ALLERGIC REACTIONS (HIVES)
Hives (urticaria) is an allergic reaction in the skin characterized by white or pink welts or large bumps surrounded with redness. These lesions are known as wheal and flare lesions and are caused primarily by the release of histamine (an allergic mediator) in the skin. About fifty percent of patients with hives develop angioedema...a deeper, more serious form involving the tissue below the surface of the skin.
Hives and angioedema are relatively common conditions: it is estimated that fifteen to twenty percent of the general population has had hives at some time. Although persons in any age group may experience acute or chronic hives and/or angioedema, young adults (post-adolescence through the third decade of life) are most often affected. The basic cause of hives involves the release of inflammatory mediators from mast cells or basophils...white blood vessels, particularly in the skin, while basophils circulate in the blood. The classic allergic reaction occurs as a result of complexes of allergic antibodies (IgE) and antigens (foreign molecules) binding to mast cells and basophils and stimulating the release of histamine and other factors appear to be more important in stimulating the release of histamine in hives.
One of the top three will combat if not prevent allergic reactions from occuring depending on the person. Hives can be produced as a result of reactions to various physical conditions. The most common forms of physical urticaria are dermographic, cholinergic, and cold urticaria. These are briefly described below. Less common types of physical urticaria or angioedema are: contact, solar, pressure, heat contact, aquagenic, vibratory, and exercise-induced.
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