Libertarian Prepper

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How I Healed my Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria

I doubt this solution will work for everyone, but it worked for me, and what turned out to be causing my Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria was such an ubiquitous food, that virtually everyone eats it. (Remember though, I’m not a doctor, and you’re responsible for doing your own research and making your own decisions.)

First some background: I’ve had a lifetime of hay fever and allergy to house dust mites. From as early as I can remember, summers were a hell of runny noses and sneezing for me. Then for no known reason (hence idiopathic), when I was 18 I started getting urticaria (itchy skin rashes) all around my body. They would appear and disappear, and then appear somewhere else.

The only thing that could help was an antihistamine pill, but they only worked for about 24 hours. After that, I was in itchiness hell all over again. For the next four years, until a few months ago, I would take antihistamines almost every day.

Then I read a book about the causes of cancer, and one of the primary causes given was nutrition, especially sugar. It turns out that paleolithic humans likely ate no more than 5 grams of refined sugar a day (from scavenged honey). The average American adult eats 110 grams. The average american teenager eats 170 grams. That’s more than an order of magnitude above what our bodies are made to handle.

What the book didn’t really mention, and what I discovered later, is that almost all simple carbohydrates are digested into sugars too. Polysaccharides are basically sugar molecules stuck together with more sugar. When they enter our bloodstream, the effect is the same as if we had eaten raw sugar itself.

For a fun experiment, look up the Glycemic Index (a measure of how quickly blood sugar levels rise) values for sugar and white bread. They’re pretty much the same.

You’re probably wondering what the hell this has to do with Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria. I’m getting there.

What does blood sugar do? Blood sugar levels are toxic outside of a very narrow range. So when our blood sugar level spikes after a high-carb meal, the Pancreas releases Insulin, which forces the body to store fat, leaving only sugar behind. Our cells have no choice but to use the sugar for energy instead of the fat, thereby lowering the blood sugar level.

But here’s the relevant part – when Insulin is released, IGF-1 is also released. IGF-1 is a pro-inflammatory hormone. Inflammatory, as in – unexplained skin rashes and urticaria!

Not that IGF-1 is only implicated in that. It’s also implicated in cancer, heart disease, and many other diseases of inflammation.

But the point is that when I limited my sugar intake to about 10 grams a day (two teaspoons), and limited my carbohydrate intake to less than 150 grams per day, my allergies disappeared. Not just the Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria – all my allergies are virtually gone. I haven’t used an antihistamine since going on a Paleo diet (to be fair, I’m not quite there yet, but I’ve incorporated as much of the Paleo diet as I can right now).

And when one day I could not resist the urge and ate too much sugar, the next 24 hours or so all of my itchiness and urticaria came back!

So – get rid of grains and sugars as much as possible (and vegetable oils too), and see if that can help. Most people are eating large amounts of pro-inflammatory foods. You want to do the opposite.

Humans were never meant to eat so much sugar, nor so many grains.

Not a single doctor I had personally talked to, including a professional allergologist, ever suggested anything except taking antihistamines or doing desensitizing vaccinations. It seems like sometimes they don’t care to deal with the causes, and are happy merely suppressing the symptoms of a health problem instead.

But if the urticaria was an outside manifestation of chronic inflammation, just imagine the inflammation going on inside!

However, since getting onto a Paleo diet, I’ve lost excess weight, stopped having intestinal troubles from all those grains (literally) rotting in my gut, and a blood test has shown my CRP levels (a marker of inflammation) to be 0.7, which is considered low.

  • Robyn

    This is absolutely amazing. I, myself, have suffered from chronic idiopathic urticaria for the past 15 years this summer. I’ve been told for the past 15 years that I’m under control and I shouldn’t worry about looking for a solution and I unfortunately have taken the doctor’s advice. You’re supposed to listen to your doctor, right? I take Allegra, Zyrtec, and Zantac all one time daily and I absolutely hate doing so. Over the past two weeks, my hives have broken through my medical cocktail, and I’ve been told to increase to two Zyrtec per day. That’s basically zombie status as I am ALWAYS tired. What’s worse is that for the past two years I’ve worked to lose a substantial amount of weight and I’ve recently begun digging into Paleo and juicing. I feel like such a hypocrite trying to feed my body the proper things and then I am popping antihistamine pills on the side. I am totally going to lower my carb and sugar macros and see what it can do for me.

    I’m so sorry to hear that you had to suffer from this awful condition, but you’ve given me hope that there is more to life than doping myself up on antihistamines to make it through the day without scratching.

