Friday, June 28, 2013

One hive, two hive, three hive, four...

Hives seemed to be in the air this spring. Not that there is a 'season' for hives, but it seemed like every other day hives were coming up in conversation. The main theme?

We have no idea where they came from!

This kind of thing always makes my ears perk up because as a homeopath, I have this little detective streak. One interview I listened to with an experienced homeopathic practitioner and teacher said he recommended that all his students read Sherlock Holmes and watch Columbo. I haven't quite taken the plunge yet, but I understand his point. We must look where others have not thought to look, to inquire about the mundane as well as the peculiar, and look for ripples in the Matrix.

But, I digress. I was talking about hives.

So, hives and summer. Well, I don't know that hives are a *particular* summer issue (as I said, they seemed to be rampant this spring) but you know hot weather, exposed skin, vacations, visitors, switching up schedules- all ripe for some kind of inflammatory response!! Not to mention the poison ivy or oak, which takes very little detecting at all.

But back to the 'we have no idea where they came from!' bit.

The skin is a detoxifier, it's a shield, it's a sieve, it's a release valve. As our container, it is one of the main portals in as well as out. And though many of us like to live our lives in neat vectors of A+B=C, or point A always leads to point B to point C and back to A? Not so much your vital force. Past illnesses, emotions, stress, exposure- these assaults to the system must be dealt with. To maintain homeostasis- that is biochemical balance- in the body for optimal health, things must be dealt with. They are not always dealt with immediately. Bad reaction to x does not result in immediate symptom y. Sometimes it takes a few weeks. A physical influence can result in an emotional detox. An emotional assault can result in a physical expression. Hence- "We have no idea where these hives came from!"

For example, say Bobby breaks out in hives one day. Dad thinks about what he ate: nothing new. Mom thinks about any new lotions, shampoo, detergents, etc... : none. No outings in the woods. No projects or encounters with weird chemicals. But two weeks ago, Bobby's dog died. He hasn't cried yet. Result of suppressed grief? Hives.

Have I actually treated a case like this? Yes, I have. Did a remedy for grief clear up hives? Yes, it did.

Not all cases are so cut and dried. If there have been past rashes or outbreaks that have been suppressed with topical steroids or similar measures, then that is definitely a factor. Skin outbreaks are anything but simple, and for the most part, home prescribers may get frustrated. By all means, I recommend using homeopathy for skin outbreaks because it assists the body in doing the best thing- releasing to the surface and OUT. When topical steroids and other suppressive measures are used, it's like stopping up a volcano. You risk an earthquake. So if you encounter some hives that don't fit the criteria I list below, then call up a homeopath (or go to emergency if it's extreme, of course) and get more specific treatment.

To that end, I am going to offer a few remedies to consider for acute hives to try IF:

1) the medical history is unremarkable and there have been no previous suppressed skin eruptions
2) the cause of the hives is actually known, for example, poison ivy, food reaction (mild), exposure to something new, over heating, etc...

Here's a handy-dandy chart of remedies to consider and contrast:

RemedyThe hives look like....The hives feel....The potential cause is.....They feel better with....They feel worse with....Condition may include...
Apis mellificaswollen (like a balloon) and possibly shiny, redhot, itchy, or burning stings, allergy, infection, inflammationcold applications, movement/exercise, 3pm aggravationheatirritability, swelling of eyes and lips, throat
Rhus toxidendronlarge, red patches w. or w/o swelling prickling itching poison ivy, chicken pox, other contact allergiesHEAT- hot water over the areacold, cold weather, damprestlessness, or irritability
Urtica urenswheals- round patchs that are lighter with red centers. May be on fingers, scalp, and handsburning, itchinginsect bites/stings, over-heating, exertion, allergy to shellfishrubbing, though the itching is severe. Lying down, being stillheat, hot bathing, exertion
Antimonium crudumwhite, or light with red centershot, burning of the skin and may have a thick, honey-like dischargeassociated with stomach complaints, chicken poxeatingheat, sun, touch, being looked atinflamed eyelids, cracks at the nostrils or corners of the mouth
Arsenicum albumwhitish or pinkish whealsburninganxiety, worry, fear, 'poison'- that is, a foreign substance warmth, company, movementcold, seaside, scratchingnausea, diarrhea, a mental state of anxiety, fear, and restlessness
BelladonnaSUDDEN outbreak, red, swollenhot, pulsatingcontact with offending substance, hormonal imbalancespressuremotiona 3pm aggravation, hives worse inner thighs, arms, face
Ignatianettle like rashsevere itchinggrief, strong emotionslying, or pressure on affected arealeast touch- oversensitivity to pain. Open air, cold. sighing, defensiveness or touchy mood

Considerations when choosing a remedy: 
Look for any notable mental symptoms- especially the anxiety that might indicate arsenicum or the restlessness that might suggest rhus tox. If there *is* a prominent emotional state, then that is a stronger consideration than what the hives look like, or what you think the cause might be. Likewise, just because there is an absence of restlessness, does not mean that rhus tox is out of the picture, if the the other symptoms agree. You won't cause any harm by trying a remedy that isn't 'right on.' The symptoms may shift a bit, or nothing will happen. If there's a shift in the symptoms- for example, the eruptions change color, or itching becomes recurrent at a certain time of day or night, then use the new symptoms to guide you to your next remedy choice. 

Remember that progress does not mean that all symptoms clear immediately. Maybe the itching diminishes, but the swelling remains and recedes slowly. Maybe the reverse happens- the swelling reduces, but the itching remains. Shift remedies as you need to. 

As always, once you start seeing progress, reduce the frequency of dosing. Start with two doses within an hour, and then hourly or every two hours (depending on the severity) and discontinue the remedy if there is no difference after 3-4 doses. Also, if symptoms aggravate a bit, stop, observe, and consider a different remedy or consult a practitioner. 

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