Herbal remedies, such as those used in traditional Chinese medicine, may help treat hives (urticaria). However, scientific evidence is generally lacking to support using herbs for hives.
People have used herbs and other natural plants for treatments for thousands of years. Although modern medication and ointments have largely replaced their use, some people still support the use of herbal remedies for a variety of conditions, including hives.
This article reviews what herbs might help with hives, other natural treatment options, and more.
Certain herbs may help treat hives. However, some scientific trials and studies focus on the effects of herbal treatments in animals, so more research into specific treatments in humans is necessary.
Xiao Feng San
A 2013 study of people in Taiwan who received traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for hives found that
Xiao Feng San is a combination of different herbs. It can include:
- Angelicae sinensis (Female Ginseng)
- Rehmannia glutinosa Liboschitz (Chinese Foxgloves)
- Saposhinkoviae radix (Schischk)
- Anemarrhena rhizome (American Dragon, Know Mother Root)
- Sophora favescens (Kushen)
- Sesamum indicum (sesame, benne)
- Schizonepeta tenuifolia (Japanese Catnip)
- Atractylodes rhizome (Bai Zhu)
- Arctium lappa (Greater Burdock)
- Gypsum fibrosum
- Glycyrrhiza uralensis (Chinese Licorice)
- Cryptotympana atrata Fabricius (a species of cicada)
- Akebia quinata Decne (Chocolate Vine)
Chinese dittany, or Dictamus dasycarpus Turcz, is a flowering herb that some people use for treating hives. A 2021 study examining the phytochemistry of D. dasycarpus Turcz discussed several constituents that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-allergic properties.
In an older study from
Some people use licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra,Glycyrrhiza uralensis) as a flavoring in certain foods and beverages or as a dietary supplement. Practitioners of TCM and other traditional medicines also use it.
A 2020 review of licorice root studies found that the active ingredient Glycyrrhiza spp had antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties that are useful in many applications involving skin inflammation.
Its active compounds are responsible for this healing, and clinical studies in humans and animals have demonstrated licorice as an effective and safe option.
Japanese Catnip and Sharp-leaf Galangal
Practitioners of TCM and other traditional medicines use Schizonepeta tenuifolia Briquet (Japanese Catnip) and Alpinia oxyphylla Miquel (Sharp-leaf Galangal) to treat various conditions, including skin conditions.
Additional human studies are needed to fully show the safety and effectiveness of using the combination of herbs internally or topically.
A person may find relief using other natural remedies that may help alleviate the symptoms associated with hives.
Some home remedies that may help include:
- avoiding any known triggers
- taking cooler showers, as hot showers may worsen symptoms
- avoiding sun exposure and hot environments
- taking vitamin D supplements, which
may havesome potential for helping people with chronic hives
Medical treatments available for hives typically involve topical, oral, and injected medications such as:
- topical or oral diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl
- antihistamines for itchiness
- steroid tablets, such as prednisone
- calamine lotion
- light therapy
- omalizumab injection for chronic hives
A person should contact a doctor if hives do not respond to treatments or worsen.
A person should seek emergency treatment if they experience symptoms of anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction.
Anaphylaxis: Symptoms and what to do
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening. The symptoms develop suddenly and include:
- swelling of the face or mouth
- fast, shallow breathing
- a fast heart rate
- clammy skin
- anxiety or confusion
- blue or white lips
- fainting or loss of consciousness
If someone has these symptoms:
- Check whether they are carrying an epinephrine pen. If they are, follow the instructions on the side of the pen to use it.
- Dial 911 or the number of the nearest emergency department.
- Lay the person down from a standing position. If they have vomited, turn them onto their side.
- Stay with them until the emergency services arrive.
Some people may need more than one epinephrine injection. If the symptoms do not improve in 5–15 minutes, or they come back, use a second pen if the person has one.
Herbal remedies may help with hives. However, scientific evidence is generally lacking and often focuses on the effects of herbs on animals.
Avoiding known triggers can help a person to manage hives. A doctor can also recommend medical treatments, including antihistamines, diphenhydramine, calamine lotion, and more.
If a person experiences symptoms such as a racing heart, trouble breathing, or feeling faint along with their hives, they should seek emergency services immediately.