    I would love to chat with you if that would be a possibility. My e-mail address is robynpaulin@gmail.com. Any advice would be MUCH appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • http://www.libertarianprepper.com/ Libertarian Prepper

      Hey, I’m sorry to hear you’re suffering like this. I also took Zyrtec and Zantac, and then eventually Levocetirizin (next generation Zyrtec). I took it every day, and if I ever forgot, the itching would come back to remind me. But as I reduced my sugar and carb consumption and switched to a better diet I began to notice that I needed less and less of these pills, and then not at all. I’ve taken just two pills so far this year, when I got really sneezy from pollen – mostly when the lawn was being mown.

      When I switched to Paleo, I started to look at the ingredients list of every food I ate. Look at the macro-nutrient ratios – you’ll notice 95% of the food sold in supermarkets is mostly carbs, with some protein on the side. Everyone seems to be trying to avoid fat, or replace it with PUFAs, and the results seem to be pretty bad.

      Juicing is interesting and I tried it for a little while, but I also realized that, 1. Fruits are high in sugar, and 2. There’s no way for paleolithic humans to juice in the quantities that juicing diets suggest, so I’m skeptical that it’s the best way to match the diet we evolved to eat.

      I’d say, go cold turkey and eliminate everything sweet for a week. If you allow yourself anything, let it be just one teaspoon of honey. Acacia honey is one of the lower ones on the glycemic index I think. One teaspoon is about 5 grams – or what I’ve read was the limit to what the average paleolithic human would have eaten on a daily basis. If you’re going to avoid sugar though, avoid stuff like rice, pasta, sweet potatoes, wheat, bread, and flour-based products in general. If you let yourself eat any, let it be the potatoes.

      I hope you’re not lactose intolerant, because there are a lot of great dairy products out there. Not exactly Paleo, but part of the Primal diet I think, which is a little more lenient. Go for high-fat sour cream (I like 30%), tvorog, etc. I like to cook in or add either butter or coconut fat. Basically I eat meat, fish, fowl, eggs, and vegetables as the primary foods.

      Mark Sisson has a Primal food pyramid that might help over here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/introducing-the-new-primal-blueprint-food-pyramid/#axzz2RnVmyas5

      I’m really not a doctor though, so do your own research :) I hope this helps and that you’re able to get off those blasted antihistamines. I know they can really put you to sleep!

      • Robyn

        Thank you for your advice! I am definitely going to start right away. I am already gluten free (stomach issues from a few years ago, but not diagnosed with celiac, but deemed gluten sensitive) so changing my sugar intake won’t be too terrible. I do love making smoothies and juicing, so I will just have to play with that and cut back on fruits and replace with more veggies. Funny how this is all related and if eating less sugar does help my hives (FINGERS CROSSED!), I’ve once again proven another doctor wrong. I am all about trying what the doctor says, but when they stop listening to you and what you feel your body really needs, it’s time to take it in your own hands.

        I am going to take your info and research more myself and see if something can work.

        Thank you again. Glad to hear you’re down to no pills!!!

        • http://www.libertarianprepper.com/ Libertarian Prepper

          I somehow missed your comment so sorry for the slow reply. I wish you all the best and I hope it works out for you!

  • Vispillo

    How long until you started noticing a difference in the itching

    • Vispillo

      Please reply ):

      • http://www.libertarianprepper.com/ Libertarian Prepper

        Hey Vispillo,

        It took about a month, or maybe a month and a half until I noticed I no longer needed antihistamines. I guess it takes a while for chronic inflammation to calm itself down.

  • Bronie

    My allergist completely understands this! He is 73 and totally defies his colleagues regarding insulin issues & urticaria. He is ahead of his time :)

    • http://www.libertarianprepper.com/ Libertarian Prepper

      That’s wonderful! You’re lucky to have such an allergist :)

  • Helen

    Have you considered that you may have yeast overgrowth/ leaky gut brought on by sugar? By sticking to your paleo diet you will help to heal these, but adding a few supplements will help you heal faster. They’re quite hot topics in paleo communities so have a look :)

    • http://www.libertarianprepper.com/ Libertarian Prepper

      Thanks for pointing this out Helen. I was actually reading an article on leaky gut a couple of days ago and how it might relate to Psoriasis, another autoimmune disorder. You’re confirming that this is indeed something work looking further into. I’m considering abandoning dairy right now, despite my love of cheese and sour cream.

      p.s. The article I mentioned is here: http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/04/modifying-paleo-to-treat-psoriasis.html

    • Joel

      Hey guys, thought I’d add my 2 cents, having also being diagnosed with CIU about 7 months ago. Doctors snd dermotoligists don’t understand our condition and will generally just prescribe anti histamines which did nothing for me.
      After doing a bit of reasearch on the web, I have cut out all wheat / flour and any kind of wheat extracts and am now completely clear.
      Would highly reccommend others to try this.

  • michelle

    Thank you for sharing. I too suffer from chronic hives. I am glad you found relief. I too will begin watching the sugars and grains.

