an excellent source of B12, riboflavin, folate, and B6, which are all essential for energy production and detoxification. Bovine liver also contains high amounts of vitamin A and zinc required for proper immune function and skin health. Not to mention, it is a great source of choline which is vital for proper liver function. The Standard Process bovine liver supplement worked wonders for treating my hives!

Black Seed Currant Oil

Black Seed Currant Oil is an incredible healing agent. For thousands of years, it has been used to treat a variety of illnesses, including liver disorders, skin conditions, and immune system dysfunction. Many of the benefits associated with the use of black seed oil are attributed to the active compound thymoquinone (TQ). In fact, studies have shown that it has antimicrobial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Perhaps the most fascinating finding is that black seed oil can improve liver function and decrease the presence of viruses and bacteria. My favorite high quality black seed currant oil is made by Pure Encapsulations.

Olive Leaf Extract

Like black seed oil, olive leaf extract is filled with many fabulous healing properties. The most prevalent active ingredient in this potent little leaf is oleuropein. Oleuropein is known for imparting gastroprotective, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and pain-reducing benefits. Research has shown that it can destroy and inhibit the growth of bacteria such as Lactobacillus plantarum, Bacillus cereus, and Salmonella enteritidis. It can also reduce viral infectivity, preventing it from entering your cells! My favorite olive leaf extract supplement is made by Gaia

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Before adding new supplements to your daily regimen, talk to your doctor about possible contraindications and side effects. If you’re interested in receiving further information on how to alleviate your itchy hives, feel free to book a virtual one-on-one consultation with me! Learn more about working with me here.

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