Hives (urticaria) is an allergic reaction of the skin characterized by large, red bumps or welts that appear on the surface of the skin, usually caused by allergies to food. Numerous over-the-counter and prescription medications can successfully cure hives, but several natural remedies are also effective. Green tea (camellia sinensis), for example, is a strong antihistamine and anti-inflammatory that reduces hives and other allergic skin reactions. One study, published in the 1997 edition of the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that two components of green tea, the polyphenols epigallocatechin (EGC) and epicatechin gallate (ECG), inhibited histamine release and reduced inflammation in rats. Though human research is lacking, green tea is still used as a home remedy for treating hives around the world.
Drink 3 cups of green tea per day to alleviate hives, which provides about 240 to 320 mg of polyphenols. To make green tea, steep 1 green tea bag or 1 tsp. dried green tea leaves in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the tea bag or strain the leaves from the liquid and drink immediately.
Take 250 to 500 milligrams of standardized liquid green tea extract per day to treat hives. Green tea extract is a concentrated form of the substance known to reduce inflammation and increase the immune system's response to allergens. Combine the extract with warm water or juice if you cannot tolerate the taste alone.
Moisten a green tea bag and apply directly to the skin to help reduce hives and related inflammation and redness. The tannins in the green tea contract inflamed tissue and relieve itching. Repeat as often as necessary for relief.
Run a warm bath and add 10 green tea bags or 1 ½ cups dried green tea leaves to the water. Wait about 5 minutes for the tea to steep in the bath water, and then soak for at least 20 minutes for the best results. The green tea will soothe the skin and relieve itching while reducing the appearance of hives.
- University of Michigan Health System: Hives
- Wiley Interscience: Effect of Tea Polyphenols on Histamine Release From Rat Basophilic Leukemia Cells
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Food Allergy
- "Herbal Remedies"; Asa Hershoff, Andrea Rotelli; 2001
- "The Herbal Drugstore"; Linda B. White, Steven Foster; 2000