    • http://www.libertarianprepper.com/ Libertarian Prepper

      Thanks, and I wish you all the best of luck. While I am a big fan of civilization, I recognize that it also caused some serious problems, especially when it comes to the food we eat as part of an agricultural society.

  • JUSTIN

    Hi I am facing the same issue since 3 months ..I checked my sugar level in blood ..Its 116 in fasting and HBA1C is 6.6. ….I visited several skin specialists and they all told that there is no medicine for allergies..It could be resolved by find the subsatnce which is causing the same. I stopped all my regular and doubted food stuffs…I use to take alchohol ..is that is making my level of sugar high and causing Hives all over body..Its comes and goes and reappears again in some other place…Please suggest on the same….

  • JUSTIN

    Also suggest on the food stuffs !!!

  • Halz

    I’ve been breaking out in hives for 4 months straight and I realised the common factor was just when id had a huge sugar rush. Thank you for your article about your experiences. I had doubts that urticaria could come from sugar but now I’m almost certain and can try and prevent the torture! Thank you :)

  • Francis

    Thanks for this article. Your symptoms of Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria sound exactly like my own over the last three years or so. Last year, rather than going even halfway Paleo, I simply cut out the most intense high-sugar foods (desserts, mostly), and within 5-6 months, the itching was gone, and my weight had dropped from 230 lbs to 190 lbs. I’ve been bad since, and have gained 10 lb back and all the itching. It’s time I got back to it.

    • http://www.libertarianprepper.com/ Libertarian Prepper

      I’m glad to hear you’ve found a way to deal with it! Here’s a hint: don’t call yourself “bad” – self-attacks are never a sustainable way of changing behavior in the long run :)

  • Dana

    I discovered the same exact thing by accident. I’ve had hives rashes, psoriasis, pain in my stomach achy joints, sinus trouble, since I was 10. Symptomes are treated as presented. The dr just says I have multiple autoimmune problems nothin serious. I wasn’t over weight as a child but after my 3rd kid I was so I decided to start lifting weights and tracking everythin I put in my mouth. ALL my symptomes were gone within a couple months . I keep my carbs under 100 and drink a gal of water a day. I Binged a couple times at Christmas and thanksgiving . Those 2 months were hell. Back on track an no hives. Drs will never mention diet. For any thing .

    • http://www.libertarianprepper.com/ Libertarian Prepper

      I’m sorry you had to go through that, but I’m glad you’ve found a solution! Awesome :) Autoimmune disorders are in my experience usually something to do with improper diet. Doctors unfortunately don’t get much of an education on nutrition. From what I understand their primary focus is: 1. Identify the ailment, 2. Prescribe a drug to fix it. That means they view a lot of nutrition advice as inherently quack-ish, because the assumption underlying such advice is that your body is fundamentally much more healthy than not, and can deal with most problems itself as long as you give it the right building blocks (good food) and don’t actively poison it (bad food). This has been my experience with most doctors I’ve ever talked to or heard of, unfortunately.

  • Keith

    I hope this works. Iv been suffering from the same condition for about 3 months now. Yesterday my entire face swelled to the point where I was completely unrecognizable. Haven’t been able to figure out what the cause is. My friend tonight mentioned she had the same symptoms after taking an antibiotic and it stayed in her system for over 2 years. She said that she could not eat any refined sugars because she had a penicillin infection? I can’t seem to find anything besides penicillin yeast infection but anyway after she told me I came home and found post. I’ll let everyone know if cutting the carbs and sugars helps my case. If it helps or not thanks for the advice.

    • http://www.libertarianprepper.com/ Libertarian Prepper

      I hope it does work. Swelling does sound like an inflammation type of thing, and sugars and carbs are probably the main pro-inflammatory thing people ingest nowadays. Also consider cutting out all vegetable oils, which are too heavy in Omega-6 – also a pro-inflammatory. I wish you the best!

  • Stacey

    My three year old daughter has been diagnosed with idiopathic uticaria also. Any advise on how much refined sugar she should have. I have noticed when she has extra sugar on special occasions her skin goes crazy.

  • Angela Bergeron

    That does make sense! I recently took out gluten and dairy from my diet and was doing pretty well at limiting my sugar to fruits and raw honey and mine went away so I thought it was an allergy to dairy and gluten even though my allergist said I didn’t have it. I had some gluten and dairy off and on and it started up and I couldn’t figure out why I keep getting them and I bet it’s the sugar I’ve been eating gah.

    • Rupa

      I second that Angela..I hv been thru so many specialist, immunologist, prick test, skin culture test, patch test and couldnt find any reason except they said its autoimmune prb. I gavd up gluten and dairy still got my hives. I am sensitive to heat, cold, get sinus issues, pressure allergy and what not. But I figured myself that the only thing I take a lot is sugar. When I stopped it, in less than a week my hives are gone :) Thats when I found this forum..thanks all