Chronic hives: does vitamin D help?

Posted on: September 15, 2015   by  John Cannell, MD

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Most of us have experienced urticarial, or hives, at some time in our lives. Urticaria is usually fugacious (fleeting). However, sometimes it does not go away. If urticaria lasts longer than 6 weeks it is called chronic urticaria. Drugs, infections, bee stings, pressure, stress, cold, sun, water, exercise or food can trigger urticaria.  The majority of chronic hives cases have an unknown cause. In perhaps as many as 30–40% of patients with chronic urticaria, autoimmunity is the culprit.

Chronic urticaria can be difficult to treat and may lead to significant disability. Imagine experiencing itchy welts all day long. Unlike the acute form, 50-80% of people with chronic urticaria have no identifiable triggers. Recently Xolair, an asthma drug, has been found to be effective in chronic urticaria. The cost of Xolair is about $12,000.00 per year.

In a new study, a team of Turkish researchers confirmed that vitamin D is a safe effective treatment.

Topal IO, Kocaturk Goncu OE, Gungor S, Durmuscan M, Sucu V, Yıldırmak S. Does replacement of vitamin D reduce the symptom scores and improve quality of life in patients with chronic urticaria? J Dermatolog Treat. 2015 Aug 21:1-19. [Epub ahead of print]

Last month, the Vitamin D Council covered a preliminary study which found that Vitamin D supplementation helps treat urticaria

Now, researchers in Turkey have conducted a larger case controlled trial in which vitamin D (300,000 IU/month for 3 months) was added to standard treatment for 58 patients. Results were assessed using standard scales of both symptom severity (UAS4) and quality of life (CU-Q2oL) before and after treatment. UAS4 scores run from 0 (none) to 24 (worst) and CU-Q2oL ranges from 0 (best) to 100 (worst).

Serum 25(OH)D concentration was significantly lower in the urticaria group (8 ng/ml) compared to healthy subjects (16 ng/ml), (p<0.001). As far as treatment effectiveness, UAS4 scores went from 21 to 6 (P < 0.001) and CU-Q2oL scores went from 38 to 11 (P<0.001) with vitamin D treatment.

The authors concluded,

“We revealed two significant findings in this study. First, there was a high incidence of vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency among Turkish urticaria patients. Secondly, urticaria activity scores and CU-Q2oL scores in the vitamin D-deficient or insufficient group decreased in response to vitamin D replacement. Vitamin D supplementation seems to significantly improve hives symptoms and quality of life in CSU patients. We believe, immunomodulator and anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin D possibly provided these consequences.”

If you have chronic urticaria, take 10,000 IU/day of vitamin D and you may avoid having to take the $12,000.00/year drug Xolair.

 

 

 

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