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River Clinic Oriental Medicine

Markham Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine--River Clinic, Richmond Hill, Scarborough正體字 - Chinese Traditional简体字 - Chinese Simplified日本語 - Japanese
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Natural Hives Treatment

The medical name for hive is urticaria.  It is named after the stinging nettle plant from the Genus Urtica that can cause hives when you come in contact with it.

Hives affects an estimated 20% of the population sometime in their lives.

The temporary spots that are formed when you have flaring of hives are called wheals.  Each wheal lasts from a few minutes to several hours.  If your hives has been present on the same spot for more than 48 hours, then it is NOT hives, but some other form of rash.


Hives are a sign that the body is having a hypersensitivity reaction.  This hypersensitivity results in the release of histamine in the blood.  Which in turn cause fine blood vessels to become leaky.  Fluids can now escape into the surrounding skin cause swelling and itching, giving you the typical hives wheal.  This is the reason that in conventional medicine, hives are treated with anti-histamines such as Zyrtec, Reactine and Benadryl to counter act the body’s release of histamine.

The most common triggers for acute hives is a reaction to medications.  The most common medications that cause hives is aspirin and the Penicillin class of antibiotics.  The second most common trigger for hives are foods that get broken down into histamines in the body such as seafood, fermented cheese, alcohol, citrus and berry fruits etc. 

Hives can also be caused by physical triggers such as scratching, cold, pressure and solar exposure.

Chronic hives can be associated with autoimmune diseases, such as thyroid disease, lupus and malignancies.  Please see your doctor for a thorough check up to rule out underlying chronic diseases that may be contributing to your hives.

Chinese Medicine & Hives

In Chinese medicine, hives is called Wind Concealed Rash.  The Wind in its name implies that the rash comes and goes like the wind and the concealed part means it is not present at all times.  Hives is understood to be a Wind related disorder.  Wind is metaphorical for external triggers that upset the body’s internal balance, similar to the idea of hypersensitivity in conventional medicine.  There are five major types.


Wind Heat

Generally seen in acute hives.  Itching is severe, worsening with heat, better with cold.  It tends to affect upper body more.  May accompany symptom of sore throat.

This type of hives can be associated with environmental exposure to allergens, microbes and foods as a trigger for hives.

Wind Cold

This is similar to Cold Urticaria in conventional medicine where wheals forms after skin warms up from exposure to cold weather, cold water and cold objects.

Wheals are more pale.  Itch is worse with cold, better with warmth.  Worse in winter times.

Blood Heat Generating Wind

This is similar to Cholinergic Urticaria in conventional medicine.  Tiny red spots form during flare-ups.  Itching is worse with heat (after exercise, hot shower), emotional upset and associated with evening flare-ups.  This type can present with Dermographism meaning skin writing, where scratching the skin results in raised red streaks that follows the scratched pattern.

Blood Deficiency Generating Wind

This pattern is common in chronic hives where patients complain that hives are noticeably worse with fatigue.

Blood Stasis Hives

This is similar to Pressure Urticaria in conventional medicine.  Wheals are dark red or purplish in colour.  Wheals are present around areas constricted by clothing such as around the waists due to belts; around the neck due to collars and ties; around the ankles due to socks; around the wrist due to watches; around the shoulder or arms due to purse or bag straps.


Patient with chronic hives usually have combination types, for example they may have both dermographism and pressure urticaria, which would be both Blood Heat and Blood Stasis types.  A personalized formula will be designed by mixing herbs that Cool the Blood with herbs that Dispel Blood Stasis, and herbs that Stop Itching to treat each patient’s unique combination of hive types.






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Winnie Wong, RMT

Jeff Chung, R.Ac 

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